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Martella v. Wiley

April 17, 2007

ROBERT AND CHRISTINE MARTELLA, PLAINTIFFS,
v.
STEPHEN AND PAMELA WILEY, DONALD W. AND LUCIA A. ORTH, OAK RIDGE CONSTRUCTION COMPANY, AND ROBERT E. STRUNK, INDIVIDUALLY AND D/B/A ROBERT E. STRUNK & ASSOCIATES, INC., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: (judge Caputo)

MEMORANDUM

Presently before the Court is Defendants Donald W. and Lucia A. Orth's Motion to Dismiss Pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. (Doc. 35.) For the reasons set forth below, the Court will grant this motion. The Court has jurisdiction over this matter pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a).

BACKGROUND

On August 30, 2006, Plaintiffs Robert and Christine Martella filed their Complaint (Doc. 1) in this Court. Therein, they allege: In April 1984, Defendants Donald W. and Lucia A. Orth ("the Orths") purchased property adjacent to Lake Naomi, in Pocono Pines, Pennsylvania. (Doc. 1 ¶¶ 3, 4 and 12.) The Orths entered into an agreement with Defendants Oak Ridge Construction Company ("Oak Ridge") and Robert E. Strunk ("Strunk") to construct a lake house. (Doc. 1 ¶ 12.) The lake house was designed by Strunk, an architect, and built by Oak Ridge. (Doc. 1 ¶ 13.) The original design for the lake house included a wooden deck located off the rear of the property. (Doc. 1 ¶ 14.)

The deck, which was constructed of pressure-treated wood, measured approximately twelve feet (12') by thirty-five feet (35"), and was nailed to the rear of the house approximately twelve feet (12') above the ground. (Doc. 1 ¶ 15.) From May 25, 1984 through 2002, and from 2003 until the present time, there are no work permits issued which would have permitted the installation or repair of the deck attached to the lake house. (Doc. 1 ¶ 16.) On March 23, 2001, the Orths sold the lake house to Defendants Stephen and Pamela Wiley ("the Wileys"). (Doc. 1 ¶ 17.) The Wileys rented the lake house to two couples, Robert and Jen Bowen ("the Bowens") and Tim and Andrea Kelly ("the Kellys"). (Doc. 1 ¶ 19.)

On Saturday, July 23, 2005, Plaintiffs were invited by the Bowens and Kellys to the lake house for a party. (Doc. 1 ¶ 18.) While at the lake house, Plaintiffs and approximately twenty (20) other individuals gathered on the deck. (Doc. 1 ¶ 20.) At approximately 10:15 p.m., the deck collapsed. (Doc. 1 ¶ 21.) At the time the deck collapsed, Plaintiffs were located at the right rear portion of the deck, closest to the lake house. (Id.) As a result of the deck's collapse, Plaintiffs were thrown to the ground below. (Doc. 1 ¶ 22.) Plaintiffs suffered severe and permanent injuries. (Id.)

As a direct and proximate result of the negligence and carelessness of Defendants, Plaintiff Robert Martella ("Mr. Martella") suffered severe injuries, including, but not limited to, a broken distal radius requiring the placement of pins, reflex sympathetic dystrophy and associated symptoms, a torn right rotator cuff, C6-7 disc herniation, stenosis, and right superficial radial sensory neuropathy, all of which required, and will continue to require in the future, extensive medical care and treatment. (Doc. 1 ¶ 23.) Mr. Martella has and will continue in the future to be disabled and unable to work.

(Doc. 1 ¶ 24.)

Also as a direct and proximate result of the negligence and carelessness of Defendants, Plaintiff Christine Martella ("Mrs. Martella") suffered severe injuries, including, but not limited to, soft tissue bruising to her face, arms, back, buttocks, and the development of a subdural hematoma, all of which required extensive medical care and treatment. (Doc. 1 ¶ 25.)

Plaintiffs have incurred, and will continue to incur, medical expenses. (Doc. 1 ¶ 26.) Plaintiffs have also endured significant pain and suffering, some or all of which will continue to be endured in the future. (Doc. 1 ¶ 27.) Plaintiffs have incurred a loss of an ability to enjoy life's pleasures, disfigurement, mental anguish, emotional upset, and other damages, some or all of which will continue into the future. (Doc. 1 ¶ 28.)

In Count I of their Complaint, Plaintiffs assert a claim for negligence against the Wileys, as owners of the lake house. (Doc. 1 ¶¶ 29-34.) In Count III, Plaintiffs allege that Oak Ridge was negligent in its construction of the lake house. (Doc. 1 ¶¶ 40-43.) In Count IV, Plaintiffs allege that Strunk was negligent in his design of the lake house. (Doc. 1 ¶¶ 44-47.) In Count V, Mr. Martella asserts a loss of consortium claim against all Defendants. (Doc. 1 ¶¶ 48-50.) In Count VI, Mrs. Martella asserts a loss of consortium claim against all Defendants. (Doc. 1 ¶¶ 51-53.)

In Count II, which is the count relevant to the Orths' motion, Plaintiffs alleged that: 36. At all times relevant and material hereto, the lake house which the Orths sold to the Wileys contained a defective and dangerous condition in that the deck upon which plaintiffs were injured was not constructed in accordance with accepted construction practices or in accordance with local, state and national building codes and statutes in that the deck was affixed to the lake house with nothing more than nails through rotting wood without the use of lag bolts or other acceptable methods of securing the deck.

37. The Orths knew or in the exercise of reasonable care should have known of the defective and dangerous condition of the deck at the time ...


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