In this unreported opinion, Licensee appealed a one-year suspension based on an alleged refusal to submit to chemical testing under the Implied Consent Law. Ultimately (and after exercising much patience with the PA State Police (PSP) and PennDOT), the trial court vacated the suspension as a discovery sanction under Pa. R.C.P. 4019(c)(3) because PSP and PennDOT failed to provide Licensee with a copy of the Motor Vehicle Recording (MVR) taken during the incident.
PennDOT argued that its failure to produce the video was due to a “mutual misunderstanding” of PennDOT and PSP and, therefore, it did not warrant the discovery sanction by the trial court.
In its opinion, the trial court found the “misunderstanding” between PennDOT and PSP to be “blatantly bogus.”
On appeal filed by PennDOT, the Commonwealth Court noted that the trial court found two direct violations of its previous orders which directed PSP and the Commonwealth to produce the MVR. Additionally, the trial court rejected the argument that PennDOT cannot be responsible for PSP’s actions because they are independent agencies.
Lastly, the appeal court acknowledged that the trial court found that Licensee suffered and would continue to suffer prejudice due to not receiving the MVR, i.e. – it would be harsher for Licensee to proceed to a hearing without having reviewed the MVR or to continue the matter again.
Accordingly, the Commonwealth Court concluded that the trial court did not abuse its discretion in sustaining Licensee’s appeal and vacating Licensee’s one-year suspension.
Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Department of Transportation, Bureau of Driver Licensing, v. Falgun Kayastha, No. 1238 C.D. 2020 (Pa. Cmmwlth. 09/12/2022).