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Pehlman v. Dooley

United States District Court, Third Circuit

October 21, 2013

CRAIG F. PEHLMAN, SR., et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
ROBERT W. DOOLEY et al., Defendants.

MEMORANDUM

GENE E.K. PRATTER, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

Pratter, J. October 21, 2013 Co-defendants Robert Dooley and Transervice Logistics, Inc., move for partial summary judgment on issues relating to damages, but not liability, resulting from the alleged accident between Mr. Dooley and Craig Pehlman, Jr., that caused Mr. Pehlman’s death. For the reasons that follow, the Defendants’ Motion for Partial Summary Judgment (Docket No. 17) on Mr. Pehlman’s parents’ claims will be granted in part and denied in part.

I. FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND[1]

On January 11, 2012, Defendant Robert Dooley, driving a tractor trailer for his employer, Defendant Transervice Logistics, Inc., struck head-on the vehicle of 19-year-old Craig F. Pehlman, Jr., Plaintiffs’ son and decedent. The collision resulted in Mr. Pehlman’s death.

Invoking this Court’s diversity jurisdiction, [2] Mr. Pehlman’s parents, and the co-administrators of his estate, Craig F. Pehlman, Sr., and Isabella L. Marchio, sued Mr. Dooley and Transervice Logistics, Inc. They claim that Mr. Dooley was negligently driving Transervice Logistics’ truck, within the scope of his employment, when he crossed from the southern into the northern lane of travel and, striking Mr. Pehlman’s car, killed him. In their wrongful death claims under 42 Pa. Cons. Stat. § 8301, Mr. Pehlman’s parents seek damages for “the loss of [Mr. Pehlman’s] society and comfort, friendship, guidance, love and affection, and all other damages recoverable, ” including medical care, autopsy, and funeral and administration expenses. Compl. ¶ 19, 21. They also bring survival claims under 20 Pa. Cons. Stat. § 3371 et seq. for, among other things, pain and suffering and loss of earnings.

On July 11, 2013, the Defendants moved for partial summary judgment (Docket No. 17) on two issues: first, Plaintiffs’ survival claims of (a) fear and fright and (b) conscious pain and suffering; and second, Plaintiffs’ wrongful death claims. After considering Defendants’ Motion for Partial Summary Judgment, as well as Plaintiffs’ Response (Docket No. 18), Defendants’ Reply (Docket No. 19), and Plaintiffs’ Surreply (undocketed August 22, 2013 letter), the Court will grant the Motion in part, as to the survival claims, and deny it in part, as to the wrongful death claims.

II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

Upon motion of a party, summary judgment is appropriate if “the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). Summary judgment should be granted only if the moving party persuades the district court that “there exists no genuine issue of material fact that would permit a reasonable jury to find for the nonmoving party.” Miller v. Ind. Hosp., 843 F.2d 139, 143 (3d Cir. 1988). A fact is “material” if it could affect the outcome of the suit, given the applicable substantive law. See Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). A dispute about a material fact is “genuine” if the evidence presented “is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party.” Id.

In evaluating a summary judgment motion, a court “must view the facts in the light most favorable to the non-moving party, ” and make every reasonable inference in that party’s favor. Hugh v. Butler Cnty. Family YMCA, 418 F.3d 265, 267 (3d Cir. 2005). Further, a court may not weigh the evidence or make credibility determinations. Boyle v. County of Allegheny, 139 F.3d 386, 393 (3d Cir. 1998). Nevertheless, the party opposing summary judgment must support each essential element of his or her opposition with concrete evidence in the record. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322-23 (1986). “If the evidence is merely colorable, or is not significantly probative, summary judgment may be granted.” Anderson, 477 U.S. at 249-50 (citations omitted). Of course, the court may grant summary judgment if the plaintiff’s version of the facts, as a matter of law, do not entitle her to relief: “Where the record taken as a whole could not lead a rational trier of fact to find for the non-moving party, there is no genuine issue for trial.” Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co., Ltd. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587 (1986) (citation and internal quotation marks omitted).

III. DISCUSSION

Moving for partial summary judgment, Defendants do not address the issue of liability for the accident itself but rather argue that Plaintiffs’ (a) survival claims and (b) wrongful death claims should be dismissed. The Court addresses these issues in turn.

A. Survival Claims

By agreement of the parties, Plaintiffs’ survival claims under 20 Pa. Cons. Stat. § 3371 et seq. for (a) preimpact fear and fright and (b) conscious pain and suffering are dismissed. See Pls.’ Resp. at 1 (Docket No. 18). Defendants’ Motion for ...


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