January 11th, 2023 by Rieders Travis in Negligence

Skillman v. Patel, Pa. No. CV-22-00444 (C.P. Lycoming December 19, 2022) (Linhardt, J.)  On May 2, 2022, Plaintiff filed a Complaint against Defendants, who collectively operate a motel (“Budget Inn”) in Williamsport. Plaintiff alleges that during a twelve-day stay at Budget Inn from October 28, 2021 through November 8, 2021, he “experienced pinching sensations and itchiness,” realizing on November 7, 2021 that “his motel room was infested with bed bugs.” Plaintiff contends that he informed staff of the issue, but they “took no action to render medical aid,” and Plaintiff checked out of the motel the following day. The facts pied are plainly insufficient to establish that Defendants had actual knowledge of bugs in Plaintiff’s room and failed to warn him. In a light most favorable to Plaintiff, the allegations could establish that Defendants had notice that guests at the Budget Inn had observed a large number of insects in the past, and therefore Defendants had a continuing duty to attempt to discover, mitigate, and prevent infestations in the future, lest those infestations cause harm to guests. This duty, however, is a duty Defendants already owed to their guests as proprietors of a motel. Plaintiff has satisfactorily pied that Defendants negligently failed to ensure their premises were safe. However, two reviews vaguely mentioning “bugs,” remote in time and of uncertain similarity to the situation that Plaintiff allegedly encountered, are insufficient as a matter of law to conclude that Defendants went beyond mere negligence and recklessly disregarded an obvious risk to Plaintiff’s personal safety. Plaintiff has provided no grounds for an award of attorney’s fees under his breach of contract or premises liability claims. Plaintiff can only obtain attorney’s fees from the named Defendants if he prevails on his UTPCPL claim.

Attorney Cliff Rieders

Attorney Cliff RiedersCliff Rieders is a Nationally Board Certified Trial Lawyer practicing personal injury law. A large part of his practice involves multi-district litigation, including cases related to pharmaceuticals, vitamin supplements and medical devices. He is admitted in several state and federal courts, as well as the Supreme Court of the United States. Rieders is the past regional president of the Federal Bar Association and is a life member of the distinguished American Law Institute, which promulgates proposed rules adopted by many state courts. He is a past president of the Pennsylvania Association for Justice, formerly Pennsylvania Trial Lawyers Association. As a founder of the Pennsylvania Patient Safety Authority, he served on the Board for 15 years.

Not only has Rieders held many highly esteemed, leadership positions, he authored legislation related to the Patient Safety Authority and the Mcare Act, which governs medical and hospital liability actions in Pennsylvania. He authored texts upon which both practitioners and judges rely, including Pennsylvania Malpractice Laws and Forms, and Financial Responsibility Law Issues in Pennsylvania, the latter governing auto and truck collisions in Pennsylvania. In addition, he wrote several books on the practice of law in Pennsylvania regarding wrongful death and survivor actions, insurance bad faith, legal malpractice claims and worker rights, among others. Rieders also serves as a resource to practitioners as a regular speaker for Celesq, an arm of the world’s largest legal publisher, Thomson Reuters West Publishing.

As recognition of his wide range of contribution to his profession and of his dedication to protecting the rights of his clients, he received numerous awards, among them the George F. Douglas Amicus Curiae Award, the Milton D. Rosenberg Award, the B’nai B’rith Justice Award, and awards of recognition from the Pennsylvania Trial Lawyers. [ Attorney Bio ]



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