Monday, January 11, 2021

Complaint Need Not Be a Tell-All Tome

In the case of Greene v. Pennsylvania Power Co., No. 10336 of 2020, C.A. (C.P. Lawr. Co. Oct. 29, 2020 Hodge, J.), the court overruled the Defendant’s Preliminary Objections attacking a Plaintiff’s negligence Complaint primarily under arguments of a lack of sufficient specificity on the elements of a causation of negligence.

According to the Opinion, the decedent died as a result of an accident that occurred when he reported to work as a bus driver and was assigned to drive an empty bus for a practice run. As the decedent rounded a curve on the roadway, his side mirror sideswiped a utility pole near the edge of the roadway. That impact allegedly caused several high voltage wires to fall to the ground and onto the bus. The decedent suffered severe burns from an electrocution and died the same day.

A lawsuit was filed on behalf of the decedent claiming negligence against the companies responsible for the power lines.

The Defendants filed Preliminary Objections challenging the sufficient of the allegations in the Plaintiff’s Complaint.

The court ruled that while Pa. R.C.P. 1028(a)(4) does set a high bar of what must be alleged in a Complaint in order to allow a Complaint to proceed, the rule does not require “a tell-all chronicle verbosely stuffed with details” or an exhaustive inventory of the evidence underlying the claim presented.

The court found that the allegations in this Complaint were sufficient to enable the Defendants to prepare their defense to the claim presented.

The Complaint outlined the identity of the Defendants and asserted that those Defendants owned, operated and maintained the subject utility pole and that the Defendant’s breached their duty of care to maintain them safely. The Complaint also described a number of ways in which the Defendants allegedly deviated from that duty, including the placement of the pole near the roadway and in an unsafe condition.

The court also rejected the Defendants’ objections to the Complaint based upon the case of Connor v. Allegheny Hospital. After reviewing the Plaintiff’s Complaint in detail, the court did not find any vaguely worded, catch all allegations. As such, the Preliminary Objections were denied in this regard as well.

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

Source: “Digest of Recent Opinions.” Pennsylvania Law Weekly (Dec. 15, 2020).

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