Insight

Lawyers In the News 2017: Pennsylvania

Newsworthy highlights of lawyers from Pennsylvania.

Newsworthy Pennsylvania Attorneys
CC

Compiled by Tess Congo

March 15, 2017 10:47 AM

IN THE HEADLINES

Eisenberg Rothweiler Winkler Eisenberg & Jeck: Frederic S. Eisenberg (mass tort litigation / class actions – plaintiffs; medical malpractice law – plaintiffs; personal injury litigation – plaintiffs, 2013) and Daniel J. Sherry, Jr. (personal injury litigation – defendants, 2006), are representing Whitney Vanicky and Jeffrey Vanicky in a personal injury suit filed against Christmas Tree Shops, Inc., of Harrisburg. According to The Pennsylvania Record, the Vanickys purchased a jar from Christmas Tree Shops that Whitney Vanicky proceeded to paint, until it exploded in her hand, leaving her with permanent injuries “to the skin, bone, muscles, nerves, tendons, blood vessels, and other tissues in her right hand and wrist.” Considering strict liability, negligence, and loss of consortium, the plaintiffs are seeking compensation in excess of $50,000.

Harry S. Cohen & Associates: Harry S. Cohen (medical malpractice law – plaintiffs, 2007) and Todd D. Bowlus are representing David Kelly and Catherine Kelly in a complaint against Juno E. Varghese, M.D., Absolute Primary Care UPMC, University of Pittsburgh Physicians, and UPMC, alleging that David Kelly suffered unnecessarily due to negligence in medical care after failure to properly interpret his liver biopsy that showed early signs of liver cancer.

Pepper Hamilton: Vincent V. Carissimi (copyright law; litigation – intellectual property; litigation – trusts and estates; trademark law, 2013) and Noah S. Robbins are representing the music production companies Almo Music Corp., Bourne Co., Cromwell Music Inc., and Goo Eyed Music in a suit, citing alleged copyright infringement against a Bensalem restaurant operator.

Ross Feller Casey: Robert Ross (medical malpractice law – plaintiffs; personal injury litigation – plaintiffs; product liability litigation – plaintiffs, 2013) and Joshua Van Naarden are representing a widower who attributes his wife’s death from a subarachnoid hemorrhage to the medical malpractice of a local facility and its doctors.

Samuel J. Cordes & Associates: John E. Black III (employment law – individuals, 2010) and Samuel J. Cordes (employment law – individuals, 2001) are representing Andrew Voye against his former employer Ken Horn Plumbing for wrongful termination. Voye alleges that Ken Horn Plumbing terminated him as retaliation after he exercised his workers’ compensation rights to restricted duty following an injury.

ON THE MOVE

PRIVATE PRACTICE:

Blank Rome: Jonathan A. Clark (employment benefits [ERISA] law, 2011) and Andrew J. Rudolph (employee benefits [ERISA] law, 1995) join the firm as partners in the tax, benefits, and private client practice group. Both attorneys were previously with Pepper Hamilton LLP.

High Swartz: Eric B. Smith (litigation – land use and zoning, 2017) is the new president of the Montgomery Bar Association, the third largest bar association in Pennsylvania, comprised of more than 2,100 Montgomery County attorneys. Smith has been a member of the association since 1998 and has previously served as the organization’s vice president, treasurer, secretary, and director.

Stradley Ronon Stevens & Young: Michael J. Engle (criminal defense: general practice, 2015) has joined the firm as a partner in the Philadelphia office, coming from Greenblatt, Pierce, Engle, Funt & Flores.

ITN FEATURE

The Longest Civil Trial in Pennsylvania History Settles at $227 Million

After hearing more than four months of testimonies, Common Pleas Court Judge M. Teresa Sarmina relayed that the deadly Center City building collapse civil trial was the longest in Philadelphia court history. Plaintiff attorney Robert J. Mongeluzzi (personal injury litigation – plaintiffs, 2009) believes that the $227 million settlement may be the largest in Pennsylvania history, according to the Reading Eagle.

