Wednesday, June 3, 2020

Can Any Negative Impact Result From a Plaintiff's Failure to File a Reply to a New Matter?



In the case of Mayfield Assoc., LLC v. Clauss Bovard Agency, Inc., No. 19-CV-2282 (C.P. Lacka. Co. April 7, 2020 Nealon, J.), the court reaffirmed the rule of law that a Plaintiff need not file a Reply to any conclusions of law contained in a New Matter as such allegations are deemed denied by operation of law. 

This matter involved an insurance coverage dispute. 

After the pleadings were filed in this case in the form of a Complaint and an Answer and New Matter, but no Reply to the New Matter, the Defendant filed a Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings based upon the Plaintiff’s failure to file a timely Reply to the New Matter contained in the Defendant’s Answer and New Matter. 

The Defendant asserted that the Plaintiff’s failure to file a Reply amounted the admissions of facts alleged in the New Matter. More specifically, West Chester had alleged that an exclusion contained in the policy applied to preclude coverage. 

The Plaintiff filed a Reply to the New Matter after the Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings was filed. In its Reply, the Plaintiff asserted that the allegations of the New Matter only set forth conclusions. The Plaintiff also contended that issues of fact remain to be resolved through discovery such that judgment on the pleading should not be granted. 

The court agreed that a party did not need to answer mere conclusions of law contained in a New Matter as such allegations are deemed denied pursuant to Pa. R.C.P. 1029(d). 

More specifically, the court found that the Defendant’s allegation in its New Matter that the Plaintiff’s claim was barred by a policy exclusion was a conclusion of law which, as a matter of law, was deemed denied. 

As such, the Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings filed by the defense was denied. 

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

Source: “Digest of Recent Opinions” Pennsylvania Law Weekly (May 19, 2020).

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