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Pennsylvania's Legal Journal

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    The parent of a young Philadelphia teen has filed a negligence suit against a youth

    Michael Mednick

    Michael Mednick

    residential facility over claims that her son was injured earlier this year after being forced to jog back to his residence hall after a recreational outing despite the fact that counselors knew, or should have known, the boy had breathing difficulties due to his weight.

    Melissa Stewart is suing Philadelphia-based Carson Valley Children’s Aid in state court in Philadelphia over claims that the organization, which operates a residential educational facility just over the Philadelphia city line in Montgomery County, was negligent when it allowed two of its employees to make the plaintiff’s son, Aaron Stewart, jog back to his room after a game of basketball several blocks away on Jan. 30.

    The lawsuit claims that the two counselors, identified as Brian Miley and Aaron Pinkney, knew, or should have known, that the plaintiff’s son was overweight, out of shape, and had difficulty engaging in strenuous activities, yet they still instructed Aaron Stewart to “run” or “jog” back to his room.

    Miley and Pinkney are not named as defendants in the suit, although they are referenced by name in court papers.

    The sun had set at the time, and the counselors made the youths trek home on foot in “pitch black” visibility, the suit claims.

    At one point, Aaron Stewart began experiencing breathing difficulty and had to stop to catch his breath on a couple of occasions.

    During one of those occasions, the two counselors, who were supposedly lighting the way for the group with the headlights from their vehicle, which they were driving at the rear of the pack, made contact with Aaron Stewart after the teen tripped and collapsed to the ground, the complaint says.

    In the process of falling, the plaintiff’s son was either struck by, or otherwise made contact with, the counselors’ vehicle, which was being driven by Brian Miley.

    The lawsuit claims Aaron Stewart’s fall was either due to “sheer exhaustion,” losing his balance on the uneven street and grassy surface, or because he was physically struck by the approaching vehicle.

    As a result of the incident, Aaron Stewart sustained a right leg fracture, as well as other unspecified ills and injuries, the suit claims.

    The plaintiff asserts that her son has had to undergo medical treatment and rehabilitation to cure his injuries, something that has cost the family various sums of money.

    The boy has also suffered a cosmetic disfigurement, which may be permanent in nature, the plaintiff claims.

    The complaint accuses the defendant of various acts of negligence, such as failing to adequately supervise and monitor Aaron Stewart, failing to abide by all necessary and standard childcare protocols, failing to have proper lighting throughout the facilities, forcing the plaintiff’s son to jog in an area that presented a dangerous and hazardous condition and failing to properly and adequately hire and/or instruct the employees working with the children.

    Melissa Stewart seeks damages in excess of $50,000, plus interest, costs and other court relief.

    She is being represented by attorney Michael S. Mednick, of the firm Mednick, Mezyk & Kredo.

    The suit was filed April 26 at the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas.

    The case ID number is 130404036. 


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    A Philadelphia Common Pleas Court jury recently returned a plaintiff’s verdict in favor of

    Cary McClain

    Cary McClain

    a Pennsylvania State trooper who was injured after her vehicle was rear-ended by a work van on the Girard Avenue off ramp of Interstate 76 in Philadelphia.

    Court records show that the city jury awarded plaintiff Joanne Dragotta $700,000 in her motor vehicle accident case against Service Master of Cherry Hill, a New Jersey company that specializes in cleaning and disaster restorative services, and Turnersville, N.J. resident Dorsey Graham, identified as the driver of the work van.

    Dragotta, a Pottstown, Pa. resident who works as a state trooper in the Philadelphia area, filed suit against the two defendants in late August 2011 over allegations that the Aug. 26, 2009, accident caused the plaintiff to sustain various neck, back and head injuries that required medical attention and affected her ability to work as a law enforcement officer.

    Graham, the driver of the work van, had told responding officers at the scene that the brakes on his vehicle had failed at the time of the accident, which caused him to rear-end the state trooper, but a subsequent police investigation determined that the brakes had been functioning just fine, and there was no mechanical failure, according to Dragotta’s complaint.

    The trooper asserted various claims of negligence in her complaint against the New Jersey company and its employee.

    The jury’s verdict was rendered on March 22 after a four-day trial presided over by Philadelphia Common Pleas Court Judge Shelley Robins-New, according to the verdict sheet in the case.

    Dragotta was represented by attorney Cary B. McClain, of The McClain Firm in Ardmore, Pa., while the defendants were represented by Norristown, Pa. lawyers J. Michael Kvetan and Harold E. Viletto.

    One week after the verdict came in, McClain filed a motion for delay damages in the amount of $19,071 and legal interest of $115.07 per day from the date of the verdict until payment of judgment.

    The docket sheet shows that the motion or delay damages was assigned to Judge Robins-New on April 24, although the jurist doesn’t appear to have ruled on that motion as of yet.

    McClain, the plaintiff’s lawyer, was quoted in the Legal Intelligencer as saying the jury verdict was a “great result,” and would ensure that his client would have money set aside for future medical bills due to her ongoing health treatment.

    The paper also noted that according to McClain, Dragotta can no longer work as a patrol officer, but instead spends her working days as a plainclothes state trooper stationed inside of Harrah’s Casino in Delaware County.


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    The mother of a Philadelphia middle-schooler has filed a personal injury claim againstSchool District of Philadelphia the School District of Philadelphia, alleging the defendant’s negligence led to her son sustaining a leg fracture during gym class.

    Philadelphia attorney Timothy Hough, of the firm Jaffe & Hough, filed the civil action April 26 at the Philadelphia Common Pleas Court on behalf of Maria Rodriguez, who faults the city’s school system for not ensuring proper safety measures were taken to attempt to prevent her son’s injuries on April 27, 2011.

    The complaint states that the plaintiff’s son, Joel Torres, injured himself while participating in a gym class activity at Roberto Clemente Middle School, where the boy was enrolled as a student.

    At the time, Torres was jumping over a rope that was suspended about three feet in the air and surrounded by a hard floor surface that was not “cushioned or buffered in any fashion,” the complaint reads.