Richard Basciano, a New York real estate speculator, had hired Plato A. Marinakos Jr., a Center City architect who lacked extensive experience monitoring large commercial demolitions, to oversee the demolition of an empty Hoagie City building. Per Marinakos’ recommendation, Basciano also hired Griffin Campbell, an inexperienced and unlicensed contractor, and Campbell’s excavator operator, Sean Benschop. Trial testimony reveals that Basciano and his top aide, Thomas Simmonds, did not exercise due diligence when researching Marinakos, Benschop, and Campbell.

Despite receiving emails from Simmonds warning that the four-story Hoagie City building being demolished adjacent to the Salvation Army thrift store at 22nd and Market Streets posed "a threat to life and limb" of those in the area, the Salvation Army continued to keep its store open at that location. After the building’s collapse, the Salvation Army was sued for ignoring the warnings and for not informing workers and customers of potential peril. When questioned as to why the email from Simmonds went unheeded, Salvation Army officers testified that they did not believe Simmonds because of his history of hyperbolizing.

The unheeded warnings proved prophetic and the result catastrophic; on June 5, 2013, the Salvation Army store was crushed, killing seven people and severely injuring 12.

Mariya Plekan, a Ukrainian immigrant, was one of the 12 survivors and the one most likely to receive the most from the settlement, as she remained trapped under the rubble for 13 hours. According to NewsWorks, Plekan’s legs were amputated at the hip. "I still have trouble breathing," said Plekan who has had more than 30 surgeries as a result of the collapse. "I still need a lot of rehabilitation. There’s very little I can do for myself."

Plekan, who was 52 at the time of the building collapse, will need 24-hour nursing care for the rest of her life. The estimated cost for future medical expenses falls at $50 million.

The jury determined that the Salvation Army and Basciano would pay the $227 million settlement. With the Salvation Army’s liability insurance capped at $100 million, the balance of the settlement will come from the charity’s coffers. Campbell and Benschop each received prison sentences for their involvement: Campbell was sentenced to 15 to 30 years for involuntary manslaughter while Benschop received seven and a half to 15 years, pleading guilty to the same charges. Marinakos, who is believed to have exhausted his liability insurance, will pay none of the settlement despite also being found responsible. Neither Marinakos nor Basciano were criminally charged.

The settlement is to be divvied up among the 19 plaintiffs, family members of loved ones lost during the building’s collapse, and the injured. The attorneys representing the plaintiffs include Mongeluzzi, Larry Bendesky (personal injury litigation – plaintiffs; product liability litigation – plaintiffs, 2009), Andrew R. Duffy, and Jeffrey P. Goodman from Saltz Mongeluzzi Barrett & Bendesky; Steven G. Wigrizer (medical malpractice law – plaintiffs; product liability litigation – plaintiffs, 2014) and Jason S. Weiss (personal injury litigation – plaintiffs, 2017) from Wapner, Newman, Wigrizer, Brecher & Miller; Andrew J. Stern (medical malpractice law – plaintiffs; personal injury litigation – plaintiffs; product liability litigation – plaintiffs, 2008) and Elizabeth Crawford from Kline & Specter; Harry M. Roth (personal injury litigation – plaintiffs, 2008) and James G. Begley from Cohen, Placitella & Roth; Joseph M. Marrone (medical malpractice law – plaintiffs; personal injury litigation – plaintiffs, 2016), Brian M. Marchese (medical malpractice – plaintiffs, 2016), Michael D. Pomerantz, and Keith West of the Marrone Law Firm; Adam E. Grutzmacher of Clearfield, Gaber & Kofsky; Jonathan M. Cohen (personal injury litigation – plaintiffs, 2015); James D. Golkow of Golkow Hessel, LLC; and Bernard Smalley Sr. and Jasmine Johnson of Tucker Law Group. Richard A. Sprague (arbitration; criminal defense: general practice; First Amendment law; legal malpractice law – defendants; legal malpractice law – plaintiffs, 1983) and his son Thomas A. Sprague from Sprague & Sprague were among the attorneys for the defendants.

Trending Articles

Presenting The Best Lawyers in Australia™ 2025


by Best Lawyers

Best Lawyers is proud to present The Best Lawyers in Australia for 2025, marking the 17th consecutive year of Best Lawyers awards in Australia.

