Plaintiff sued Defendant for personal injuries after he was injured by a forklift operated by the Defendant’s agent. Defendant generally denied the allegations in its answer and interrogatories, without indicating that it was no longer the owner of the business.
Under Rule 8(b), a defendant must specifically deny the plaintiff’s allegations or the allegations will be admitted.
Zielinski (Plaintiff) sued Philadelphia Piers, Inc. (Defendant) for personal injuries caused by Defendant’s agent Sandy Johnson, arguing that Johnson negligently operated a forklift and injured Plaintiff. In the answer to the complaint and interrogatories, Defendant generally denied the allegations. At the pretrial conference, Plaintiff learned that Defendant had sold its business to Carload Contractors, Inc. and that Carload Contractors, Inc. was Sandy Johnson’s actual employer.
Did the Defendant sufficiently deny Plaintiff’s allegations that Defendant owned and operated the forklift through its agent, Sandy Johnson?
No, the Defendant’s general denial of liability is not enough when it knew that it was no longer the owner or operated of the forklift nor employer of Sandy Johnson.
The Court determined that, under Rule 8(b), Defendant did not sufficiently deny ownership of the forklift. Furthermore, the principles of equitable estoppel prevented the Defendant from denying ownership after it did not use this defense in its answer or interrogatories.