Thursday, April 2, 2020

Summary Judgment Denied in Limited Tort Case

In the case of Braniff v. Hartjei, No. 11022-CV-2017 (C.P. Lawrence Co. Aug. 12, 2019 Cox, J.), the court denied a Motion for Partial Summary Judgment based upon the Plaintiff’s election of the Limited Tort option.

After reviewing the law of the case of Washington v. Baxter, the court in this Braniff case noted that the Plaintiff alleged that the accident caused bulging discs and a radiculopathy with respect to her cervical spine. It was noted that the Plaintiff’s cervical spine range of motion decreased following the accident. The Plaintiff additionally complained that she could no longer sit or stand for prolonged periods of time.

The Plaintiff also asserted that her ability to ride in a car was hampered. She additionally noted that her ability to perform the duties of her job, which required her to train other people, was limited.

At her deposition, the Plaintiff also noted that she had difficulty performing her household chores, such as doing the laundry. She additionally testified to having to give up some of her recreational activities.

The court also noted that the Plaintiff was continuing to receive treatment for her injuries from the accident and that surgery was a possibility in her future.

In denying the Defendant’s limited tort Motion for Summary Judgment, the court emphasized that the focus of the inquiry was not on the injuries themselves, but on how the injuries affected the Plaintiff’s bodily functions. The court additionally reaffirmed the rule of law that any alleged impairments did not have to be permanent in order to be considered serious in the context of a limited tort case.

As the court found that reasonable minds could differ on the issue of whether the Plaintiff had sustained a serious injury or a substantial body impairment as a result of the accident, the Motion for Summary Judgment was denied.

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

Source: “Digest of Recent Opinions” Pennsylvania Law Weekly (Feb. 11, 2020).

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