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JULIE ANN BOWSER v. CHARLES GUTTENDORF AND LUCILLE GUTTENDORF (05/02/88)

filed: May 2, 1988.

JULIE ANN BOWSER, APPELLANT,
v.
CHARLES GUTTENDORF AND LUCILLE GUTTENDORF, HUSBAND AND WIFE, APPELLEES



Appeal from the Order entered July 16, 1987 in the Court of Common Pleas of Beaver County, Civil Division, at No. 623 of 1986.

COUNSEL

Ahmed Aziz, Assistant District Attorney, Sewickley, for appellant.

Gail L. Gratton, Assistant Public Defender, for appellees.

McEwen, Del Sole and Johnson, JJ.

Author: Del Sole

[ 373 Pa. Super. Page 404]

This appeal follows the trial court's order granting Appellee, Lucille Guttendorf's, Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings. The trial court's decision was based upon its ruling that Appellant's action against Mrs. Guttendorf was barred by the applicable statute of limitations.

The underlying action was commenced on May 7, 1986 when Appellant filed a Complaint against Charles and Lucille Guttendorf, husband and wife.*fn1 The Complaint alleged that from March until June of 1980, Appellant, who was then 16 years old, was placed in the foster home of Mr. and Mrs. Guttendorf. Her claims against Charles Guttendorf included actions for assault, battery and intentional and/or negligent infliction of emotional distress. Appellant alleged that Charles Guttendorf sexually molested her during the period of time in which she was residing in the defendants' home as a foster child. A related claim for negligent

[ 373 Pa. Super. Page 405]

    infliction of emotional distress was made against Appellee, Lucille Guttendorf. Appellant alleged that as a result of Mrs. Guttendorf's carelessness, recklessness and negligence, Appellant suffered physical and psychological injuries.

An Answer and New Matter was subsequently filed by Appellee, Lucille Guttendorf. Therein, Mrs. Guttendorf denied the claims against her and raised the statute of limitations as a defense. Appellant's Reply to New Matter averred that "the doctrine of 'equitable tolling' is applicable" in that "Lucille Guttendorf's negligence enabled defendant, Charles Guttendorf to conceal the sexual assault." The Reply also stated that Appellant suffered from both a physical and legal disability. A Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings was later filed by Mrs. Guttendorf and granted by the trial court. In this timely appeal which followed, Appellant lists two issues which she contends would warrant a reversal of the trial court's ruling:

I. Lower court erred in granting the judgment on the pleadings for material facts, as the pleadings indicate, remained in dispute.

II. Lower court erred in failing to consider the equitable principles of delayed discovery, which carves an exception to 42 Pa.C.S.A. ยง 5524.

In considering the propriety of an order awarding judgment on the pleadings this court must, as must the trial court, confine its review to the pleadings and documents attached thereto. The grant of such a motion will be affirmed when the moving party's right to succeed is certain and the case is so free from doubt that a trial would be a fruitless exercise. In making this determination we must accept as true all well pleaded statements of fact, admissions, and any documents properly attached to the pleadings presented by the party against whom the motion is ...


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