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Pennsylvania's Legal Journal

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    A city man was awarded $60,000 in compensatory damages last month in

    Marc Greenfield

    Marc Greenfield

    a motor vehicle accident case in which he claimed he sustained back injuries after being rear-ended on Interstate 676 in Philadelphia.

    Court records show that the plaintiff’s verdict was returned late last month after a civil jury trial at Common Pleas Court.

    The verdict appeared to only be against defendant Timothy Leonard, one of three defendants initially named in the litigation.

    Leonard was the driver who struck the back of a vehicle driven by Bucks County resident Ayelet Meron, who was also listed as a co-defendant in the suit, as was John P. Ruscio, who the court docket shows shares an address with Meron.

    The relationship between Meron and Ruscio was not immediately clear.

    The chain collision ended up with plaintiff Dontay Tabbs allegedly sustaining lumbar herniation, the Philadelphia man asserted in his civil suit.

    At trial, records show, there was a discrepancy with regard to the plaintiff’s injuries, with lawyers for Tabbs arguing that the back problems were a direct result of the multi-vehicle accident, and defense attorneys, citing expert witness testimony, contending that the injuries were pre-existing.

    The plaintiff claimed that as a result of the incident, he suffered wage losses due to having to take a lower paying job.

    He also sought damages relating to pain and suffering.

    Court records show that Tabbs was represented by attorneys from the Philadelphia firm Spear, Greenfield & Richman.

    Defense attorneys included those from the Philadelphia firms Hubshman & Flood and the Law Office of Twanda Turner Hawkins.

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    “This case brings the court to the Court.”

    U.S. District Judge Gene E.K. Pratter

    U.S. District Judge Gene E.K. Pratter

    That’s how U.S. District Judge Gene E.K. Pratter began her 17-page memorandum opinion in a personal injury case leveled against LA Fitness International LLC by a gym member who claims the defendant’s negligence led to him developing an elbow injury.

    By the end of her opinion, the federal jurist determined that the case could proceed, with Pratter denying two defense motions, one to exclude witness testimony and the other seeking summary judgment.

    Plaintiff Khalif Jones is suing the fitness chain over an alleged June 2009 incident in which the man says he injured himself while playing basketball on an indoor court at the LA Fitness health club in Huntingdon Valley, Montgomery County.

    While attempting to block a shot, Jones jumped beyond the baseline and, “suddenly and without warning,” fell into an unpadded section of the back wall of the court, dislocating his elbow, the plaintiff asserts in his complaint.

    As a result of the incident, Jones sustained severe and permanent injury to the elbow joint, including right elbow posterior dislocation, lateral epicondylitis and joint effusion, his suit states.

    In the complaint, which was initiated at the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas but later removed by the defense to the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania based on diversity jurisdiction, Jones alleges that LA Fitness was negligent, careless and/or reckless in failing to make the basketball court safe for users and failing to warn people of the dangerous condition posed by certain aspects of the court, namely that the padding on the back wall was insufficient.

    In addition to moving for summary judgment, LA Fitness sought to have Pratter exclude the testimony of the plaintiff’s expert, Steve Bernheim, a sports and recreation consultant, because the man’s testimony would be inadmissible due to the fact that he is unqualified to offer a medical or “biomechanical” opinion as to the cause of Jones’s injury, and because he failed to show that any single alleged defect of the basketball court rendered it inherently unsafe, according to the judicial memorandum.

    The defendant further argued that even if the court admitted the witness’s testimony, the plaintiff has failed to prove “causation” sufficient to survive a motion for summary judgment, because Jones has failed to prove that he would not have been injured absent the alleged defects.

    On the first argument, Pratter noted that expert witness Bernheim’s opinion is not being offered to establish medical causation, but rather is being offered for the purpose of establishing that the basketball court was dangerous because it failed to conform to certain industry standards.

    “The Court finds that Mr. Bernheim’s background as a consultant and expert in sports risk management and liability renders him qualified to offer an expert opinion as to whether the basketball court in question met certain industry standards, and, if not, in what respects,” Pratter wrote.

    Attorneys for LA Fitness had argued that the standards cited by Bernheim are not relevant because they don’t regulate the specific basketball court in question under this case.

    Pratter disagreed with the defense argument, writing that while the court recognizes that the cited standards don’t expressly specify that they apply to basketball courts located within health and fitness clubs, “the Court does not agree that theses standards are irrelevant.

    “LA Fitness has not identified any competing standards, regulation, or source of information about the design of basketball courts that contradicts those relied on by Mr. Bernheim,” the judge wrote. “LA Fitness’s own expert, Charles Penza, evidently relied on similar texts in formulating his opposing opinion that the LA Fitness court conformed to all available standards and were therefore inherently safe.”

    Pratter wrote that while she finds expert witness testimony is not strictly necessary in this case, “the Court nonetheless finds that Mr. Bernheim’s experience-based testimony regarding various industry standards for basketball courts might assist a jury in determining whether the LA Fitness court conformed to a reasonable standard of care.”

    At the same time, the judge determined that Bernheim’s expert report letters and deposition that address the “cause” of Jones’s injury is too speculative to be admissible at trial.

    The judge limited Bernheim’s testimony to his opinion regarding industry standards and rules for basketball courts, and whether the design and condition of the gym’s basketball court met those standards.

    Pratter also shot down LA Fitness’s motion for summary judgment, ruling that the plaintiff has thus far stated a plausible claim under which relief could be granted.

    “LA Fitness has also argued that, because Mr. Jones is unable to prove that he would not have been injured if the end wall of the basketball court had been fully padded, Mr. Jones is therefore unable to establish the ‘causation’ element of his negligence action,” the memorandum reads. “Establishing a prima facie case of negligence, however, does not require Mr. Jones to prove the negative as posted by LA Fitness.”

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    A Texas man has filed a personal injury lawsuit against Trump

    Alan M. Feldman

    Alan M. Feldman

    Entertainment Resorts over allegations that his arm became severely lacerated after being pierced by a sharp edge of a broken railing at the defendant’s casino.

    The plaintiff, Randy Chu, who resides in Houston, claims he was seriously injured by the railing, which he had reached for after tripping and falling down a handicapped ramp inside the Trump Taj Mahal Casino Resort in Atlantic City, N.J.

    The Oct. 12, 2012 incident allegedly caused Chu to sustain a laceration on his left forearm that had to be closed using 20 stitches.

    The plaintiff also claims he sustained a laceration of his extensor muscles and tendons, which also required medical care and intensive physical therapy.

    He may also require future surgical intervention.

    The defendants, which include Trump Entertainment Resorts Inc. and various subsidiaries, are accused of negligence for creating a dangerous condition on the premises, failing to warn the plaintiff of the dangerous condition, failing to inspect the property and discover the dangerous condition, and failing to remediate the situation.

