Thursday, June 13, 2024

Gist of the Action Doctrine Applied to Sustain Preliminary Objections

In the case of Spiritrust Lutheran v. Wagman Constr., Inc., No. 572 MDA 2022 (Pa. Super. April 23, 2024 Stabile, J., Dubow, J. and McCaffery, J.) (Op. by Stabile, J.), the Pennsylvania Superior Court addressed issues surrounding Preliminary Objections raising, in part, the gist of the action doctrine.

With regards the validity of Amended Complaints, the Superior Court reaffirmed that, once an Amended Complaint is filed, the original Complaint becomes a nullity and is considered null and void.

The court also reaffirmed the rule that matters not raised in Preliminary Objections may not be considered by the trial court sua sponte.

With respect to the gist of the action doctrine, the Pennsylvania Superior Court reaffirmed that this doctrine precludes Plaintiff from recasting ordinary breach of contract claims as tort claims. More specifically, the Plaintiff is not permitted to pursue a claim of negligence where the alleged duty breached by the Defendant arises from the parties’ contract.

Here, the court ruled that, since the Plaintiff’s negligence claim repeated as the basis for negligence the same averments alleging a breach of contract, the negligence claims were properly barred by the gist of the action doctrine.

The court also noted that the services allegedly negligently performed by the Defendant were those provided in the parties’ contract.

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

I send thanks to a Attorney James M. Beck of the Reed Smith office in Philadelphia for bringing this case to my attention.

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