    Torres ended up sustaining a left leg fracture and tendon tear when his knee struck the hard floor surface, the suit says.

    “No cushions, mats or other safety equipment were upon the Premises to prevent the students, including the minor plaintiff herein, from sustaining an injury while participating in the activity,” the suit states.

    The plaintiff asserts that the school district should have known about the dangerous condition presented at the time, and its likelihood of causing injury to students on the premises.

    The suit accuses the defendant of a list of negligent acts, including allowing a dangerous condition to exist on the gymnasium floor, failing to modify the floor’s condition, failing to recognize the hazardous condition, and failing to prevent students from engaging in dangerous activities without property safety equipment.

    Torres endured physical pain and suffering as a result of the incident, the suit claims, and his mother incurred medical expenses in excess of $1,5000, and she may incur additional expenses down the line, the complaint states.

    The plaintiff demands judgment against the defendant in excess of $50,000.

     

    The case ID number is 130404195.


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    A Bucks County couple has filed a personal injury lawsuit against a local Trader Joe’s

    Carol Shelly

    Carol Shelly

    over claims that the wife sustained a hip fracture after tripping and falling at the business.

    Maryann Dotti and her husband, Vincent, of Pipersville, Pa., are suing the California-based health food chain over an alleged incident that occurred at the Trader Joe’s store on Bethlehem Pike in Montgomery County on June 12 of last year.

    On that date, according to the complaint, Maryann Dotti was leaving the store through the sliding doors, pushing a cart full of groceries, when the wheel of the cart became stuck in the area adjacent to the bottom door molding where chunks of concrete were missing, a defective condition that created holes and divots in the area.

    The plaintiff then ended up going down with the cart, an act that resulted in her fracturing her right hip, the suit states.

    “Defendant, their agents, servants and employees, breached [their duty of care] by failing to maintain the store premises in a reasonably safe condition despite actual knowledge or reasonably apparent knowledge that said area posed an unreasonable risk of harm,” the complaint reads. “Defendant was negligent in its care, custody and/or control of its premises at the grocery store.”

    Trader Joes is accused of failing to provide a safe entrance and exit at the store, failing to keep the concrete around the door molding free from defects and deterioration, failing to warn of a dangerous condition, and other acts of negligence.

    The plaintiffs had to spend various sums of money on Maryann’s medical care, the suit states, and Maryann is expected to suffer inconvenience, embarrassment, physical disfigurement, mental anguish and loss of life’s enjoyment.

    The co-defendant named in the lawsuit is Columbus, Ohio-based Stanbery Development LLC, also known as Stanbery English Village L.P., which was the landlord of the property leased by Trader Joe’s.

    The couple seeks damages in excess of $150,000, exclusive of interest and costs.

    The suit was filed May 2 at the U.S. District Court in Philadelphia by Doylestown, Pa. lawyer Carol A. Shelly.

    The federal case number is 2:13-cv-02437-SD. 


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    A federal judge in Philadelphia has granted judgment in favor of Ford Motor Co. in a caseFord logo involving the auto maker’s seat belt restraint and airbag system.

    The merits of the case initiated by plaintiff Eric Voicheck, however, were not addressed, since Ford won its victory on a legal technicality.

    According to the May 3 opinion by U.S. District Judge Joel H. Slomsky, who sits in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, Voicheck failed to make a good faith effort to serve his complaint on the defendant after it was discovered that the vehicle manufacturer was no longer located at its prior address.

    The court record shows that Voicheck, who claims he was injured when his 2000 Ford Ranger pickup truck veered off the roadway and crashed into a tree in Chester Heights, Delaware County on Nov. 2, 2008, filed a complaint against Ford on Oct. 29, 2010, asserting claims of negligence, strict liability and breach of implied warranties of merchantability and fitness for a particular purpose.

    On Nov. 8 of that year, the record shows, the plaintiff attempted to serve Ford with the complaint at a Pittsburgh address, although the deputy sheriff who had attempted service returned the process receipt about two weeks later with a comment that Ford had apparently moved out of that location sometime in the mid 1990s.

    The plaintiff didn’t make another attempt to serve Ford within the 30-day period provided by the Pennsylvania Rules of Civil Procedures, Slomsky wrote, meaning the original complaint became invalid.

    Furthermore, Voicheck made no attempt to continue the claim’s “validity” by reissuing the writ or reinstating the complaint until Oct. 9, 2012, which is when he re-filed the lawsuit, the record shows.

    This time, the suit was served on the defendant at its “newly located site” in Harrisburg, the judicial opinion states.

    By that time, however, it was too late; the statute of limitations had run out.

    Ford asserted as much when it moved for judgment on the pleadings, arguing that all three counts in the complaint were time-barred by that point in time.

    The court held a hearing on the motion for judgment in early February.

    In his opinion, Slomsky agreed with the defendant that the suit should be dismissed, writing that the plaintiff’s negligence and strict liability claims are barred by the two-year statute of limitations because he failed to make a “good faith effort to undertake service of process on Ford.”

    Voicheck had argued that his attempt to serve Ford on Nov. 20, 2010, constituted good faith and entitled him to a new two-year limitations period.

    Slomsky disagreed, writing that only a single attempt was made to serve Ford after the lawsuit’s original filing, and that Voicheck’s attorney failed to make “any real inquiry” into Ford’s new location.

    Voicheck’s lawyer admitted during the February hearing that the defendant could have been served anywhere, including at the Harrisburg location or at its Michigan headquarters.

    In the end, the judge wrote that Voicheck has failed to meet his burden to establish that he made a good faith effort to serve Ford with the complaint.

    Slomsky also dismissed Voicheck’s breach of warranty claims.

    According to the judge’s opinion, Pennsylvania’s four-year statute of limitations period is shorter than Ford’s five-year written warranty on a vehicle’s safety restrain system, and thus the four-year period would apply in this case.

    In Voicheck’s case, Slomsky wrote, any claim for breach of implied warranty would have been extinguished sometime around 2004.