    Chu claims he has incurred substantial expenses for medical care and treatment and that he will likely incur such expenses for the remainder of his life.

    He also says he has suffered earnings losses and earning capacity, and that the incident caused Chu to experience severe physical and emotional pain and suffering.

    The plaintiff seeks more than $75,000 in compensatory damages along with interest and costs.

    Chu is being represented by Philadelphia attorneys Alan M. Feldman, Daniel J. Mann and Edward S. Goldis, of the firm Feldman Shephert Wohlgelernter Tanner Weinstock & Dodig LLP.

    The lawsuit was filed on July 23 at federal court in Philadelphia.


    The federal case number is 2:13-cv-04262-WY. 

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    A U.S. District Court judge has issued a split ruling in the pre-trial phase of a personal

    U.S. District Judge Jan DuBois

    U.S. District Judge Jan DuBois

    injury complaint against the parent company of restaurant chain Pizza Hut, denying a defense motion for summary judgment in the case, but granting the defendant’s motion to exclude the testimony of an expert retained by the plaintiff.

    The case involves Larry N. Jordan, a patron who claims to have suffered eye damage and other injuries stemming from a Dec. 28, 2008, altercation at a Pizza Hut location in Upper Darby, Delaware County.

    The plaintiff claims he became embroiled in a confrontation that began outside of the eatery between the restaurant’s delivery driver and several people but eventually spilled into the business establishment.

    Jordan claims one of the instigators came inside the restaurant at one point and pushed two pizza boxes belonging to the plaintiff off of the counter, which triggered a confrontation between the two.

    Jordan claims he sustained injuries to his right eye after being punched by the other man.

    The defendants, which include Yum Brands Inc. and Pizza Hut of America Inc., sought to have the testimony of David A. Gordon excluded, with defense lawyers arguing the man is not qualified to offer expert testimony at trial because Gordon’s opinions are not based on any authority or policy and his opinions do not fit the facts of the case.

    Gordon had provided opinions regarding the safety precautions and actions of the defendants, including his belief that the restaurant door should have been locked as the confrontation unfolded in the parking lot, and that the business should have trained its employees to either lock the front door in such situations or usher patrons to a safe location within the restaurant.

    In his July 24 memorandum, U.S. District Judge Jan DuBois, of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, ruled that Gordon’s opinions are unreliable under the Daubert legal standard, and therefore the jurist declined to address whether or not Gordon is qualified to act as an expert or whether the man’s opinions fit the case.

    To formulate his opinion, Gordon said he had reviewed the complaint, the depositions of both the plaintiff and Pizza Hut’s loss prevention manager, and read the transcripts of the delivery driver’s worker’s compensation deposition.

    Gordon also stated that he had reviewed the crime statistics for Upper Darby, Pa., and information about an attempted armed robbery at the same Pizza Hut location that took place just over two months prior to the altercation highlighted in the lawsuit.

    Gordon also reviewed security footage of the incident.

    The defendants argued that Gordon’s conclusions are unreliable because they are not based on any specialized knowledge.

    “They argue that Mr. Gordon cites no industry standards or other authority for his security opinions,” the judge noted in his memorandum. “they contend that he instead offers an opinion based on nothing but hindsight.”

    The defendants also argued that Gordon ignored the “practical and legal risks” the defendants would have faced had they proceeded as Gordon suggested.

    The plaintiff countered that Gordon’s opinions are reliable because they are not scientific in nature, and that they were based on industry standards.

    “The Court concludes that Mr. Gordon’s opinions are not reliable,” the judge wrote. “Mr. Gordon did not state in his report that he relied on industry standards for security needs of fast-food restaurants in reaching his opinions, and there is no evidence that he did so.

    “Moreover, he does not explain how he reached his opinions,” DuBois continued. “In short, he has provided no methodology. Such lack of methodology renders Mr. Gordon’s opinions unreliable under Daubert.

    DuBois did, however, allow the case to move forward, writing that summary judgment, as requested by the defendants, was not appropriate at this juncture.

    At this stage of the litigation, the judge determined, there is a genuine dispute of material fact with respect to whether the defendants had actual or constructive notice of the potential danger to patrons from acts perpetuated by third-parties in the restaurant.

    “In so ruling, the Court is not deciding whether all of the proffered evidence related to actual or constructive notice is admissible at trial,” the judge wrote. “The decision on this issue is without prejudice to defendants’ right to object to any inadmissible evidence at trial.”

    While the defendants disputed that they had actual or constructive notice of potential danger to their patrons from the acts of third parties, the plaintiff pointed to the attempted armed robbery that took place at the restaurant about two-and-a-half months earlier.

    Jordan also argued that the crime statistics for Upper Darby reflect the dangerous nature of the area and put the defendants on notice of a need to protect patrons inside the restaurant from the acts of third parties.

    Additionally, the judge ordered the plaintiff to file a response, on or before Aug. 9, to a defense motion seeking to preclude Jordon from introducing any evidence at trial regarding the plaintiff’s damages for medical treatment costs other than the amount of medical bills that was actually paid or remains due.

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    A lawyer representing a driver and the Minnesota-based company for which he works has

    Michael Schleigh

    Michael Schleigh

    petitioned the federal court in Philadelphia to hear an automobile injury case, contending the matter was improperly filed in state court.

    Michael F. Schleigh, an attorney practicing with the King of Prussia, Pa. firm Forry Ullman, filed a Notice of Removal on July 25 at the Eastern District of Pennsylvania urging a federal judge to take over a case initiated early last month by Philadelphia resident Latanya Dunn.

    Dunn filed suit at the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas on June 6 against Patrick Parker, Jr., who resides in Minnesota, and Eagan, MN-based Cresco Capital Inc.

    Dunn, the plaintiff, who is being represented by Philadelphia lawyer David Kwartler, of the Law Offices of Craig A. Altman, claims she sustained serious back injuries on Dec. 7, 2011, as a result of her Mitsubishi Outlander being struck by a vehicle driven by Parker, and owned by Cresco Capital.

    The accident, which occurred at the intersection of Island and Lindbergh Avenues in South Philadelphia, caused Dunn to sustain back injuries and aggravated some of the woman’s pre-existing conditions, the complaint alleges.

    The lawsuit contains personal injury counts and property damage claims against both Cresco Capital and Patrick Parker.

    Parker is accused of operating a motor vehicle in a negligent, careless and/or reckless manner, failing to have his vehicle under proper control, being inattentive while driving, failing to keep an adequate distance between vehicles, and engaging in other acts of negligence.

    In addition to her physical injuries, Dunn claims the accident caused her to suffer emotionally and economically, the latter because of her need to seek out medical attention.

    She also claims to have suffered earnings losses and a loss of earning capacity.

