Pennsylvania’s “No felony conviction recovery rule”

Dinardo v. Kohler, 270 A.3d 1201 (Pa. Super. 2022), allocatur granted July 27, 2022, appeal dockets 22 and 23 EAP 2022

Mother of convicted murderer, acting as her son’s personal representative, sued son’s psychiatric care providers for negligence and indemnification asserting that son committed four murders due to the negligent psychiatric care provided to him, and seeking recovery for attorney fees and compensation that murderer paid to murder victims’ estates. Superior Court granted interlocutory review of trial court orders granting in part and denying in part providers’ preliminary objections on basis of “no felony conviction recovery rule” which precludes individuals convicted of felonies or worse from benefiting in a civil suit flowing from his criminal convictions.

On appeal, Mother argued that the “no felony conviction recovery” rule does not apply because the rule only bars recovery when a party seeks to “profit” from his crime.  Son, Mother claims, is not seeking to “profit” from his crime but is only seeking “compensation” for his losses. Superior Court rejected that argument, reasoning:

This argument is an exercise in semantics. Regardless of whether these alleged damages are labeled “compensation” or “profit,” the critical point is that they flow from criminal conduct underlying Son’s convictions for first-degree murder. As such, they are not recoverable under the “no felony conviction recovery” rule.

Slip Op. at 12.

Superior Court applied the same analysis to plantiffs’ indemnification claims, resulting in dismissal of the complaint in its entirety.

The Supreme Court granted allocatur. The issue, consolidated into one question and rephrased for clarity, is:

Does the “no felony conviction recovery” rule preclude the award of any civil damages or relief where, as here, Petitioner alleges that he would not benefit or profit from his own criminal acts, but rather would be compensated for alleged medical malpractice relating to the crimes for which he pleaded guilty?


For more information, contact Kevin McKeon or Dennis Whitaker.