Thursday, August 22, 2019

Claims of Reckless Conduct Dismissed Where No Supporting Facts Alleged

In the case of Clark v. Beers, No. 2019-GN-1484 (C.P. Blair Co. Aug. 13, 2019 Bernard, P.J.), the court granted a Defendant’s Preliminary Objections seeking the dismissal of allegations of recklessness in a motor vehicle versus pedestrian litigation but allowed the Plaintiff leave to amend the Complaint to add additional facts.

According to the Opinion, the accident occurred when the Plaintiff was pushing a shopping cart as she exited a market and was walking in the parking lot. The Defendant was backing his vehicle from a parking space and contacted the Plaintiff with the rear of his vehicle, allegedly causing the Plaintiff to fall down and sustain physical injuries.  

In the Complaint, the Plaintiff asserted allegations of “negligent and reckless” conduct. 

The court noted that these allegations were pled “as if they are indistinguishable” and that “[i]t may well be that Plaintiff only means to assert an action in negligence.”   

The court in the Clark case went on to hold that, if the Plaintiff intended to pursue a theory of reckless conduct on the part of the Defendant then specific factual allegations supporting claims beyond mere negligence must be asserted.  

Given that no such facts were pled in this Complaint, the court granted Preliminary Objections seeking the dismissal of the claims of reckless conduct.  However, as noted, the court granted the Plaintiff an opportunity to amend the Complaint to either add specific facts in support of a claim for reckless conduct or to eliminate the reference to reckless conduct from the Complaint altogether.    

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

UPDATE: The trial court reversed itself when it was presented with a Motion for Reconsideration by the Plaintiff.  As such, the court found that the allegations in the Plaintiff's Complaint could support a claim of recklessness and the claim was therefore allowed to proceed into discovery.  Click HERE to review the Court's Order granting the Plaintiff's Motion for Reconsideration.

I send thanks to Attorney Brad E. Haas of the Pittsburgh office of Marshall Dennehey Warner Coleman & Goggin for bringing this decision to my attention.  

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