    In his removal notice, defense attorney Schleigh states that the matter belongs in federal, not state, court, because there is diversity in citizenship between the parties and due to the fact that the amount in controversy appears to exceed the jurisdictional limit in a Pennsylvania state court, two requirements in order for a suit to be sent to a District Court.

    The federal court docket in the case shows that the matter has been assigned to U.S. District Judge Mary A. McLaughlin.

    The state case ID number is 130601048 and the federal case number is 2:13-cv-04312-MAM. 

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    A federal jury recently returned a six-figure plaintiff’s verdict in favor of a Bucks County

    Robert E. Slota, Jr.

    Robert E. Slota, Jr.

    woman who was injured after tripping and falling at a Northeast Philadelphia supermarket while on the job.

    Barbara Ferguson, who resides in Southampton, Pa., filed suit earlier this year against the Pathmark on Franklin Mills Boulevard, where she contended she injured herself after she tripped and fell over a box that was being used as a makeshift doorstop at the time to prop open a large office door at the grocery store.

    The complaint, initially filed at the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas but subsequently removed to the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, accused Pathmark of negligence for creating a dangerous and hazardous condition to employees and the public.

    The three other defendants named in the litigation were Pathmark Stores Inc., Pathmark International Inc., and The Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Company Inc., all based in Harrisburg.

    The court record shows that following a civil jury trial at the federal courthouse, Furguson was awarded $792,968.16.

    All four defendants were found to have been negligent in the case.

    According to her complaint, Ferguson was injured back on Jan. 24, 2011, while visiting the Northeast Philadelphia Pathmark store during the scope of her employment with General Mills, which regularly does business with the defendants.

    Ferguson was in the business of selling new grocery products to various supermarkets in the area, including the Pathmark store on Franklin Mills Boulevard.

    One of Ferguson’s work responsibilities was to ensure new products that she sold to supermarkets appeared on store shelves.

    If the product wasn’t on the shelf, Ferguson was responsible for obtaining appropriate paperwork, scanning a tag with the product’s code information, and tagging the shelf where the new product was to be placed, the lawsuit had stated.

    On Jan. 24, 2011, Ferguson went into the back office at the Pathmark to obtain paperwork, and when she was leaving the office for the supermarket’s main floor she tripped and fell over the box that was acting as a doorstop, the suit said.

    As a result of the incident, Ferguson claimed she dislocated her right shoulder, and fractured it in four places.

    Ferguson also said she sustained a left knee fracture, right wrist carpal tunnel syndrome, neck and back injuries, and that suffered from depression.

    The woman also claimed she suffered earnings losses from her inability to perform her job following the incident at the Pathmark.

    In a pretrial memorandum, defense lawyers noted that according to store General Manager Joseph Dougherty there were never any other problems regarding the box in the years that it had been used as a makeshift doorstop.

    Dougherty testified at his deposition that he had been aware of the box, which he never observed to be a dangerous condition.

    The pretrial memorandum also notes that Pathmark’s point-of-sales coordinator, Shannon Kilbride, who was in the supermarket’s office at the time of the incident, testified that when she went to assist Ferguson, she heard the plaintiff admit to having seen the box on her way into the office.

    Ferguson claimed she became injured after tripping and falling over the box on her way out of the office.

    In the end, after a two-day trial, the jurors sided with the plaintiff, deciding that the negligent actions on the part of the defendants ultimately led to the woman’s injuries.

    While court records show the jury verdict to be nearly $793,000, a Law Weekly report states that Ferguson was actually awarded in excess of $834,000 for medical expenses and lost wages.

    The court docket shows that on July 31, Ferguson’s attorneys submitted a bill of costs in the amount of $15,737.13.

    The plaintiff was represented at trial by Lansdale, Pa. attorney Robert E. Slota, Jr., of the firm Hamburg, Rubin, Mullin, Maxwell & Lupin.

    The defendants were represented by Philadelphia lawyer Jay D. Branderbit, of Kent & McBride, P.C., and attorney Jessica Heinz, of the Philadelphia-based Legal Defense Counsel.

    The trial was presided over by U.S. District Judge John R. Padova.

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    A suburban Philadelphia teen athlete who sustained a concussion and a severe facial

    Joseph T. Thiroway

    Joseph T. Thiroway

    laceration during a field hockey tournament two years ago that required her to undergo multiple operations by plastic surgeons has filed a personal injury claim against the United States Field Hockey Association.

    Madison Harding, who resides in Warrington, Bucks County, filed suit on Aug. 7 against the Colorado-based organization over injuries she allegedly received on March 6, 2010, during a field hockey game at a national indoor tournament at the Virginia Beach Convention Center in Virginia.

    According to the civil action, which was filed by Doylestown, Pa. attorney Joseph T. Thiroway, of Claims Worldwide LLC, Harding, while playing on Court 2 of the center against the team Spirit Eagles Central, was receiving the ball during a teammate’s pass when the ball struck an elevated edge of the tile floor and shot upward toward the plaintiff, striking the then-16-year-old girl in the forehead.

    The suit blames the defendant for the incident, arguing that the USFHA allowed play to continue on the court despite having had warnings of its dangerous and unsafe conditions.

    The group even held a meeting to hear the complaints of individuals, groups and teams concerning the condition of the court at the convention center, but it failed to take action to ensure the safety of its players and umpires for the remainder of the tournament, which took place from March 5 to 7, 2010, according to the complaint.

    The suit says that the organization had been put on notice of the defective interlocking tile flooring – the tiles were allegedly loose, not locked in, broken, chipped, cracked and raised – following several injuries to players and umpires during the first day of the tournament, but that nothing was done to address the concerns.

    The first surgery performed on the plaintiff was to close the open head wound, a procedure requiring a total of 21 stitches, and the second procedure, performed months later, was done to smooth out and flatten the jagged edges of the scar that arose from the girl’s injuries, the suit states.

    “The severity of the laceration has resulted in severe scarring and disfigurement which is permanent in nature,” the complaint reads.

    Harding claims she has also suffered from nervous system shock, great physical pain, mental anguish and humiliation, and that she was caused to spend large sums of money on medical treatment.

    The suit also says that the plaintiff has a Healthcare Recoveries lien in excess of $6,000, which has been protected and must be paid upon the resolution of the civil case.

    The complaint accuses the defendant of negligence for failing to take action regarding the defective flooring at the convention center despite having been aware of prior injuries to tournament participants during that same week of field hockey play.

    “Defendant owed a duty to Plaintiff to inspect and make safe dangerous conditions that a reasonable inspection of the property would reveal,” the lawsuit states. “In the alternative, Defendant had a duty to warn of known unsafe and dangerous conditions then and there existing.”

    Harding seeks damages in excess of $150,000, in addition to costs, delay damages and interest.


    The federal case number is 2:13-cv-04541-LDD. 

