Pennsylvania Superior Court Upholds $55 Million Seat Belt Defect

Plaintiff attorney Stewart Eisenberg of Eisenberg, Rothweiler, Winkler, Eisenberg & Jeck.

Plaintiff attorney Stewart Eisenberg of Eisenberg, Rothweiler, Winkler, Eisenberg & Jeck.

The Pennsylvania Superior Court has affirmed a record-setting $55 million jury verdict against Honda Motor Company from a product liability lawsuit involving a seat belt defect.

The plaintiff in the case, Carlos Martinez, is represented by Eisenberg, Rothweiler, Winkler, Eisenberg & Jeck attorneys Stewart Eisenberg and Daniel J. Sherry, Jr.

Following the trial court verdict, Honda appealed to the Pennsylvania Superior Court and contended there should be a new trial for multiple reasons. Honda claimed that the trial court should have allowed Honda to present evidence that the 1999 Acura Integra complied with industry and federal standards.

However, the Superior Court rejected that argument, agreeing with the trial court that the evidence was inadmissible. The Superior Court also determined that the trial court properly charged the jury in light of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court’s ruling in Tincher v. Omega Flex. Furthermore, the Superior Court rejected Honda’s contention that the jury was improperly instructed on the correct legal standards pertaining to warnings, and refused Honda’s request to reduce the amount of the jury’s verdict.

Defective design

Stewart and Daniel secured the $55 million jury verdict for Mr. and Mrs. Martinez against Honda after a Philadelphia jury determined that the seatbelt installed in the 1999 Acura Integra was defectively designed and caused Mr. Martinez to strike his head on the vehicle’s roof during a low-speed rollover.

This caused Mr. Martinez, a beloved husband, father, and wage-earner, to become a motorized wheelchair dependent quadriplegic who is now forced to rely on others for all activities of daily living. The jury also determined that Honda failed to adequately warn Mr. Martinez of the dangers associated with the seatbelt, given that Honda knew, since 1992, that that seatbelt would not protect occupants of the Integra in the event of a rollover.

When asked for his thoughts on the case, Stewart Eisenberg said, “On behalf of our clients, we are pleased with the unanimous decision by the Superior Court affirming the verdict that was handed down by the jury in Philadelphia almost three years ago.”

Eisenberg, Rothweiler, Winkler, Eisenberg & Jeck has offices in Philadelphia and Cherry Hill, NJ.

Maryland Jury Awards $17 Million to Pilots Killed in Midair Plane Crash

A jury in Maryland awarded a total of $17 million to the families of helicopter pilots killed in a midair collision in Frederick, MD, in 2014.

Midwest Air Traffic Control Services, the contractor that runs the tower at Frederick Municipal Airport, was found liable.

The families of Christopher Parsons, 29, of Westminster, recovered $5 million and the family of William Jenkins, 47, of Morrison, Colorado, recovered $12 million for the fatal midair crash of their helicopter and Cirrus plane on Oct. 23, 2014.

Economists working on behalf of the families estimated that Parsons would have contributed around $3.3 million to the family if he worked until age 70. They calculated the financial loss of Jenkins, president of his family business, Allegany Coal and Land, at around $4.5 million. In a second estimate that included the value of dividends from the company, the loss was as great as $12.2 million.

Midwest blamed the crash on pilot error.

Parsons’ widow, told the Frederick News-Post, “The biggest thing I wanted was for my husband’s name to be cleared,” Ashlee Parsons said. “He was an amazing pilot.”

Archdiocese of Chicago To Pay $3.15 Million Settlement in Sexual Abuse Lawsuits

Chicago plaintiff attorney Lyndsay A. Markley

Chicago plaintiff attorney Lyndsay A. Markley

Chicago plaintiff lawyer Lyndsay A. Markley marks another victory as she settled three more lawsuits against theArchdiocese of Chicago, involving the sexual abuse of minors by defrocked priest Daniel McCormack in the amount of $3.15 million.

Markley settled a separate lawsuit representing another victim with the Archdiocese for $2.3 million earlier this year.

