Monday, May 3, 2021

Claims of Recklessness Based Upon Following Too Closely in a Construction Zone Allowed to Proceed

In the case of Crowell v. PSX, Inc., No. 2020-00551-TT (C.P. Chester Co. Oct. 26, 2020 Tunnell, J.), the court addressed Preliminary Objections filed by a Defendant driver against a Complaint in a motor vehicle accident case in which the Plaintiff alleged reckless conduct.

The court noted that this matter involved a rear-end accident that occurred in an area where there was ongoing construction.

The Defendant driver filed Preliminary Objections against the Plaintiff’s claims of recklessness which were based upon an allegation that the Defendant had failed to maintain a safe distance and was following the Plaintiff’s vehicle more closely than was reasonably prudent under the circumstances presented.

The court found that this alleged conduct could plausibly qualify as reckless conduct. The court noted that following too closely could involve mere inattentiveness or, alternatively, such conduct could be purposeful.

The court noted that this accident occurred in an area where roadwork was occurring and that driving in such areas generally required drivers to exercise a heightened degree of care. Under the legal standard with respect to addressing Preliminary Objections, the court noted that it had to draw all reasonable inferences in favor of the non-moving party.  Under this standard, the court overruled this Preliminary Objections and allowed the claims of recklessness to proceed.

The court also otherwise found that a general allegation by the Plaintiff that the Defendant “failed to use due care under the circumstances” was overly broad and failed under Pa. R.C.P. 1019(a) to describe what exactly the Defendant failed to do. The court also found that these allegations were mere legal conclusions. The court sustained the Defendant’s Preliminary Objections and struck this overly broad language found in the Plaintiff's Complaint.

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

Source: “Digest of Recent Opinions.” Pennsylvania Law Weekly (March 23, 2021).

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