Thursday, February 28, 2019

Reckless Allegations and Punitive Damages Claims Allowed to Proceed Against Tractor Trailer Defendant

In the case of Kuehner v. Abdulqader, No. 2018-CV-4215 (C.P. Lacka. Co. Feb. 15, 2019 Nealon, J.), the court addressed Preliminary Objections filed by a trucking Defendant seeking the dismissal of allegations of “gross, wanton, and reckless conduct” along with the accompanying claims for punitive damages as set forth in the Plaintiff’s Complaint.  

After reviewing the standard of review for a demurrer, the court ruled that the Defendant’s Preliminary Objections were overruled.

The court noted that the Plaintiff asserted that she was operating a vehicle and making a left hand turn when the Defendant tractor trailer driver drove his vehicle into the Plaintiff’s lane of travel and caused the injury and allegedly serious personal injuries to the Plaintiff.   

Among the more specific allegations asserted by the Plaintiff in support of claims of gross, wanton, and reckless conduct included allegations that the tractor trailer driver was operating his vehicle when he was so fatigued so as to make it unsafe for him to operate his vehicle in violation of federal code provisions, operating his vehicle in excess of the applicable hours of service allowed under the federal code, and operating his vehicle in conscious disregard of his fatigued condition.

The Plaintiff also alleged that the tractor trailer driver was reckless by failing to document his travel in daily logs as required by law, including the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations, and failure to observe proper rest and driving intervals as required by the same law.   

Reviewing the Complaint as a whole and in the light most favorable to the Plaintiff, the court overruled the Preliminary Objection asserted in the nature of a demurrer.   

The court noted that the defense retained the right to revisit the issue after the conclusion of discovery by way of a Motion for Summary Judgment.  

Anyone wishing to review a copy of this decision may click this LINK.

I send thanks to Attorney Kevin Conaboy for bringing this decision to my attention.  

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