MENARDE v. TRI-STATE PROFESSIONAL et al
MEMORANDUM/OPINION THAT DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO DISMISS IS DENIED. SIGNED BY MAGISTRATE JUDGE HENRY S. PERKIN ON 6/13/17. 6/13/17 ENTERED AND COPIES E-MAILED. (ky, )
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF PENNSYLVANIA
CIVIL ACTION NO.
TRI-STATE PROFESSIONAL,RAFAEL A. MORALES,
DANIEL DADINO, and MANISH GOEL
Defendants/ Third Party Plaintiffs
MEGAN PAJOLLARI and VYAS STUTI
Third Party Defendants
Henry S. Perkin, M.J.
June 13, 2017
This matter is before the Court on Defendants’ Motion to Dismiss Recklessness in
Plaintiff’s Complaint, which motion was filed by Defendants, Rafael Morales and Tri-State
Professional, on May 4, 2017. The Answer on Behalf of Plaintiff, Jaime Menarde to Defendant
GEICO’s [sic] Motion to Dismiss Count II of Plaintiff’s Complaint 1 was filed on May 8, 2017.
Having reviewed and considered the contentions of the parties, the Court is prepared to rule on
It appears to this Court that Plaintiff’s response is incorrectly titled. The motion to dismiss seeks only to strike any
allegations of “recklessness” contained in Plaintiff’s Complaint. In fact, we note that Plaintiff’s Complaint only
contains one count. Although the response is incorrectly titled, it appropriately addresses Defendant’s argument
concerning dismissal of recklessness allegations.
Plaintiff, Jamie Menarde, initiated this matter by filing a Complaint on October
24, 2016 in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. Plaintiff
alleges that she was a motor vehicle operator involved in a multiple vehicle chain-type rear end
collision. Plaintiff avers that the collision was caused by the carelessness, recklessness and
negligence of multiple defendants including Tri-State Professional, Rafael A. Morales, Daniel
Dadino, D.L. Peterson Trust, and Manish Goel. Plaintiff seeks damages for injuries sustained and
medical expenses in a sum in excess of seventy five thousand dollars ($75,000.00). Plaintiff also
seeks punitive damages.
According to the Complaint, the pertinent facts to this Court’s determination are
Plaintiff, Jamie Menarde, was involved in a multiple vehicle rear end collision on
or about January 4, 2016 at approximately 5:00 p.m., on Pennsylvania Turnpike (I-276)
Eastbound, Milepost 338-339, Upper Dublin, Pennsylvania. Plaintiff alleges that multiple
defendants, including Tri-State Professional, Rafael A. Morales, Daniel Dadino, D.L. Peterson
Trust, and Manish Goel, acted recklessly, carelessly, and negligently resulting in the multiple
Specifically, Plaintiff alleges in Paragraph 10 (a)-(h) of her Complaint that
Defendants: operated their motor vehicle at a high and excessive rate of speed; failed to have
proper and adequate control of their vehicles; failed to maintain a proper lookout; failed to take
evasive action to avoid impact; failed to drive at a rate of speed and in a manner that could allow
their vehicles to stop within the assured clear distance ahead; failed to have due regard for the
point and position of Plaintiff’s vehicle; violated pertinent statutes and ordinances; and otherwise
failed to exercise due care under the circumstances. See Plaintiff’s Complaint, Count I at ¶10 (a)(h). Plaintiff avers that she suffered serious injury about her head, body and extremities, and has
continued to suffer physical pain and mental anguish, preventing her from attending usual
activities, duties, and occupation. See Plaintiff’s Complaint, Count I at ¶11. Plaintiff is seeking
damages for harm suffered, including medical expenses and punitive damages. Defendants,
Rafael Morales and Tri-State Professional, move under Rule 12(b)(6) to dismiss the allegations
of recklessness in Plaintiff’s complaint.
Standard of Review
On a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim, courts accept all factual
allegations as true, construe the complaint in the light most favorable to the plaintiff, and
determine whether, under any reasonable reading of the complaint, the plaintiff may be entitled
to relief. Phillips v. County of Allegheny, 515 F.3d 224 (3d Cir. 2008). “While a complaint
attacked by a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss does not need detailed factual allegations, a
plaintiff’s obligation to provide the grounds of his entitlement to relief requires more than labels
and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do.” Bell
Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 127 S. Ct. 1955, 167 L. Ed. 2d 929 (2007) (citing Papasan
v. Allain, 478 U.S. 265, 268, 106 S. Ct. 2932, 92 L. Ed. 2d 209 (1986)).
In order to survive a motion to dismiss, a complaint “must contain sufficient
factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Ashcroft v.
Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 129 S. Ct. 1937, 173 L. Ed. 2d 868 (2009). A claim has facial plausibility
when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference
that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged. Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678, 129
S. Ct. 1937, 173 L. Ed. 2d 868 (2009). “Only a complaint that states a plausible claim for relief
survives a motion to dismiss.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 679, 129 S. Ct. 1937, 173 L. Ed.
2d 868 (2009).
In this matter, Defendants’ motion to dismiss is directed towards the allegations
of recklessness in Plaintiff’s complaint. An allegation of recklessness allows for recovery of
punitive damages. Punitive damages under Pennsylvania law require that a plaintiff demonstrate
that the defendant acted outrageously due to either “evil motive or reckless indifference to the
rights of others.” Taylor v. Lemus, No. 16-5407, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 34408, at *4 (E.D. Pa.,
March 9, 2017). Recklessness is defined as conduct that creates an unreasonable risk of physical
harm to another, acknowledgement of that risk of harm, and continuing in the action that results
in the harm of another. Id.
Defendants’ memorandum attached to their motion to dismiss suggested that
Plaintiff failed to accurately state the grounds for her recklessness claim. 2 As Defendants
correctly note, Plaintiff is required to plead that they acted in an outrageous manner in order to
seek punitive damages.
As noted by my colleague, the Honorable Lawrence F. Stengel, “[d]etermining
whether a complaint states a plausible claim for relief will be a context-specific task that requires
the reviewing court to draw on its judicial experience and common sense. Furthermore, 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. Ashcroft, 556 U.S. at 679; 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
Defendants’ Memorandum of Law in Support of Motion to Dismiss to Plaintiff’s Complaint was filed
simultaneously with the motion on May 4, 2017.
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)).” Taylor v. Lemus, No. 16-5407, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 34408, at *2-3 (E.D. Pa., March
We conclude that the Plaintiff has sufficiently established a plausible claim for
relief. Accepting the allegations in the Complaint as true, Plaintiff plausibly pleads a claim for
recklessness. Plaintiff alleges that Defendants violated pertinent statutes and ordinances; and
operated their motor vehicles at a high and excessive rate of speed. Plaintiff avers that her
vehicle was first in line, and was struck in the rear several times after traffic came to a stop in
front of her vehicle. See Plaintiff’s Complaint Count 1 at ¶10 (a)-(h). At this time, it can be
reasonably inferred that Plaintiff’s injuries were caused by the potentially reckless conduct of the
Defendant’s motion to dismiss is DENIED.
Taylor v. Lemus, No. 16-5407, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 34408, at *5 n.2 (E.D. Pa., March 9, 2017) (J. Stengel)
(stating that after discovery a claim for reckless conduct may be unsupported by evidence, at which point would be
subject to a motion to strike or a motion for partial summary judgment).
Disclaimer: Justia Dockets & Filings provides public litigation records from the federal appellate and district courts. These filings and docket sheets should not be considered findings of fact or liability, nor do they necessarily reflect the view of Justia.
Why Is My Information Online?