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    A Delaware County father sustained a variety of injuries after a large room

    Alfred V. Altopiedi

    Alfred V. Altopiedi

    divider came crashing down on him at a local college where he was attending an event for his son, the man claims in a new civil filing.

    Gary Moyer and his wife, Catherine M. Moyer, of Media, Pa., are suing Swarthmore College and the United States Youth Soccer Association over the April 25, 2012 incident that allegedly occurred in a banquet room at the college.

    Gary Moyer was attending a soccer banquet for his son, who has autism and is non-verbal, when he was crushed by the large partition, according to the complaint.

    The incident occurred as he was standing behind his son to watch a video presentation by the soccer organization.

    The room divider landed on the plaintiff’s left leg and foot, the suit states, causing Moyer to sustain abrasions and lacerations, cellulitis and abscess, infected hematoma of the left leg with necrotic skin requiring surgical debridement and extensive wound care, and aggravation of pre-existing conditions.

    Moyer, the suit says, also sustained emotional and psychological trauma, agonizing pains, mental anguish and humiliation, disfigurement and a limitation on his daily activities.

    The plaintiff claims he has had to spend a great deal of money on medical expenses, and that he has experienced earnings losses due to his inability to work during the course of his physical recovery.

    The complaint faults the defendants for failing to properly secure the room divider, failing to properly inspect the premises, failing to make necessary repairs, failing to provide adequate safeguards to prevent injuries to those attending the sports banquet, causing a dangerous and hazardous condition to exist, and failing to correct the dangerous condition.

    The plaintiffs seek more than $50,000 in compensatory damages, plus delay damages, attorney’s fees and court costs.

    In addition to the general negligence count against both defendants, the lawsuit also contains a loss of consortium claim filed on behalf of Catherine Moyer, in which the woman claims she has been deprived of her husband’s assistance, comfort and companionship due to his injuries.

    The Moyers are being represented by Springfield, Pa. attorney Alfred V. Altopiedi, who filed the civil action Aug. 6 at the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas.


    The case ID number is 130800260. 

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    A Maryland woman is suing Philadelphia International Airport over

    Warren I. Siegel

    Warren I. Siegel

    injuries she allegedly sustained after slipping and falling on a wet bathroom floor two summers ago.

    Lindsay Farrell, who resides in Abingdon, MD, claims that she became injured on Aug. 15, 2011, after falling on the floor of the ladies room in Terminal B of the airport.

    The plaintiff blames the incident on water that had become pooled on the restroom floor.

    As a result of her fall, Farrell sustained a host of internal and external injuries to her head, body and limbs, although specifics with regard to the alleged injuries are not laid out in the complaint.

    The suit is also mum on the supposed “permanent loss of a bodily function” that the civil action says the plaintiff has experienced as a result of the incident.

    The airport is accused of negligence for failing to properly maintain and inspect the women’s room, failing to give proper and sufficient warnings and notice to the plaintiff and others about the dangerous condition that existed on the premises, and disregarding the rights and safety of airport visitors.

    Other acts of negligence are also alleged, including failing to give proper instruction to the maintenance crew on the proper placement of “caution” and “slippery when wet” signs when water accumulates on restroom floors.

    Additional defendants named in the litigation are the City of Philadelphia and the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s Office.

    Farrell claims that she has been caused to spend various sums of money on medical attention to cure her of her injuries.

    She alleges that as a result of the fall, she has suffered, and will continue to suffer, from agonizing aches, pains and mental anguish.

    In addition to her medical expenses, she claims she suffered economic damages in the form of lost earnings.

    Farrell seeks more than $50,000 in compensatory damages, in addition to interest and costs.

    She is being represented by attorney Warren I. Siegel of the firm Bernhardt, Rothermel & Siegel P.C.

    The suit was filed Aug. 6 at Philadelphia’s Common Pleas Court.

    The case ID number is 130800203. 

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    A Philadelphia woman claims in a recently filed premises liability action that she

    Bentley M. Saul

    Bentley M. Saul

    sustained a host of bodily injuries after taking a spill down the stairs of a city parking garage owned and maintained by Penn Presbyterian Medical Center and its affiliates.

    Philadelphia attorney Bentley M. Saul filed suit in state court on Aug. 7 on behalf of clients Arlene Graves and Jacob Young, who are married, over allegations that Graves became injured on Nov. 12, 2012, after falling on the grounds of a multi-level indoor parking garage near the intersection of 38th and Filbert Streets.

    The suit claims that Graves, who was on her way with her husband toward the elevator after just having parked their vehicle on the sixth floor of the garage, tripped and fell due to an uneven and ill-configured cement walking surface and steps.

    As a result of her fall, Graves sustained shoulder, back and nerve injuries, the suit claims, as well as embarrassment and humiliation.

    She also expects to suffer from disfigurement and scarring if surgery needs to be performed, the complaint states.

    The lawsuit accuses the defendants of various acts of negligence for failing to keep walking surfaces free of fall-down hazards, failing to adequately inspect the premises, permitting a dangerous condition to exist inside the parking garage and failing to afford a safe and secure area for paying customers and pedestrians.

    The individual defendants named in the litigation are Penn Presbyterian Medical Center, Presbyterian Hospital, The Presbyterian Hospital of Philadelphia, the University of Pennsylvania Health System, The Trustees of the University of Pennsylvania, the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania and Penn Medicine.

    Graves claims she has incurred medical expenses as a result of her injuries and that she has seen earnings losses due to her inability to work while being cared for her injuries.

    Young, the husband, has his own loss of consortium count in the complaint claiming he has been deprived of his wife’s companionship due to her injuries.

    The couple seeks damages in excess of the arbitration limits, which is $50,000 in state court, as well as interest, costs and other legal relief.


    The case ID number is 130800373. 

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    A mass transit mechanic who says he was injured in late 2009 while performing a rail

    James M. Duckworth

    James M. Duckworth

    vehicle inspection claims in a civil filing that the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority reneged on its promise to arbitrate the matter.

    Philadelphia resident Antoine Clark is suing SEPTA over allegations that the agency failed to abide by an arbitration agreement arising from an Oct. 24, 2009 incident in which Clark claims he suffered an on-the-job shoulder injury.

    In April 2011, the suit states, SEPTA presented an agreement to arbitrate, which Clark signed soon after.

    The move would toll the statute of limitations on the injury claim.

    The transit agency, however, took nearly a year to sign the agreement, the record shows.

    Arbitration was originally scheduled to take place in November and December 2012, as well as in February, March, May and August of this year, the complaint states, but SEPTA allegedly kept seeking continuances, which were granted each time.

    Late last month, SEPTA breached the agreement by informing Clark that the agency would no longer agree to arbitrate the matter, according to the complaint, which was filed on Aug. 9 at U.S. District Court in Philadelphia.

