United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania
about 1:30 a.m. on July 18, 2015, the plaintiff, Michael
Taylor, was walking along Airport Road in Allentown,
Pennsylvania. The defendant, Cynthia Lemus, was driving her
car southbound on Airport Road.
Taylor began to cross the street, defendant drove into him,
causing him to smash into defendant's windshield and roll
up and over her car. Plaintiff alleges that there were no
other vehicles involved in this accident. Plaintiff also
alleges there were no adverse conditions present, such as bad
weather. As a result of being struck by defendant's car,
plaintiff alleges he suffered: (i) a fractured tibia (lower
leg bone); (ii) fractured scapula (shoulder bone); (iii)
broken ribs; (iv) hemopneumothorax; and (v) multiple
asserts a negligence claim against the defendant, claiming
“[t]he accident at issue was initiated and legally
caused by the negligence, carelessness and/or recklessness of
Defendant.” (Compl. ¶ 17). Defendant filed a
motion to dismiss the allegations of
“recklessness” in plaintiff's complaint.
Rule 12(b)(6), a defendant bears the burden of demonstrating
that the plaintiff has not stated a claim upon which relief
can be granted. Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6); see also Hedges v.
United States, 404 F.3d 744, 750 (3d Cir. 2005). In
Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544 (2007),
the United States Supreme Court recognized that “a
plaintiff's obligation to provide the ‘grounds'
of his ‘entitle[ment] to relief' requires more than
labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the
elements of a cause of action will not do.”
Id. at 555. Subsequently, in Ashcroft v.
Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662 (2009), the Supreme Court defined a
two-pronged approach to a court's review of a motion to
dismiss. “First, the tenet that a court must accept as
true all of the allegations contained in a complaint is
inapplicable to legal conclusions. Threadbare recitals of the
elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory
statements, do not suffice.” Id. at 678. Thus,
while “Rule 8 marks a notable and generous departure
from the hyper-technical, code-pleading regime of a prior era
. . . it does not unlock the doors of discovery for a
plaintiff armed with nothing more than conclusions.”
Id. at 678-79.
the Supreme Court emphasized that “only a complaint
that states a plausible claim for relief survives a motion to
dismiss.” Id. at 679. “Determining
whether a complaint states a plausible claim for relief will,
as the Court of Appeals observed, be a context-specific task
that requires the reviewing court to draw on its judicial
experience and common sense.” Id. A complaint
does not show an entitlement to relief when the well-pleaded
facts do not permit the court to infer more than the mere
possibility of misconduct. Id.; see also
Phillips v. Cnty. of Allegheny, 515 F.3d 224, 232-34 (3d
Cir. 2008) (holding that: (1) factual allegations of
complaint must provide notice to defendant; (2) complaint
must allege facts suggestive of the proscribed conduct; and
(3) the complaint's “‘factual allegations
must be enough to raise a right to relief above the
speculative level.'” (quoting Twombly, 550
U.S. at 555)).
basic tenets of the Rule 12(b)(6) standard of review have
remained static. Spence v. Brownsville Area Sch.
Dist., No. Civ.A.08-626, 2008 WL 2779079, at *2 (W.D.
Pa. July 15, 2008). The general rules of pleading still
require only a short and plain statement of the claim showing
that the pleader is entitled to relief and need not contain
detailed factual allegations. Phillips, 515 F.3d at
233. Further, the court must “accept all factual
allegations in the complaint as true and view them in the
light most favorable to the plaintiff.” Buck v.
Hampton Twp. Sch. Dist., 452 F.3d 256, 260 (3d Cir.
2006). Finally, the court must “determine whether,
under any reasonable reading of the complaint, the plaintiff
may be entitled to relief.” Pinkerton v. Roche
Holdings Ltd., 292 F.3d 361, 374 n.7 (3d Cir. 2002).
is an action based on diversity of citizenship jurisdiction,
I must apply Pennsylvania substantive law. Hunt v. U.S.
Tobacco Co., 538 F.3d 217, 220 (3d Cir. 2008).
support a claim for punitive damages under Pennsylvania law,
the plaintiff must demonstrate that the defendant acted
outrageously due to either the defendant's “evil
motive or his reckless indifference to the rights of
others.” Phillips v. Cricket Lighters, 883
A.2d 179, 188-89 (Pa. 2005). A defendant acts
“recklessly” when “his conduct creates an
unreasonable risk of physical harm to another [and] such risk
is substantially greater than that which is necessary to make
his conduct negligent.” Id. (quoting
Hutchison v. Luddy, 870 A.2d 766, 771 (Pa. 2005)).
the allegations in the complaint as true, plaintiff's
complaint plausibly pleads a claim for reckless conduct.
Plaintiff alleges defendant failed to yield to the
right-of-way of pedestrians and, as a result, drove into
plaintiff. Plaintiff also alleges defendant was distracted,
failed to observe the plaintiff, and was driving too fast.
Operating a vehicle in such a ...