McDonald v. Wells Fargo Bank, N.A., 2016 WL 6205302, at *2 (W.D.Pa., 2016), Judge Kearny addressed what happens when a decedent is current on her car loan at the time of death, but the creditor allegedly breaches the contract after death. Judge Kearny found that the administrator lacks standing to sue under the survivor statute because there was no pre-death breach, and survivor statute conveys on the administrator only the rights that the decedent had at the time of her death.
Liane McDonald sues as the personal representative of Estate of Patricia A. McDonald.She is empowered to bring claims on behalf of Mrs. McDonald through the Pennsylvania Survival Action. The Pennsylvania Survival Action states “all causes of action or proceedings, real or personal, shall survive the death of the plaintiff or of the defendant, or the death of one or more joint plaintiffs or defendants.”11 Neither Pennsylvania courts nor federal courts applying Pennsylvania law have addressed whether a personal representative can bring a cause of action on decedent’s behalf where (1) the cause of action is under a contract signed by the decedent while alive but (2) the alleged breach occurred after the death. We note the difference between a wrongful death action and a survival action illustrates the limited nature of a survival action. “A survival action, however, unlike a wrongful death action, is not a new cause of action, but merely continues in the personal representative the right of action which accrued to the deceased at common law. A survival action is brought by the personal representative of the decedent, and is an action which the decedent himself could bring had he survived and, in effect, is brought on behalf of the decedent.” Three uncontradicted facts bar Liane McDonald’s claim. On April 26, 2007, Mrs. McDonald signed the Loan Contract with Wells Fargo. On December 21, 2009, Mrs. McDonald died. The Loan Contract between Mrs. McDonald and Wells Fargo is not breached until almost three years after Mrs. McDonald’s death. It is impossible Mrs. McDonald could have brought a claim against Wells Fargo for failure to provide proper notice of the sale of her repossessed 2002 GMC Sierra because she is dead for almost three years when Wells Fargo repossessed the car. Because Mrs. McDonald did not have a claim against Wells Fargo for improper notice of sale of her repossessed car while alive, it is impossible for Liane McDonald to bring a claim “which the decedent [her]self could bring had [s]he survived and, in effect, is brought on behalf of the decedent.” We cannot allow a personal representative of an estate to state a claim on the decedent’s behalf where the facts did not accrue until long after the death under the Pennsylvania Survival Action statute.