    Clark now brings his claims in civil court, accusing SEPTA of negligence for failing to provide the plaintiff with a safe place to work, failing to provide Clark with non-defective equipment, failing to warn of the existence of a dangerous condition, and failing to make corrections to the dangerous condition.

    As for Clark, the plaintiff has been informed by his doctors that his shoulder injuries may be permanent in nature, although specifics with regard to the alleged long-term damage was not spelled out in the lawsuit.

    Clark also claims he has suffered physical pain and mental anguish and that he has suffered earnings losses and financial losses due to his medical expenses.

    SEPTA is accused of violating the Federal Employers’ Liability Act.

    Clark seeks more than $50,000 in damages.

    He is being represented by attorney James M. Duckworth of the firm Keller & Goggin P.C.

    The federal case number is 2:13-cv-04640-MAM.

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    A federal judge in Philadelphia has restored to the court’s active docket a

    U.S. District Court Judge William H. Yohn, Jr.

    U.S. District Court Judge William H. Yohn, Jr.

    products liability complaint initiated by a Louisiana resident against drugmaker GlaxoSmithKline over allegations that the drug thalidomide, designed to treat morning sickness in pregnant women, led to the plaintiff being born with various physical deformities.

    In an Aug. 12 order, U.S. District Judge William H. Yohn, who sits in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, lifted a stay that he had issued late last year in a case filed by Debra Johnson, who was born at England Air Force Base Hospital in Louisiana in 1959 with multiple serious birth defects.

    The woman says she was born with clubbed hands, a shortened forearm and other deformities due to her mother using the drug thalidomide, which the lawsuit states was developed in the 1950s by the German pharmaceutical company Grünenthal.

    The man who created the drug was Heinrich Mückter, a former Nazi Party member who headed the research department at Grunenthal.

    It was claimed that the drug was an effective antiemetic that had an inhibitory effect on morning sickness, leading thousands of pregnant women to use the product to relieve their symptoms, according to the complaint.

    The litigation alleges that throughout the 1950s and 60s, more than 10,000 children in 46 countries were born with deformities tied to their mothers’ use of thalidomide.

    The drug was never approved for use in the United States by the Food and Drug Administration, the suit says, but it was nevertheless distributed by the defendants to at least 20,000 patients in the country.

    “It was impossible to know how many pregnant women had been given the drug to help alleviate morning sickness or as a sedative,” the complaint reads.

    Johnson filed her complaint in September of last year at the Philadelphia Common Pleas Court; the defendants subsequently filed a removal notice seeking to transfer the matter to the U.S. District Court in Philadelphia because complete diversity exists between the parties.

    The filing of a notice of removal is a fairly common practice in products liability cases involving corporate defendants headquartered outside of Pennsylvania.

    In the Johnson case, Yohn initially stayed the proceedings pending a review by the U.S. Third Circuit Court of Appeals to address issues raised by the plaintiff in her motion to remand the litigation back to state court in Philadelphia.

    The Third Circuit in the meantime had ruled in a case titled Johnson v. SmithKline Beecham Corp., which raised similar jurisdictional issues to those raised in the present case, that the drugmaker defendants were not Pennsylvania citizens, meaning removal to the federal court was proper.

    On Aug. 8, attorneys from the Philadelphia firm Spector, Roseman, Kodroff & Willis, and the Seattle-based firm of Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro LLP, who collectively represent the plaintiff, filed a motion asking Yohn to lift the stay in light of the Third Circuit’s ruling in Johnson.

    Based on the other ruling, the memorandum in support of the stay’s lifting states the plaintiff understands that the court must deny her motion to remand the present case to Common Pleas Court.

    “Plaintiff therefore requests that this Court lift the stay of proceedings in this matter, rule on the motion to remand, and permit this matter to proceed,” Johnson’s lawyers wrote last week.

    The docket sheet in the case shows that various filings since the initial commencement of the lawsuit have been docketed under seal.

    As for the meat of the litigation, the plaintiff alleges that her mother, Doris Layssard, only took thalidomide for about a week because of its extreme sedative effect, but that Johnson was nevertheless permanently altered because of Doris Layssard’s use of the medication.

    Johnson, the suit states, was never told that her injuries, which caused her to wear casts and braces in an attempt to straighten her arms, were caused or may have been caused by her mother’s use of thalidomide.

    “Her medical records obtained to date describe her birth defects as congenital, and make no mention of thalidomide,” the lawsuit reads. “Debra was treated by a team of doctors as a child, and they encouraged her parents to treat Debra like a normal child. Debra was always told by her parents that this was how God made her.”

    According to the complaint, the pharmaceutical companies behind thalidomide told the public and the United States Congress that thalidomide-caused birth defects that permeated Europe couldn’t happen in the U.S. because the drug was available only on a limited “clinical trial” basis.

    Recent evidence, however, indicates that “the story that thalidomide did not cause injuries in the United States was not the truth,” the suit reads. “Instead, it was a carefully constructed story sold to the public to protect Defendants from having to accept responsibility for what they had done.”

    And what the drugmakers had done, the complaint asserts, “was nothing short of creating every family’s nightmare by virtue of babies dying in infancy due to thalidomide, or surviving with birth defects, some so severe as to shock care-givers and family members.”

    The suit alleges that GSK medically experimented on patients by distributing thalidomide to doctors without adequate testing and in reckless disregard of the risks presented to developing fetuses in women who were pregnant.

    “In the decades that have passed,” the complaint states, “the companies that distributed thalidomide in the United States have continued to cover up the tragic truth about what each knew and did – denying justice to their many victims.”

    Johnson claims that she wasn’t told by her mother that the woman had taken thalidomide during pregnancy until February of this year.

    GlaxoSmithKline is a successor company to thalidomide’s original German makers.

    The record shows that GlaxoSmithKline and its subsidiary defendants are being represented by attorneys Michael T. Scott and Melissa A. Wojtylak, of the Philadelphia firm Reed Smith LLP.

    The federal case number is 2:12-cv-05455-WY.

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    A Philadelphia man filed suit late last month in state court over injuries he allegedly

    Yuri J. Brunetti

    Yuri J. Brunetti

    sustained after coming into contact with a raised and uneven sidewalk outside of 30th Street Station.

    Robert Wilson, who resides in the city’s Germantown section, claims he suffered injuries to his shoulder, wrist, back, knees and neck, including various disc herniations, as a result of falling on defective concrete while he was a patron of the train station in downtown Philadelphia back on Oct. 3, 2011.

    Wilson is suing Amtrak, the City of Philadelphia, the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, and Buckley & Company Inc., a Philadelphia-based construction company doing exterior work on the property.

    The four defendants are accused of negligence for allowing a dangerous and defective condition to exist at the location, failing to correct the dangerous condition, failing to provide and maintain an unobstructed and safe route of travel for plaintiff and other train station patrons and passersby, and failing to barricade or otherwise contain the area where the dangerous condition existed.