    “Plaintiff’s accident occurred on November 2, 2008, and he initially filed the Complaint on October 29, 2010,” the judge wrote. “Both dates post-date the statute of limitations period by many years.”

    The judge ordered the case closed.


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    An attorney representing Hewlett Packard and one of its employees have moved to

    Warren F. Sperling

    Warren F. Sperling

    transfer a personal injury claim initiated by a Philadelphia woman from state to federal court.

    Philadelphia resident Krista Aigeltinger filed suit against the Palo Alto, CA-based company and employee Steven Doherty, a New Jersey resident, late last month at the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas.

    The woman claims she became injured on June 24, 2011, at about 2 in the afternoon, when Doherty, a driver for the defendant, rear-ended the plaintiff’s vehicle at the intersection of Aramingo Avenue and York Street in Philadelphia’s Fishtown section.

    The plaintiff accuses Doherty of negligence for operating a vehicle at an excessive rate of speed, failing to have a vehicle under proper control, failing to apply brakes in order to avoid a collision, and failing to observe traffic signals.

    Aigeltinger claims she sustained back injuries due to the crash, which have caused her “great pain and agony,” and have required her to spend money on medical attention.

    While the lawsuit doesn’t say as much, the intersection where the accident occurred is equipped with traffic light cameras, a technology that is designed to catch those running red lights.

    The technology is controversial because opponents of the system contend it increases rear-end collisions, since drivers are more likely to slam on their brakes to avoid a traffic citation.

    This particular lawsuit, however, doesn’t mention whether or not the traffic camera had anything to do with the crash that is the basis for the complaint.

    The suit was filed by Philadelphia lawyer Andrew W. Gaber.

    On May 9, Philadelphia attorney Warren F. Sperling, of the firm Bennett, Bricklin & Saltzburg, filed court papers seeking to transfer the litigation to the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, writing that the matter belongs in the federal venue because the amount in controversy would likely exceed the jurisdictional limit in state court.

    The jurisdictional limit at the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas is $50,000; the defense attorney maintains the matter in controversy exceeds $75,000.

    The federal case number is 2:13-cv-02545-CDJ.


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    A tractor-trailer driver has filed a personal injury claim against Amtrak, the City of

    Henry Yampolsky

    Henry Yampolsky

    Chester and the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation over allegations that he became injured after the tailpipes of his vehicle struck the underside of a railroad bridge in Delaware County two summers ago.

    New York resident Victor Alvarado claims in his lawsuit, filed May 10 at the federal courthouse in Philadelphia, that the June 1, 2011, accident caused him to sustain a variety of injuries, including a bulging disc in his back, a left rotator cuff tear, nervous system damage and traumatically induced urinary incontinence.

    The complaint says that Alvarado was operating a 2006 Century Freightliner Tractor, proceeding southbound on Upland Street approaching Amtrak’s Fifth Street underpass in Chester when the incident occurred.

    The plaintiff asserts negligence claims against all three defendants. They are accused of failing to properly maintain the railroad bridge, failing to ensure that there was proper street signage warning motorists of the height of the bridge, failing to prevent vandalism and/or removal of the bridge height signs, and creating a nuisance on a public highway.

    Alvarado claims he suffered earnings losses due to his inability to work following the accident. He also states he incurred significant medical bills, and experienced pain and suffering following the incident.

    The plaintiff seeks unspecified damages against all three defendants.

    Alvarado is being represented by Philadelphia lawyer Henry Yampolsky, of the firm Galfand Berger LLP.

    The federal case number is 2:13-cv-02567-PBT.


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    A former NFL linebacker who played the game in the 1970s and ‘80s has become one of

    Anthony Tarricone

    Anthony Tarricone

    the latest retired football players to sue the league over claims that it intentionally misled athletes on the long-term health risks associated with repeated on-the-field head trauma.

    Timothy Petersen, a Colorado resident who had a career with the New England Patriots and the Washington Redskins, claims the repeated hits and blows to the head he suffered during his playing years led to present-day health problems.

    As a result of the head trauma, his lawsuit claims, Petersen suffers from symptoms associated with multiple traumatic brain injury and CTE, including lesions on his brain that have adversely impacted his memory.

    CTE stands for chronic traumatic encephalopathy, a progressive degenerative disease affecting the brain.

    Petersen’s physicians have since diagnosed him as having traumatic brain injury, something the former athlete blames on the National Football League, which is currently defending itself against a massive multi-district concussion injury docket consolidated at the U.S. District Court in Philadelphia.

    Like the other thousands of former football players that make up the plaintiffs in the multi-district litigation, Petersen claims that the NFL has consistently denied any relationship between symptoms of CTE or other neurodegenerative disorders, and repeated concussions or sub-concussive blows to the head that took place on the field.

    “These denials and active refutation on the part of NFL agents, constituted fraud (unintentional or intentional) and concealment of information directly related to the Plaintiffs’ causes of action,” Petersen’s suit reads.

    The complaint, which was filed on May 10 by Massachusetts lawyer Anthony Tarricone, of the firm Kreindler & Kreindler, and Philadelphia attorney Sol Weiss, of Anapol Schwartz, seeks monetary damages in excess of $75,000, lost wages, punitive damages pursuant to state law, interest and other court relief.

    Petersen is far from the first former NFL player to lodge this type of complaint against the league that governs professional football play.

    For close to two years now, individual claims have been pouring in against the NFL that fault the defendant for actively concealing this type of information.

    The case docket had become so large that the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation ordered the creation of an MDL at the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, with U.S. District Judge Anita Brody tasked with coordinating and consolidating pre-trial proceedings.

    The NFL has since filed for a dismissal of the case, a request that was addressed with oral arguments from both sides back in April that garnered national media attention.

    Those proceedings, reported on by the Pennsylvania Record, have not yet led to a decision by Brody, although the jurist has vowed to decide on the dismissal motion in a timely manner.

    Petersen’s case is similar to the others, which now number more than 200, and comprise 4,000-plus individually named player-plaintiffs, in that they all accuse the NFL of being aware of the risks associated with repeated head trauma, but choosing to “ignore, misrepresent and deliberately conceal from players and their families the risk of serious long-term health effects.”

