At the Locks Law Firm, we have obtained millions of dollars in personal injury verdicts and settlements on behalf of thousands of clients. Our team of 23 personal injury attorneys handles claims involving mesothelioma and other asbestos-related illnesses, dangerous pharmaceuticals, defective products, catastrophic personal injuries, medical malpractice, and auto accidents. With three conveniently located offices throughout the tri-state area — in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Cherry Hill, New Jersey; and Manhattan, New York — a personal injury lawyer at our firm can help you establish the liability of the party responsible for your suffering and obtain the financial compensation to which you are entitled. Contact the Locks Law Firm today to schedule a free consultation and case review.
Client Success Stories
Below are some of the many instances in which our clients have greatly benefited from the experience, dedication, and hard work of an attorney at our law offices in Manhattan, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania. Each personal injury lawyer at the Locks Law Firm brings that same commitment to every case we handle.
Class Action Victory for NY Tenants
Andrew P. Bell from Locks Law Firm and co-counsel gained approval from Southern District of New York Judge Lewis A. Kaplan for an order approving a plan submitted by Plaintiffs and the Class for distribution of a cy pres fund (a class action settlement fund) of approximately $1.2 million in White v. First Advantage SafeRent, Inc. (04 CV 01611). The funds have been distributed to The New York Bar Foundation, which will provide funding through its grant making program for projects to be conducted by The Legal Aid Society, Legal Services NYC, City-Wide Task Force on Housing Court, Neighborhood Economic Development Advocacy Project and the New York State Bar Association.
The case was brought in 2004 as a class action that alleged the defendant had issued thousands of tenant screening reports to prospective landlords that violated the Fair Credit Reporting Act, the New York Fair Credit Reporting Act and the New York Deceptive Practices Act by failing to accurately, completely and clearly disclose information about Housing Court cases brought against New York City tenants. Part of the settlement of the case, which was approved by Judge Kaplan, included the payment of damages, that ultimately will fund tenant screening and awareness programs.
These funds have been used to further the goal of increasing awareness of tenant screening and the duties and obligations under fair credit laws and will enable the recipient organizations to attend and conduct training programs; conduct outreach to community groups, tenants, and small property landlords; and create and distribute educational and training materials about tenant screening issues. The projects were conducted through joint efforts by the organizations and in an efficient and cost-effective manner.
Kiddie Kollege Victory for Children
A group of children, former students of a South Jersey daycare, who were exposed to mercury on a daily basis, were assured future medical screening thanks to Jim Pettit and Pamela Lee of the Locks Law Firm, and counsel from several other firms. Jim Pettit was the Court-Appointed Lead Counsel. The class sought medical monitoring and was not seeking personal injury damages.
The children all formerly attended Kiddie Kollege, a daycare situated in a former thermometer factory building that was contaminated with mercury. The children, who banded together in a class action law suit, will be entitled to medical monitoring in the form of neuropsychological testing, valued at $1.5 million. The testing will help the doctors and families of the children identify future illnesses and the information will be input into a database made available to the children's pediatrician and parents. Children are more susceptible to neurotoxins than are adults.
The successful verdict for the children was the result of a 5 week bench trial before Judge James Rafferty in Woodbury, New Jersey, after 4 long years of hard-fought litigation.
Other defendants offered settlements to the victims before the verdict, including $965,000 from the real estate individuals and agencies in the first week of trial and $950,000 from the County of Gloucester just minutes before the verdict was delivered.
Liability was proportioned among the defendants as follows: State of NJ (10%), County of Gloucester (20%), Township of Franklin (35%), and the Sullivan defendants (real estate individuals and agencies) (35%). The State and the Township, therefore, are still on the hook.
The case was a further victory because of helpful legal rulings on the lack of Tort Claims Act immunity for the governmental defendants, which will assist future plaintiffs in their claims against negligent public entities.
Locks Law Firm's Michael Galpern Achieves Nationwide Settlement of Staples Wage and Hour Cases
Michael Galpern of the Locks Law Firm, LLC, as co-lead counsel of the Multi-District Litigation (“MDL”), finalized a global settlement agreement between Staples, Inc. and its assistant store managers concerning wage and hour lawsuits that involved the alleged misclassification of those assistant store managers who sought overtime pay for hours worked in excess of 40 hours per week. Plaintiffs contended that overtime pay was required by the Fair Labor Standards Act and the laws of certain states.