    Wilson claims the incident has caused him to expend various sums of money on medical treatment.

    He also asserts that he has suffered physical pain, mental anguish and humiliation, and that he may continue to suffer the same into the future.

    Wilson, who is being represented by attorney Bruce Martin Ginsburg, of Philadelphia’s Ginsburg & Associates, is seeking more than $50,000 in compensatory damages, which is the jurisdictional limit at Philadelphia Common Pleas Court, where the suit was originally filed on July 24.

    This week, lawyers representing Amtrak filed a removal notice at the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania seeking to have a federal judge take over the case.

    Amtrak attorney Yuri J. Brunetti, of the firm Landman Corsi Ballaine & Ford, argued in the Aug. 13 filing that the U.S. District Court is the appropriate venue in which to litigate the case because Amtrak is an agency of the federal government.

    The City of Philadelphia has already consented to Amtrak’s removing the case out of Common Pleas Court, the removal notice states.

    Neither PennDOT’s nor Buckley & Company’s consent is required in the case because they apparently have not yet been served with the complaint, Brunetti wrote.


    The federal case number is 2:13-cv-04709-TON. 

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    A federal judge in Philadelphia has granted a motion by drugmaker

    U.S. District Judge Harvey Bartle III

    U.S. District Judge Harvey Bartle III

    GlaxoSmithKline to transfer a Paxil products liability case from the Eastern District of Pennsylvania to the federal courthouse in Minnesota.

    In an Aug. 14 memorandum, U.S. District Judge Harvey Bartle determined that transfer to Minnesota was appropriate because the plaintiffs reside in Minnesota and it will “clearly be less expensive for them to have this action tried near their home.

    “The defendant, as a large corporation, does not bear a meaningfully heavier financial burden in one district versus another,” Bartle wrote.

    The case involves Julie Guddeck, a mother who claims her ingestion of the antidepressant drug Paxil during pregnancy led to her daughter, Kaylea Guddeck, sustaining injuries.

    The girl allegedly had a critical neural tube defect that required surgery, the plaintiff asserts in her complaint.

    The lawsuit, which was originally filed at Philadelphia’s Common Pleas Court and later removed to the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, contains counts of negligence, breach of warranty and strict liability.

    Defense attorneys subsequently filed a petition to move the litigation from Philadelphia to the federal court in Minnesota.

    Bartle noted that while venue would be proper in both federal courts – the plaintiffs live in Minnesota while GSK is headquartered in the Philadelphia area – transfer to Minnesota is appropriate in this case because it would be more convenient for the parties as indicated by their physical and financial conditions.

    The judge noted that Julie Guddeck was prescribed Paxil in Minnesota by a physician practicing in that state, the plaintiff ingested the drug there, and she became pregnant and gave birth to her daughter in Minnesota.

    Bartle also pointed out that the plaintiffs would likely call as witnesses people who are based in Minnesota, and who might have a difficult time getting to the Eastern District of Pennsylvania to testify in the case.

    Those witnesses would also be “well out of the reach of this court’s subpoena power,” Bartle wrote.

    “It is more practical to have the trial in Minnesota where both the plaintiffs and their physicians are located. It will be less expensive and easier than having the trial on the opposite side of the country in Pennsylvania,” the judicial memorandum states. “Minnesota not only has a strong interest in resolving the product liability claims of its own citizens but also is the site where the injuries took place as well as a majority of the relevant events or omissions.”

    Bartle further wrote that the public factors favor transfer to Minnesota, and that regardless of what substantive law will apply in the case, “there is no doubt that a federal judge in Minnesota is fully capable of applying it.”

    The record shows that GSK is being represented by attorneys Joseph E. O’Neil and Carolyn L. McCormack, of the Philadelphia firm Lavin O’Neil Ricci Cedrone & Disipio.

    Those representing the plaintiffs include attorneys from Baum & Hedlund.

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    An attorney representing home improvement retailer Lowes has filed a

    Bruce M. Rotfeld

    Bruce M. Rotfeld

    petition with the U.S. District Court in Philadelphia to take up jurisdiction in a slip-and-fall case against the corporate defendant that was initiated by a Philadelphia couple in state court.

    James and Renee Harvin are suing Lowe’s and employee Patrick Kirby over eye injuries James Harvin allegedly sustained after tripping and falling over a hazard at the Lowes location on Christopher Columbus Boulevard in South Philadelphia in late April 2012.

    The suit, which was originally filed in late July at Philadelphia’s Common Pleas Court by Philadelphia attorney Bruce M. Rotfeld, does not specify the exact nature of the alleged defect in the store that caused the plaintiff to fall.

    It only says that the store and Kirby were negligent for failing to eliminate the hazard, failing to properly inspect the premises, failing to prevent the accident, and failing to warn of the dangerous condition.

    The complaint alleges that as a result of the incident, James Harvin sustained injuries to his left eye, including a ruptured globe with anterior vitrectomy iris suture with repositioning of the left eye.

    James Harvin ended up suffering eye pain, emotional tension, an impairment of earning ability and other personal injuries, the suit states.

    Kirby, who normally works at the Lowe’s location on Aramingo in Philadelphia’s Port Richmond neighborhood, was acting as the managing employee of the South Philly location on the day of the alleged incident, the record shows.

    The Harvin’s claim they incurred substantial medical bills to their financial detriment.

    Renee Harvin has a loss of consortium claim in the complaint alleging she has been deprived of her husband’s love and companionship due to his injuries.

    The couple seeks more than $50,000, in addition to costs, expenses, attorney’s fees and other relief.

    In her removal notice, Lowes attorney Jennifer M. Herrmann, of the Philadelphia firm Mintzer, Sarowitz, Zeris, Ledva & Meyers, wrote that the matter would be more appropriate before a federal jurist because the damages sought would likely exceed the jurisdictional limit in a Pennsylvania trial court.

    The defense attorney also cites diversity in citizenship among the parties as justification for transferring venue.

    Herrmann additionally points out that the complaint is silent as to the citizenship of defendant Kirby, listing his work address, not his home address, in court papers.

    “Regardless, there is no independent claim asserted against Mr. Kirby,” Herrmann wrote. “Instead, the references to Mr. Kirby relate to activities in the course and scope of his employment.”

    Herrmann went on to write that she believes Kirby was fraudulently joined as a defendant in the litigation.

    The court docket shows that the matter has been assigned to U.S. District Judge Robert F. Kelly.


    The federal case number is 2:13-cv-04746-RK. 

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    The Montgomery County attorney representing two defendants in a case

    Anthony Hinkle

    Anthony Hinkle

    involving injuries arising out of an event put on by a motivational group has filed a petition to transfer the litigation to federal court.

