Friday, April 29, 2022

Plaintiff Must Separate Out Claims Against Separate Defendants in a Complaint

In the case of Gowden v. Com., Pa. Dept. of Transp., No. 21-CV-3046 (C.P. Lacka. Co. March 31, 2022 Nealon, J.), Judge Terrence R. Nealon of the Lackawanna County Court of Common Pleas addressed Preliminary Objections filed by Defendants challenging the specificity of an Amended Complaint in a case involving a motor vehicle accident that was allegedly caused, in part, due to loose gravel and other materials resulting from the work on the roadway.

Judge Nealon sustained the Defendant’s Preliminary Objections against the Plaintiff’s general use of the term “Defendants” throughout the Complaint without identifying which named Defendants were being accused of which acts of negligence. The court noted that, in the Amended Complaint at issue, the only change the Plaintiff made from the general, lump sum allegations against all “Defendants” in the Amended Complaint was to simply insert the names of the Defendant after the terms “Defendants” in the challenged paragraphs. This the court again found was insufficient to put the defense on notice as to which Defendant was being accused of which act of negligence.

As such, the court sustained the Preliminary Objections to the Plaintiff’s only negligence count in the Amended Complaint given that that pleading attempted to assert a single negligence claim against all four (4) Defendants based on the same exact conduct in violation of the Pennsylvania Rules of Civil Procedure.

The court granted the Plaintiff a “final opportunity to sufficiently identify each cause of action being advanced against named Defendant in a separate count.” The court noted that, the failure of the Plaintiff to do so in the next Amended Complaint would result in a dismissal of claims.

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

Source:  Photo by Ujesh Krishnan on

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