Monday, July 21, 2014

Lehigh County Trial Court Dismisses Punitive Damages Claim Based Solely on Cell Phone Use During Auto Accident

In the case of Pietrulewicz v. Gil, No. 2014 - C - 0826 (C.P. Lehigh Co., June 6, 2014 Reichley, J.), Judge Douglas G. Reichley of the Lehigh County Court of Common Pleas sustained a defendant's preliminary objections and struck a plaintiff's claims for recklessness and punitive damages based upon a plaintiff's allegations that the defendant driver was using a cell phone at the time of the accident.

In the opinion, the court noted that there were allegations that the defendant driver was distracted by her cell phone use when she made a slow left hand turn across the Plaintiff's path of travel and an accident resulted.

The court reviewed several cases handed down to date on this issue and essentially ruled that the mere use of a cell phone while driving without more, does not amount to factual support sufficient to sustain an averment of recklessness and attendant punitive damages.  Rather, such allegations only support a claim of negligence.
Anyone wishing to review this cell phone decision out of Lehigh County may click this LINK.

I send thanks to John Hendrzak of the Center Valley, PA law firm of Hendrzak & Lloyd for bringing this notable decision to my attention.

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