    Blue Bell, Pa. attorney Anthony W. Hinkle, of the firm Cipriani & Werner, filed court papers Aug. 15 with the Eastern District of Pennsylvania seeking to have a federal judge take up jurisdiction in a case initiated at Philadelphia’s Common Pleas Court late last month by Montgomery County couple Anne and Jacob Furbacher.

    Ann Furbacher claims she sustained a fractured wrist back on July 21, 2011, while, during her job as a weight loss coach for Take Shape for Life Inc., she participated in a “Break-Through Event,” a motivational exercise in which participants attempt to break through wooden boards.

    Furbacher claims that she attempted to break through a pine board with her right wrist and ended up suffering an acute right distal radial fracture necessitating surgery.

    The defendants named in the litigation are Take Shape for Life Inc., Medifast Inc., Medifast Weight Control Centers, Jason Properties LLC, and Brian Biro and his business, Brian Biro Enterprises LLC.

    Biro and his company, the defendants being represented by Hinkle, the Blue Bell attorney who filed the removal notice, had been hired by Take Shape for Life Inc., the Medifast defendants and Jason Properties LLC to coordinate and perform the “Break-Through Event.”

    The plaintiffs are suing for both negligence and loss of consortium.

    Biro and his company are accused of failing to provide event attendees with a safe environment, failing to properly train employees and participants prior to the “Break-Through Event,” failing to adequately warn attendees and participants of the risks associated with breaking the wooden board during the presentation, failing to adequately inspect the boards used during the event, failing to adopt and employ proper and adequate safety procedures, and allowing attendees, including the plaintiff, to participate in an event in which other participants had previously become injured.

    Furbacher claims she had to have a metal plate and screws placed in her wrist during surgery. She also says she endured extensive and painful post-surgical physical therapy.

    The couple also alleges they suffered earnings losses and damage to future earning capacity due to the woman’s injuries.

    Hinkle, Biro’s lawyer, wrote in his removal petition wrote that counsel for the other defendants don’t oppose a transfer of the matter from state to federal court.

    The defense lawyer contends that the case should be litigated in federal court because there is diversity of citizenship among the parties and because the amount of damages sought by the plaintiffs exceed the jurisdictional limit at Common Pleas Court.

    The plaintiffs are being represented by Philadelphia attorneys Jeffrey F. Laffey and Laura E. Nowicki of the firm Laffey, Bucci & Kent LLP.


    The federal case number is 2:13-cv-04750-TON. 

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    A federal judge has granted a motion by chain restaurant Ruby Tuesday

    U.S. District Judge Cynthia M. Rufe

    U.S. District Judge Cynthia M. Rufe

    seeking to exclude expert witness testimony in a case in which a Philadelphia couple claims the husband suffered severe burns and other injuries after taking a bite from a hot appetizer.

    In an Aug. 12 memorandum and order, U.S. District Judge Cynthia Rufe, sitting in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, gave the defense a partial win in agreeing to exclude the testimony of Barry Parsons, a food safety specialist retained by the lawyers for the plaintiffs, Stafford Freeman, III, and his wife, Nicole.

    The record shows that Parsons had visited a different Ruby Tuesday location from where the alleged incident occurred and measured the temperature of a queso dip appetizer at that restaurant as being 166 degrees.

    The Freeman’s are suing the Ruby Tuesday restaurant at 650 Cowpath Road in Lansdale, Montgomery County over claims that Stafford Freeman suffered severe burns to his mouth after taking a bite of the beef queso dip appetizer while the couple was dining at the restaurant on July 21, 2010.

    The plaintiff alleges that after burning his mouth on the appetizer, he flailed backward, causing hot dip to burn his forearm.

    Stafford Freeman further claims that he sustained injuries to his shoulder, neck and back after jerking backward in his seat.

    The lawsuit was originally filed at Philadelphia’s Common Pleas Court but later removed by the defense to the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.

    The record shows that Parsons, the plaintiffs’ witness, concluded that by serving the dip at 165 or 166 degrees, as the restaurant did, rather than at 135 degrees, Ruby Tuesday created a dangerous condition.

    Defense attorneys sought to exclude Parsons’ testimony on the grounds that his methodology isn’t reliable; his opinions and conclusions are not reliable, relevant or admissible; he seeks to offer inadmissible legal opinions; and his testimony may confuse the issues and mislead the jury.

    Rufe sided with the defense at this stage of the litigation, determining that Parsons’ opinion is unreliable because it does not have a discernible methodological basis, and there is a poor fit between Parsons’ opinion and the facts and data upon which it is based.

    “Beef queso dip is a mixture of ground beef and melted cheese,” Rufe wrote in her memorandum. “Mr. Parsons’s report says nothing about the temperature at which the cheese used will melt, nor about the temperature at which melted cheese (or beef queso dip) will burn the mouth and cause second degree burns to skin. Mr. Parson’s report only discusses the temperature and length of exposure to hot water that will cause burns to the skin.”

    Rufe wrote that Parsons concludes, “without reference to any supporting evidence,” that hot cheese and hot water will affect the skin similarly when they are heated to similar temperatures.

    “There is no indication that Mr. Parsons has the expertise to discuss the relationship between the thermal properties of water and beef queso dip, and his report does not include such a discussion,” Rufe wrote.

    The judge, referring to Parsons’ opinion that Ruby Tuesday had a legal duty to train its employees to allow the dip to cool to a lower temperature before serving it to patrons, wrote that while opinions about best practices for restaurants may be within Parsons’ area of expertise, legal duties of restaurants are not.

    “Accordingly, the Court, in its role as gatekeeper, cannot permit the jury to hear Mr. Parsons’s opinion regarding whether Ruby Tuesday’s practice of serving beef queso dip at 165 degrees is unreasonably dangerous or is in violation of its duty of care and/or duty to warn,” Rufe wrote.

    The plaintiffs did secure a partial victor in Rufe’s denying the defendant’s motion for summary judgment.

    In seeking summary judgment, defense lawyers argued that the Freeman’s could not, as a matter of law, establish negligence because the danger was obvious.

    A restaurant customer must expect that a hot appetizer would be served hot, the defense argued.

    Rufe acknowledged Pennsylvania case law with regard to hot beverages cited by the defense, but the judge said that because beef queso dip is not a drink, whether the danger of spilled cheese dip would have been similarly “open and obvious to a reasonable person is a question of fact for the jury.”

    “If the jury finds that the beef queso dip posed an unexpected and not readily-discovered danger to Plaintiff, it will need to determine whether serving beef queso dip at an unexpectedly hot temperature, without a warning, was unreasonable,” Rufe wrote. “Accordingly, the Court will deny the motion for summary judgment.”

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    One of the victims who survived the deadly building collapse in downtown

    Andrew Stern

    Andrew Stern

    Philadelphia in early June has filed a lawsuit over the severe injuries she sustained after an unsupported wall toppled over an adjacent thrift shop during a demolition.

