Thursday, August 27, 2020

Punitive Damages Claim Allowed To Proceed in Texting Case, But Not Negligent Entrustment Claim

In the case of Simpson v. Buchanan, No. 20-2583 (E.D. Pa. Aug. 5, 2020 Pappert, J.), the court denied a Defendant’s Partial Motion to Dismiss in a motor vehicle accident case involving alleged cell phone use by the Defendant driver.

The court found that allegations that a Defendant drove while being distracted by a cell phone was sufficient to support a claim for punitive damages.  More specifically, the Plaintiff alleged that the Defendant was texting at the time of the rear end accident.

Notably, the Court dismissed allegations of negligent entrustment against the Defendant-owner after the court found that the Plaintiff's allegations that the Defendant-owner knew or should have known that the Defendant-driver would be texting while driving were conclusory, speculative, and baseless allegations.  The Court also noted that the Plaintiff did not plead any facts to support a claim of prior knowledge on the part of the Defendant-owner of any poor driving history of the Defendant-driver.

Anyone wishing to review a copy of this decision may click this LINK.  The companion Order can be viewed HERE

I send thanks to Attorney James M. Beck of the Philadelphia office of the Reed Smith law firm for bringing this case to my attention.

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