Kline & Specter A Professional Corporation

Verdict vs. Parx in jockey's death

Michael A. Trunk and Kristen Sipala won a $7.8 million verdict for the family of a jockey who was killed at Parx Casino & Racetrack. Mario Calderon, 55, was thrown from a race horse he was exercising after it was spooked by chickens allowed to roam freely at the track. He fell from the horse but his boot stuck in a stirrup, leaving him hanging upside-down on the side of the thoroughbred, which kicked Calderon repeatedly in the head and chest. He suffered 11 broken ribs and a bleed on his brain and died several hours after the May 2010 incident. The verdict by a Philadelphia Common Pleas Court jury included $5 million in punitive damages. Parx admitted at trial that it did not take all reasonable efforts to remove the chickens from its premises, which had been brought there many years earlier by horse owners and trainers. (News coverage)

Kline & Specter leading
Risperdal litigation

Kline & Specter is now in the forefront of litigation involving Risperdal, an anti-psychotic drug found to cause abnormal male breast growth, or gynocomastia. Tom Kline has been appointed co-liason counsel by Philadelphia Common Pleas Court in the coordinated litigation which includes nearly 400 filed cases. Kline & Specter is lead counsel in a large majority of the filed cases. The firm joins the Sheller, P.C., law firm and attorney Steve Sheller, who pioneered the Risperdal litigation. Kline & Specter will assume leadership in the litigation. Tom Kline is listed as trial counsel in the nation’s first Risperdal trials expected to reach a jury verdict, with the first case listed for July 2014. That case involves an autistic child who suffers gynecomastia after using Risperdal. Tom Kline has a long, successful history in drug and device product litigation with numerous multi-million dollar verdicts and settlements reaching back to 1983. He was described by The Wall Street Journal as a "key player" and member of the Plaintiff's Steering Committee in the $4.85 billion Vioxx litigation.

Kline & Specter representing explosion victim

The firm was hired to represent the family of a woman who was killed in an explosion that tore through a Ewing, N.J., neighborhood, damaging or destroying 55 homes. Tom Kline, along with Dominic Guerrini, has begun an exhaustive investigation into the tragedy that took the life of Linda Cerritelli, 62, and injured several others. She had been working from home when utility workers digging outside her condo hit a gas line on March 4. Seven utility workers were also injured in the blast. “We are not just relying on investigations conducted by others,” Kline told The Times of Trenton. “I hired a team of experts, directing an investigation into the cause and origin and responsibility for the tragic death of a wonderful mother and grandmother.” (Read complete article) Kline & Specter previously achieved a $40.5 million recovery in the Village Green apartment complex explosion case in which six people were killed and six injured. (News coverage)

Settlement reached in med-mal case

Shanin Specter, Andy Youman and David Williams won a $5 million settlement in the case of a teenager who developed a spinal fracture and epidural hematoma following surgery for scoliosis. The episode occurred in 2010 at a Philadelphia-area hospital and involved a failure to timely and appropriately evaluate and treat the 14-year-old boy’s back pain and weakness in his lower extremities. Thirteen days after his surgery, the patient reported great pain when he tried to stand for the first time. His condition continued to worsen, yet a resident treating him failed to perform a thorough neurologic evaluation and other doctors did not order a consult from neurology services. The boy was left with partial paralysis in his legs.

Balefsky named to Steering Committee

Lee Balefsky has been chosen as a member of the Plaintiffs’ Steering Committee involved in all transvaginal mesh cases nationwide and he also serves as liaison counsel in the Philadelphia Mass Tort Pelvic Mesh program. Balefsky heads the Mass Tort department at Kline & Specter and has had great success in previous litigation, including the $4.85 billion Vioxx settlement and settlements involving denture cream products and the diet drug Fen-Phen. His department is also currently handling cases involving harmful side effects of the anti-psychotic drug Risperdal. Transvaginal mesh, also known as bladder sling or pelvic sling, is used to treat pelvic organ prolapse and urinary leakage but has eroded or shrunk after insertion in many women, causing organ perforation, pain, bleeding, infection, and urinary incontinence. (Learn more about transvaginal mesh lawsuits)

Caputo named to PILCOP board

David Caputo joined the Board of Directors of the Public Interest Law Center of Philadelphia (PILCOP), a nonprofit, non-partisan law firm that represents individuals and organizations in contesting laws, policies and practices that perpetuate discrimination, inequality and poverty. Founded in 1969, its lawyers employ class-action lawsuits, policy advocacy, community organizing and education to create change for clients who include the disabled, minorities and the poor. PILCOP is funded through grants, donations and court-awarded attorney’s fees in addition to private donations. For more information visit www.pilcop.org.