    The court docket shows that Philadelphia attorney Andrew Stern, of the firm Kline & Specter, filed a civil action Aug. 19 at the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas on behalf of city resident Mariya Plekan, a 52-year-old immigrant from Ukraine who lost both of her legs during the June 6 incident.

    Plekan was reportedly shopping at the thrift store at the time.

    Demolition contractors were taking down an unoccupied structure when the un-braced wall gave way, and fell on top of the Salvation Army secondhand store that stood next to the demolition site.

    The lawsuit says that Plekan had to have the lower portion of her body amputated due to the severity of the lower extremity injuries.

    The plaintiff also suffered from kidney failure, cardiac arrest, liver dysfunction, sepsis, and other injuries that led to invasive surgeries and other ongoing medical procedures.

    According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, Plekan is a widow who immigrated to America more than a decade ago.

    She reportedly moved to the Philadelphia region to take care of an elderly relative.

    Following the June 5 building collapse that led to the deaths of six people – 14 others were injured in the incident – Plekan’s adult children came to Philadelphia from Ukraine to be with their mother.

    The defendants listed in the lawsuit include Richard Basciano and his company, STB Investments Corp., the owners of the collapsed property, as well as architect Plato Marinakos, Jr., and his firm, Plato Studio Architect LLC.

    Other defendants named in the litigation are Griffin T. Campbell, the demolition contractor who secured the contract to tear down Basciano’s building, the Salvation Army of Eastern Territory, and Sean Benschop, a worker hired by Campbell to tear down the vacant structure.

    Benschop thus far remains the only person connected to the collapse who is facing criminal charges.

    Along with the complaint, Stern, the plaintiff’s attorney, also filed a petition to preserve documents and evidence in the case due to his client’s deteriorating condition.

    Anticipating that Plekan may not survive her injuries, the lawyer is asking a judge to preserve her testimony so that it could be used during a potential future trial.

    Civil cases are sometimes stayed by the courts until criminal proceedings are complete.

    Plekan is seeking unspecified monetary damages.


    The case ID number is 130801874.

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    Lawyers representing a California-based manufacturer of surgical devices

    Robert A. Limbacher

    Robert A. Limbacher

    have filed a petition to transfer a products liability action initiated against the company and others from state to federal court.

    The attorneys, from Philadelphia-based Goodell, Devries, Leech & Dann, and the Washington, D.C. firm Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom, filed their removal notice on Aug. 19 at the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.

    Counsel for Intuitive Surgical Inc. contend that the matter belongs in federal court, not the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas, for various reasons, including that the amount of damages sought by the plaintiffs is expected to exceed the jurisdictional limit in a Pennsylvania state court.

    The plaintiffs, Michael and Roseann Grasso, of Manahawkin, N.J., are suing Intuitive Surgical, as well as Thomas Jefferson University Hospital, Jefferson University Physicians, and Jefferson Urology Associates over injuries Michael Grasso allegedly sustained after undergoing prostate cancer surgery in late September 2010.

    The record shows that a DaVinci Robotic Surgical device manufactured by Intuitive Surgical malfunctioned during the procedure, causing the operation to last longer than anticipated.

    The plaintiff ended up having to undergo numerous additional surgeries and he experienced complications due to the allegedly defective product.

    The lawsuit says that Michael Grasso sustained bleeding caused by the device’s malfunction, bladder spasms, “unbearable pain,” nerve damage, bladder blockage, anxiety, depression, lower extremity injuries, prolonged hospitalizations and rehabilitation, loss of chance for full recovery and other injuries.

    The suit contains counts of strict product liability, negligence, negligent training and proctoring and negligent certification, fraud, breach of warranty, unjust enrichment and loss of consortium.

    The plaintiffs are being represented by attorney Derek R. Layser of the Philadelphia firm Layser & Freiwald.

    The record shows that the complaint originally named Leonard Gomella, the physician who preformed the procedure, as an additional defendant, but the plaintiffs discontinued their claims against the doctor in early July before they filed their amended complaint.

    In the defense petition seeking removal from the Philadelphia Common Pleas Court to the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, the lawyers representing Intuitive Surgical wrote that the matter should be litigated in federal court because it is a civil action between citizens of different states, which would give a federal judge subject matter jurisdiction over the case.

    The removal petition is signed by Goodell Devries attorney Robert A. Limbacher.


    The federal case number is 2:13-cv-04814-WY.

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    A Montgomery County attorney representing out-of-state defendants in a

    Andrew J. Kramer

    Andrew J. Kramer

    motor vehicle injury case initiated by a Philadelphia man has asked a federal judge to take up jurisdiction in the tort action.

    Lawyer Andrew J. Kramer, of the Norristown, Pa. firm Kane Pugh Knoell Troy & Kramer, filed a notice of removal with the U.S. District Court in Philadelphia on Aug. 21 seeking to transfer litigation initiated by Timothy Alicea, Jr. earlier this month from the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas to the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.

    The lawsuit was filed in state court on Aug. 8 by Philadelphia attorney Steven A. Rubin on behalf of Alicea, who resides in Philadelphia’s Fishtown neighborhood.

    It names as defendants the Catholic Diocese of Raleigh, North Carolina, as well as Raleigh resident David Vogelpohl and the St. Frances of Assissi Church in Raleigh.

    The complaint alleges that Alicea sustained facial fractures and other serious injuries during a vehicle collision with a woman identified as Donna Mariani, who the suit says had permission from the defendants to operate one of their vehicles on the day of the accident.

    The plaintiff claims he was driving down Frankford Avenue at or near its intersection with Hagert Street in Philadelphia on June 28, 2011, when his vehicle was struck by a vehicle driven by Mariani and owned and maintained by the defendants.

    As a result of the collision, the suit states, Alicea sustained sinus and orbital fractures, a nasal bone fracture, cictricial eyelid retraction, trichiasis of the eyelid, dizziness, nausea, and a shock to his nervous system.

    The plaintiff also asserts that he has sustained physical pain and suffering, mental anguish, discomfort, inconvenience and distress, and that he has incurred various sums of money relating to medical care and attention.

    The complaint accuses the defendants of various acts of negligence including failing to have a vehicle under proper control, allowing a vehicle to be operated at a high and excessive rate of speed, and operating a vehicle without the due regard for the rights, safety and position of the plaintiff.

    The diocese, the church and Vogelpohl are also accused of failing to make certain that Mariani, the driver, had sufficient knowledge and experience in operating a motor vehicle.

    The plaintiff says he is seeking more than $50,000 in damages.

    In the defense removal petition, however, Kramer contends that the amount in controversy is likely to exceed statutory jurisdiction in a Pennsylvania trial court.

    The court docket shows that the matter has been referred to U.S. District Judge Eduardo Robreno.


    The federal case number is 2:13-cv-04885-ER.

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