    Petersen alleges that due to his career-related trauma, he is at a heightened risk of developing further adverse neurological conditions in the future.

    “Because of the continuing tort of concealment and fraud carried out by the Defendant, and his ongoing difficulties with his memory, it was not until recently, that the Plaintiff had the ability or any reason to consider that repeated head impacts suffered during his career were the cause of his present symptoms and that his symptoms were caused by conduct, misconduct and omissions of the Defendant,” the Petersen complaint reads.

     

    The federal case number is 2:13-cv-02574-AB. 


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    A Montgomery County couple has filed a personal injury claim against retailer

    Alan F. Galerman

    Alan F. Galerman

    Nordstrom over allegations that the wife injured her neck after getting out of her vehicle in the parking lot of one of the business’s Pennsylvania locations.

    Natalie Meltzer and her husband, Robert, who reside in Huntingdon Valley, Pa., are suing Seattle-based Nordstrom Inc. over allegations that the woman sustained a non-displaced fourth metatarsal neck fracture on May 13, 2011, after she fell in the parking lot of the business’s King of Prussia location while exiting her car.

    The fall was due to a hole in the parking lot surface, the lawsuit states.

    Meltzer’s injuries required her to seek out medical attention and prevented her from pursuing her normal, daily activities, the complaint alleges.

    The plaintiff also experienced pain and suffering and she suffered economic losses tied to her medical treatment, the suit claims.

    In addition to Nordstrom, the other defendants listed in the civil action are King of Prussia Associates, Yarmouth Lend Lease KOP Inc., Kravco Maintenance Company, HRE Kravco II Inc., and RNA Kravco III Inc.

    The co-defendants are responsible for controlling and maintaining the property where the alleged incident occurred, which is located in the vicinity of the King of Prussia Mall complex, a popular regional shopping destination.

    The suit says that the plaintiff’s injuries are due to the combined negligence and carelessness of the defendants.

    “As a further result of the negligence and carelessness of the Defendants … Plaintiff, Natalie Meltzer, has suffered agonizing aches, severe physical pains, disability, mental anguish and humiliation and will continue to suffer same for an indefinite time in the future, all to Plaintiff, Natalie Meltzer’s, great detriment and loss,” the complaint reads.

    Meltzer and her husband seek more than $75,000 in compensatory damages, in addition to interest and costs.

    The couple is being represented by attorney Brad S. Tabakin, of the firm Galerman & Tabakin LLP, which has offices in Philadelphia, Montgomery County and the State of New Jersey.

    The federal case number is 2:13-cv-02571-JHS. 


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    Lawyers representing BJ’s Wholesale Club have moved to transfer a personal injury

    Robin A. Feeney

    Robin A. Feeney

    claim initiated in state court against their client last month out of Philadelphia and into the federal court system.

    The civil action was initially filed April 10 at the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas by attorney Robin A. Feeney, of the Philadelphia firm Fine & Staud, on behalf of her client, South Philadelphia resident Karimah Watson.

    Watson is suing on behalf of her daughter, Karim Watson, who allegedly became injured after slipping on a puddle of water beneath a water fountain at the defendant’s South Philadelphia store on June 4, 2011.

    The fall allegedly caused the child to sustain a slipped right capital femoral epiphysis requiring surgical repair.

    The plaintiff also claims her daughter will continue to need medical attention and care in the future because of the incident.

    The lawsuit, which accuses the defendant of various acts of negligence and carelessness, seeks $50,000 in damages for the plaintiffs, which is the jurisdictional limit in Philadelphia County.

    In a May 13 removal notice filed with the U.S. District Court in Philadelphia, however, BJ’s lawyer, John M. Wutz, of Philadelphia’s Chartwell Law Offices, wrote that after speaking with the plaintiffs’ lawyer, Feeney, by phone, it was determined that the damages could exceed $75,000, which would trigger federal court jurisdiction.

    Wutz also wrote that removal to the federal venue is proper because diversity of citizenship exists between the parties.

    Among the acts of negligence accused by the plaintiffs against BJ’s is failing to keep the store’s floor free from liquid, failing to give warnings of a dangerous condition, failing to properly train its employees, and failing to install flooring that would prevent “puddling” or accumulations of water or installing a non-slip floor mat underneath the water fountain.

    The state case ID number is 130401501 and the federal case number is 2:13-cv-02605-JCJ.


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    A personal injury complaint filed in a Massachusetts state court in late March against the

    Michael B. Leh

    Michael B. Leh

    NFL by former player Robert “Bobby” Watkins, Jr., and his wife, Rillis M. Watkins, which was subsequently removed to the federal court in that state, has been transferred to the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, where an MDL is pending against the league by thousands of former players alleging widespread fraud and negligence.

    The Watkins complaint, filed on March 19 in a Massachusetts trial court by Boston attorneys Garrett J. Bradley and Andrea Marino Landry, as well as Philadelphia lawyer Michael B. Leh, of the Locks Law Firm, had been removed to the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts on April 26 by defense attorneys Timothy C. Blank and Elizabeth L. Castagna, of the Boston office of Dechert LLP, and pro hac vice counsel from the New York firm Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP.

    On May 16, the case was transferred by the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation to the federal court in Philadelphia, where U.S. District Judge Anita Brody is overseeing a nationwide multi-district litigation initiated by a massive number of former athletes who contend the National Football League didn’t adequately warn players of the long-term health risks related to on-the-field concussions and other head trauma.

    Brody is currently weighing whether or not to grant the NFL’s motion to dismiss the case, or allow the litigation to proceed to discovery.

    The jurist heard the first set of oral arguments in the case at the federal courthouse in downtown Philadelphia in April.

    As for Watkins, the plaintiff, who played in the NFL from 1955 to 1958, he claims he sustained “multiple repetitive traumatic head impacts and concussions” during the course of his career that has led to present-day neuro-cognitive injuries.