Under the global settlement, Staples agreed to pay $42 million to resolve the allegations and end the litigation that has been ongoing for the past several years. Mr. Galpern and plaintiffs' co-counsel previously obtained a $4.9 million judgment against Staples, Inc. on February 19, 2009 on behalf of 343 Staples' assistant sales managers against Staples after a month and half long jury trial in the United States District Court in New Jersey (Stillman v. Staples, Inc., 07-cv-849, D.N.J.). As part of the settlement, Staples also agreed to drop its appeal of that judgment.
That case and 11 other cases were centralized in the United Stated District Court for the District of New Jersey as part of a MDL. The settlement amount resolved claims for damages dating back as far as 2002 for some of the settlement class members and covered more than 5,000 current and former associates from all states in which Staples does business outside of California.
Plaintiffs and their counsel believe the settlement to be an excellent result for the present and former Staples assistant managers because the settlement provided a definite and sure recovery long before any possible payment could have been achieved through continued litigation. The settlement avoided the possibility of adverse rulings or even no recovery at all.
Locks Law Firm has represented thousands of employees over the past decade in law suits against employers for failure to pay overtime wages and for improperly classifying their employees as exempt from federal and state overtime requirements. The Firm has offices in Philadelphia and New York City, and in Cherry Hill and Englewood Cliffs in New Jersey. Please visit our website, www.lockslaw.com, for more information about our Firm.
$550,000 Recovered after Truck Accident
Karl Friedrichs and Mike Galpern successfully recovered $550,000 for a 29 year-old pick-up truck driver and automobile salesman in Camden who sustained a closed head injury after a tractor-trailer made a left turn into his path. The injuries to the truck driver included permanent tinnitus - cognitive deficits involving memory and concentration - and lumbar and cervical herniations.
Lawn Tractor Manufacturer Settles for Confidential Amount
Partner Marc P. Weingarten and attorney Mary H. Grabish Gaffney recently settled the case of Robert Cooper, Deceased v. MTD Products, Inc. and Bull International, Inc. Mr. Cooper was mowing the large lawn of a friend using a Zero Turning Radius (ZTR) lawn tractor manufactured by MTD and sold by Bull. The tractor turned over while on an incline and it landed on top of Mr. Cooper, who was suffocated to death. There were no witnesses. Marc and Mary filed suit in state court in Philadelphia.
The theory of liability was that the tractor was defectively manufactured because it did not have a roll bar or seat belt. Marc and Mary offered, through expert engineering and product design witnesses, that if such protection had been provided, Mr. Cooper may well have walked away from the accident. The accident occurred in Fayette County in western Pennsylvania and the defendants tried four separate times to move the case out of Philadelphia, but Marc and Mary were successful in keeping it here.
Mr. Cooper was survived by his wife Janet, who brought suit under the Pennsylvania Wrongful Death and Survival Statutes on behalf of herself and her husband’s estate. Mr. Cooper was a retired coal miner, aged 72 at the time of his death.
The case was called to jury trial before Judge Paul Panepinto. Just prior to the selection of the jury, the retailer, Bull, settled. The manufacturer, MTD, settled the case just after jury selection for an amount which it has requested be kept confidential.
Over $1 Million Awarded in Recent Mesothelioma Cases
Marc P. Weingarten, a partner in the Philadelphia office of Locks Law and Joseph M. McGill, a senior associate in that office, recently were successful in the jury trials in Philadelphia state court for two gentlemen who tragically died of mesothelioma. The cases were tried together, in a consolidated manner, before one jury. One man died of mesothelioma at the age of 93 and was awarded $492,000. The other gentleman died of mesothelioma at the age of 63 and was awarded $732,000.
These trials were unique because the only exposure they had to asbestos was in the installation and repair of automobile brakes and clutches. These so-called “friction defendants” have a scorched earth policy of never settling cases, although in these cases they offered each plaintiff $100,000 to settle before the trial began. The 93-year-old victim was able to prove his case against Bendix and the other gentleman proved his case against Borg-Warner.
