United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania
MALACHY E. MANNION United States District Judge.
motor vehicle accident case, the defendants filed a motion to
dismiss the plaintiff's claims for punitive damages
pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. Rule 12(b)(6), and a
motion for a more definite statement pursuant to Fed. R.
Civ. P. Rule 12(e). (Doc. 15). The parties
filed a stipulation agreeing to the dismissal of the
plaintiff's claims for punitive damages. As such, the
defendants' motion to dismiss the punitive damages claims
shall be denied as moot. The defendants' motion for a
more definite statement regarding plaintiff's amended
complaint, (Doc. 10), is presently pending before
case arises out of a motor vehicle accident on June 22, 2015
in the parking lot of the Pilot Travel Center truck stop
located on Route 315 in Pittston Township, Luzerne County,
Pennsylvania. The plaintiff, Tarrell Dontee Fenner, was
sitting in his parked tractor trailer, which was owned by
Bekins A-1 Movers, Inc., when the defendant, Vilee Hannah,
drove his tractor trailer into the rear of plaintiff's
tractor trailer while trying to exit the truck stop. Hannah
was working for defendant Western Express, Inc.
(“Western Express”) at the time of the incident
and his tractor trailer was owned by Western Express. The
plaintiff alleges that he suffered various physical and
mental injuries from the accident that are permanent and
require ongoing treatment. He also alleges that he has
sustained damages due to the defendants' negligence,
including medical expenses and loss of earning.
case was commenced on December 14, 2015, when the plaintiff
filed a complaint, through counsel, against defendants Hanna
and Western Express. (Doc. 1). On February 4, 2016,
the defendants filed a motion to dismiss the plaintiff's
claims for punitive damages pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P.
Rule 12(b)(6). (Doc. 6). The defendants filed
their brief in support. (Doc. 9). In response, the
plaintiff filed an amended complaint on February 22, 2016.
(Doc. 10). Thus, the court dismissed without
prejudice the defendants' partial motion to dismiss the
original complaint. (Doc. 11).
March 7, 2016, the defendants filed a motion to dismiss the
plaintiff's claims in his amended complaint for punitive
damages pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. Rule 12(b)(6),
and a motion for a more definite statement pursuant to
Fed. R. Civ. P. Rule 12(e). (Doc. 15). The
defendants attached a copy of the Pittston Township police
report from the accident. (Doc. 15-2). The
defendants filed their brief in support on March 18, 2016.
(Doc. 18). On June 9, 2016, both counsel filed a
stipulation to amend plaintiff's amended complaint. (Doc.
20). The parties stipulated that plaintiff's
claims for punitive damages contained in Counts 3 and 4 of
the amended complaint, (Doc. 10), should be
dismissed without prejudice. (Doc. 20). The parties
also stipulated that the plaintiff's allegations of
“gross, ” “wanton” and/or
“reckless conduct” throughout the amended
complaint should be stricken without prejudice. On June 9,
2016, the court approved of the stipulation. (Doc.
such, the defendants' motion to dismiss the punitive
damages claims shall be denied as moot. The defendants'
motion for a more definite statement with respect to the
amended complaint is still pending before the court. To date,
the plaintiff has not filed his brief in opposition to the
defendants' motion for a more definite statement and the
time within which his brief was due has
amended complaint alleges four claims. Counts One and Two
assert causes of action against Hannah and Western Express,
respectively, for negligence. In count Two, the plaintiff
alleges that Hannah was Western Express' employee and
acting within the scope of his employment at the time of the
accident. “A claim of vicarious liability against a
principal is indivisible and inseparable from the claim
against the agent because the claim is based on one
indivisible act of wrongdoing for which both the principal
and the agent are liable.” Maloney v. Valley
Medical Facilities, Inc., Under a theory of vicarious
liability, it is as if Western Express was operating the
vehicle and can be held liable for the actions of its
employee. See Seamans v. Tramontana, 2013 WL 5728670
(M.D.Pa. Oct. 22, 2013). Counts Three and Four asserted
claims for punitive damages against each defendant. However,
as stated, the claims for punitive damages have been
dismissed without prejudice.
court's jurisdiction is based on diversity under 28
STANDARD OF REVIEW
defendants' motion for a more definite statement is
brought pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. Rule 12(e). Rule
12(e) allows the court to order a more definite statement
when the pleading is “so vague or ambiguous that the
opposing party cannot respond, even with a simple denial,
without prejudice to itself.” Pozarlink v.
Comelback Assoicates, Inc., 2012 WL 760582, *2 (M.D.Pa.
March 8, 2012)(citations omitted).
Rule 12(e)Motion for a More ...