OPINION BY STEVENS, P.J.
Defendant/Appellant John Crane, Inc. ("Crane"), challenges an order of the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County, granting a new trial pursuant to a post-trial motion filed by Plaintiff/Appellee, Margaret Shelhamer ("Shelhamer"), executrix of the estate of Thomas Shelhamer ("decedent"). We reverse.
The parties to the instant appeal were originally part of a larger, strict product liability action involving an additional plaintiff (Thomas Jones ("Jones")), and three additional defendants (B.F. Goodrich, Buffalo Pumps, Garlock Company, and Ingersoll Rand). A jury trial presided over by the Honorable Ricardo C. Jackson was conducted in reverse bifurcated format, with damage issues addressed in phase I, and liability issues dealt with during phase II. During phase I, the jury determined that Shelhamer had proven by a fair preponderance of the evidence that exposure to asbestos was a factual cause of decedent's mesothelioma. 11/23/10 at 39.
Question #2 asked the jury "[d]o you find that the asbestos products of any of
The third and final question asked "[d]o you find that the defective product of any of the below Defendants listed [as in Question # 1] was a factual cause of Mr. Shelhamer's asbestos related mesothelioma?" Id. Despite finding in Questions # 1 and # 2 that Crane's asbestos product was not defective and that decedent had not been exposed to the product, the jury answered Question # 3 in the affirmative with regard to every defendant, including Crane. In addition to being recorded on the verdict sheet, the jury's answers were read aloud by the jury foreperson. N.T. 12/9/10 at 101-103. The jury foreperson also read aloud the jury's findings with regard to Jones, the other plaintiff. Id. at 103-105. With regard to Question # 3, which was identical to the third question posed as to decedent, the jury found as to Jones that the asbestos products of every defendant except Crane were a factual cause of Jones' injury. Id. at 105.
Immediately following the foreperson's reading of the answer to Question # 3 as to Jones, counsel for Crane requested a side-bar and asked that the foreperson reread the jury's answer to Question # 3 as it pertained to decedent. Id. at 106. The foreperson again stated that the jury found as to decedent that the asbestos products of every defendant including Crane were a factual cause of the injury. Id. at 107.
Despite the fact that the jury's first two answers conflicted with their third answer, neither party objected to the verdict, and it was recorded as follows:
Id. at 108. When the phase I and phase II verdicts were subsequently entered on the docket on December 13, 2010, however, they were worded as follows: "Phase I — Jury verdict in the amount of $8,000,000.00. Phase II — Verdict entered against Defts, BF Goodrich, Buffalo Pumps, Garlock Co. and Ingersoll Rand." Docket Sheet page 62. A verdict was not entered in favor of Shelhamer against Crane.
On December 17, 2010, Shelhamer filed a timely Motion for Post-Trial Relief, asserting
Order dated 2/17/11, filed 2/23/11.
Crane has appealed, pursuant to Pa. R.A.P. 311(a)(6),
"The application of the waiver doctrine raises a question of law. On questions of law, our standard of review is de novo and our scope of review is plenary." Straub v. Cherne Indus., 583 Pa. 608, 615 fn. 7, 880 A.2d 561, 566 fn. 7 (2005) (citing In re Hickson, 573 Pa. 127, 821 A.2d 1238, 1242 (2003); In re Ischy Trust, 490 Pa. 71, 415 A.2d 37, 43 (1980)). "Under prevailing Pennsylvania law, a timely objection is required to preserve an issue for appeal." Samuel-Bassett v. Kia Motors Am., Inc., 613 Pa. 371, 34 A.3d 1, 45 (2011) cert. denied, ___ U.S. ___, 133 S.Ct. 51, 183 L.Ed.2d 677 (2012) (citing Pa.R.C.P. No. 227.1(b)(1) & n.; Pa.R.A.P. 302; Straub, supra; Dilliplaine v. Lehigh Valley Trust Co., 457 Pa. 255, 322 A.2d 114, 116-17 (1974)). Rule of Civil Procedure 227.1(b) and its accompanying note direct that:
Pa.R.C.P. 227.1(b). Rule 302(a) directs that "issues not raised in the lower court are waived and cannot be raised for the first time on appeal." Pa.R.A.P. 302(a).
Straub, 583 Pa. at 616, 880 A.2d at 566. See also Elliott v. Ionta, 869 A.2d 502, 504 (Pa.Super.2005) (citing Criswell, 575 Pa. at 40, 834 A.2d at 508 (An objection to the inconsistency of the verdict must be raised when the verdict is rendered.)); Hong v. Pelagatti, 765 A.2d 1117, 1123 (Pa.Super.2000) ("[S]ince Dilliplaine and its progeny, one must object to errors, improprieties or irregularities at the earliest possible stage of the adjudicatory process to afford the jurist hearing the case the first occasion to remedy the wrong and possibly avoid an unnecessary appeal to complain of the matter."). "By its nature, [Rule 227.1's] contemporaneous objection requirement is imposed on the party who seeks to claim that post-trial relief is warranted due to an error that occurred at trial." Straub, 583 Pa. at 618, 880 A.2d at 568.
The verdict sheet used in the case at hand, like those formulated in Straub, allowed the jury to find the product not defective, yet still impose liability. As we noted above, the interrogatories specifically instructed the jury how to proceed if it answered "NO" as to all of the defendants, but gave no guidance as to how to proceed if it answered "NO" as to some of the defendants. The jury thus found that decedent had not been exposed to Crane's product, which was not defective, and yet, in obvious conflict with those findings, also concluded that "the defective product" of Crane was a factual cause of decedent's injury. Despite this, no further inquiries or objections were made by the parties or Judge Jackson prior to the reading of the verdict on the record, and no objections
Under Rule 227.1(b) if no contemporaneous objection is made to an error that could have been corrected during trial, that error may not constitute a ground for post-trial relief. Here, Shelhamer was granted a new trial on the basis that the jury's findings were inconsistent. Clearly, however, Shelhamer did not raise this inconsistency at the time the verdict was rendered. As explained above, Shelhamer, as the party seeking post-trial relief on the grounds of an inconsistent jury verdict, was required to make a contemporaneous objection to that inconsistency, and the failure to do so barred a later attempt to raise the claim via post-trial motion. We therefore conclude that it was error for Judge Jackson to grant Shelhamer's post-trial motion on a claim which had been waived. Pa.R.C.P. 227.1(b), Straub, supra.
Order granting new trial reversed. Judgment reinstated.