The defendants claimed that the type of asbestos in their products could not cause asbestos and that the plaintiffs would not have been exposed to sufficient quantities of their product to cause any disease, but the jury believed the testimony of the expert witnesses called to testify by Marc and Joe and found for the plaintiffs.
$1.2 Million Class Action Settlement Fund Established
Partner Andrew Bell has helped secure a cy pres fund (a class action settlement fund) of approximately $1.2 million in White v. First Advantage SafeRent, Inc. The case was brought in 2004 as a class action that alleged the defendant had issued thousands of tenant screening reports to prospective landlords that violated the Fair Credit Reporting Act, the New York Fair Credit Reporting Act and the New York Deceptive Practices Act by failing to accurately, completely and clearly disclose information about Housing Court cases brought against New York City tenants. Part of the settlement of the case, which was approved by Judge Kaplan, included the payment of damages, that ultimately will fund tenant screening and awareness programs.
LOCKS LAW FIRM OBTAINS $2.5 MILLION IN JURY VERDICT AGAINST STAPLES, INC.
The Locks Law Firm recently served as lead counsel in a case in which a New Jersey federal court awarded almost $2.5 million against Staples Inc. (NasdaqGS: SPLS) to 342 Staples’ Sales Managers in a case brought under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). Following a six week trial, the jury unanimously determined that Staples had failed to comply with the law in classifying the Sales Managers as exempt under the Act and failing to pay them overtime. The jury also found that Staples had acted willfully in violating the FLSA. This is the first FLSA jury verdict in New Jersey, and one of the first in the country where a jury agreed that an employer willfully violated the FLSA. Staples’ liability could be increased next month when the Court will be hearing Plaintiffs’ application for the imposition of liquidated damages in an amount equal to the jury verdict and for attorneys’ costs and fees. The case was the first of several collective and class action lawsuits against Staples for misclassification of store managers that are now pending in federal courts. Plaintiffs’ counsel plan to move those other cases to trial on behalf of the rest of Staples’ managers.
Medical Negligence and Medical Malpractice
Joe McGill tried a medical malpractice case in Pennsylvania Federal Court and won a verdict of 3.6 million dollars. The plaintiff, age 55, was treated in the emergency room of a county hospital and was discharged without specific treatment for myocardial infarction. This occurred because two EKG’s which reflected a significant elevation were misread and critical blood tests showing elevated cardiac enzyme levels and troponin levels which were not communicated to the physicians in charge of the plaintiff before discharge.
The result was that the Plaintiff suffered permanent myocardial damage, an extended hospital stay, aggravation of his previously dormant diabetes, a-fibrillation, shock liver, kidney failure and various other complications which included a shortened life expectancy.
The result was that the Plaintiff suffered permanent myocardial damage, an extended hospital stay, aggravation of his previously dormant diabetes, a-fibrillation, shock liver, kidney failure and various other complications which included a shortened life expectancy.
The $3.6 million verdict included an award of $675,000.00 for loss of consortium.
Steven Knowlton achieved a seven figure settlement for a client who suffered a debilitating stroke as a result of the use of an over-the-counter cough cold preparation that contained the now banned substance, phenylpropanolamine, or PPA. While working, our client used a single recommended dose of the medication for a runny nose and cough. Two hours later, suffering the “worst headache of my life” our client was taken to the hospital where the diagnosis of a cerebral hemorrhage was determined after diagnostic testing. Despite extensive and aggressive rehabilitation, and the attitude of a warrior, our client was left disabled. After 4 years of litigation and within 6 weeks of jury selection a settlement was reached.
Locks Law Firm partner and Pennsylvania personal injury attorney Marc P. Weingarten represented a client who took a drug manufactured by a major pharmaceutical company to treat gastrointestinal problems. Her use of the drug caused bowel impaction so severe that much of her intestine and rectum had to be surgically removed. After a year of litigation, the manufacturer settled the case and was so concerned about the amount of the settlement that they requested the details be kept secret.
