Merlini v. Gallitzin Water Authority, 980 A.2d 502 (Pa. 2009)

A certificate of merit for a professional liability claim is only required when the claim derives from a professional relationship and it implicates professional judgment.

The plaintiff, a property owner, alleged that in a project to install a water line, the engineer had a duty to her to determine the position of the right-of-ways and/or easements applicable to the water line project and breached that duty by installing a water line on her property without her permission, i.e. the engineer committed negligent trespass. A Certificate of Merit ("COM") was not needed because this was a claim of ordinary and not professional negligence. A professional liability claim is asserted when the claim pertains to matters within the course of a professional relationship and the claim raises questions of professional judgment that are beyond the realm of common knowledge and experience. In this case, the duty at issue was one which any third party would owe a property owner, and thus, it did not implicate or require professional judgment.

Case Law Alert - 1st Qtr 2010