Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Judge Williamson of Monroe County Addresses Allegations of Recklessness in Complaint

In his recent decisions in the case of Burger v. Jaggers, No. 1858-Civil-2013 (C.P. Monroe Co. July 22, 2013, Williamson, J.), Judge David J. Williamson of the Monroe County Court of Common Pleas addressed a series of Preliminary Objections in a strict liability action.  

According to the Opinion, the case arose out of an incident during which the Plaintiff and the Defendant were on the Defendant’s property to cut up trees.   While the Plaintiff was cutting up a fallen tree, the Defendant allegedly cut down a nearby standing tree, without warning, which fell onto the Plaintiff, allegedly causing injuries.  

The Defendant’s Preliminary Objections requested the Court to strike allegations of “reckless conduct,” “recklessness,” and “deliberate disregard” as being the alleged inclusion of scandalous and impertinent matter.  The Court also was requested to dismiss a count on strict liability.   The claim for strict liability was apparently based on the fact that the parties were cutting trees with chainsaws.

Judge Williamson overruled the Preliminary Objections and held “obviously, recklessness is relevant to the claim and therefore cannot be impertinent.” and found that there was nothing scandalous about such allegations under the facts presented.  

The Court also denied the Preliminary Objections on the strict liability claim indicating that, while “the Court must determine, as a matter of law, whether an activity is abnormally dangerous so that strict liability will be imposed…[accepting] all well-pleaded allegations…as true…Plaintiff has sufficiently averred the factors to establish a claim for strict liability.”  

I send thanks to Attorney Joseph F. Kulesa of Fischer and Fischer Law Offices in Mount Pocono for bringing this decision to my attention.

Anyone wishing to review this decision, may click this LINK.

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