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Zielinski v. Philadelphia Piers, Inc.

United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania
139 F. Supp. 408 (E.D. Pa. 1956)


Facts

Zielinski (plaintiff) was operating a forklift for J. A. McCarthy, Inc. when he was injured by Sandy Johnson. Zielinski sued Philadelphia Piers, Inc. (defendant) and alleged his injuries were caused by Sandy Johnson’s negligent operation of a forklift owned by Philadelphia Piers. Zielinski alleged that Johnson was an employee and agent of Philadelphia Piers at the time of the accident. Sandy Johnson had worked for Philadelphia Piers for 15 years and was not aware that the company had transferred ownership of the operation and that he had in fact been working for Carload Contractors, Inc. (Carload). Johnson also mistakenly testified that he had been working for Philadelphia Piers at pretrial depositions attended by representatives of Philadelphia Piers, who had made a general denial of the allegations in the complaint but did not clarify that it had transferred the operation to Carload Contractors. Carload, Philadelphia Piers, and the insurance company that provided insurance to both companies were aware of Zielinski’s error. Zielinski did not discover that he had sued the wrong company until the pretrial conference. Zielinski moved to estop Philadelphia Piers from denying the facts alleged in the complaint because the company had allowed him to believe that they were true, in effect anticipating a dismissal of the complaint based on false statements of the parties and suing the wrong party.

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Holding and Reasoning (Van Dusen, J.)

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