Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Judge Minora of Lackawanna County Provides Lessons on Proper Pleading of Punitive Damages in Auto Accident Case


Hon. Carmen D. Minora
Lackawanna County
In his recent decision in the case of Calhoun v. Burns, No. 12-CV-2915 (C.P. Lacka. Co. Feb. 26, 2013 Minora, J.), Judge Carmen D. Minora of the Lackawanna County Court of Common Pleas addressed various Preliminary Objections filed by the Defendants to a Plaintiffs’ Complaint in an auto accident matter. 

By way of background, this matter involves a motor vehicle accident in which all Plaintiffs were passengers in a bus that was involved in a motor vehicle accident.  

After reviewing the Complaint and the challenges set forth in the Preliminary Objections, the Court ruled that all allegations as to recklessness, wanton, gross, and willful misconduct were to be stricken from the Plaintiff’s Complaint.  The Court did note that if discovery later revealed facts supporting such allegations, the Plaintiff would have the right to seek to amend and reinsert such language after which the Defendants would again have the right to object if warranted.   In his Opinion in this Calhoun case, Judge Minora provides a thorough overview of the law applicable to this type of pleading.  

The Court also sustained the Defendants’ Preliminary Objections as to generalized allegations of negligence where certain paragraphs in the Plaintiffs’ Complaint did not contain factual averments sufficiently specific enough to put the Defendants on notice of the particular allegations of negligence asserted against them.  

The Court also struck punitive damages language from the Plaintiffs’ Complaint given that no facts were alleged to set forth the essential factual circumstances under which punitive damages would be permitted under Pennsylvania law.  

Anyone desiring a copy of this case may contact me at dancummins@comcast.net. 

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