Kline & Specter made news with several landmark cases since the last Eletter. The firm helped win a liability verdict followed by a $227 million settlement in the collapse of a Center City building, obtained a monetary settlement and promised policy changes by the City of Philadelphia following a police shooting of an innocent civilian and won a $14.5 million verdict in rural western Pennsylvania in a birth injury case. Here are those stories and others:
Stern, Crawford persevere, win celebrated verdict, settlement

A 17-week trial ended with a verdict finding the Salvation Army, a real-estate speculator and others liable in the deaths of seven people and injuries to 12 others in the 2013 collapse of a Center City building. Before the jury could decide damages in the case, a settlement was reached totaling $227 million. Kline & Specter’s Andy Stern and Elizabeth Crawford were among the plaintiffs’ attorneys in the Philadelphia Common Pleas Court trial, representing Mariya Plekan, who was trapped beneath the rubble for nearly 13 hours, resulting in the amputation of both legs up to her hips. Plekan was a regular customer of the Salvation Army thrift store that was crushed when an adjacent structure undergoing demolition collapsed on top of the store. An article in The Philadelphia Inquirer noted: “Plekan’s attorney, Andrew J. Stern, told the jury at the start of the trial’s damages phase that Plekan has undergone 30 surgeries, survived kidney failure and lung problems, and lost her ability to speak because of throat damage from months on a respirator. Stern said Plekan will require round-the-clock nursing care for the rest of her life and estimated her future medical expenses at $50 million.” (Read the article) At a news conference held at the Thomas R. Kline School of Law at Drexel University, Stern introduced Plekan and told reporters: “Before this happened, she was completely healthy … To be happy is very difficult for her. She lost half her body and she will live to a normal life expectancy, but her life will be anything but normal.” Next, an arbitrator will apportion damages among the 19 victims.

Kline, Guerrini, Palmer obtain landmark settlement vs. City, PD

After more than two years of litigation, an historic settlement – including a $4.4 million payment by the City of Philadelphia and concessions to revamp police protocols – was announced in the case of an innocent young man who was gunned down by plainclothes police as he was delivering take-out food in West Philadelphia. The incident involving Philippe Holland, 20 years old and attending college while working two jobs, occurred on the night of April 22, 2014. He had just finished a delivery when he spotted two men, one holding a flashlight, the other a gun. Fearing he was going to be robbed, Holland tried to get away in his car. The men opened fired, pumping 14 shots into Holland's Ford Taurus. He was struck in the head and leg. Despite extensive surgery, bullet fragments could not be removed from his brain, leaving Holland to suffer seizures probably for the rest of his life. The settlement payment is the largest ever by the city involving a police incident and reportedly the largest in the nation for a non-fatal police shooting. But importantly, the settlement arrived at by Tom Kline, Dominic Guerrini and Tracie Palmer included concessions by the city to revamp regulatory and police training protocols, including proper plainclothes attire and identification by officers. Also to be required: a training video to be viewed by all plainclothes police. Kline was quoted by the news media as saying the new training protocol “will result in a safer Philadelphia not only for its citizens but also for police officers.” (Read article)

Mark Polin and Dominic Guerrini reviewing case documents
Record Verdict won in western Pa. med-mal case

Dominic Guerrini and Mark Polin won a $14.5 million verdict in Johnstown, Pa., for a boy who was severely injured during childbirth. The jury award was the largest-ever in a medical malpractice case in U.S. District Court in western Pennsylvania. The two-week trial was heard in federal court, which requires a unanimous verdict, because the defendants were in Clearfield, while the child was moved to Ohio shortly after his delivery. The child, now four and a half years old and identified in the complaint only as JDWBII, suffers from cerebral palsy and other medical conditions and is unable to talk, walk or even sit up and receives nourishment through a feeding tube. The case revolved around the improper administration during delivery on July 19, 2012 of Pitocin, a drug used to speed delivery, causing oxygen deprivation and brain damage to the baby. Later, despite signs on a fetal heart monitor that the baby was being deprived of oxygen, and eventually asphyxiated, the Pitocin still was not stopped. The verdict came against Dr. Thomas A. Carnevale, who was found 60 percent liable, and nurses at Clearfield Hospital, who were ascribed 40 percent liability. “This verdict shows that jurors from traditionally conservative areas are willing to award substantial damages when substandard care has been proven to cause harm,” Guerrini told the news media. Polin is an OB/GYN, one of Kline & Specter’s five full-time doctor-lawyers, the most for a plaintiffs firm in the United States. (News story)

