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Superior Court reversed 2017 decision that contempt proceedings cannot constitute “civil proceedings” for purposes of bringing a Dragonetti action.

July 1, 2019
Raynor v. D’Annunzio, 2019 Pa. Super. LEXIS 222 (Pa. Super. Mar. 8, 2019)

The plaintiff, an attorney, was sanctioned over $900,000 for her handling of an expert in a medical malpractice action. The sanctions were subsequently reversed. The plaintiff then brought, inter alia, a claim under the Dragonetti Act against the attorneys who argued for the imposition of sanctions against her. The trial court dismissed the case, holding that a contempt proceeding did not constitute a “civil proceeding” for purposes of the Dragonetti Act. However, on appeal, the Superior Court reversed the decision of the trial court, finding that “both a civil lawsuit and a motion for contempt requesting sanctions … put an individual’s basic fundamental right of property in legal jeopardy.” Accordingly, the Superior Court held that “an adjudication of contempt and requesting sanctions constitutes the procurement, initiation, or continuation of civil proceedings as contemplated by the Dragonetti Act.” 


Case Law Alerts, 3rd Quarter, July 2019

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