In response to a request from a firm client, Rawle & Henderson attorneys were asked to report on recent cases that they tried to verdict. The firm has tried 48 cases since 2010.
The trials included:
Yurga v. HUP, Court of Common Pleas, Lehigh County, Allentown, Pennsylvania, May 2011; Charles A. Fitzpatrick III, trial attorney
This case arose out of the death of 17-year-old Amy Yurga, who died shortly after she underwent surgery at St. Luke’s Hospital in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. The surgery in question was for the replacement of a ventriculo-peritoneal shunt. She was born with hydrocephalus and a shunt was placed shortly after birth. The shunt became obstructed and needed to be replaced. The replacement was done with the services of both a neurosurgeon and a general surgeon. Three days after the replacement surgery, Amy was dead. The family sued both the neurosurgeon and general surgeon. The jury returned a defense verdict finding no negligence.
Chris Knoch v. J. B. Hunt, U.S. District Court, Middle District, Scranton, Pennsylvania, June 2010; Gary N. Stewart, trial attorney
This commercial motor vehicle case involved an accident on Interstate 81 in Scranton between a box truck and a tractor trailer. After a three-day trial, the jury returned a defense verdict.
John Keffer v. Bob Nolan’s, et al, Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania, June 2011; Thomas A. Kuzmick, trial attorney
This was a motor vehicle case with a demand of $16 million. A three-week jury trial ended with a defense verdict.
Mortuary Removal Services, Inc. v. Lancer Insurance Company et al, Court of Common Pleas for Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania, February 2010; Jon M. Dumont, trial attorney
Plaintiff corporation filed a declaratory judgment action to obtain an Order declaring that it was entitled to defense and indemnity under the defendant insurer’s commercial auto policy as a result of a motor vehicle accident involving plaintiff’s vehicle. The insurer denied coverage and contended that the policy was cancelled for non-payment of premium prior to the accident. At trial, the defense presented testimony and documentation showing that our client had properly cancelled the policy in accordance with Pennsylvania law and the terms of the policy. The Honorable Gary S. Glazer found in favor of our client.
Nancy A. McNeely v. Archdiocese of Philadelphia, St. Albert the Great Church and M. J. Sutton Landscaping, Inc., Court of Common Pleas, Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania, November 2010; John H. McCarthy, trial attorney
Plaintiff Nancy McNeely alleged she slipped and fell on ice in the parking lot of St. Albert the Great School in Huntingdon Valley, Pennsylvania on January 30, 2009. She sustained a significant injury to her knee which required a surgical procedure. McNeely filed suit against St. Albert’s, the Archdiocese and our client, Sutton Landscaping, Inc. Sutton had a verbal agreement and a proposal, which included services and costs for snow removal, with St. Albert the Great. We argued that Sutton Landscaping, Inc. was not responsible for any follow-up or subsequent snow or ice treatment after the performance of initial snow removal. After a four-day trial, the jury found in favor of Sutton Landscaping, Inc. and against St. Albert the Great Church and the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. Plaintiff was awarded damages of $160,000.
Gilvary v. Pompey Dodge, Inc., Court of Common Pleas, Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania, September 2010; Fred B. Buck, trial attorney
This was a product liability crashworthiness case against a used car dealership. The manufacturer of the car, General Motors, had the claim discharged in Bankruptcy Court and our client was left on the chain of distribution to defend GM’s product. Plaintiff was a woman in her early twenties who was asleep in the car with her seat reclined. Driver fell asleep, crashed the car into a barricade. Passenger became a quadriplegic. Claim, greatly simplified, was that the car was defective—not “crashworthy” —because it is very dangerous to ride in a car with the seat reclined and GM did not warn of the danger or design the car to eliminate it. Trial lasted six days. Rawle & Henderson LLP was retained to try the case a week before jury selection. Jury deliberated for about two and one half hours over two days and returned a defense verdict by finding that the car was defective but the defect did not cause the injuries.
Maureen Javier, Adm. E/o C. Miller v. Dr. X and Dr. Y, Supreme Court, Kings County, Brooklyn, NY, October 2011; Derek Barrett, trial attorney
Mother sued defendant hospital and the two treating neonatologists for the death of her son who lived only 20 days due to contracting Necrotizing Enterocolitis (NEC), a disease that strikes premature infants, claiming that the doctors had committed malpractice for feeding the child with his mother’s breast milk despite the protocol that called for no feeding if NEC is suspected. Defense argued that NEC was not suspected at the time of the feeding and that in any event, feeding premature babies their mother’s milk could not cause NEC. The jury returned a defense verdict.
Walsh v. Werner Enterprises, Inc., U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Pennsylvania, November 2009; Dawn L. Jennings, trial attorney
Plaintiffs were injured in an accident with a tractor trailer. They alleged negligent operation of a motor vehicle against the driver of the tractor trailer and vicarious liability against Werner Enterprises. After seven days of trial, the jury deliberated for four hours and unanimously found in favor of the defense. Prior to trial, Walsh had demanded $5,000,000.
Joyce Brown v. Dr. X, Court of Common Pleas, Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, December 2011; Patrice O’Brien, trial attorney
Plaintiff claimed in this medical malpractice action that the defendant gynecologist negligently failed to admit her to the hospital for administration of IV antibiotic treatment for her suspected tubo-ovarian abscess. As a result of defendant’s alleged negligence, plaintiff had a total abdominal hysterectomy and a temporary colostomy. The defense experts opined that outpatient oral antibiotic therapy with close monitoring was appropriate and that the plaintiff’s outcome was an unfortunate outcome, but it was not due to the defendant’s negligence. After four days of trial, a defense verdict was entered in favor of the defendant doctor.
Klotzbach v. Phoenixville Hospital, Court of Common Pleas, Norristown, Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, July 2011; Charles A. Fitzpatrick III, trial attorney
This case involved Karl Klotzbach, a 45-year-old man who died after undergoing an MRI with anesthesia which had been done for definitive diagnosis of the cause of his unrelenting back pain. His family sued the anesthesiologist, nursing staff, and the hospital. The jury returned a defense verdict finding no negligence.
Simon v. Abele Tractor & Equipment et al, Supreme Court of New York for Westchester County, NY, April 2011; Jon M. Dumont, trial attorney
Plaintiff was injured when operating a John Deere 300C dump truck on April 25, 2005 in Westchester County, New York. Plaintiff claimed he sustained a traumatic brain injury with cognitive impairment, scalp lacerations, broken left ankle and ribs, scarring, post-traumatic stress disorder and depression. Plaintiff alleged that Abele Tractor & Equipment negligently failed to detect and fix the brake problem. After a two-week trial, the jury unanimously concluded that Abele Tractor was not negligent.
Michael Snyder v. St. Gregory’s Academy, Court of Common Pleas, Lackawanna County, Scranton, Pennsylvania, October 2011; Gary N. Stewart, trial attorney
This negligence case involved a fireman who was injured while responding to a wilderness location after a boy was injured when he fell from a cliff during a February 2006 hike supervised by the head priest at the Catholic boarding school attended by the injured boy. The nine-day jury trial, which brought the application of the “rescue doctrine” into question, resulted in a defense verdict in favor of the priest and the Catholic boarding school.