Kline & Specter A Professional Corporation

Youman, Sipala win $5.1 million verdict for woman injured during sinus surgery

Andy Youman and Kristen Sipala won a $5.1 million verdict in Montgomery County for a woman who suffered severe injuries after a medication mixup before routine sinus surgery. The error caused the 48-year-old Hatboro woman to be injected with a highly concentrated decongestant instead of a local anesthetic for the 2010 procedure. Even after discovering the mistake, her doctor did not immediately terminate the operation and complications arose as a result. The woman suffered a cardiac arrest and an anoxic brain injury that permanently impaired her sight, balance and cognition.

Pa. Supreme Court agrees to consider caps on government liability

For the first time in nearly three decades, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court granted a plaintiff’s petition to consider an appeal challenging the constitutionality of the state law which limits legal recoveries against government entities to $500,000. The appeal was filed by Tom Kline, David Caputo and Chip Becker in the case of Ashley Zauflik, a student who lost her left leg after she was run over by a bus at Pennsbury High School in 2007. A Bucks County jury awarded $14 million in the case in 2011, but her recovery was reduced to $500,000 because of the state cap. Commonwealth Court upheld the law in a ruling last July. Kline is arguing that the cap violates the state constitution in several aspects, including its guarantee of open courts to citizens, a provision against limiting compensatory damages except in workers' compensation cases, the right to have a case heard by a jury and the constitution's equal protection clause.

Tom Kline receives award for lifetime achievements

Tom Kline was honored as a recipient of a Lifetime Achievement Award by The Legal Intelligencer, a recognition of "the figures who have helped to shape the law in Pennsylvania ... and who have had a distinct impact on the legal profession in the state." In an article, the nation’s oldest daily law journal noted it selected a group of currently practicing attorneys and judges to honor those who had an impact on the legal profession in Pennsylvania. It stated: “We feel these attorneys represent the best the Pennsylvania legal community has to offer. They have collectively moved forward the legal profession in the state, helped foster the legal education of younger attorneys and stood as examples of some of the best virtues of Pennsylvania attorneys.” Kline will be honored at a dinner on May 29.

Suits filed against landlord, Kohl’s

Shanin Specter and Dominic Guerrini filed suit recently against the owner and landlord of a Center City apartment building where one man was killed and a young woman suffered a broken back when a fire escape landing collapsed, causing them to plummet more than 40 feet to the ground. The suit was filed on behalf of the family of Albert Suh, 22, a recent graduate of Pennsylvania State University who worked as a financial analyst, and Laura O’Brien, 24, a Philadelphia kindergarten teacher. The incident occurred on Jan. 12 in the Rittenhouse section of the city. (See news coverage)

In another case, Tom Kline and Kila Baldwin filed suit against Kohl’s department stores on behalf of a six-year-old boy who was blinded in one eye and suffered a brain injury after he struck the end of a display hook in a Wilkes-Barre, Pa. store. The lawsuit claims there were no signs or bright colors warning about the dangerous nature of the hooks, which were placed at children’s eye level. It noted two similar injuries in the past in Kohl’s stores. Store display hooks generally have been a subject of concern for many years, with the National Safety Council first warning in 1974 that they can be “extremely dangerous.” Yet many stores still use them. (Read the article)

Charitable giving by Kline & Specter lawyers

Kline & Specter and its attorneys contribute to a long list of legal, educational and charitable organizations, including those providing legal assistance to the disadvantage and those simply helping less fortunate individuals, many of them victims similar to those represented by the law firm. Recipients range from the AIDS Law Project to the American Cancer Society and the Boys and Girls Clubs of Philadelphia to United Cerebral Palsy, the University of Pennsylvania Law School and the Wellness Community. Click here to see a complete list of Kline & Specter charities.

Live from New York, it’s Saturday morning …

Syndicated radio host Michael Smerconish, of counsel at Kline & Specter, is joining CNN for a new weekly television show to air on Saturday mornings and to provide commentary throughout the week for the news network. Smerconish will continue to host his radio show on Sirius XM and also write his weekly column for The Philadelphia Inquirer. The new CNN show will be broadcast live from New York. CNN Worldwide president Jeff Zucker said: “We are thrilled to have Michael join CNN. At a time when the cable news landscape has become increasingly polarized, his independence and passion for reasoned dialogue makes him the perfect fit for CNN.” Smerconish has done previous stints on TV, most notably as guest host for Chris Matthews on the MSNBC program Hardball.

PUC spurred by Goretzka case to start new investigative division

Positive developments, set in motion by Shanin Specter, continued in the wake of the historic $109 million verdict for the family of a Pittsburgh-area woman killed by a fallen power line. First, a few months after the verdict, defendant West Penn Power agreed to end the case with a settlement of $105 million. Then the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission approved a remediation plan under which the power company will use infra-red technology to inspect all splices on power lines to detect potential failures while also retraining all linemen on proper installation. And recently, as an outgrowth of Goretzka v. West Penn Power, the PUC announced the formation of its new Electric Safety Division, which will employ engineers to investigate reported electrical injuries rather than rely solely on reports by utility companies. The Goretzka case was litigated by Shanin Specter, Kila Baldwin and Dominic Guerrini.

Movie tells “Happy Valley” story, Kline featured

Tom Kline has appeared on some 1,000 television news programs, but now he makes his debut on the silver screen. Kline is featured in the new documentary titled “Happy Valley” about the Penn State sexual-abuse scandal. The movie by documentarian Amir Bar-Lev premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in Utah in January. The movie looks at the case involving convicted sex offender Jerry Sandusky, a former assistant football coach, and also engulfed the school’s football program, the late Coach Joe Paterno, school administrators and, basically, the entire community of State College, Pa., also known as Happy Valley. Kline, who successfully represented Victim No. 5 in a civil lawsuit against Penn State, also attended the entire criminal trial against Sandusky and was a frequent commentator on the case. (See full news coverage)

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