United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania
M. MUNLEY UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT JUDGE
the court for disposition is the defendants' motion for
partial summary judgment. The parties have briefed their
respective positions, and the matter is ripe for disposition.
October 15, 2014, Plaintiff Leonard Zawicki suffered personal
injuries in an automobile accident. The accident occurred on
Interstate 81 in Dunmore, Pennsylvania. A commercial tractor
trailer operated by Defendant Merwin Armstrong struck
plaintiff's vehicle from behind. Defendant Merwin worked
for Defendant Barney Trucking, which is owned and operated by
Defendant Joel Thomas Barney. The company is headquartered in
Tully, New York.
filed a two-count complaint to recover damages from the
accident. The complaint includes the following two causes of
action: Count I, a negligence claim against Merwin Armstrong;
and Count II, a negligence claim against Joel Thomas Barney,
individually and d/b/a Barney Trucking and Barney Trucking.
(Doc. 1, Compl.). Plaintiff seeks compensatory damages as
well as punitive damages. (Id.)
conclusion of discovery, defendants moved for partial summary
judgment. The parties have briefed their respective
positions, bringing the case to its present posture.
court has jurisdiction pursuant to the diversity statute, 28
U.S.C. § 1332. Plaintiff Leonard Zawicki is a citizen of
Pennsylvania. (Doc. 1, Notice of Removal ¶ 5), and
defendants are citizens of New Jersey and New York .
(Id. ¶¶ 6-8). Additionally, the amount in
controversy exceeds $75, 000. (Id. ¶ 10).
Because complete diversity of citizenship exists among the
parties and the amount in controversy exceeds $75, 000, the
court has jurisdiction over this case. See 28 U.S.C.
§ 1332 (“[D]istrict courts shall have original
jurisdiction of all civil actions where the matter in
controversy exceeds the sum or value of $75, 000, exclusive
of interest and costs, and is between . . . citizens of
different states[.]”); 28 U.S.C. § 1441 (A
defendant can generally move a state court civil action to
federal court if the federal court would have had original
jurisdiction to address the matter pursuant to the diversity
jurisdiction statute). As a federal court sitting in
diversity, the substantive law of Pennsylvania shall apply to
the instant case. Chamberlain v. Giampapa, 210 F.3d
154, 158 (3d Cir. 2000) (citing Erie R.R. Co. v.
Tomkins, 304 U.S. 64, 78 (1938)).
summary judgment is proper “‘if the pleadings,
depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on
file, together with the affidavits, if any, show that there
is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the
moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of
law.'” See Knabe v. Boury, 114 F.3d 407,
410 n.4 (3d Cir. 1997) (quoting Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)).
“[T]his standard provides that the mere existence of
some alleged factual dispute between the parties
will not defeat an otherwise properly supported motion for
summary judgment; the requirement is that there be no
genuine issue of material fact.”
Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S.
242, 247-48 (1986) (emphasis in original).
considering a motion for summary judgment, the court must
examine the facts in the light most favorable to the party
opposing the motion. Int'l Raw Materials, Ltd. v.
Stauffer Chem. Co., 898 F.2d 946, 949 (3d Cir. 1990).
The burden is on the moving party to demonstrate that the
evidence is such that a reasonable jury could not return a
verdict for the non-moving party. Anderson, 477 U.S.
at 248 (1986). A fact is material when it might affect the
outcome of the suit under the governing law. Id.
Where the non-moving party will bear the burden of proof at
trial, the party moving for summary judgment may meet its
burden by showing that the evidentiary materials of record,
if reduced to admissible evidence, would be insufficient to
carry the non-movant's burden of proof at trial.
Celotex v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986). Once
the moving party satisfies its burden, the burden shifts to
the nonmoving party, who must go beyond its pleadings, and
designate specific facts by the use of affidavits,
depositions, admissions, or answers to interrogatories
showing that there is a genuine issue for trial. Id.
motion raises several issues, including: 1) whether evidence
supports a claim for punitive damages as to Defendant Merwin
Armstrong; 2) whether evidence supports a claim against Joel
Thomas Barney individually; and 3) whether evidence supports
a claim for punitive damages as to defendants Joel Thomas
Barney or Barney Trucking. We will address these issues
Punitive damages claim against Defendant ...