Friday, July 24, 2020

Judge Legg of Susquehanna Requires Sufficient Facts Before Recklessness Claim Can Proceed


In the case of Dayton v. Estate of Scully, No. 2019-646 C.P. (C.P. Susq. Co. July 14, 2020 Legg, J.), President Judge Jason J. Legg of the Susquehanna County Court of Common Pleas addressed Preliminary Objections filed by a Defendant in a motor vehicle accident case against allegations of recklessness and with respect to the negligent entrustment claims. 

The court came down with the line of cases holding that, in order for a Plaintiff to pursue a claim of recklessness, outrageous facts sufficient to support a punitive damages claim must be pled in the Complaint. Given that this matter involved a standard motor vehicle accident with no outrageous facts, the court struck the claims for punitive damages and/or recklessness.

Judge Jason J. Legg
Susquehanna County


Judge Legg also granted the Preliminary Objections filed against the Plaintiff’s claim for negligent entrustment. 

In this regard, the Plaintiff had alleged that the Defendant owner allegedly allowed an uninsured driver to operate a motor vehicle and were, therefore, negligent in failing to have adequate insurance coverage on the vehicle. At the argument, the Plaintiffs conceded that the vehicle was not uninsured, but rather, allegedly underinsured. 

The court noted that allowing a Defendant driver to drive a motor vehicle knowing that it was insured for up to $25,000.00 in property damages did not equate to knowledge that the Defendant driver would drive the vehicle in such a manner as to likely create an unreasonable risk of harm to others. Given that there was no valid negligent entrustment claim pled in the Complaint, the court granted this Preliminary Objection as well. 

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

The prevailing defense attorney was Stephen T. Kopko, Esquire of Cummins Law in Clarks Summit, PA.

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