Friday, July 24, 2020

Allegations of Recklessness Stricken Where No Outrageous Facts Alleged



In the case of Farina v. Emerson, No. 6901-CV-2019 (C.P. Monroe Co. April 27, 2020 Williamson, J.), Judge David J. Williamson of the Monroe County Court of Common Pleas continued the trend of decisions in that county of dismissing claims of recklessness where the same were not supported by the same types of outrageous facts that would support a punitive damages claim. 

According to the Opinion, the case arose out of a dog bite incident. 

The defense filed Preliminary Objections in the nature of a demurrer against the Plaintiff’s complaints of recklessness. The defense argued that the Plaintiff did not allege any facts to support a recovery for punitive damages. 

The court agreed and noted that punitive damages are penal in nature and proper only in cases where the Defendant’s actions were so outrageous as to demonstrate willful, wanton, or reckless conduct. The court noted that a defendant can only be hit with punitive damages where a defendant is found to have acted in an outrageous fashion due to either evil motive or reckless indifference to the rights of others. 

In reviewing the Plaintiff’s Complaint, the court found that the factual allegations were sparse and did not amount to outrageous facts that would support a claim of recklessness. Rather, the court noted that the Complaint did not contain any facts to elevate her claims above claims of ordinary negligence. As such, the Defendant’s Preliminary Objections were sustained. 

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

Source: “Digest of Recent Opinions.” Pennsylvania Law Weekly (June 30, 2020).


There continues to be a split of authority on this issue, with some trial courts requiring that outrageous facts be pled to support claims of recklessness, and other trial courts holding that claims of recklessness can be pled in any case whatsoever regardless of the facts.

To view other Tort Talk posts on recklessness cases, please go to TortTalk.com, scroll all the way down the right hand colum of the blog until you get to the "Labels," and, under that section go down in alphabetical order and click on the Label for "Allegations of Recklessness."


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