The 5 Highest Pennsylvania Personal Injury Case Verdicts of 2013
A $2.8 million verdict in the 2006 hip replacement personal injury case of Lombardo v. Gardner
A jury in western Pennsylvania awarded nearly $2.8 million to an elderly woman in a personal injury case. The medical malpractice case concluded in October. Her lawyer claimed the orthopedic surgeon who performed her 2001 hip replacement did not notice an arterial clot. This mistake ultimately led to a below-the-knee amputation. The evening before the trial, the hospital defendants, along with the nurses, settled with Lombardo for an undisclosed amount described as “a fair sum.” The plaintiff had maintained a general demand for $650,000. The plaintiff never offered more than $100,000, according to the plaintiff’s attorney. The Lombardo trial began Oct. 23 and ended Oct. 30. A six-member jury heard the case. The jurors deliberated for roughly two hours before reaching their unanimous verdict. Their award included $2 million in non-economic damages, $50,000 in lost earnings and $744,000 in medical expenses. This personal injury case is a great of example of why you should never settle for a lawyer who only knows how to settle and hire a trial lawyer.
A $5.5 million award to the parents of a 22-year-old man who died shortly after his vehicle was struck by a tractor-trailer in the personal injury case of McConnell v. Guru Global Logistics
On Aug. 18, 2011, twenty-two year old Mark McConnell II was driving a Chevrolet Cobalt coupe. He entered the intersection of a private road, and his vehicle was struck by a tractor-trailer operated by Andrew Johnson. The impact forced McConnell’s car to spin across the intersection where it crashed into two utility poles. McConnell later died from his injuries. According to the plaintiff’s attorney, McConnell’s parents sued Johnson and the owner of the truck, Howard Truckline Inc. In a separate suit, which was later consolidated with the initial action, the estate sued Johnson and Guru Global Logistics LLC, a trucking company alleged to be a controlling motor carrier for Johnson at the time of the accident. McConnell, a college student, was airlifted to a hospital in Youngstown, Ohio. Shortly before the helicopter landed at the hospital, McConnell went into cardiac arrest due to massive internal bleeding, mostly from his severely damaged liver. The hospital’s trauma team was unable to resuscitate him and he was pronounced dead. The estate’s counsel relied upon the testimony of the treating flight paramedic, who discussed how it was evident that McConnell experienced pain and suffering prior to his death. Prior to trial, the estate settled with Howard Truckline in an agreement involving confidential terms. At a separate trial, the estate’s counsel maintained that Johnson failed to heed a stop sign and two flashing red lights as he entered the intersection at a rate of speed of twenty-six miles per hour, when he collided into McConnell’s vehicle. The estate’s expert maintained that Guru, as the controlling motor carrier for Johnson, violated the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration regulations by allowing Johnson to drive, since his history was marked by multiple traffic violations and a criminal record. The jury found Johnson thirty percent negligent and Guru Global 70-percent negligent. The jury determined the McConnells and the estate should receive damages totaling $5,465,000.
A $5 million settlement after a man was rendered quadriplegic when two of his relatives accidentally tipped over the portable toilet he was using in the personal injury case of Adams v. Poly-San
Donald H. Adams III filed a product liability case against Poly-San, a portable toilet manufacturer and installer. Adams, in the somewhat bizarre case, was left a quadriplegic after two of his relatives decided to play a prank on him by rocking the port-a-potty with him inside only to watch it tip over. The personal injury case raised interesting elements of superseding forces and negligence. The injury was caused by an intentional and stupid act by the Plaintiffs’ own relatives on a fishing trip. Donald H. Adams III and his cousins-in-law, defendants Gerald Grater and Barry Weller, were staying at a lodge without indoor plumbing. As a practical joke, they waited for Adams to go into the portable toilet and drove their truck up to the door to trap him. They then started to bang and shake the unit, which proceeded to tip over. Adams landed on his neck and suffered laminar fractures to his fourth and fifth cervical spine vertebrae and experienced a fracture to his fifth cervical spine vertebra. He is now paralyzed from the shoulders down and has a neurogenic bladder and bowels. His medical needs were estimated between $6 million and $10 million by the defense. The key to the personal injury case defense was the missing stakes for the portable toilet unit. The base had holes for the anchoring stakes but they were left empty. The company admitted that the failure to install spikes would destabilize the toilet and that the company did not supply users with the stakes. Crawford was accused of installing the unit on the side of a hill at a 14-degree angle and using wood props to level it out even though Crawford admitted that he was worried about the angle and aware of other units tipping over. The parties ultimately agreed to settle for $5 million.