    Like the other suits in the multi-district litigation, the Watkins complaint accuses the league of “failing to disclose the true risks of repetitive sub-concussive and concussive impacts to NFL players.”

    The lawsuit also alleges that the defendant was aware of how to protect the players from dangerous on-the-field circumstances, but that it failed to provide Watkins and others with “necessary, adequate, and truthful information about the heightened risks of latent neurological damage that arise from repetitive head impacts during NFL games and practices.”

    The complaint also claims that the league intentionally misrepresented the facts linking concussive injuries sustained during professional play and long-term brain trauma such as CTE, or chronic traumatic encephalopathy, a progressive degenerative disease sometimes found in former professional athletes.


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    A Delaware woman is suing a southeastern Pennsylvania hospital over an alleged slip-

    Louis T. Silverman

    Louis T. Silverman

    and-fall incident in which she injured her ankle on the medical institution’s premises.

    Shakeera Anderson, of Claymont, DE, claims in her recently filed civil action that she tore the ATL in her right ankle after slipping on a puddle of cleaning liquid that had accumulated on the floor of Crozer-Chester Medical Center in Upland, Pa.

    Both the Delaware County-based hospital and Crozer-Keystone Health System are named as defendants in the complaint, which was filed at the U.S. District Court in Philadelphia on May 15 by attorneys Louis T. Silverman and Michael Lalli, of the firm Silverman Trotman & Schneider.

    The incident that allegedly gave rise to the plaintiff’s injuries occurred on July 9 of this year.

    Anderson claims that while an invitee of the hospital, she slipped and fell due to an accumulation of cleaning/mopping/buffing/polishing liquid and/or other fluid that was coating the floor at the time.

    Both defendants are accused of various acts of negligence, including failing to maintain a safe property, failing to warn the plaintiff of the dangerous condition, failing to correct the dangerous condition and failing to properly train and instruct employees with regard to maintaining a safe floor on the hospital’s property.

    Anderson claims she suffered significant pain, anguish, inconvenience and a loss of life’s pleasures due to the incident.

    She also alleges that she experienced earnings losses due to her injuries.

    Anderson seeks $50,000 in compensatory damages from the defendants, in addition to delay damages, interest and attorney’s fees.

    The federal case number is 2:13-cv-02660-CMR. 


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    A New Jersey-based commercial trucking company is seeking to transfer a personal

    Mitchell S. Berger

    Mitchell S. Berger

    injury suit arising out of a motor vehicle accident in New England in late 2011 from the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas to the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.

    The suit, originally filed in state court last month, claims that Massachusetts resident Amalier Gonzague-Montij, the driver of the defendant-owned tractor trailer, fell asleep at the wheel while driving along Interstate 84 in Connecticut on Dec. 14, 2011, after which his vehicle rear-ended a vehicle driven by Willie Conyers near a highway off-ramp.

    Conyers allegedly sustained various back injuries, along with multiple bruises, lacerations and abrasions, and nervous system shock as a result of the accident.

    The plaintiff has incurred numerous expenses relating to his medical treatment, he claims in his civil filing, and the accident has also caused him to experience agonizing pains, aches, mental anguish, humiliation, disfigurement and mobility limitation.

    Conyers and his wife, Ericka, who reside in Philadelphia, initially filed their injury claim on April 24 at Philadelphia’s Common Pleas Court.

    They are being represented by Philadelphia attorney Kevin P. Kelly, of the firm Kelly & Herron.

    On May 15, lawyer Mitchell S. Berger, of the Philadelphia firm Ryan, Brown, Berger & Gibbons, who represents the defendants, Gonzague-Montij and Vineland, N.J.-based National Freight, Inc., filed a notice of removal at the U.S. District Court, which states that the injury litigation belongs in a federal venue because the parties have diversity in citizenship, and the monetary damages sought by the plaintiffs appear to exceed the jurisdictional limit in a Pennsylvania trial court, which is $50,000.

    The state case ID number is 130403595 and the federal case number is 2:13-cv-02662-RK. 


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    In what officially appears to be an ever-increasing problem for the City of Philadelphia,

    Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams

    Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams

    yet another mass transit rider has found herself facing criminal charges relating to allegations that she attempted to defraud insurance companies due to alleged injuries she suffered during a Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority(SEPTA) bus incident.

    The Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office announced this week that 46-year-old Sai Min Wang was recently arrested and charged with insurance fraud, attempted theft by deception, and theft by deception for filing a fraudulent insurance claim in connection with injuries she claimed to have sustained during an April 23, 2011, incident aboard a SEPTA bus.

    Wang was riding the Route 42 bus during that spring day two years ago when she claims she hit her head on the seat in front of her and went on to suffer from headaches and blurred vision, according to the District Attorney’s Office.

    The bus at the time, which was stopped at a red light at 34th Street and Civic Center Boulevard, apparently made “minor contact” with a taxi cab traveling beside it; the cab’s door opened and scratched the side of the bus.

    There were a mere seven passengers on the bus at the time, with nobody reporting any injuries, the prosecutor’s office stated.

    No emergency workers were dispatched to the scene and detectives reported that the cab company had reported no claim for damages by the driver.

    Nevertheless, Wang ended up retaining legal counsel who filed a personal injury claim on behalf of the woman weeks after the incident.

    The attorney notified SEPTA officials that Wang had sustained injuries to her head and neck stemming from the incident, according to the D.A.’s Office.

    Detectives working for the office of District Attorney Seth Williams soon executed a search and seizure warrant at the lawyer’s office and recovered the file for Wang’s personal injury claim, with the case file’s notes showing that the woman had told her lawyer she believed the bus had crashed into a taxi cab while she was sleeping aboard the bus, according to Williams’ office.

    Wang further informed her attorney that she struck her head on an iron bar in the bus during the incident, and that she went on to suffer from headaches and sleeplessness as a result of her injuries.

    In July 2011, Wang’s attorney filed a separate injury claim on behalf of Wang’s husband’s auto insurance company for costs relating to Wang’s medical bills, the D.A.’s Office announced in its May 17 news release.