Specter debates tort reform at
Drexel forum

Drexel University School of Law hosted a debate on tort reform featuring two of Philadelphia’s leading trial attorneys – Shanin Specter and Joseph O’Neil, partner at the Lavin O’Neil law firm. Several issues were discussed at the March 12 forum, including the Pennsylvania Fair Share Act, under which defendants found less than 60 percent liable in civil trials bear responsibility only for their share of a jury award. Previously, wealthy defendants found liable could be forced to pay a greater proportion of damages if other defendants could not do so. Specter told the audience that the Fair Share Act has significantly reduced the number of liability cases brought to trial, but O’Neil argued the law presented a “more fair approach.” The debate was sponsored by the Civil Litigation Society, Drexel Republicans, the American Constitution Society and the Health Law Society.

All the rage for spring …

This item was spotted in the April 1 Daily News. Nice, but what wasn’t mentioned about Lashon Foster’s “cute outfit” was the key accessory that made it all work -- a Kline & Specter logo black tote.

Andy Stern provides commentary on aviation stories

Andy Stern, an attorney and licensed pilot, was called on by the news media to provide insight into two airline mishaps -- the missing Malaysian jetliner and a runway accident at Philadelphia International Airport. Stern, who has successfully litigated a number of aviation lawsuits, has become a frequent television commentator. A licensed pilot since 1993, he has been handling aviation cases even longer, winning a substantial settlement for two pilots in the 1991 tragedy that also killed U.S. Sen. John Heinz and several others. He obtained a settlement in another case involving a defective jet de-icing system that caused the deaths of inspectors with the Federal Aviation Administration. (Watch the latest TV clip)

Kline and Specter on all-star seminar panel

Tom Kline and Shanin Specter participated in the “Stars of the Bar” seminar sponsored by the Pennsylvania Association for Justice. PAJ advertised the continuing legal education forum as a chance for fellow attorneys to learn from “some of Pennsylvania’s greatest trial lawyers” and discover their secrets for success. The panelists provided insight into their trial skills and shared practice strategies during the session held at the Top of the Tower at 1717 Arch St. in Philadelphia. Kline and Specter were two of the six lawyers chosen for the seminar. Others were Nancy H. Fullam, Thomas J. Duffy, Alan M. Feldman and Robert J. Mongeluzzi. The event was moderated by Michael Barrett.

Tom Kline to peer down from Duquesne wall

Tom Kline earned his law degree from Duquesne University School of Law in 1978, graduating with the school's Distinguished Student Award. Years later, he received its Distinguished Alumni Award. And recently, the university announced that Kline’s photograph will be placed by Dean Ken Gormley on a wall in the law school’s third floor with a description of his many accomplishments in the legal profession. The university said it hopes the photo of Kline “will not only be an inspiration for our current students but prospective students as well.” Kline’s photo shows him standing in front of the place where he won many of his largest courtroom verdicts, Philadelphia City Hall.

Civil rights, wrongful death suits filed

Tom Kline filed suit in two well-known cases, one involving the abduction and sexual assault of a kindergarten student from a Philadelphia elementary school and the other the death of a city radio personality. Among defendants in the first case is the city school district, which is blamed for a “state-created danger” that violated the five-year-old girl’s constitutional rights to liberty, privacy and bodily integrity. She was found partially clothed in a playground the day after being taken from school by a woman, later arrested, who lacked proper identification. (See news coverage)

In the wrongful death case, the suit claims that radio host Steven E. Collins received substandard care before he died of a heart attack at Chestnut Hill Hospital. The popular community activist widely known as "E" died last September after being taken to the hospital experiencing chest tightness and difficulty breathing. (News coverage)


May_6: Tom Kline will argue before the Pennsylvania Supreme Court in Harrisburg in an appeal challenging the constitutionality of the state law limiting legal recoveries against government entities to $500,000. The case involves Ashley Zauflik, a high school student who lost her left leg after she was run over by a bus on school property in Bucks County. A jury awarded $14 million in the case in 2011 but the state law limited her recovery to the state cap of $500,000.

June 25-26: Tom Kline will be speaking at the American Conference Institute’s 13th Annual Advanced Forum on Obstetric Malpractice Claims, at The Union League, 140 South Broad St., Philadelphia.

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