Monday, February 21, 2022

Summary Judgment Granted With Respect to Claims of Recklessness

Although the judges in the Court of Common Pleas of Lackawanna County have followed the minority line of trial court decisions that have gone against appellate precedent in overruling Preliminary Objections with respect to claims of recklessness in personal injury Complaints, as the recent decision in the case of Lentes v. Hayden, No. 17-CV-3947 (C.P. Lacka. Co. Feb. 16, 2022 Nealon, J.), proves, the judges of the Lackawanna County Court of Common Pleas are willing to grant summary judgment on claims of recklessness once discovery has been completed and it has been confirmed that the discovered facts of the case do not support a claim of recklessness.

According to the Opinion in Lentes, this personal injury action arose out of a motor vehicle accident. The facts indicate that the accident occurred as the Plaintiff was making a left hand turn into his driveway and was involved in a collision with an oncoming vehicle that was operated by the Defendant.

The Plaintiff alleged that the impact occurred after he had exited the roadway and had entered his driveway. The Defendant maintained that the initial impact took place in the roadway when the Plaintiff suddenly and negligently turned left in front of the Defendant’s vehicle without yielding the right-of-way to the Defendant.

Other evidence developed during the course of discovery confirmed that the Defendant admitted at his deposition that he was traveling at 50 mph in a posted 45 mph speed zone at the time of the accident.

The Defendant filed a Motion for Summary Judgment seeking the entry of judgment in his favor on a Plaintiff’s claims of recklessness and negligent conduct.

The court allowed the claims asserted by the Plaintiff in negligence to proceed to the jury given the disputed facts and testimonial differences.

Relative to the claims of recklessness, the court found that the record lacked sufficient facts of an outrageous nature so as to support a finding of recklessness on the part of the Defendant. As such, summary judgment was granted with respect to the claims of recklessness but denied in all other respects.

In his Opinion, Judge Terrence R. Nealon of the Lackawanna County Court of Common Pleas offered a detailed recitation of the law of Pennsylvania on claims of recklessness and the type of evidence necessary to prove the same in order to get beyond a Motion for Summary Judgment and thereby proceed to a jury on such claims.

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

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