The Procedure for Precomplaint Discovery and Protective Orders
Tullytown Borough v. Armstrong, 129 A.3d 619 (Pa. Cmwlth. 2015). Tullytown Borough appealed from an order of the Court of Common Pleas denying the Borough’s motion for protective order. The Commonwealth Court affirmed. The plaintiffs filed a writ of summons commencing a civil rights action under § 1983. The plaintiffs sought to depose nine borough employees. The individuals were identified but failed to give the reasons for the depositions. The borough filed a motion for protective order. Precomplaint discovery was requested pursuant to Pennsylvania Rule of Civil Procedure 4003.8 to obtain material for a complaint. The memorandum of law in support of pre-complaint discovery request gave the reasons for the discovery. The trial court denied the borough’s motion for protective order. The court relied upon Pennsylvania Rule of Civil Procedure 4003.8, which permits precomplaint discovery under the circumstances therein described. The trial court may, but is not required to, direct a party to state how discovery will advance preparation of the complaint. There was no abuse of discretion.