The Superior Court of Pennsylvania has upheld a lower-court decision to throw out a tenant lawsuit against Weigh Scales Mini Storage Inc. of Shamokin, Pa. The statute of limitations for the plaintiff, a woman identified only by the last name of Woodland, to make her claim had expired, the source reported.
Woodland rented her self-storage unit in October 2014 and discovered in March 2015 that it was infested with mice, who allegedly caused damage to her belongings. Though she vacated the property by May 31, 2015, she later was diagnosed with Lyme disease, which she believed was contracted from the mice in her unit. She then sued the self-storage operator for negligence.
Weigh Scales waived Woodland’s rent in April and May 2015 but refused to return her $35 security deposit. The tenant was told to vacate by the end of May.
“Due to illness, Ms. Woodland was unable to remove her possessions from the unit or address the infestation until May 2015,” judge Deborah A. Kunselman wrote in the court’s opinion. “At that time, she brought what was salvageable to her apartment and threw away what was not. In January 2016, after being misdiagnosed with multiple sclerosis in December, Woodland was diagnosed with Lyme’s disease.”
After learning in the spring of 2016 that mice can infect deer with Lyme disease, Woodland came to believe the self-storage business was responsible for her illness. She filed a civil lawsuit against Weigh Scales in May 2017, charging negligence, misrepresentation and infliction of emotional distress. She sought compensatory damages of $361.77 and $1 million in punitive damages.
Weigh Scales filed preliminary objections to the case, including the argument that the two-year statute of limitations on claims had expired. Woodland failed to respond to the objections, and in October 2017, the trial court dismissed the case, citing the expiration of the statute of limitations. It also indicated her other claims would have been dismissed, the source reported. Woodland then filed an appeal.
On appeal, the superior court directed Woodland to file “a concise statement of errors” within 21 days, but she submitted her statement eight days late. The lateness of that document prompted the higher court to “automatically” waive her appeal and dismiss the case, Kunselman stated.