Tuesday, April 7, 2020

Recklessness and Punitive Damages Claims Allowed to Proceed in Tractor Trailer vs. Pedestrian Accident


In the case of Molina v. Timmons, No. 1:19-CV-01707 (M.D. Pa. April 2, 2020 Rambo, J.), the court denied a Defendant’s Motion to Dismiss and Strike relative to claims of recklessness and for punitive damages in a case involving a tractor trailer versus pedestrian accident.

According to the Opinion, the Defendant truck driver was allegedly backing up in a rapid fashion near an area that was used for unloading and loading materials when that driver knocked the pedestrian Plaintiff to the ground and ran over the Plaintiff’s midsection with the two right rear axles of the tractor trailer.

The Plaintiff included allegations of recklessness and request for punitive damages in the filed Complaint. The Motion before the court involved the Defendant’s Motion to Dismiss and/or Strike these claims.

The case was originally filed in Luzerne County but removed to the federal court. As such, the Defendant’s motion was decided under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6).

After reviewing the Complaint, the court in this matter found that the Complaint adequately alleged reckless conduct. The court noted that the Plaintiff alleged that the Defendant tractor trailer driver backed his truck up at an alleged continuous high rate of speed without checking his mirrors, narrowly missing another vehicle, striking and knocking over the Plaintiff with the back end of his trailer, and continuing to drive in reverse over the Plaintiff’s body.

The court found that, accepting these allegations as true and drawing all reasonable inferences in favor of the Plaintiff as required by the standard of review, these allegations sufficiently pled that the Defendant driver knew or should have known that his actions posed a high degree of risk of harm to others and that he nevertheless acted indifferently to those risks.

The court also found, under the same rationale, that the Complaint sufficiently asserted a claim for punitive damages that could move forward in the case.

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

I send thanks to Attorney Clancy Boyland and Attorney Hannah Molitoris of the Philadelphia office of the Morgan & Morgan law firm for bringing this case to my attention.

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