Attorney: Prothonotary office failed to process filing in slip-and-fall suit
SUNBURY - A Kulpmont couple and Northumberland County's prothonotary are entangled in a legal dispute over the filing of a slip-and-fall lawsuit.
An attorney for Robert and Allison Starr, Brian J. Urban, of Pottsville, claims the lawsuit was received by office personnel in July, and that receipt was confirmed with county office personnel by a paralegal from his staff.
Roger V. Wiest II, of Sunbury, representing Prothonotary Kathleen Strausser, says no such filing was ever received in July and that office personnel recall no such confirmation.
The couple are seeking to file suit against another Kulpmont couple for an incident alleged to have occurred July 28, 2010. Timely filing within two years is crucial to the suit's success, Urban says in the Starrs' complaint against Strausser.
Both parties agree an electronic search of county records in September for the disputed filing came up empty, and that Urban filed a legal writ on the Starrs' behalf during that fall visit to the prothonotary's office.
The Starrs' complaint against Strausser maintains their filing was received in July and that office personnel failed to process it in a timely fashion. They're asking a county judge to order Strausser to date their writ to reflect a timely filing.
Strausser's answer denies the lawsuit was ever received in July, and that proof of such be presented at trial.
If it was sent by mail and subsequently lost, the plaintiffs assumed the risk of such delivery, Strausser said.
Urban countered that the U.S. Postal Service is an acceptable means to file legal papers, using the appellate courts as an example, and cites the "mailbox rule" in case law that proof of mailing - in the Starrs' case, dated envelope and receipt from USPS - "raises rebuttable presumption the mailed item was received."