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Drexel renames law school the Thomas R. Kline School of Law

At a ceremony attended by several hundred students, faculty and colleagues, Tom Kline unveiled a series of new letters installed on a steel and glass building at Drexel University – “The Thomas R. Kline School of Law.” The event followed a speech by Kline and the announcement of his donation of $50 million to the law school, money which will be used to build the best law school facilities in the country, hire top new faculty and provide scholarships to promising students with a vision of a nationally prominent law school. Included in Kline’s gift is the former Beneficial Saving Fund Society building at 12th and Chestnut Streets, just blocks from City Hall, the federal courthouse and the center of the legal community in Philadelphia. The Horace Trumbauer-designed monument building will be renovated to include a ceremonial courtroom and a variety of hi-tech instrumentation. It will be titled the Thomas R. Kline Institute for Trial Advocacy.

In its announcement, Drexel called Kline “one of the nation’s most respected and influential trial lawyers and a champion of the elevation of trial advocacy training for law students.” The donation was the largest single gift in Drexel’s history. “I’m proud that our law school will be forever associated with Tom Kline,” said Drexel President John A. Fry. “His commitment to Drexel will carry great significance for lawyers across America.” For Kline, from Hazleton, Pa., who was a sixth grade school teacher before deciding to attend law school, the donation marked the apex of a 35-year career as an attorney, the last 20 years at Kline & Specter. “This is a proud day for me. I never expected to be here. I’m very proud of the law firm we built but also of the work we do,” Kline said. Extolling the virtues and necessity of the legal profession, he quipped: “All I ask in return is a lot of great trial lawyers, some judges, a few United States Senators, and one President of the United States." See TV and newspaper coverage.


Delayed CPR nets $16 million settlement

Shanin Specter, Regan Safier and Gary Zakeosian obtained a $16 million settlement for a 57-year-old man who suffered brain damage due to an improperly managed ventricular fibrillation that occurred following bypass surgery. The patient, an endodontist, did fine during his operation at a Philadelphia hospital but two days later suffered V-fib caused by a clot from a bypass graft. Nurses present in the Cardiac Intensive Care Unit failed to administer CPR for six minutes while they waited for a doctor. When the doctor arrived, he was able to revive the patient but too late to prevent brain damage. Other details of the settlement were confidential.


Settlement of $10 million reached in refinery accident death

Shanin Specter and David Williams reached a $10 million settlement for the family of a mechanic who was crushed to death beneath a truck at a Philadelphia area refinery. The 21-year-old man was working underneath the truck when another employee got into the cab and started the vehicle’s engine. The truck moved in reverse and ran over the mechanic. The lawsuit alleged that the refinery failed to implement vehicle maintenance procedures in compliance with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. The employee who started the truck also testified in deposition that he had told his supervisor he was new at this type of work and felt uncomfortable doing the job. Additional details of the settlement were confidential.

Verdict vs. Parx stands, judge rules

A Philadelphia Common Pleas judge let stand a $7.8 million verdict won by Michael A. Trunk and Kristen Sipala for the family of a jockey who was trampled to death by a horse at the Parx Casino and Racetrack. The 2010 incident occurred after the horse was scared by a chicken on the track. Parx had allowed animals other than horses to roam the area but has since posted signs prohibiting the practice. The verdict was handed down last April. Attorneys for Parx had sought a new trial or judgment in the case. In one post-trial motion, they protested the use at trial of photos and a video taken 17 months after the incident showing chickens on the track. But Judge Albert J. Snite Jr. ruled the images were relevant in corroborating the testimony of plaintiff’s witnesses and debunking that of defense witnesses.

National Law Journal names Kline & Specter only “Elite” personal injury and whistleblower firm in region

The National Law Journal named Kline & Specter to its inaugural list of America’s Elite Trial Lawyers, a group it termed “the 50 leading plaintiffs firms in America.” The leading law journal said the firms, which were announced recently after a lengthy nomination and selection process, “possess an impressive track record of wins” over the past three to five years. Kline & Specter was the only firm concentrating in personal injury and whistleblower litigation to win the recognition in the Pennsylvania-New Jersey-Delaware region. The National Law Journal, a well-known weekly newspaper serving the legal community, noted that the firms chosen not only scored major courtroom victories but also helped “to reshape public policies or reform corporate behavior.” Among the considerations were verdicts and settlements obtained, the size of monetary resolutions, firm size, volume of cases and a law firm’s “willingness to take on large cases and to persevere in the face of adversity."

The Philadelphia Inquirer published an Op-Ed piece written by Shanin Specter headlined “Victims of medical negligence pay for reforms.” Specter noted the decline in medical malpractice lawsuits over the past 10 years – 68.3 percent in Philadelphia and 43.4 percent statewide – without a corresponding reduction in injuries and death due to medical error. The cause, he opined, is so-called “tort reform” which limits compensatory damages. Pennsylvania has no such cap but recent statutory and court rule changes have combined to sharply reduce claims and payments. And the result, which Specter termed a “silent crisis,” is fewer fairly compensated victims of medical negligence. (Read the complete article).

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Firm hired in Kraft shooting rampage case

Shanin Specter and Dominic Guerrini were hired to represent the families of two employees of Kraft Foods who were murdered when a disgruntled worker went on a shooting rampage at the company’s Northeast Philadelphia plant in 2010. The assailant, Yvonne Hiller, a disgruntled employee, was arrested and later convicted on two counts of first-degree murder and other charges. Killed in the incident were Latonya Brown and Tanya Wilson, while a third worker was wounded. The families are claiming in a civil suit that Hiller, who had been escorted out of the building but returned with a gun, got access to the victims because of the negligent and reckless conduct of security guards employed by U.S. Securities Associates. Trial is set to begin in the case on Dec. 1.

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