    The insurer ended up paying more than $2,800 for medical bills relating to the woman’s injury claim, records show.

    It appears, however, that Wang was unable to elude the eye in the sky aboard most SEPTA vehicles.

    Surveillance video from cameras mounted inside the SEPTA bus at the time showed that no passenger appeared to be injured or disturbed during the incident, the prosecutor’s office announced.

    Furthermore, Wang, who had claimed she was asleep at the time, was caught on video speaking on her cellphone and facing forward at the time the bus made contact with the parked taxi cab.

    “Wang never hits her head on a seat, pole or metal bar and continues her phone conversation for approximately three minutes,” the D.A.’s news release states. “The video evidence contradicts Wang’s account of the incident and her claims against both SEPTA and Progressive [Insurance].”

    Wang was arrested by detectives from the District Attorney’s Office on May 15. She is expected to appear before a Philadelphia Municipal Court judge on May 24.

    According to the D.A.’s Office, Wang’s attorney filed the personal injury claim in July 2011.

    Court records at the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas, however, don’t appear to show any civil cases matching Wang’s claim.

    Tasha Jamerson, a spokeswoman for District Attorney Seth Williams previously informed the Pennsylvania Record that the office does not give out the names of lawyers involved in the filing of fraudulent injury claims unless the lawyers themselves are subject to criminal allegations.

    At this point, it doesn’t seem clear what attorney represented Wang in her civil case.

    Jamerson could not be reached for comment late Tuesday.

    Wang’s arrest marks the latest in a recent string of arrests by the D.A.’s Office relating to fraudulent injury claims against SEPTA.

    Last month, law enforcement officials arrested 10 people in connection with a case of alleged insurance fraud, while a total of four others were arrested and charged in January and February respectively.

    Another six were arrested late last year.

    In October 2011, the District Attorney’s Office announced a push to spend more time and effort punishing those who attempt to defraud SEPTA, as previously reported by the Pennsylvania Record. 


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    A popular yet controversial Philadelphia-area Halloween attraction that takes place on

    Frank D. Allen

    Frank D. Allen

    the grounds of an infamous hospital for the mentally ill is at the center of a personal injury claim filed this week by a New Jersey man.

    Steven Chrzanowski, who lives in Gloucester City, N.J., filed a federal complaint at the U.S. District Court in Philadelphia on May 21 against the operators of a haunted house that is open each fall at the site of the former Pennhurst mental institution.

    Chrzanowski claims in his civil action against Pennhurst Asylum, Pennhurst Haunt LLC and Bates Motel Productions LLC that while attending the haunted house attraction on Oct. 9, 2011, he sustained serious leg injuries after two employees working for the defendants “jumped onto or otherwise abruptly caused a hospital bed to strike the plaintiff in his left knee.”

    The negligent act caused Chrzanowski to suffer a posterior horn medial meniscus tear, patellofemoral chondrosis, and infrapateller neuroma, which caused the plaintiff to have to undergo surgery, the lawsuit claims.

    The complaint accuses the defendants’ employees of acting in a negligent, careless and reckless manner.

    As a result of the incident, the suit states, Chrzanowski experienced pain and suffering, discomfort, incapacitation, and he incurred expenses related to his medical treatment.

    The complaint says the alleged incident occurred while the plaintiff was standing in line for one of the indoor attractions of the haunted house at about 9:30 at night.

    Pennhurst Asylum and Pennhurst Haunt LLC are Pennsylvania corporations based in Chester County, while Bates Motel Productions LLC is a Pennsylvania corporation with its principal place of business in Gradyville, Delaware County.

    The Pennhurst haunted attraction, which first opened in 2010, has had its share of controversy, namely due to people opposing the use of the historic site as a Halloween gimmick.

    The reason – the facility was shut down amid claims of patient abuse and mistreatment.

    According to online records, the facility first opened in the early 1900s and was originally called Eastern Pennsylvania State Institution for the Feeble-Minded and Epileptic.

    The building, which straddles the Chester County and Montgomery County lines, was designed to house mentally ill and physically disabled patients from southeastern Pennsylvania.

    The institution, however, ended up being shuttered in the mid 1980s following news reports of unsanitary conditions and inappropriate treatment on the part of staff against patients, something that led to one of the first class action abuse lawsuits of its kind in U.S. history.

    That case, according to news reports, was Halderman v. Pennhurst State School & Hospital, which concluded that developmentally disabled patients under state care have a constitutional right to appropriate treatment and education.

    The federal case was filed by former Pennhurst patient Terry Lee Halderman, who claimed that the conditions at Pennhurst were not just unsanitary, but both inhumane and hazardous, violations of patients’ Eighth and Fourteenth Amendment rights.

    Halderman had argued that cruel and unusual punishment was the norm at Pennhurst.

    Records show, however, that the United States Supreme Court ended up vacating the trial court’s ruling due to the Eleventh Amendment, which prevents federal courts from forcing state officials to enforce state laws.

    Nevertheless, Pennsylvania officials did finally agree to close down Pennhurst in the summer of 1986, and move its residents to other institutions, according to an archived New York Times article.

    From start to finish, the litigation lasted about a decade, records show.

    In addition to being the location for the haunted house attraction, Pennhurst is also a popular site among paranormal investigators.

    Chrzanowski, the plaintiff in the current lawsuit, seeks compensatory damages in excess of $75,000, plus interest, attorney’s fees, litigation costs and other court relief.

    He is being represented by attorney Frank D. Allen of the firm Archer & Greiner.

     

    The federal case number is 2:13-cv-02804-SD.


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    A former running back for the Miami Dolphins and the Tampa Bay

    Anthony Tarricone

    Anthony Tarricone

    Buccaneers who claims he suffers from damage relating to repeated hits and blows he took to the head while playing professional football in the mid-1970s has joined the multidistrict concussion litigation that is currently playing out against the NFL in Philadelphia.

    Stanley Winfrey, who resides in Arkansas, alleges he currently suffers from symptoms associated with multiple traumatic brain injury and chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE, all as a result of the concussions he sustained during his career with the National Football League.

