Thursday, April 28, 2022

Defendant Given Another Chance to Allege More Factually Specific New Matter Defenses

In the case of J.C.F., a minor v. Brenneman, No. 2021-SU-001714 (C.P. York Co. March 4, 2022 Strong, J.), a court addressed Preliminary Objections filed by a Plaintiff against a Defendant’s Amended Answer and New Matter. According to the Opinion, this matter involved an alleged dog bite incident.

In the Plaintiff’s Preliminary Objections to the Defendant’s New Matter, the Plaintiff alleged a lack of factual specificity in violation of the Rules of Civil Procedure as well as a lack of legal sufficiency.

The Plaintiff attacked the allegations in the Defendant’s New Matter in which the Defendants had asserted that the Plaintiff’s injuries and/or damages may have been caused in whole or in part by the Plaintiff’s own conduct when the Plaintiff had interacted with the dog.  The Plaintiff also attacked allegations by the Defendant that the Plaintiff may have assumed the risk of injuries and/or that the Plaintiff failed to mitigate any alleged injuries by not following medical advice.

After reviewing the pleadings, the court found that the Defendants failed to provide sufficient factual specificity in support of the defenses raised in the Defendant's New Matter. The court noted that the conclusory paragraphs asserted by the Defendant did not enable the Plaintiff to prepare their case in opposition to the defenses raised.

In striking the new matter allegations regarding contributory negligence and assumption of the risk, the court noted that, under Pa. R.C.P. 1030(b), it is provided that the affirmative defenses of assumption of the risk and contributory negligence need not be pled.  As such, the court noted that the Defendant did not need to restate these claims in any amended pleading but that, if they chose to do so, the Defendants were required to fully conform to the requirement under Pa. R.C.P. 1019(a) of providing sufficient factual specificity in support of such pleadings.

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

I send thanks to Attorney Thomas J. Newell of Newell Law in Perkasie, PA for bringing this case to my attention.

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