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Amesbury v. CSA, Ltd.

United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania

January 23, 2014

KAREN A. AMESBURY, Executrix of the ESTATE OF BRIAN MARK PATTON, Deceased, and AMY BETH PATTON, his wife, and MARGARET A. MORGAN, Executrix of the Estate of DAVID MORGAN, Plaintiffs,
v.
CSA, LTD. (CSA), COMBAT SUPPORT ASSOCIATES, AECOM GOVERNMENT SERVICES, INC. (AECOM), RESEARCH AND ANALYSIS MAINTENANCE, INC., (RAM), SMI INTERNATIONAL CORP. (SMI), MORGAN LEE HANKS, ALEUT MANAGEMENT SERVICES, LLC, Defendants.

MEMORANDUM

EDWIN M. KOSIK, District Judge.

Before the Court are several outstanding issues that are ripe for disposition: (1) Defendants' Motion in Limine to Preclude Evidence of Damages Available Under the Pennsylvania Survival Act Including, but not Limited to, Any Claim for Punitive Damages and the Alleged Pain and Suffering of Decedent David Morgan (Doc. 228); (2) Defendants' Trial Brief Relating to the Court's Ruling that Pennsylvania Law and the Pennsylvania Rules of the Road Shall be Applied in this Case (Doc. 227); and (3) Defendants' Letter Brief arguing that Plaintiff, Margaret A. Morgan, Executrix of the Estate of David Morgan, Deceased, is not entitled to the recovery of medical bill payments made by the U.S. Navy (Doc. 244).

A. Damages Under the Pennsylvania Survival Act

The issue before the Court is whether Plaintiff Margaret A. Morgan sufficiently pled a cause of action under the Pennsylvania Survival Act, 42 Pa.C.S. § 8302 and 20 Pa.C.S. § 3373, in her Second Amended Complaint. We find that she did.

David Morgan ("Decedent") filed his initial Complaint on September 27, 2010. (Doc. 1, 10-CV-1999.) On October 26, 2010, Decedent filed an Amended Complaint. (Doc. 6.) On August 21, 2013, the Court was notified of Decedent's passing on August 10, 2013. (Doc. 205.) Plaintiff Margaret A. Morgan, Executrix of Decedent's Estate, filed a Second Amended Complaint on September 5, 2013. (Doc. 210.) Defendants filed an Answer to the Second Amended Complaint on September 27, 2013. (Doc. 218.) On November 14, 2013, Defendants filed a Motion in Limine to Preclude Evidence of Damages Available Under the Pennsylvania Survival Act. (Doc. 228.) Plaintiff Morgan filed a brief in opposition to Defendants' Motion in Limine on November 18, 2013. (Doc. 231.) Defendants filed a reply brief on November 25, 2013. (Doc. 234.) At the December 3, 2013, pre-trial conference, we asked the parties to articulate the implications of Gallick v. United States , 542 F.Supp. 188 (M.D. Pa. 1981) on the present Motion in Limine. The parties did so by way of letter briefs to the Court. (Docs. 242, 243, 245.) The motion is fully briefed and ripe for disposition.

Defendants argue that Plaintiff Morgan did not sufficiently plead a cause of action under the Survival Act pursuant to Rule 8 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure; therefore, evidence relating to Decedent's alleged conscious pain and suffering and possible punitive damages should be precluded from admission under Rule 402 of the Federal Rules of Evidence. Defendants assert that Plaintiff Morgan must set forth a cause of action under a specific count to sufficiently plead under Rule 8 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.

To sufficiently plead a cause of action under Rule 8, the pleading must contain:

(1) a short and plain statement of the grounds for the court's jurisdiction, unless the court already has jurisdiction and the claim needs no new jurisdictional support;
(2) a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief; and
(3) a demand for the relief sought, which may include relief in the alternative or different types of relief.

Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a).

In Gallick v. United States , 542 F.Supp. 188 (M.D. Pa. 1982), the plaintiff brought a claim under the Swine Flu Act and the Federal Tort Claims Act ("FTCA"). The Complaint did not "clearly delineate[]" the plaintiff's claims under Pennsylvania's survival and wrongful death statutes. Id. at 189-90. Judge Conaboy stated:

After reviewing the Complaint in the instant case, the Court finds that the Plaintiff has adequately pled a cause of action under both the wrongful death and survival statutes of Pennsylvania. While the Plaintiff has not clearly delineated his claims as such, nevertheless, such technical exactness is not necessary under federal rules of pleading, which require only that a plaintiff set forth a "short and plain statement" of his claim for relief. Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). Moreover, under the rules, "(a)ll pleadings... (are to) be so construed as to do substantial justice." Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(f).

Id. at 190. Judge Conaboy also looked at the record before him for any indication that the plaintiff chose to abandon one of the causes of action under the survival and wrongful death statutes and found there was no indication of the intent to abandon either claim. Id. at 190-91.

We agree with Judge Conaboy that Rule 8 requires a "short and plain statement of the claim" for relief, and does not require technical exactness as argued by Defendants. Therefore, we review the Second Amended Complaint, which does not have a Survival Action claim delineated under a separate Count, to determine whether Plaintiff Morgan adequately pled a cause of action under the Pennsylvania Survival Act.

Causes of action under the Pennsylvania Survival Act and the Pennsylvania Wrongful Death Act, 42 Pa.C.S. § 8301 and Pa.R.C.P. § 2202(a), are "separate and distinct." Schwab v. P. J. Oesterling & Son. Inc. , 126 A.2d 418, 420 (Pa. 1956). Additionally, damages under the two Acts are different and may not ...


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