Attorney Lyndsay Markley of The Law Office of Lyndsay A. Markley, Ltd.represented the following three victims who alleged that McCormack sexually abused them during their participation in an after-school program, which was ironically named ‘S.A.F.E.’

John M. Doe (15 L 3700) sued the Archdiocese of Chicago in April of 2015. He alleged that McCormack sexually abused him on two occasions on or about the years 2000/ 2001 when he was 13/14 years old. This case was scheduled to proceed to trial in July 2017.

John T. Doe (2015 L 3702) sued the Archdiocese of Chicago in April of 2015. He alleges he was abused on more than one occasion between 2003 and 2005.

John J. Doe (originally filed as 2015 L 6864 before consolidation for discovery and trial with 15 L 3702) sued the Archdiocese of Chicago in July of 2015. He alleged that McCormack sexually abused him during his attendance at the after-school program at Our Lady of the Westside Catholic School. The victim alleges that he was sexually abused on more than one occasion on or about the years 2003 through 2005.

Unfit to work with children

All of the lawsuits alleged that, although the Archdiocese of Chicago and Cardinal Francis George had credible information confirming McCormack’s unfitness to work with children as early as 1994, they still allowed him continued access as a teacher, basketball coach and priest. McCormack was not removed from the public ministry until his second arrest in January 2006. He was permanently removed from the priesthood in November 2007 and pleaded guilty that year to abusing five children.

The parties settled these cases on March 17, 2017.  Dismissal orders were entered on John J. Doe and John T. Doe before Judge John P. Callahan of the Cook County Circuit Court on April 10, 2017.

A dismissal order for 2015 L 3700 (John M. Doe) was entered on April 11, 2017, before the Honorable Kathy M. Flanagan of the Circuit Court of Cook County.

Chicago-based attorney, Lyndsay Markley (www.lmarkleylaw.com) has dedicated her legal practice to fighting for persons who suffered injuries or death as the result of the wrongful or careless conduct of others. She set up her own law practice in February 2014 after serving as a named, equity shareholder at another established Chicago law firm.

Her awards include:

  • Acknowledgment as an Illinois SuperLawyer for 2017 by SuperLawyer: SuperLawyers & Chicago Magazine
  • 10 Best Under 40 2014-2016 Award from the American Institute of Personal Injury Attorneys
  • Top 100 Trial Attorneys in Illinois and a Top 40 Under 40 Trial Attorney for 2014-2016 by the National Association of Trial Lawyers
  • A Super Lawyers Illinois’ Rising Star in 2013, 2014, 2015 & 2016
  • A Top Women Lawyer in Illinois in 2014 by Super Lawyers and Chicago Magazine.

$11.25 M Verdict Obtained for Family of Young Mother Killed in 2015 Double Fatal Crash

Attorneys Eirene N. Salvi, Patrick A. Salvi, and Patrick A. Salvi II of Chicago.

Attorneys Eirene N. Salvi, Patrick A. Salvi, and Patrick A. Salvi II of Chicago.

A Winnebago County, Illinois, jury award  $11.25 million jury verdict on behalf of the family of a 33-year-old mother who was killed in a 2015 double fatal crash.

Attorneys Eirene N. Salvi, Patrick A. Salvi, and Patrick A. Salvi II of the Chicago personal injury law firm Salvi, Schostok & Pritchard P.C. represented the plaintiffs. Patrick Salvi is a member of The National Trial Lawyers Top 100 Attorneys.

On February 6, 2015, around 8:45 a.m., an employee of Anderson Automotive, Inc. was driving a 2004 Mazda RX8 westbound in the 5200 block of Guilford Road near Roxbury Road when he swerved into the eastbound lane of traffic, striking a 2001 Ford Taurus driven by 33-year-old Chamicwa Black.

The Anderson Automotive employee was pronounced dead at the scene. Ms. Black was taken to OSF Saint Anthony Medical Center, where she later died.

