York couple file suit after husband is struck by Penn Waste truck; Company says he walked in front of truck

By David Hutton | Sep 27, 2017

LANCASTER – A York Township man and his wife have filed a lawsuit in the Court of Common Pleas Lancaster County against Penn Waste Inc. and Daniel Blair, alleging negligence.

Edwin and Shirley Beck filed the lawsuit Aug. 16 in the wake of a March 17 accident in York Township in which Edwin Beck was allegedly stuck and dragged by a Penn Waste truck driven by Blair.

According to the complaint, Beck was crossing the street in front of the stopped Freightliner trash truck. Blair, while looking in the driver's side mirror of the truck, started to move forward, allegedly without looking to see if it was safe to move the truck forward. He allegedly hit Beck with the front of the truck.

After striking Beck, Blair allegedly continued to drive forward, dragging Beck with the truck for more than 30 feet. Blair then brought the Freightliner trash truck to a stop and began backing up the truck, still not realizing that he had struck Beck, it is alleged.

The complaint alleges that is was 25 seconds after the first contact that Blair spotted Beck lying in the street in front of the truck. Beck alleges he sustained severe injuries to his right arm and upper body.

According to the complaint, from 1985 to 2016, Blair had 12 traffic violations, had his driver's license suspended twice and was involved in three motor vehicle accidents as the driver of a vehicle.

As a result of Blair’s driving record, the Becks’ complaint alleges Penn Waste was negligent in retaining and continuing to employ Blair as a driver. By continuing to employ him, Penn Waste acted “with reckless indifference to the interests of others, in reckless disregard of a risk of harm to others that is known or should be known to be highly probable and with a conscious indifference to the consequences, to those Blair would encounter while in the course and scope of his employment with defendant Penn Waste.”

The complaint states that on March 24, "Penn Waste indicated that it would provide the Becks with video and audio footage from the camera located inside the front cab of the Freightliner trash truck operated by Blair on the date of the accident."

However, according to the complaint, the video only covered 20 seconds prior to the accident, the accident, itself, and, approximately, 20 seconds following the accident.

When the Becks asked Penn Waste to voluntarily tum over all of the video and audio footage recorded by the camera, the company allegedly balked, ultimately stating "it would not voluntarily provide the Becks with any footage beyond the 40 seconds or so," the complaint states.

Ultimately, the company provided about 90 seconds of tape and when viewed, it cannot be determined if there are any gaps on the coverage of the footage, the complaint states.

In its Aug. 30 response, Penn Waste objects to the Becks’ citation of Blair’s driving record, claiming the 30-year period covered is “too general and vague.”

“It is unrelated to the accident involving a plaintiff who walked in front of a trash truck and was not seen prior to impact; and the allegation would inflame the jury and suggest a decision on an improper basis,” the response contends.

Penn Waste also notes in its response that no citation was issued to Blair in the wake of the accident.

Further, Penn Waste requested a motion to strike or demurrer to the Becks’ claims for punitive damages.

“The complaint includes the use of boilerplate allegations, legal conclusions, and catch phrases for punitive damages,” the response states. “In addition, the complaint includes two separate counts for punitive damages.”

Citing McKeeman v. Corestates Bank N.A., in order to support a claim for punitive damages, the complaint allegations must demonstrate conduct that would rise to the level of "outrageous and egregious conduct done in a reckless disregard of plaintiffs' rights.”

Moreover, Penn Waste cites Feld v. Merrian, noting that "one must look to the act itself together with all the circumstances including the motive of the wrongdoers and the relations between the parties."

The complaint alleged five counts of negligence, two counts of loss of consortium and punitive damages. They are seeking $50,000 per count. They are seeing a jury trial.

The Becks are represented by Georgelis Injury Law Firm of Lancaster.

Penn Waste is represented by Pion, Nerone, Girman, Winslow & Smith P.C. of Harrisburg.

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