Medical Malpractice/Failure to Diagnose a Spinal Abscess
Tom Gowen, Locks Law Firm's partner and Pennsylvania personal injury attorney, obtained a substantial settlement for a client who presented to the emergency room three times and his family doctor twice over the course of a week with severe pain in his neck. None of them ordered an emergent MRI and instead prescribed pain medications and muscle relaxants, calling the condition neck strain. Eight hours after the last appointment, he fell over quadriplegic. When taken to the hospital, it was determined by MRI that he had a spinal abscess which was surgically drained. He did regain the use of his limbs after a year of intensive physical therapy, but continues to suffer from neurogenic pain. Mr. Gowen successfully argued that the doctors failed to make a differential diagnosis and rule out potentially serious causes of the severe pain before making a diagnosis of garden variety neck pain.
Our Pennsylvania firm's partner and personal injury attorney Jerry A. Lindheim successfully settled a medical negligence matter involving the failure of a surgeon to report malignant pathology results to the patient after a surgical procedure. The physician removed the patient's gallbladder, but did not inform him and his family that he found cancer in the removed organ. The man did not have the opportunity to receive timely cancer treatment that could have prolonged his life. The cancer soon spread to his chest cavity, and the man died. Mr. Lindheim recovered a substantial settlement for the man's widow and children.
Failure to Diagnose an Emerging Stroke
A client of attorney Tom Gowen came to the hospital in Norristown, Pennsylvania on three separate occasions complaining of severe headaches, which the doctors called a migraine. On the fourth occasion, within two weeks after a doctor had told her family to keep her home and give her pain medication, her family brought her to the hospital, at which time she had some focal neurological signs. Finally, a CT scan of the brain was ordered and large white spots appeared indicating bleeding into the brain. An MRI confirmed that the bleeding had occurred at different times over the prior several weeks. Mr. Gowen argued that his client suffered permanent brain damage as a result of the failure of the doctors to make a differential diagnosis and to use the tools at their disposal, including a CT Scan and an MRI, to make an accurate diagnosis before damage to the brain occurred. A substantial recovery was made for the plaintiff in this case.
New Jersey partner and personal injury lawyer, Jim Pettit, a certified civil trial attorney, has successfully handled multiple cases involving serious injury caused by prescription drugs. He was also a lead trial counsel in the Vioxx litigation.
Among the numerous significant pharmaceutical cases that he has handled, Mr. Pettit represented the family of a woman who ingested certain drugs and later suffered serious medical problems necessitating surgery. She subsequently died. Mr. Pettit sued the maker of the drugs and built a case demonstrating that the drugs caused the plaintiff's injuries and ultimate death, despite vigorous opposition from the defense. Mr. Pettit was able to negotiate a settlement of $5.5 million.
He also achieved a $3 million settlement in another case against a major drug company after his client suffered a serious medical problem as a result of taking the company's prescription medication.
Failure to Diagnose Renal Insufficiency
New Jersey personal injury attorney, Mike Galpern settled a medical malpractice matter for $700,000 as a jury was ready to be selected for trial on behalf of a 31-year-old woman, who had begun treating with primary care physician three years before. She had a family history of kidney disease. The family physician ordered routine blood work as part of his care. Mr. Galpern also was sent the results of blood work in his role as the plaintiff's attending physician when the plaintiff was hospitalized on several occasions for various reasons. The lab results of the blood work showed a consistent pattern of progressive renal insufficiency. Despite this pattern of worsening renal insufficiency, the doctor failed to diagnose the plaintiff's renal insufficiency, failed to order appropriate tests, and failed to discuss various treatment options for her. More specifically, he failed to inform her of the renal insufficiency for over a year subsequent to his own recognition of her condition, and admitted that his delay contributed to a progression of her kidney disease.
Unfortunately, the plaintiff was diagnosed with renal failure after being hospitalized three years after beginning treatment with the defendant doctor. As a result of the delay by the defendant, the plaintiff's kidney function deteriorated to the point where she required immediate dialysis and has been undergoing dialysis three times per week ever since.
Mike Galpern has successfully handled several significant podiatric malpractice cases. In one case, the plaintiff, a 58-year-old woman, sued her podiatrist after an improperly performed bunion surgery left her with permanent, severe pain and an inability to walk any distance. Due to the plaintiff overcompensating when she walked, she developed a problem with her right knee, leading to the need for knee replacement surgery. The plaintiff's treating orthopedist who performed the knee replacement confirmed that the surgery was necessitated by the negligent bunion surgery. The case settled after the matter was scheduled for trial and before opening statements.
