Administrative Order: Civil Rules; No. 3 of 1997
[28 Pa.B. 10]
Order of Court
And Now, to wit, this 16th day of December, 1997, it is Ordered that Westmoreland County Rules of Civil Procedure W200.7, W200.8, W214, W609, and W1301 be rescinded, and that new Westmoreland County Rules of Civil Procedure W200.3, W200.4, W200.7, W212.1, W212.3, W609, and W1301 are hereby adopted.
By the Court
BERNARD F. SCHERER,
BUSINESS OF COURTS
Rule W200.3. Placing Civil Litigation at Issue.
(a) All civil actions which are to be tried by jury, non-jury or by compulsory arbitration shall be placed at issue by the Court Administrator, either upon
(1) the filing of a praecipe in accordance with Rules W200.4 and W1301, or
(2) by court order, or
(3) as provided in sections (b) and (c) below, for actions commenced subsequent to August 1, 1996.
(b) During the eighteenth (18th) month after the commencement of an action, the Court Administrator shall send a request for information concerning the status of the case to the plaintiff. Plaintiff shall respond to that request in writing to the Court Administrator within thirty (30) days, with copies to all parties or their counsel of record.
(c) Upon receipt of a praecipe, a court order, or the information requested under section (b) above, the Court Administrator shall place the case at issue as follows:
(1) in civil actions in which the damages sought exceed the jurisdictional limit for compulsory arbitration and which are to be tried by a jury, the Court Administrator shall notify counsel of record or pro se parties, as follows:
A. the earliest trial date, which shall be the first day of the trial term which commences after the ninetieth (90th) day following the date the case was placed at issue.
B. that pre-trial statements of the parties shall be filed in accordance with Pa.R.C.P. 212.1(b).
(2) in civil actions which the damages sought do not exceed the jurisdictional limit for compulsory arbitration, the Court Administrator shall list the case for an arbitration hearing on the next available date.
(3) in civil actions in which the damages sought exceed the jurisdictional limit for compulsory arbitration and which are to be tried non-jury, the Court Administrator shall forward the case to the assigned Judge for scheduling.
(d) If no response is received within thirty (30) days of the request for information sent in accordance with section (b) above, the Court Administrator shall place the case at issue by forwarding the case to the assigned Judge for appropriate action.
Rule W200.4. Praecipe for Trial.
(a) Prior to the Court Administrator placing a case at issue pursuant to Rule W200.3(c), any unrepresented party or counsel of record may file a praecipe for trial to place the case at issue. At least twenty (20) days written notice of the intention to file a praecipe for trial shall be served on all unrepresented parties and counsel of record, and a copy of the proposed praecipe shall be included.
(b) Any unrepresented party or counsel of record who is of the opinion that the case is not ready for trial shall attempt to amicably resolve that issue with the party or counsel who gave notice of the intention to file the praecipe. If the matter cannot amicably be resolved, the disputing party or counsel shall present written objections to the trial judge prior to the proposed date for filing the praecipe for trial. The written objections shall set forth, in reasonable detail, the reasons the case should not be listed for trial and shall have attached thereto a copy of the proposed praecipe for trial. After hearing the objections, the judge shall issue an appropriate order regarding the listing of the case for trial.
(c) The notice shall be served on all counsel and unrepresented parties within five (5) days of filing same. A certification of service shall be filed within three (3) days of actual service. A copy of the Praecipe for Trial or order of court issued pursuant to section (b) above shall be served at the time of filing on the Court Administrator.
Rule W200.7. Jury Trials.
(a) The court administrator shall maintain a jury trial list of each judge's trial-ready jury cases. Cases are trial-ready when placed at issue pursuant to Rule W200.3.
(b) The trial judge may direct the position of any case on the trial list.
(c) Cases on each judge's trial list shall be called at a call of the list scheduled by the Court Administrator prior to each trial term. All attorneys responsible for trial will be represented at the call and shall designate the approximate length of trial and any other matter relevant to its listing for trial.
Rule W212.1. Earliest Tril Date.
The earliest trial date required by Pa.R.C.P. 212.1 shall be established by the Court Administrator pursuant to Rule W200.3.
Rule W212.3. Settlement Conference.
(a) After a case has been placed at issue pursuant to Rule W200.3(c)1, the court administrator will schedule a settlement conference and notify counsel of record of the date and time of such conference.
(b) All plaintiffs, persons, and entities having the authority to settle the case and their counsel will be available in court.
(c) At the conference, the Court and counsel for the parties may consider those matters set forth in Pa.R.C.P. 212.3, and any other matter which should be addressed to assure an expeditious trial.
(d) The following additional procedures will be followed in medical malpractice cases:
(1) All trial counsel and clients (including doctors) shall be present during the conference.
(2) Insurance and CAT representatives shall be available by telephone to answer questions and respond to settlement proposals, and
(3) At least fifteen (15) days prior to the settlement conference, all parties shall exchange any expert reports not contained in the pre-trial statements filed in accordance with Pa.R.C.P. 212.1(b).
Rule W609. Bill of Costs.
(a) The following items shall be considered as record costs in a case:
(1) Fees paid for filing pleadings;
(2) Fees paid for service of pleadings;
(3) Fees paid to court reporters for the cost of original and/or no more than one copy of depositions;
(4) Any other costs specifically permitted by statute or supreme court rules; and
(5) If the case has been tried, fees statutorily permitted to witnesses for per diem attendance and mileage.
(b) A bill of costs must be filed with the prothonotary, along with an affidavit of service on the opposing party or his counsel of record, within 10 days of the entry of a verdict by a jury, or a final order or decree by a nonjury or equity trial judge. The bill of costs may include the items listed in paragraph (a) of this rule.
(c) Exceptions specifying those items or amounts of costs to which a party has objections must be filed within 10 days of receipt of the bill of costs.
(d) The trial judge will enter an order specifying allowable costs.
Comment: Although it is the custom in this County that the defendant pay record costs as part of a settlement, case law holds that absent an agreement between counsel regarding the payment of record costs, the Court has no authority to award costs to either party upon settlement. Mancine v. Balesimo, 69 W.L.J. 145 (1897).
Rule W1301. Cases for Submission to Arbitration.
(a) All civil cases except those involving title to real estate or actions in equity, wherein the amount in controversy at issue (exclusive of interest and costs) is $30,000 or less, shall be heard and decided by a board of arbitration consisting of three members of the bar.
(b) Cases Submitted By the Parties
Any civil case with an amount in controversy exceeding $30,000 may be referred to a board of arbitration by agreement signed by all parties or their counsel.
(c) Cases Submitted By the Court
The court, on its own motion or on motion of either party, may by depositions, settlement conference, hearing or otherwise, determine that the amount actually controversy does not exceed $30,000, (exclusive of interest and costs) and enter an order referring the case to arbitration.
(d) Arbitration Praecipe
Prior to the Court Administrator placing a case at issue pursuant to Rule W200.3(c), a party or counsel of record may file with the prothonotary an arbitration praecipe in order to place the case at issue. A copy of the arbitration praecipe shall immediately be delivered to the court administrator and all other counsel of record or pro se parties.
Note: A copy of the Praecipe for Arbitration form is provided in the Forms section of the Westmoreland County Rules of Court.
[Pa.B. Doc. No. 98-5. Filed for public inspection January 2, 1998, 9:00 a.m.]
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