Thursday, December 16, 2021

New Matter Defense Stricken for Lack of Factual Specificity

In the case of Philips v. Horvath, No. 536-CV-2021 (C.P. Monroe Co. Oct. 1, 2021 Williamson, J.), the court found that the Defendant’s Answer and New Matter, which attempted to assert that the Plaintiff’s own contributory negligence was a factor in this dog bite case, failed for lack of specificity where the Defendant did not allege enough facts to put the Plaintiff on notice as to what purported misconduct and/or negligence on the part of the Plaintiff was at issue.

According to the Opinion, the Plaintiff was an Assistant Fire Chief who had responded to a 911 call regarding a potential house fire. When the Plaintiff entered the premises, he was allegedly attacked by a pit bull.

In filing Preliminary Objections to the Defendant’s New Matter allegations, the Plaintiff asserted that the facts alleged in the New Matter only indicated that the Plaintiff had come into contact with the dog but did not put the Plaintiff on notice of any alleged misconduct on the part of the Plaintiff that allegedly caused the dog to attack the Plaintiff.

The court agreed with the Plaintiff that the Defendants’ allegations were not factually sufficient to support claims of contributory negligence.  In so ruling, Judge Williamson emphasized that Pennsylvania is a fact-pleading state under the mandates of Pa.R.C.P. 1019(a).

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

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

Source of image:  Photo by Nikola Cedikova on

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