Ms. Black’s son, Jaquan, who was 8 years old at the time of the crash, was taken in by his grandmother, Venus Black. Jaquan has suffered significantly and was forced to transfer schools due to bullying regarding his mother’s death.

Company admits negligence

“Chamwica was a loving and protective mother whose life was cut too short because of this driver’s negligence. Chamwica’s son has had to go through life without the guidance and support of his wonderful mother,” The Black family’s attorney Patrick A. Salvi said. “I am so glad the jury recognized the magnitude of this loss.”

Anderson Automotive admitted negligence for the collision. On Friday, March 31, 2017 a Winnebago County jury awarded the family of Chamicwa Black $11.25 million. The case is Estate Of Chamicwa Black, Deceased, By Venus Black, Administrator; Plaintiff, V. Anderson Automotive, Inc. Defendants, Case No. 15-L-82.

“This award will help take care of young Jaquan and pay for any counseling,” Mr. Salvi said.

The defendant, Anderson Automotive, Inc., was represented by Harvey Paulsen and William Nickol of Paulsen, Malec & Malartsik, and were insured with Sentry Insurance for over $15 million. The defendant’s last offer was $2 million.

The plaintiffs were also assisted by attorney Aaron D. Boeder of Salvi, Schostok & Pritchard.

Jury Awards $11M Against Center That Let Juvenile Escape, Later Shooting A Man

Plaintiff Dominic Guerrini of Kline & Specter in Philadelphia

Plaintiff Dominic Guerrini of Kline & Specter in Philadelphia

PHILADELPHIA – A Court of Common Pleas jury awarded $11 million in finding a national health and behavioral rehabilitation chain, Devereux Foundation, liable in the shooting of a Philadelphia man by a resident who had escaped from one of its juvenile placement facilities.

The incident occurred at 2 a.m. on June 23, 2011 as Eric Johnson, now 47, returned home from his job as a nursing assistant and technician at St. Christopher’s Hospital. He was shot in the side as Shykir Crew attempted to rob him only hours after Crew walked out of a Devereux facility in Glenmoore, Chester County.

The bullet fractured several ribs and lodged in Johnson’s spine, where it remains, causing incomplete paraplegia with paralysis that leaves him walking only with great pain and often confined to a wheelchair. He also suffers from bowel and bladder problems as well as post-traumatic stress disorder from the incident.

“I’m happy that Mr. Johnson will be able to now get the care he needs. This verdict will hopefully send a message to Devereux that they need to do a better job supervising these vulnerable residents,” said Dominic Guerrini, of Philadelphia-based Kline & Specter, PC, who represented Johnson with co-counsel Colin Burke.

Scene of earlier escape

Crew was convicted of aggravated assault and related offenses and is in prison. At the time of the 2011 incident, Crew had been ordered to the Devereux facility by a judge because of behavioral issues, including prior arrests for burglary and drug possession.

The Devereux facility in Glenmoore is the same facility from which a 17-year-old boy recently escaped and allegedly went on to attack a 72-year-old woman in her Chester County home. She was found, dehydrated and bruised, after four days, bound and locked in a closet. The teenager was arrested earlier this month.

The Devereux Foundation employs more than 7,000 people and operates a network of clinical, therapeutic, educational and employment programs across 13 states, including Children’s Behavioral Health Services in Glenmoore.

The civil lawsuit claimed that Devereux was grossly negligent and reckless in its supervision of juveniles at the facility and was responsible in part for the injuries suffered by Eric Johnson by allowing Crew to simply walk from the facility, which he had done once before. It noted that the lack of supervision occurred despite the knowledge that the juveniles housed there posed a threat to the community if they left.

U.S. Chamber Pursues Its Anti-Consumer and Anti-Environmental Litigation

us chamber commerce

The Chamber’s litigation supports almost any action to increase corporate profits no matter the effect on workers, consumers or the environment.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has played a leading role in many of the most notorious civil cases of recent years, according to a new report from Public Citizen’s U.S. Chamber Watch. Seemingly willing to support almost any corporate litigant, no matter how egregious its conduct, the Chamber uses its busy litigation practice to advance a reactionary agenda.