Australia flag over outline of country

How To Find A Pro Bono Lawyer


by Best Lawyers

Best Lawyers dives into the vital role pro bono lawyers play in ensuring access to justice for all and the transformative impact they have on communities.

Hands joined around a table with phone, paper, pen and glasses

How Palworld Is Testing the Limits of Nintendo’s Legal Power


by Gregory Sirico

Many are calling the new game Palworld “Pokémon GO with guns,” noting the games striking similarities. Experts speculate how Nintendo could take legal action.

Animated figures with guns stand on top of creatures

Announcing The Best Lawyers in New Zealand™ 2025 Awards


by Best Lawyers

Best Lawyers is announcing the 16th edition of The Best Lawyers in New Zealand for 2025, including individual Best Lawyers and "Lawyer of the Year" awards.

New Zealand flag over image of country outline

Announcing The Best Lawyers in Japan™ 2025


by Best Lawyers

For a milestone 15th edition, Best Lawyers is proud to announce The Best Lawyers in Japan.

Japan flag over outline of country

The Best Lawyers in Singapore™ 2025 Edition


by Best Lawyers

For 2025, Best Lawyers presents the most esteemed awards for lawyers and law firms in Singapore.

Singapore flag over outline of country

Announcing the 16th Edition of the Best Lawyers in Germany Rankings


by Best Lawyers

Best Lawyers announces the 16th edition of The Best Lawyers in Germany™, featuring a unique set of rankings that highlights Germany's top legal talent.

German flag in front of country's outline

How Much Is a Lawyer Consultation Fee?


by Best Lawyers

Best Lawyers breaks down the key differences between consultation and retainer fees when hiring an attorney, a crucial first step in the legal process.

Client consulting with lawyer wearing a suit

Presenting the 2024 Best Lawyers Employment and Workers’ Compensation Legal Guide


by Best Lawyers

The 2024 Best Lawyers Employment and Workers' Compensation Legal Guide provides exclusive access to all Best Lawyers awards in related practice areas. Read below and explore the legal guide.

Illustration of several men and women in shades of orange and teal

Things to Do Before a Car Accident Happens to You


by Ellie Shaffer

In a car accident, certain things are beyond the point of no return, while some are well within an individual's control. Here's how to stay legally prepared.

Car dashcam recording street ahead

Combating Nuclear Verdicts: Empirically Supported Strategies to Deflate the Effects of Anchoring Bias


by Sloan L. Abernathy

Sometimes a verdict can be the difference between amicability and nuclear level developments. But what is anchoring bias and how can strategy combat this?

Lawyer speaking in courtroom with crowd and judge in the foreground

Attacked From All Sides: What Is Happening in the World of Restrictive Covenants?


by Christine Bestor Townsend

One employment lawyer explains how companies can navigate challenges of federal and state governmental scrutiny on restrictive covenant agreements.

Illustration of two men pulling on string with blue door between them

The Push and Pitfalls of New York’s Attempt to Expand Wrongful Death Recovery


by Elizabeth M. Midgley and V. Christopher Potenza

The New York State Legislature recently went about updating certain wrongful death provisions and how they can be carried out in the future. Here's the latest.

Red tape blocking off a section of street

Georgia Proposes Law Requiring Parental Consent for Minors on Social Media


by Gregory Sirico

With data collection on the rise, Georgia lawmakers are currently petitioning for Senate Bill 351, which would require a user's age before social media use.

Teenager with hood on using phone as notifications pop up

6 Ways a Lawyer Can Help You With Your Medical Malpractice Claim


by Adam Malone

If you believe you have a medical malpractice claim, contact an experienced medical malpractice lawyer. Read on to learn how they can help with your claim.

Doctor in white lab coat showing x-ray to patient in blue scrubs

Colorado Attorney General Calls For Cannabis Reclassification


by Gregory Sirico

In this article, Best Lawyers highlights a recent call to action by the Colorado state attorney general, requesting a full drug reclassification of cannabis.

Cannabis buds sitting on a checkerboard tabletop