    Winfrey, like the other thousands of former players who make up the named plaintiffs in the national class action that has been consolidated at the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, claims that he is now also at a heightened risk of developing further adverse neurological symptoms down the road.

    For more than a year-and-a-half, scores of former NFL players have been filing injury lawsuits against the league over allegations that the defendant purposely misled the athletes on the long-term health risks associated with concussions and other head trauma sustained during professional play.

    The U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation eventually ordered the plethora of cases consolidated and transferred to the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, where U.S. District Judge Anita Brody is overseeing the massive case.

    In April, Brody heard the first set of oral arguments in the MDL.

    The jurist is currently weighing whether or not to dismiss the litigation or allow it to proceed to discovery.

    Like the other suits in the MDL, the Winfrey case accuses the NFL of consistently denying any relationship between symptoms of CTE, or other neurodegenerative disorders, and repeated concussions or sub-concussive blows suffered by players during their respective careers.

    The lawsuit was filed by attorney Anthony Tarricone, of the Boston firm Kreindler & Kreindler and Sol Weiss of Philadelphia’s Anapol Schwartz.

     

    The federal case number is 2:13-cv-02872-AB. 


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    A Philadelphia Common Pleas Court jury has rendered a $19.1 million

    Matthew Casey

    Matthew Casey

    plaintiff’s verdict in a civil case involving a man who lost his leg as a result of a 2009 incident in which he was struck by a vehicle while he and the car’s driver were pushing their vehicle to the side of the road following a previous rear-end collision.

    The multi-million-dollar award given to Patrick Hennessy came at the end of a three-day trial at Common Pleas Court, according to court records and the law firm representing the plaintiff, Philadelphia-based Ross Feller Casey LLP.

    According to the firm, Hennessy was a passenger in a car being operated by his friend, Ryan Caruso, at about 2 in the morning on July 26, 2009, when their vehicle rear-ended another vehicle traveling northbound on Roosevelt Boulevard in Philadelphia.

    Caruso’s vehicle wouldn’t start as a result of the accident, so he and Hennessy, both of whom reside in Bensalem, Bucks County, began pushing the disabled vehicle to the side of the road, with the driver of the vehicle they struck following behind them with its flashers on, records show.

    It was at this point that Philadelphia resident Shawn Robertson, Jr. struck the vehicle Caruso had struck, a domino effect that sent that vehicle soaring into Hennessy, according to the plaintiff’s firm.

    Hennessy, who was 24 years old at the time, sustained severe injuries that eventually led to him having to undergo an above-the-knee amputation of his right leg.

    Court records show that attorney Matthew Casey, of Ross Feller Casey, filed suit in early February 2011 against both Caruso and Robertson.

    At trial, the jurors found that the negligent actions of both Caruso, the plaintiff’s friend, and Robertson, the driver who hit Hennessy, ultimately led to Hennessy’s injuries.

    “It is our hope that the verdict, once it is paid, will help Mr. Hennessy deal with the long, challenging road ahead of him,” Casey said in a statement.

    A spokesman for the plaintiff’s law firm said that ultimately, Allstate, Caruso’s insurance carrier, will be responsible for paying the entire award due to the fact that Robertson had no automobile insurance at the time of the accident.


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    A lawyer representing LA Fitness in a personal injury claim initiated by a Delaware

    Ramon Arreola

    Ramon Arreola

    County man have petitioned the federal court in Philadelphia to hear the case.

    Attorney Norman W. Briggs, of the Philadelphia-based Briggs Law Office, filed a notice of removal on May 24 at the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania seeking to transfer a civil action from state court to the federal venue.

    The underlying complaint was initiated on April 18 at the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas by Philadelphia attorney Ramon A. Arreola on behalf of Upper Darby, Pa. resident Aristotle Gouliaberis.

    The plaintiff claims that on Oct. 25, 2011, while using a LifeStyle CBI Crossover fitness machine at the LA Fitness location in Springfield, Pa., he was struck on the head by the device after it broke and/or malfunctioned.

    As a result of the incident, the suit claims, Gouliaberis sustained a head laceration and other head, neck and back injuries, as well as a concussion, post-concussion syndrome and other contusions and bruises to his body.

    The plaintiff alleges that he has suffered both physical and mental pain and anguish as a result of the incident, as well as personal trauma and a loss of the ability to engage in the normal pursuits and activities of daily living.

    He also claims he has incurred steep medical expenses as a result of his hospitalization and doctors’ treatment.

    The defense attorney wrote in the removal petition that while the state court civil action states the plaintiff seeks damages not in excess of $50,000, which is the arbitration limit in a Pennsylvania court, either party has the right to seek an appeal of the arbitration award and request a trial, at which point the plaintiff would not be limited to any cap on damages.

    The defendants named in the suit are the LA Fitness location in Springfield, where the alleged incident occurred, as well as California-based Fitness & Sports Clubs LLC, which is what LA Fitness changed its name to last June, according to the removal notice.

    The state case ID number is 130402626 and the federal case number is 2:13-cv-02912-JHS.


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    The fatal mauling of a young child by a pack of African wild dogs at a western

    Robert Mongeluzzi

    Robert Mongeluzzi

    Pennsylvania zoo this past winter that made national headlines is now the subject of a civil suit filed by the toddler’s parents.

    Attorneys with the high-power Philadelphia personal injury law firm Saltz, Mongeluzzi, Barrett & Bendesky announced this week that they filed suit in the Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas on behalf of Jason and Elizabeth Derkosh, whose 2-year-old, Maddox Derkosh, was killed after he fell into an exhibit housing the wild animals.

    The incident occurred on Nov. 4, 2012, at the Pittsburgh Zoo.

    “Elizabeth and Jason are loving parents. They still mourn,” Saltz Mongeluzzi partner Robert Mongeluzzi said in a statement provided by the law firm. “They still hurt and will hurt the rest of their lives. They deeply appreciate the support of the greater Pittsburgh community and they are determined to do what they can to ensure that what happened to their only child can never happen again at the Pittsburgh Zoo, or at any zoo.”