In another case, the plaintiff, a 53-year-old woman, suffered a raised toe deformity of her second toe after an improperly performed bunion surgery. A second surgery was necessary to correct the deformity and included placing a screw in the plaintiff's foot. The parties settled after going to mediation before a retired judge.
Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy
New Jersey personal injury attorney, Mike Galpern, successfully resolved a podiatric malpractice case that led to reflex sympathetic dystrophy also known as complex regional pain syndrome. The plaintiff underwent hammertoe surgery on her left foot. During subsequent postoperative visits with the doctor, she repeatedly complained of severe pain and burning in her left foot. The doctor ignored those complaints and proceeded with the surgery on her right foot on January 8, 1998. As a result of the doctor's failure to heed her complaints of pain and burning, Plaintiff subsequently developed Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy Syndrome and is now completely disabled by her illness. Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy (RSD) is a chronic pain disease. In addition to burning pain, other symptoms of this disease include swelling, color and temperature abnormalities in the affected part, unusual sweating, and nail changes.
Mr. Galpern's client was employed by the state of New Jersey for 18 years as a secretarial assistant at a youth correctional facility. She was forced to apply for early retirement and was later approved for Social Security Disability because of this painful injury. At trial, expert physicians testified that the Plaintiff's injuries were due to the Defendant doctor's failure to recognize the development of chronic regional pain syndrome, failing to seek early treatment, and performing the surgical procedure on the right extremity. After two weeks of testimony, Michael Galpern was able to successfully negotiate a settlement in the amount of $500,000.
Failure to Diagnose Deep Vein Thrombosis
Mike A. Galpern recently settled a medical malpractice case against an oncologist. His client had begun treating for breast cancer with, an oncologist. Plaintiff underwent chemotherapy under the direction this cancer specialist and was to begin radiation treatments. On several occasions, she complained to her doctor of shortness of breath and leg pain. The doctor ignored those complaints and continued treatment. She continued to complain of the symptoms and finally the doctor scheduled her for testing at the hospital. The following day while she was en route to the hospital the plaintiff collapsed and died of an undiagnosed blood clot known as a deep vein thrombosis, or pulmonary embolism.
The defendant's insurance company presented two expert witnesses at trial, one of whom testified that the doctor acted appropriately, the other who testified that she had a pre-existing 5 cm breast cancer with positive lymph nodes and thus had only a 20-30% chance of surviving anyway. Mr. Galpern negotiated a $500,000 settlement for the plaintiff during trial.
Failure to Diagnose Child Abuse
The infant dependent of an Air Force recruit was taken to the medical providers at a major Air Force base with unexplained signs of bleeding from the mouth, and a tear in the posterior pharynx and soft pallet. Doctors on another visit also noticed blood in the baby's diaper. At six months of age while with his father, the baby was reported to have swallowed a toy and could not breathe. By the time medics removed the toy with a hemostat, the baby had been anoxic for seven minutes. Taken to a major Philadelphia hospital at this point, the child abuse protocol was done and found seven fractured ribs in remote stages of healing. The baby was catastrophically brain damaged.
Locks Law Firm partner Tom Gowen brought a claim for the baby under the Federal Tort Claims Act against the United States. The claim was for failure to diagnose and report child abuse when confronted with an unexplained injury in the mouth and throat, six months before the ultimate catastrophic injury was caused. Medical experts recognizing the critical need to interrupt the cycle of child abuse when it presents with unexplained injuries before those injuries progress to catastrophic. Mr. Gowen and his co-counsel, Robert Bokelman, were able to obtain a seven figure settlement for the infant for the failure to diagnose child abuse. The claim was brought under the Federal Tort Claims Act in federal court in California.
Failure to Diagnose and Properly Treat Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma
A failure to diagnose and properly treat non-Hodgkins lymphoma resulted in a $500,000 verdict for the estate of a Montgomery County man where the treating oncologist argued with the radiologist that the condition had not transformed from an indolent lymphoma to an aggressive lymphoma. As a result the oncologist reduced the chemotherapy regimen resulting in recurrence of the tumor and spread to distant parts of the body resulting in debilitating salvage treatment and ultimate death from the disease.