This evening, the U.S. Chamber’s Litigation Center will gather corporate interests for its 40th anniversary. At the core of the Chamber’s agenda is the notion that big corporations should be above the law. The Chamber litigates to:

  • Limit the right of consumers, investors and small businesses to use the court system to hold corporations accountable for wrongdoing.
  • Limit government enforcement actions against corporate bad actors.

The Chamber’s litigation consistently favors big businesses over small businesses, seems to support almost any action to increase corporate profits no matter the effect on workers, consumers or the environment, and opposes commonsense regulations that would correct market failures.

Egregious examples

U.S. Chamber Watch analyzed approximately 500 cases over a roughly three-year period in which the U.S. Chamber Litigation Center – a Chamber affiliate – was either a plaintiff or an amicus. The cases cited below stand out as some of the most egregious examples of the U.S. Chamber’s devotion to pro-corporate influence and profits at any cost.

What’s more, Public Citizen’s review of the Chamber’s filings in these cases revealed that the arguments it makes in one case often are at odds with the arguments it makes in another case. Indeed, hypocrisy is an almost pervasive feature of the Chamber’s legal filings.

Among the most shocking cases Public Citizen examined, the Chamber:

  • Sided with British Petroleum over thousands of American small businesses in litigation related to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. The Chamber filed a total of four briefs in support of BP in Deepwater Horizon-related litigation;
  • Filed an amicus brief in support of the CEO of the company that sold Buckyballs, a toy that injured more than 1,700 young children. The Chamber argued that the CEO shouldn’t be liable for recall costs despite his continuing to have sold the toy once its dangers were widely known;
  • Filed an amicus brief in support of for-profit Corinthian Colleges’ efforts to prevent students it had fraudulently misled from suing it in court. The Chamber supported Corinthian in spite its well-documented history of fraud;
  • Sided with the Canadian energy giant behind the Keystone XL pipeline over American ranchers and farmers who didn’t want the pipeline being routed through their land;
  • Filed a brief in favor of striking down Seattle’s $15 an hour minimum wage, claiming that it would be bad for workers;
  • Filed an amicus brief opposing Vermont’s GMO labeling law, arguing that it was supported by “fringe” groups and impinged upon corporations’ free speech rights;
  • Filed briefs supporting foreign multinationals in cases involving Nigerian and Papua New Guinean plaintiffs who alleged that these companies had been complicit in gross human rights abuses including rape, pillage and aerial bombardment of civilians;
  • Filed a brief supporting Walmart’s effort to prevent shareholders from voting on a proxy resolution calling for the company’s board to examine its sale of high-capacity firearms; and
  • Filed a brief opposing municipal anti-fracking ordinances.

“By looking at just who the Chamber supports via its litigation, it quickly becomes apparent that the Chamber is not a voice for small business, but rather a force to defend the interests of big business, no matter the cost,” said Lisa Gilbert, Public Citizen’s vice president for legislative affairs.

Added Dan Dudis, director of Public Citizen’s Chamber Watch project and author of the report, “BP, Corinthian, Keystone XL, Buckyballs, fracking, guns at Walmart – the Chamber’s litigation truly is a little shop of horrors. The Chamber will defend almost any corporate bad actor, and it doesn’t hesitate to advance often conflicting arguments from one case to the next.”

Read the report.

Philadelphia Police Department Agrees to Major Reforms after Police Shooting

Philippe Holland in hospital bed (1)

Philippe Holland in a hospital bed

When Philippe Holland, a 20-year-old college student delivering food in Philadelphia to make some extra money was gunned down by plainclothes police officers on the night of April 22, 2014, the incident was carried by several local media outlets. When a civil lawsuit was settled recently, the news was carried throughout the country.

That happened for two reasons. For one, the City of Philadelphia agreed to pay Holland $4.4 million, a record for the city involving a police incident and the sixth largest nationally.