    The lawsuit, which names as defendants the Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium and the Zoological Society of Pittsburgh, alleges that the defendants “blatantly ignored” an employee’s warning regarding the perceived safety inadequacies of the African wild dog exhibit, specifically that there were concerns about a child being able to fall into the space housing the animals.

    That employee, identified in the complaint as Lou Nene, had said in an interview with a Pittsburgh television station that he would routinely watch as mothers would hoist their children up above the “inadequately protected railing” and opening at the exhibit at least 10 times a day, according to the plaintiffs’ firm.

    Nene, the lawsuit claims, warned his supervisors that a child could possibly fall into the wild dog exhibit, but that his concerns were dismissed.

    The attorneys representing the plaintiffs contend that the “litany of institutional lapses in fundamental exhibit design, safety, and security … caused Maddox’s death.”

    “The filing marks just the beginning of the legal process to demonstrate that the death of Maddox Derkosh was absolutely preventable and that the Zoo failed in its responsibility to protect Maddox – and every other visitor to the wild dog exhibit – from harm,” Mongeluzzi said in his statement.

    The firm criticized zoo management for allegedly dismissing Nene’s warnings, and even going as far as to reprimand him by instructing him to “go back to work,” because the issue was not of his concern, the complaint states.

    The lawsuit states that Maddox fell into the wild dog exhibit at about 9:45 in the morning on Nov. 4 as his mother was holding him up to see the animals through a viewing opening.

    Elizabeth Maddox had taken here child to the zoo on that day to attend “zoo school,” which is a conservation education class for children regularly offered at the zoo.

    The two had been walking around the zoo to check out exhibits after finishing the program when the tragedy occurred, according to the suit.

    The plaintiffs claim that the defendants knew, or should have known, how to adequately protect its visitors from the “killer dogs,” and that fatal consequences would likely result when “human prey” suddenly appeared in the animals’ territory.

    The complaint asserts claims of wrongful death and negligence against the defendants.

    A copy of the lawsuit, which was filed in Pittsburgh on May 23, was posted to the law firm’s website.

    The African wild dogs that killed young Maddox are among the most ferocious predators in the wild, according to the plaintiffs’ firm, and are widely considered to be the most efficient killers in the African plains.

    In the wild, the animals reportedly prey on animals many times their size, including antelope, zebras and wildebeests.

    The plaintiffs claim in their suit that the only unprotected area of the wild dog exhibit is the open center viewing area, under which is a narrow cantilevered netting structure.

    No other protective devices, barriers or structural components are in place to prevent someone from falling over the railing and into the habitat portion of the exhibit, the suit states.

    Eleven of the African wild dogs were reportedly in the exhibit at the time Maddox fell into the pit.

    The fall occurred after Elizabeth was lifting her son and holding him up to see into the exhibit, at which time the toddler lurched forward and slipped out of her grasp, falling through the opening and into the netting below.

    Maddox then bounced out of the netting and plunged below into the exhibit.

    The lawsuit offers gruesome details of the incident, saying the child was “conscious, alert and aware of his surroundings” at the time he hit the ground, and only died after being ferociously attacked and mauled by the animals.

    The boy’s mother attempted to enter the exhibit, but was restrained by another zoo visitor.

    “She was forced to watch helplessly as the African wild dogs savagely mauled and literally tore apart her son in front of her,” the complaint reads.

    The complaint lists in detail the extensive critical injuries young Maddox suffered during the attack. The injuries allegedly totaled more than 220.

    The boy was pronounced dead just after noon the day of the attack.

    The suit contains additional counts of strict liability and negligent infliction of emotional distress.

    The plaintiffs seek more than $50,000 in compensatory and punitive damages, as well as delay damages and costs.

    The suit was filed by attorneys Robert Mongeluzzi, Andrew Duffy and Benjamin Baer.


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    A North Philadelphia man claims in a recently filed personal injury complaint that he

    Jeffrey N. Kale

    Jeffrey N. Kale

    sustained injuries after being struck in the head by falling roof debris that came loose from a home adjacent to his.

    John Scarborough, who resides on the 3600 block of North 11th Street, is suing Resources for Human Development Inc., which is based in the city’s Tioga-Nicetown section, for injuries he allegedly suffered when the roofing material, which included shingles and scrap metal, fell from the top of an adjacent home, one that appears to be owned by the defendant.

    An online map shows the two properties to be attached as a part of a larger strip of rowhomes.

    Resources for Human Development, according to its website, is a “comprehensive, nonprofit, social service organization [that] … currently oversees and supports more than 160 locally managed human services programs in 14 states …”

    The complaint says that the alleged incident occurred on April 30 of this year after Scarborough was exiting his property, and attempting to traverse the porch, steps and sidewalk in front of the defendant’s property, and that he was struck, without warning, by the falling debris.

    The suit claims that the defendant had either actual or constructive notice of the defective condition at its property.

    Scarborough accuses the defendant of negligence for failing to ascertain that its property was free of hazardous conditions, allowing the property to remain in an unsafe condition, and failing to warn the plaintiff and other passersby of the dangerous condition.

    As a result of the incident, the suit states, Scarborough sustained various injuries to his shoulder, knee and nervous system.

    He has also allegedly experienced great pain, suffering, discomfort and mental anguish.

    The complaint says that the plaintiff has had to undergo medical attention and care due to his injuries, for which he was caused to incur various expenses.

    Scarborough was advised by doctors that his left knee, shoulder and spinal injuries are likely permanent in nature.

    The plaintiff claims that his injuries have prevented him from being able to perform his normal daily duties and activities, and that he has suffered a loss of earnings because of his inability to work.

    Scarborough seeks $50,000 in compensatory damages, plus pre-judgment interest, costs and legal fees.

    The plaintiff is being represented by Philadelphia attorney Jeffrey N. Kale, who filed the suit on his client’s behalf on May 29 at the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas.

    Arbitration is slated to take place on Feb. 14, 2014, the record shows.

    The case ID number is 130503061. 


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