Punitive Damages in Tractor Trailer Red Light Case

On February 20, 2009, U.S. District Judge James M. Munley, in an interstate trucking crash case pending in the Middle District of Pennsylvania, denied a Motion for Summary Judgment filed by a tractor trailer driver and his trucking company. The Defendants’ Motion sought to dismiss a punitive damages claim resulting from a tractor trailer running a red light. The Court was persuaded by a Pennsylvania Superior Court opinion that noted that automobiles are today the most lethal and deadly weapons entrusted to our citizens, and which recognized that when driven by an intoxicated driver, the possiblity of deadly or serious injury increases substantially. Judge Munley wrote that while running a red light is not as extreme as driving an automobile while intoxicated, the dangers are magnified when the vehicle in question is a tractor trailer. The Court held that if the jury finds that the tractor trailer driver entered the intersection without even braking for an obvious red light, it could find that his conduct was recklessly indifferent to a very real danger to others in the area and could award punitive damages. Attys. Rick Russo and Andrew Bigda, two partners in Rosenn, Jenkins & Greenwald’s Plaintiff’s Personal Injury Practice Group, handled the case on behalf of the Plaintiffs, Helen and Anthony Grosek, Jr.

Grosek v. Panther Transportation, et al 2009 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 13300 (M.D. Pa. 2009)