Secondly, the city and police department agreed to make real and lasting changes in the way plainclothes officers interact with the citizens of Philadelphia.

A catalyst for reforms

“This settlement will not only compensate an innocent citizen who suffered devastating injuries but also served as a catalyst for significant reforms in the way our communities are policed by plainclothes officers,” said Holland’s lawyer, Tom Kline, with Philadelphia-based Kline & Specter, PC.

Holland suffered gunshot wounds to his head and other parts of his body when two officers fired 14 times into his vehicle as he tried to get away from men he believed were going to rob him. He underwent extensive surgery for his wounds but bullet fragments remain lodged in his brain, causing him to suffer a permanent seizure disorder and other injuries.

 

Attorney Tom Kline of Kline & Specter in Philadelphia, PA

Attorney Tom Kline of Kline & Specter in Philadelphia, PA

As part of the settlement – a part that Kline had insisted was essential for any agreement – the city and the Philadelphia Police Department will establish a new protocol for things such as proper attire for plainclothes officers, proper placement and display of patrol badges, and permitted and prohibited activities and interactions with the public. That will include how and when to identify themselves as police officers.

 

Also part of the settlement, the city will produce a training video that all new plainclothes officers will be required to watch before assignments and as part of roll call. This must be done, according to the agreement, by July 1.

For more information on this settlement and to view both the federal and state court civil rights complaints, go to www.klinespecter.com/blog/a-police-shooting-an-innocent-victim-a-peaceful-resolution.html.

Georgia Jury Awards $15 Million to Nursing Student who Survived Deadly Crash

Attorney Robert D. Cheeley of Alpharetta, GA.

Attorney Robert D. Cheeley of Alpharetta, GA.

A jury in Georgia has awarded $15 million to a survivor of crash that killed five of her classmates. Former Georgia Southern University nursing student Megan Richards suffered traumatic brain injuries in the 2015 pileup.

The jurors awarded damages against trucking company Total Transportation of Mississippi and its parent company, U.S. Express for the seven-car crash. The company and the driver had admitted fault in the accident.

“No human being should have to live through what Megan [Richards] lived through on I-16 in Bryan County,” The Cheeley Law Group’s Robert Cheeley told jurors.

In April 2015, Louisiana truck driver John Wayne Johnson was driving 70 mph and failed to press his breaks causing him to slam into several cars, according to AJC.com. The women were on their way to their last day of clinical rotations at a Savannah hospital.

Lawyers for the victim’s families filed a lawsuit weeks later alleging Johnson for inexplicable reasons “did not slow or stop his large tractor-trailer in response to the long line of traffic in front of him that had been at a complete stop for several seconds as had every other vehicle and tractor-trailer that was stopped in traffic.”

Richards testified throughout the trial that she still suffers from a traumatic brain injury.

 

Halloween Party Host Liable for $44.8 Million After Crashers Attack Guests

Alexandra A. Hamilton, Attorney with The Veen Firm

Elinor Leary, Trial Team Leader with The Veen Firm.

An Alameda Superior Court in California found a Halloween party host liable for a total of $44,837,294 after two guests were shot and injured when the host corralled armed uninvited crashers into an enclosed parking lot with unarmed guests.

The defendant (name withheld) hosted a Halloween party in October 2012 at the defendant’s warehouse in an industrial part of the Bay Area. Before the party, the defendant promoted the Halloween party on Facebook and hired E.J. to play music at the event.  Defendant promised E.J. that only close friends would be invited so security was not necessary.

On the night of the party, defendant assigned an employee to act as bouncer. With no security experience, the employee did not prevent anyone from entering — even including uninvited party crashers.  Even after tensions grew and scuffles broke out inside, defendant did nothing to remove the intruders.  

After the fighting escalated, defendant opened the warehouse’s metal roll-up doors, pushed everyone outside into a parking lot, and locked the doors.  E.J., his wife N.J., and his friend R.B. were trapped outside with the assailants, who continued to attack the guests.  While trapped outside the warehouse, R.B. and E.J. were shot by the armed assailants.

