Pre-Trial Procedure • Motor Vehicles • Evidence • Punitive Damages

Joyce I. Casey v. Alexander Nunez, PICS Case No. 14-0146 (C.P. Monroe Jan. 31, 2014) Zulick, J. (8 pages).

Defendant Alexander Nunez objected to Plaintiff Joyce I. Casey’s amended complaint. The court granted in part and denied in part Nunez’s objections.

Casey alleged injuries suffered following Nunez’s operation of his motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol when said vehicle collided with Casey’s parked car; the vehicle was loaned to Nunez by co-defendants Donald and Debra Cole.

Defendants objected to the amended complaint, including striking impertinent and scandalous pleadings, striking certain claims of negligence pro se, lack of specificity and demurrer to punitive damages. Defendants requested striking any allegations involving the presence of a minor passenger while Nunez was driving, as well as events which transpired before and after the collision, conversations with police officers and the suspension of Nunez’s driver’s license as scandalous and impertinent.

The court held that for an allegation to be stricken as scandalous and impertinent, the allegation must be immaterial to the proof of the cause of action and only when a party can affirmatively show prejudice. As such, the court ruled that the amended complaint’s attached exhibits which provided criminal information against Nunez, including his guilty plea and sentence, are documentary evidence relevant for the time of trial, but not appropriate for the complaint and were therefore stricken. However, the court denied striking allegations of negligence per se as Nunez failed to demonstrate prejudice. The court held the complaint was pled with specificity, when read as a whole, with adequate factual support regarding the allegations against Nunez and the injuries suffered by Casey.

Finally, the court held that punitive damages were for the trier of fact and were sufficient during the pleading stage. As such, the court granted the objection for striking attached exhibits, but denied the remaining objections.