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EAGLE TRAFFIC CONTROL v. ADDCO

June 20, 1995

EAGLE TRAFFIC CONTROL, Plaintiff,
v.
ADDCO, Defendant.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: J. CURTIS JOYNER

 Joyner, J.

 June 20, 1995

 We address today the motion filed pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6) by Defendant in this diversity case, in which it seeks the dismissal of Plaintiff's request for punitive damages. For the reasons that follow, the motion to dismiss will be denied.

 I. BACKGROUND

 Eagle filed a complaint in this Court pursuant to our diversity jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. ยง 1332, alleging breach of contract, breach of warranty, negligence, strict liability, misrepresentation, and trade disparagement. On Addco's motion for partial dismissal of the complaint, this Court dismissed Eagle's claims based on negligence, strict liability, negligent misrepresentation, and trade disparagement; granted Eagle leave to amend its complaint; and withheld judgment on the issue of punitive damages until Eagle amended the complaint or the time to amend elapsed. See Eagle Traffic Control v. Addco, 882 F. Supp. 417, 1995 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 4835 (E.D. Pa. 1995). Eagle has since filed an amended complaint, in which it sets forth claims for breach of contract and breach of warranty, as well as a defamation claim, for which it seeks both compensatory and punitive damages. Addco now brings the instant motion, in which it argues that Eagle has failed to allege facts sufficient to support a punitive damages award.

 II. DISCUSSION

 A. Standard for a Rule 12(b)(6) Motion

 In considering a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6), a court must take as true all allegations in the non-moving party's complaint and allow all reasonable inferences from those allegations. ALA, Inc. v. CCAIR, Inc., 29 F.3d 855, 859 (3d Cir. 1994); Schrob v. Catterson, 948 F.2d 1402, 1405 (3d Cir. 1991). A motion to dismiss should not be granted unless "no relief could be granted under any set of facts that could be proved consistent with the allegations." Hishon v. King & Spalding, 467 U.S. 69, 73, 81 L. Ed. 2d 59, 104 S. Ct. 2229 (1984). Thus, the moving party must show that even if the non-moving party's allegations are true, it still has no grounds for relief. This Court will apply these standards to the request for punitive damages made in Eagle's complaint.

 B. Standard for Establishing Punitive Damages

 There is some dispute as to whether Pennsylvania or Delaware law applies in this case; however, we need not address the issue, since the standard regarding punitive damages is the same in both jurisdictions. Thus, under the law of both states, the purpose of punitive damages is to punish the defendant and deter similar conduct from the defendant and others in the future. Jardel Co. v. Hughes, 523 A.2d 518, 529 (Del. 1987); Feingold v. Southeastern Pennsylvania Transp. Auth., 512 Pa. 567, 517 A.2d 1270, 1276 (1986); Martin v. Johns-Manville Corp., 508 Pa. 154, 494 A.2d 1088, 1096 (1985). The question of punitive damages is usually determined by the trier of fact; the Court can decide the issue only when no reasonable inference from the facts alleged supports an award of punitive damages. Jardel, 523 A.2d at 527; Trotman v. Mecchella, 421 Pa. Super. 620, 618 A.2d 982, 985 (1992).


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