The plaintiffs’ attorneys are Elinor Leary and Alexandra Hamilton with The Veen Firm in San Francisco. After a three-day trial the court awarded:

  • $5,005,716 to R.B.
  • $38,119,728 to E.J.
  • $1,711,850 to N.J.

Dangerous environment

The plaintiffs’ security expert testified that defendant created a dangerous environment by hosting an indefinite number of people at a remote warehouse without taking reasonable precautions, requesting for police presence, hiring certified security guards, or preventing invited guests from coming into contact with party crashers. As a result of the negligent security and the increased danger by corralling guests in the parking lot with the violent assailants, R.B. and E.J. suffered significant injuries.

  • R.B. was shot in the left thigh, injuring his saphenous nerve and causing significant leg pain and weakness.  He developed an altered gait, which caused right leg, lower back pain, bone spurs and a disc bulge.

Plaintiffs presented evidence that R.B. would require medical, psychological and home care for the rest of his life. Medical care included a surgery to sever the saphenous nerve.

Before the shooting, R.B. worked as a medical technician. Evidence showed R.B. will not be able to return to work in his chosen profession, resulting in significant lost earning capacity.  

  • E.J. was struck by multiple bullets in the buttocks and hip. E.J. underwent emergency surgery to reconstruct and repair his penis from the bullets’ trajectory. A gunshot wound to his left hip fractured the femoral head and neck, such that bone and cartilage splintered into small pieces. E.J. underwent another surgery to reassemble the bone.  Because of his hip injuries,32-year-old E.J. developed post-traumatic arthritis in his hip and an altered gait, which led to back and knee pain and mobility issues. 

Plaintiffs presented evidence that E.J. would require medical, psychological and home care for the rest of his life, including hip replacement surgery every decade.

  • N.J. sought damages for the loss of her husband’s love, companionship, comfort, care, assistance, protection, affection, society, moral support, emotional support, counsel, encouragement, inspiration, and guidance.

 

Settlement Reached for Another Fatality Caused by Golf Cart Ejection

Attorney Benny Agosto, Jr. of Abraham, Watkins, Nichols, Sorrels, Agosto & Aziz in Houston, TX

Attorney Benny Agosto, Jr. of Abraham, Watkins, Nichols, Sorrels, Agosto & Aziz in Houston, TX

Attorney Benny Agosto of Houston, TX, announced a confidential settlement on behalf of the family of Ronald Burdick for the fatal injuries Mr. Burdick sustained after being thrown from a golf cart at the Dolce Living in Rosenberg, TX on May 7, 2015.

After being hospitalized at Memorial Hermann Hospital for eight days, Burdick did not survive his injuries and died on May 15, 2015.

Following their move from Alaska to Texas to be closer to their children and grandchildren, Burdick and his wife visited the Dolce Living Rosenberg property in search of a new apartment.

The leasing agent offered to show the couple a few different model apartments using the property’s golf cart, which was frequently used to travel within the apartment complex. Mrs. Burdick sat in the front seat with the leasing agent, while Mr. Burdick sat in the rear seat. The leasing agent reversed the golf cart and began driving towards one of the property’s gates, when suddenly and without warning, she made an unexpected tight left turn, ejecting Mr. Burdick from the golf cart and onto the pavement.

Mr. Burdick suffered a serious brain injury as a result of the forceful fall and died days later. When used properly, golf carts can be very safe and can actually help prevent injuries. However, they can be dangerous if they are misused or not adequately maintained. According to the Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC), there are approximately 10,000 golf cart-related injuries requiring emergency room treatment in the U.S. each year.

One of the most significant causes of serious injuries in golf cart accidents is passenger ejection, as CPSC statistics show that roughly 35% of golf cart accidents involve a passenger falling out of or being ejected from the vehicle. The same statistics indicate that at least 10% of golf cart accidents involve rollover, which roughly doubles the likelihood that passengers will sustain injuries requiring extended hospitalization like brain trauma compared to non-rollover accidents.