The family of an electrician who was killed when a crane hook fell on him reached a $17 million settlement in the personal injury case of Nowak v. Veolia Energy Philadelphia
According to the construction personal injury case records, on June 23, 2011, Adam Nowak Sr. died when a 300-pound iron hook, which fell from “a negligently maintained and operated” crane, struck and killed him. Nowak, who was forty-five years old, had been working at the steam plant for several months to help install new electrical equipment. Nowak left behind five children, including a 2-year-old daughter who was born with profound hearing loss. The lawsuit contends that Nowak’s death was the result of Veolia Energy’s negligence. “Each and every level of Veolia management and personnel consciously disregarded workplace safety,” the Nowak estate asserts in court documents. Nowak had been working for a contractor at the Schuylkill steam plant. According to personal injury case documents, in the moments leading up to his death, Nowak had rigged a toolbox to a crane so the crane operator could lower the toolbox into the basement. As the operator raised the toolbox, he activated the auxiliary crane, and the auxiliary crane cable snapped when the crane block went too high. That caused the crane block to plummet 60 feet, striking Nowak, “tearing a hole in his head and dismembering his arm.” Nowak died later in the day. Nowak’s estate in the personal injury case lawsuit stated “there is substantial evidence that Veolia intentionally disabled the safety limit switch” that could have prevented the fatal accident. The lawsuit claims that the steam plant ignored recommendations to replace the limit switch after a similar crane accident in 2004. Nowak’s attorney stated “Veolia would not spend the $30,000 necessary to upgrade these critical safety devices. Veolia wouldn’t pay the bill, and Adam paid with his life.” The lawsuit asserts that Veolia Energy’s crane safety manual was “a sham,” and claims that crane operators never received the manual or followed its guidelines. The widow of Adam Nowak will receive $17 million, in what is believed to be the largest wrongful-workplace-death settlement in Philadelphia County history. “We hope this settlement is a step forward in the ongoing healing process for Mr. Nowak’s family,” the company said. “Veolia’s safety culture and our ongoing commitment to safety are best reflected by our industry-leading safety record. However, we remain committed to continually improving. Through ongoing training and employee commitment, we remain focused on eliminating any safety incidents in the workplace.”
A Chester County jury awarded $32.8 million to a 3-year-old child who suffers from severe cerebral palsy in the personal injury case of Ciechoski v. Phoenixville Hospital
A Chester County Court jury has awarded $32.8 million to a 4-year-old girl, concluding that she suffered brain damage at birth because nurses at Phoenixville Hospital failed to alert doctors about changes in her condition. Lilly developed spastic quadriplegic cerebral palsy after Proffitt went into labor on Nov. 14, 2009, at Phoenixville Hospital. The family’s lawyer said two nurses who came to the room when the baby’s heart rate dropped failed to alert doctors for 13 minutes. According to personal injury case documents, due to other delays, Lilly was not delivered until about 30 minutes after that, resulting in the loss of oxygen and brain damage. After a two-week trial, the jury found that two nurses were negligent when they waited 13 minutes to tell doctors that Lilly Ciechoski’s heart rate had dropped, the family’s lawyer said. The same jury found that a third nurse and the hospital were not to blame for the girl’s injuries. The $32.8 million personal injury case verdict was among the highest ever given by a jury in the county, according to the family’s lawyer. Most of it will help pay for her future medical expenses. “This [verdict] definitely helps put her at an advantage because now we can get everything she needs,” Proffitt said. “We don’t have to come to a point where we have to say, ‘We can’t do that because we can’t afford it.’ “