Inscho, Burke achieve settlement in collision case

David Inscho and Colin Burke obtained a $1.5 million settlement from a trucking company in a case that involved a lengthy investigation to determine who was at fault in a fatal auto accident. The incident occurred on May 15, 2015 when the car driven by a 68-year old veteran collided with a tractor trailer in Lehigh County. The truck driver said he was not at fault for the accident, claiming the driver of the car caused the crash. But Inscho and Burke were able to prove the statements made by the truck driver to be false. They found and interviewed witnesses from the vicinity of the scene. They were able to create a reconstruction of the accident from physical evidence at the scene. Finally, they obtained surveillance video from a local convenience store that showed the truck driver had lied to authorities about the route he had driven to the accident scene. After a complete investigation, it became apparent that the tractor trailer driver had made a left turn in front of the victim’s car, causing the accident. Names of the parties were kept confidential under terms of the settlement.

Tom Kline chosen for prestigious AJC award

Tom Kline was selected as the 2017 winner of the American Jewish Committee’s Judge Learned Hand Award presented to a member of the Philadelphia legal community “whose social conscience and devotion to philanthropy mirrors AJC’s values and ideals.” The mission of the organization, which has been in existence for more than a century, is to enhance the well-being of the Jewish people and to advance human rights and democratic values. At a dinner honoring Kline attended by about 350 people, Abraham Reich, an attorney with Fox Rothschild LLP and co-chairman of the event, said: “Tom Kline is the high tide of our profession. He is a game changer. He never looks at a case as ‘how much money can I make’ but asking, ‘How do I do justice for this family or this victim and how do I make this world a better place?” Kline spoke of his father, who served in the military in Germany during World War II. He told the audience that he still keeps his father’s Army alarm clock on his desk at home. “It reminds me,” Kline said, “of what this country meant to him and what being an American and a Jew fighting against evil meant to him. It is a very personal reminder of where he was and what he did and, more broadly, reminds me of our aspirations as a people and a nation. I have thought about him often in these turbulent times as I have listened to the ticking of that clock as time marches on.”

Bezar receives diversity award from Kline Law School

Nadeem Bezar was selected to receive the 2017 Thomas R. Kline School of Law Diversity Champion Award in recognition of his dedication and work on behalf of minorities and the disenfranchised. The award, part of a celebration of diversity at the law school, is given following a vote by students at the school. The recipient must be a member of the legal community “who champions the ideals embodied in the principals of diversity and inclusion in the legal profession who is dedicated to promoting legal representation and service to diversity causes by enhancing opportunities on behalf of diverse individuals and advocating on their behalf.” Bezar has represented many poor, minority members of the community, often children who have been the victims of abuse. He has been involved for years with affinity bar associations and is past president of the South Asian Bar Association of Philadelphia and the South Asian Bar Association of North American. Bezar was appointed last year by Philadelphia Mayor James Kenney to be a member of the city’s Commission for Asian American Affairs.

Notice of claim filed in Hoboken train crash

Tom Kline, along with Bob Mongeluzzi, announced the filing of a notice of claim beginning the legal process in New Jersey on behalf of the family of Fabiola Bittar de Kroon, the 34-year-old attorney killed in the Sept. 29 train crash at Hoboken (NJ) Station. More than 100 people were injured in the incident but only de Kroon, a wife and mother of a young daughter, who had been on the station platform at the time of the crash, suffered fatal injuries when the station ceiling collapsed. Kline & Specter is representing several victims of the crash, also including Sheldon Kest, a passenger in the first car of the NJ Transit train who suffered significant injuries. Investigators reportedly determined from black box data that the train was going more than twice the 10-m.p.h. speed limit for a train entering the station. “There is no excuse for operating that train at more than twice the speed restriction entering the station,” Kline said at a news conference. “And there is no excuse for the NJT’s deadly deferral of Positive Train Control that every industry operator, expert and government regulator has known for decades prevents these accidents and saves lives.” More on train crash litigation

Don’t touch my Gatorade …


Avid 76ers fan Tom Kline caught this closeup photo of LeBron James when the Cavs visited the Wells Fargo Center. How can you tell it’s King James? His number 23 is on his Gatorade bottle cap, of course. (The Sixers lost 112-108.)

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