Monday, March 21, 2022

Court Enters Judgment on the Pleadings on Promissory Estoppel Claim Based on Claims that Liability Carrier Allegedly Promised to Admit Liability Prior to Suit Being Filed

In a detailed Order, Judge Terrence R. Nealon of the Lackawanna County Court of Common Pleas granted a Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings relative to a promissory estoppel claim asserted by the Plaintiff in the slip and fall case of McCullon v. Byers, No. 21-CV-3832 (C.P. Lacka. Co. Feb, 9, 2022 Nealon, J.).

In this slip and fall case, the Plaintiff asserted that, prior to the litigation commencing, the alleged tortfeasor Defendant’s liability carrier had allegedly promised to the Plaintiff that the carrier would admit liability for the happening of the Plaintiff’s accident. The Plaintiff asserted that, on the basis of that alleged promise, Plaintiff’s counsel did not conduct any detailed discovery into the liability issues.

In the lawsuit filed against the Defendants, the Plaintiff asserted lump sum allegations against both Defendants, that is, the alleged insured tortfeasor and his liability carrier. 

In Count I, the Plaintiff alleged typical negligence cause of action relative to her allegedly slip and fall event down outside steps of the Defendant’s premises. 

In Count II of the Complaint, the Plaintiff generally alleged a claim of promissory estoppel and asserted that the Defendants should not be permitted to now deny liability based upon the alleged previous promise by the liability carrier not to contest liability.

With respect to this Order, the tortfeasor Defendant had filed a Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings asserting that he himself never made any promises to the Plaintiff and that, as such, the Plaintiff was not able to meet the elements of a claim of promissory estoppel. The tortfeasor Defendant also asserted that, in addition to not making any promises to the Plaintiff in this regard, the tortfeasor Defendant also asserted that he filed an Answer and New Matter not only denying liability but also alleging, in part, that the Plaintiff’s own contributory negligence was the cause of the Plaintiff's alleged injuries and damages.

After reviewing the elements of a cause of action for promissory estoppel, the court ruled in favor of the tortfeasor Defendant and granted a judgment on the pleadings relative to the promissory estoppel claim.

This decision is also notable for the fact that, in footnote 1 of the Order, the court also noted that it is improper to generally allege claims against all Defendants in a Complaint in a lump sum fashion.

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

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