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Oppose Everything -- or Face the Consequences (PA)

October 18, 2019

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<p style="text-align: justify;">On October 11, 2019, the Superior Court of Pennsylvania <a href="https://www.wcmlaw.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/10/Mastrian-v.-Marc-A-Peoples.pdf">affirmed an order</a> denying John Mastrian’s Motion to Amend Caption and Correct Middle Initial and granted Marc A. Peoples’ Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings.  On January 4, 2018, Mastrian filed a complaint against Marc A. Peoples by filing a praecipe for writ of summons and served Peoples’ wife, Susanna Peoples on January 5<sup>th</sup>, 2018.  In March 2018, Mastrian filed a complaint and alleged that “Marc A. Peoples” was the owner and operator of a 2004 F150 Pickup Truck.</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">Marc A. Peoples filed an Answer and New Matter, which contained a Notice to Plead.  Peoples admitted to owning the vehicle but denied operating the vehicle at the time of the accident.  The Answer stated the driver of the vehicle was “Marc W. Peoples”.  Mastrian never filed a reply to the Answer and New Matter.</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">In June 2018, Peoples filed a Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings, asserting that, because Mastrian failed to respond to the Answer and New Matter, he admitted the allegations contained therein.  Peoples argued he was entitled to judgment on the pleadings because Mastrian admitted Peoples was not operating the vehicle at the time of the accident.  Mastrian never filed a response to the Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings.</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">In September 2018, Mastrian filed a Motion to Amend the Caption and Correct Middle Initial of Defendant.  The trial court denied Mastrian’s Motion to Amend the Caption and granted People’s Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings.  It concluded that by failing to file a response to Peoples’ Answer and New Matter, Mastrian admitted the factual averments contained in the Answer, including that Peoples was not operating the vehicle at the time of the accident.  The Court also found that Mastrian was attempting to amend his caption to “add or substitute a distinct party,” which he could not do as the statute of limitations had expired.</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">On appeal, the PA Superior Court agreed with the lower court ruling.  The Court stated that Mastrian was in fact attempting to bring a new party into the lawsuit and that given the evidence available to him he should have been able to locate the correct Marc Peoples.  Thus, the Court agreed that Mastrian’s Motion to Amend the Caption and Correct Middle Initial of Defendant should fail.  Additionally, the Court agreed that, because Mastrian failed to reply to the Answer and New Matter, Mastrian admitted the factual averments in those pleadings.  Therefore, Mastrian admitted that Peoples was not operating the vehicle at the time of the accident.  Because of this fact, Mastrian could not state a negligence cause of action. Therefore, the Court affirmed the lower court’s granting of Peoples’ Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings.</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">Thanks to Garrett Gittler for his contribution to this post.  Please email <a href="mailto:BGibbons@wcmlaw.com">Brian Gibbons</a> with any questions.</p>

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