Tuesday, July 9, 2024

Judge Mariani of Federal Middle District Court Addresses Trucking Accident Liability Issues

In the case of Galovich v. Morrissette, No. 3:21-CV-1523 (M.D. Pa. June 12, 2024 Mariani, J.), the court granted a partial summary judgment in a motor vehicle accident case that involved an accident between two tractor trailers on a highway.

The court noted that the Defendant’s filed Statement of Undisputed Facts presented in this case was deemed admitted due to the Plaintiff’s failure to file a response to the same as required by the local rules of court despite being put on notice of the need to file such a response.

The court otherwise ruled that there was no evidence to support the Plaintiffs’ punitive damages claim. The court noted that punitive damages are an “extreme remedy” that is only available in the most exceptional cases.

Here, the court found that there was no evidence to suggest that the Defendant driver had any subjective appreciation that anything he did was dangerous.

The court noted that a claimed violation of a traffic statute is not relevant to a driver’s subjective state of mind in assessing a claim for punitive damages.

The court additionally noted that the lack of any evidence to support punitive damages claims also barred any attempt by the Plaintiff to impose punitive damages vicariously on the driver’s employer.

The court additionally stated that an employer could not be held directly liable for punitive damages in any event.

The court also noted that a plaintiff cannot pursue a claim against an employer for negligent entrustment, hiring, supervision, or training when the employer admits that its employee was acting within the scope of employment when the accident occurred.

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

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

Source of image:  Photo by Brian Stalter on www.pexels.com.

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