Monday, August 24, 2020

Some Courts Continue to Allow Allegations of Recklessness Regardless of the Facts of the Case

The differences of opinion on how to handle claims of recklessness in a personal injury Complaint continues across Pennsylvania.

Here is a LINK to a detailed Order issued by Judge Lachman of the Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas in the case of Samuel v. CVS Pharmacy, Inc., Feb. Term 2020, No. 00511, Control No. 20052148 (C.P. Phila. Co. July 24, 2020). In this case, the court overruled the Preliminary Objections asserted by the defense to the allegations of willful, wanton, or reckless conduct. The court cited to the case of Archibald v. Kemble, 971 A.2d 513, 519 (Pa. Super. 2009) for the proposition that these types of allegations are averments of states of mind that are permitted to be pled generally under Rule 1019(b). 

The court in Samuel also held that averments of recklessness and wanton or willful behavior may also be properly pled to counter claims of comparative or contributory negligence. In this regard, the court cited several Pennsylvania Superior Court decisions as noted in the Order.

In another case involving the issue of the propriety of allegations of recklessness in a personal injury Complaint, the court overruled Preliminary Objections in the case of Capone v. Shukaitis, No. C-48-CV-2019-11239 (C.P. Northampton Co. April 23, 2020 Sletvold, J.). 

In this motor vehicle accident case, the Plaintiff alleged allegations of reckless conduct on the part of a Defendant who allegedly made a left hand turn across the path of a motorcycle operated by the Plaintiff. The defense filed Preliminary Objections to the allegations of recklessness.

In this decision, Judge Sletvold adopted the reasoning of Judge Samuel Murray of the same court in the case of Speight v. Schlacter, No. C-48-CV-2019-6973 (C.P. Northampton Co. Jan. 28, 2020), in which that court, citing the case of Archibald v. Kemble, asserted that allegations of willful, wanton, and reckless conduct are averments of a condition of the mind that may be alleged generally under Pa. R.C.P. 1019(b). The court in both the Speight case and this Capone case also emphasized that the Plaintiff had not pled or claimed punitive damages and that, as such, the Defendant would not be prejudice by the allegation of recklessness.

As such, the Preliminary Objections to the claims of recklessness were denied in both cases.
Anyone wishing to review a copy of the Capone case may click this LINK.

I send thanks to Attorney George W. Westervelt, Jr. of the Westervelt Law Office in Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania for sending the Capone case to my attention.

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