Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Allegations of Recklessness Allowed to Proceed in Lackawanna County Motor Vehicle Accident Case


In his decision in the case of Wolff v. Taylor, No. 19-CV-4988 (C.P. Lacka. Co. Feb. 12, 2020 Nealon, J.), Judge Terrence R. Nealon, relying upon the Pennsylvania Superior Court case of Archibald v. Kemble, 971 A.2d 513 (Pa. Super. 2009), continued the trend of decisions in Lackawanna County allowing Plaintiffs in that county to generally plead allegations of recklessness in any personal injury case.

The Wolff case involved an intersectional motor vehicle accident involving personal vehicles in which the Plaintiff alleged that the Defendant-driver ran a red light and failed to keep a proper lookout.   In conjunction with their standard claims of negligence, the Plaintiffs also asserted that the Defendant-driver's conduct was reckless.

The Court noted that, as indicated in the Superior Court's decision in the Archibald case, allegations of recklessness are permitted to be pled in a general fashion in civil litigation matters under Pa.R.C.P. 1019.  In issuing his detailed Order in this case, Judge Nealon also cited to a long line of Lackawanna County decisions in supporting the allowance of this type of pleading as well.

The Court declined to follow the defense's reliance upon the line of decisions from other counties in which those courts have sustained demurrers to claims of recklessness where the facts presented only rose to the level negligence and did not show any outrageous conduct or evil motive on the part of the defendant to support any possible claims for punitive damages.

The demurrer asserted by the defense in this matter against the claims of recklessness was overruled and that portion of the case was allowed to proceed.

In his Opinion, Judge Nealon did note that the defense did retain the right revisit the issue at the conclusion of discovery by way of a motion for summary judgment.

Anyone wishing to review this detailed Order issued by Judge Nealon in the Wolff case may click this LINK.

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