Wednesday, January 1, 2020

Claim for Recklessness Rejected in Monroe County Rear End Accident Case

In the case of Vella v. Henderson, No. 873-CV-2019 (C.P. Monroe Co. Oct. 30, 2019 Williamson, J.), the court granted a Defendant’s Preliminary Objections against the Plaintiff’s Complaint on several grounds in a motor vehicle accident case. The Plaintiff was allowed to file an Amended Complaint.

On one issue, the Defendant argued that the Plaintiffs failed to properly plead a claim for punitive damages based upon allegations of recklessness.

The court granted this Preliminary Objections after finding that the Complaint did not contain any allegations that the Defendant either purposefully caused or willfully ignored the likelihood of a substantial risk in this rear-end accident case.

According to the Opinion, the Plaintiff alleged that the Defendant operated a motor vehicle at a high rate of speed, failed to reduce his speed to avoid a collision, failed to maintain a proper lookout, failed to maintain a safe distance, and failed to use due care in operating his motor vehicle.

The court noted that these allegations constituted nothing more than regular negligence. As such, the court ordered that the recklessness language in the Complaint be stricken.

The court otherwise noted that the Plaintiff’s Complaint was also too vague to allow the defense to mount an opposition to the case where the Plaintiff failed to identify which body parts were injured in the accident. Although the court noted that the description of injuries did not have to be detailed, the nature of the injuries was found to be insufficiently described in this Complaint.

The court also sustained a Preliminary Objection to the Complaint given that the Plaintiff did not verify the Complaint. Rather, the Plaintiffs’ attorney had signed the verification instead.

The court found that the Plaintiff had had a lengthy time to file their Complaint and did not provide any explanation for the improper verification.

As stated, the court did allow the Plaintiff to file an Amended Complaint.

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

Source: “Digest of Recent Opinions.” Pennsylvania Law Weekly (Dec. 10, 2019).

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