Thursday, February 22, 2018

Punitive Damages Claim Allowed to Proceed in Trucking Accident Case

In the case of Gaffin v. Walker, No. 7974-CV-2017 (C.P. Monroe Co. Jan. 30, 2018 Williamson, J.), Judge David J. Williamson of the Monroe County Court of Common Pleas overruled a trucking Defendant’s Preliminary Objections to a Plaintiff’s Complaint with respect to punitive damages alleged based upon a rear-end motor vehicle accident.  

The defense contended that the case involved a simple rear-end collision sounding in ordinary negligence.  

In response, the Plaintiff asserted that the subject accident involved a tractor trailer rear-ending the Plaintiff’s flatbed truck.  The Plaintiff also alleged that the Defendant violated portions of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations.  

Judge David J. Williamson
Monroe County
After reviewing the current status of Pennsylvania law pertaining to punitive damages and allegations of recklessness, the court found that the Plaintiff alleged sufficient facts to allow the punitive damages claim to proceed beyond the pleadings stage.   The court cited to other cases in which punitive damages claims were allowed to proceed where a Plaintiff alleges violation of state and federal statutes pertaining to commercial vehicle driving.  

The court also noted that punitive damages could be awarded under the Plaintiff’s allegations of vicarious liability in addition to the allegations of direct conduct. 

Anyone wishing to review this Opinion may click this LINK.

I send thanks to Attorney John P. Finnerty, Esquire of the Moosic, Pennsylvania office of Dougherty, Leventhal & Price, LLP for bringing this case to my attention.   

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