Virnelson v. Johnson Matthey Inc.

In 2015, Mr. Virnelson fell to his death while working as an employee of Johnson Matthey Inc. (“JMI”) at JMI’s pharmaceutical plant in Conshohocken. Plaintiff Tonia Virnelson sued to recover for the death of her husband. The complaint alleged that JMI’s inadequate safety practices at the plant caused Virnelson’s death and that the pressure filter dryer was defectively designed and/or installed. JMI appealed from the orders granting the plaintiff’s motion to compel production of an on-site investigative report of an industrial accident, prepared by JMI’s consultant, Baker Engineering and Risk Consultants (BakerRisk). In Virnelson v. Johnson Matthey Inc., the Superior Court affirmed the trial court, holding that the court properly interpreted and applied Pa.R.C.P. 4003.3. The record supported the trial court’s finding that BakerRisk was not retained in anticipation of litigation but, rather, was retained as a matter of business protocol to investigate the causes of the accident and enable JMI to implement operational changes to prevent such accidents in the future.

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