Sunday, December 19, 2021

Fayette County Court of Common Pleas Sides With Majority of Courts Requiring Outrageous Facts in Support of Claims of Recklessness



In the case of Guziak v. Blystone, No. 1883 of 2020 G.D. (C.P. Fayette Co. July 20, 2021 Wagner, J.), the court overruled a Defendant’s Preliminary Objections to Plaintiff’s allegations of recklessness in a Complaint filed in a motor vehicle accident case after finding that the Plaintiff had alleged outrageous facts in support of such allegations.

The court emphasized in its Opinion that “an essential fact needed to support a claim for punitive damages is that the Defendant’s conduct be outrageous.”

The court noted that outrageous conduct is defined as an act done with reckless indifference to the interests of others. Reckless indifference to the interests of others is defined as wanton misconduct meaning an intentional act done in disregard of a risk known to him or her or so obvious that he or she must be taken to have been aware of this.

Turning to the facts before him, Judge John F. Wagner, Jr. of the Fayette County Court of Common Pleas noted that, where the Plaintiff alleged that a Defendant deliberately turned into on-coming traffic, with the drivers in that other traffic having the right-of-way at that intersection, and with no traffic control device or turning lane located in the area, the Defendant’s actions could be considered to have been done in disregard of a known risk and could therefore be considered to have been reckless. As such, the court overruled the Defendant’s Preliminary Objections to the claims of recklessness.

In so ruling, Judge Wagner and the Fayette County Court of Common Pleas joined the majority of those trial court across the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania who have held that allegations of recklessness must be supported by factual allegations of outrageous conduct. 

Please keep an eye out for my upcoming article set to come out in the January, 2022 edition of the Pennsylvania Bar Quarterly in which the split of authority regarding allegations of recklessness in personal injury matters in Pennsylvania will be reviewed.

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


Source: “Court Summaries” by Timothy L. Clawegs. Pennsylvania Bar News (Dec. 6, 2021).



No comments:

Post a Comment