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Court Rule

1995-4 Summary Jury Trial Rules

AND NOW, this 19th day of April, 1995, IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that the following shall be applicable to the conduct of summary trial proceedings as part of the settlement process for civil cases:
I. Preliminary Considerations
The following shall be considered, but shall not be controlling, in determining if civil cases are amenable for summary jury trial.
A. Time Necessary for Regular Trial
The Court will determine if the regular trial time would be five days or more.
B. Credibility
The Court will determine if the major issues will be resolved on the basis of credibility.
C. Settlement
The parties must be committed to serious, good faith efforts to amicably resolve the case, and the Court will determine if settlement is a reasonably likely result of a summary jury trial.
II. Summary Jury Trials
The following procedures shall apply to all summary jury trials.
A. Attendance of Parties
Individual parties shall attend the summary jury trial.
An officer or other responsible lay representative of a corporate party shall attend the summary jury trial. A claims adjuster with sufficient authority shall attend the trial or be available by telephone for the entire time during which counsel and the Court are in session. See Lockhart v. Patel, 115 F.R.D. 44 (E.D. Kentucky, 1987).
B. Non binding Effect
The summary jury trials are for settlement purposes only and are non binding. Nothing done by counsel with reference to the summary jury trial shall be binding on counsel or the parties, or shall constitute a waiver.
C. Special Verdict Questions
The cases will be submitted to the summary juries by way of special verdict questions. Counsel shall submit a joint statement of proposed special verdict questions for use at the summary trial prior to the selection of the jury. Special verdict questions for the summary trial need not be the same as those for the regular jury trial.
The jury will determine the amount of damages in all cases, regardless of whether a defendant is found to be liable or not liable. The Court will determine the format to be used and rule on disputed questions.
D. Size of Juries
The number of summary jurors and the number of peremptory challenges to the summary jurors shall be identical to the number applicable to the regular jury in the same case, unless a lesser number is agreed upon by the judge and counsel.
E. Recording of Proceedings
A court reporter shall not be present unless requested by the parties and ordered by the Court.
F. Presentation of the Case by Counsel
Each side shall be entitled to one hour for presentation of its case unless counsel presents a compelling reason at pre trial conference why more time for each side should be allocated. Presentation of the case by counsel will involve a combination of argument, summarization of the evidence to be presented at the regular trial, and a statement of the applicable law, but only to the extent it is needed to be known by the jury in answering the special verdict questions.
No live testimony will be presented except in cases where credibility will determine the major issues. In such cases, no more than two witnesses for each side may be called for full direct examination and cross-examination.
Counsel may quote from depositions and may use exhibits and videotapes. Counsel should not refer to evidence which would not be admissible at trial.
The plaintiff shall proceed first, and shall have a short rebuttal.
G. Applicable Law
The Court will charge the jury on the applicable law to the extent it is appropriate and needed to be known by the jury in answering the special verdict questions. The attorneys shall agree upon the points for charge. The points for charge shall be submitted to the Court prior to the selection of the summary jury. The Court shall rule on any disputes on a point for charge.
H. Jury Verdict
The jury will be asked to return a verdict if 5/6 of the members agree to it. The same 5/6 majority must be in agreement with respect to each special verdict question.
I. Length of Deliberations
If the jury does not reach a 5/6 majority verdict within a reasonable time, the Court will consider polling the jurors individually.
J. Oral Questions to Summary Jury
After the verdict, counsel may address the questions in open court to the foreperson of the jury. Only questions that can be answered "yes" or "no" or by a dollar figure may be asked. The attorneys shall be limited to ten questions each unless a greater number is allowed by the Court for cause shown. No questions shall be asked the answer to which will disclose the personal view of any particular member of the jury.
K. Attendance of Media at Summary Trial and Release of Summary Verdict
The summary trial is an extension of the settlement conference. The first amendment right of access does not attach to such summary trial proceedings. Cincinnati Gas & Electric Co. v. General Electric Co., 854 F.2d 900, 15 Media Law Rep. 2020 (6th Cir., Ct. of Appeals 1988), cert. den. 489 U.S. 1033. The advisory verdict resulting from a summary trial shall be sealed until settlement or jury verdict after full trial, whichever shall first occur. Media representatives may attend the summary trial proceeding up to the verdict stage. Media representatives may attend the verdict stage if they agree not to publish the summary trial result until after the case is either settled or there has been a verdict following a full trial. Otherwise, the media representatives may not attend the verdict stage. In the event that media representatives are precluded from attending the verdict stage, the summary trial judge shall release to the media representatives the results of the summary trial either upon settlement of the case or return of a verdict following a full trial.
L. Settlement
The parties shall remain committed to serious, good faith efforts to amicably resolve the case.
M. Costs
The Court will establish an actual, per diem cost for use of court personnel and facilities, and attendance of jurors, which may be imposed in multiples against any party who violates these rules. 42 Pa.C.S. §1726(a)(3).

Robert A. Freedberg, P.J.
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Created at 1/28/2016 2:07 PM by Vitek Gajewski
Last modified at 5/31/2018 9:18 AM by Vitek Gajewski
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