Surgical Site Infection
A woman underwent a hernia repair in which supportive mesh was inserted. Subsequent to the surgery, the woman experienced fever, purulent drainage, pain, and redness – all telltale signs of infection. Despite these red flags, the surgeon failed to simply culture the wound, and the woman went without proper treatment. The infection spread throughout her body, and she required multiple corrective surgeries. Pennsylvania personal injury attorney Jerry A. Lindheim successfully negotiated substantial compensation for the woman's medical expenses, pain, and suffering.
Negligent Laparoscopic Cholesystectomy
Modern medicine has provided the means of removing the gall bladder through a small incision, which if done properly, results in shorter hospital stays, less pain for the patient and quicker recovery. However, particularly when the gall bladder is inflamed, the surgeon at times fails to properly identify the structures which he is cutting and a serious situation develops. Locks Law Firm partner and personal injury attorney Tom Gowen represented a 65 year old man who had his gall bladder removed laparoscopically but the surgeon cut the bile duct and failed to fix it before closing. After the patients condition deteriorated for over a week, the surgeon recognized that he had cut the duct and emergency surgery performed by a liver transplant team was necessary. Mr. Gowen obtained a high six figure settlement for the client in this case.
Failure to Diagnose and Treat a Nosocomial Infection
Public awareness of hospital-based infections is on the rise, particularly in Pennsylvania where the Commonwealth is requiring the reporting of statistics on these infections by the hospital. Our law firm's partner and attorney Tom Gowen was able to obtain a sizable settlement for a client who underwent spinal surgery and contracted an intra-operative staff infection. The patient's husband called the doctor's office and reported drainage from the wound on four occasions, but the nurse did not give the message to the doctor and told the patient's husband to treat it at home. Eventually the wound opened and led to multiple additional surgeries to debride the wound and eventually to remove the spinal hardware. It was recognized on cross examination of the defendant's infectious disease expert that the best chance to treat a staph infection when hardware is placed in the body is at the earliest possible time. The failure of the nurse to bring the patient back to the hospital and have the doctors intervene promptly with aggressive antibiotic treatment resulted in significant suffering and removal of the spinal hardware.
A gentleman underwent gallbladder surgery during which the surgeon negligently cut the bile duct, causing copious amounts of foul drainage to contaminate his body and cause infection in his abdominal cavity. A relatively simple procedure escalated into a surgical repair and extended hospitalization. Despite an obviously negligent surgical performance, the surgeon dismissed the wife and children's emotional concern for their father, husband, and provider. Such arrogance facilitated a substantial settlement for the man and his family.
Locks Law Firm partner Jerry A. Lindheim successfully negotiated a settlement on behalf of an elderly woman. A pharmacy negligently dispensed a cancer drug with toxic and lethal effects instead of the medication her physician prescribed. Because the two medicines had similar appearance, the elderly woman unknowingly took the toxic medication. After several days of consuming the drug, the woman collapsed, and her children found her in a comatose state. Fortunately, after prolonged hospitalization and extensive medical intervention, the woman was nursed back to health. Mr. Lindheim was able to negotiate a substantial settlement to cover the hospital charges and to compensate her for pain, suffering, and other losses.
Pennsylvania personal injury lawyer Jerry A. Lindheim settled a case against a major drug company in which his client took a prescription medication and suffered a hemorrhagic stroke. Mr. Lindheim successfully defeated a motion to dismiss the action because of restrictive statute of limitations and statute of repose. Thereafter, the case settled in excess of $1 million. Mr. Lindheim settled multiple cases against pharmaceutical companies for over-the-counter medications causing hemorrhagic strokes in excess of $2 million.
Defectively Designed Fuel System
Steve Knowlton recently achieved a multi-million dollar settlement for our client who was severely burned when the car she was driving was struck from behind and exploded. The case was brought in 1998 against a major auto manufacturer alleging that the post collision fuel fed fire (PCFFF) was the result of a defectively designed fuel system. Expert analysis of the wreckage of the car revealed that the gas tank was driven into the drive shaft of the vehicle causing it to split and spill gas, resulting in a fire that claimed the lives of three other passengers and caused severe burns to our client, the driver. After nearly eight years of litigation, the review of over 3 million pages of documents, some of which revealed that the manufacturer clearly knew of the risk of this exact defect, and the review of tens of thousands of hours of crash test videos, the auto manufacturer agreed to settle the case---requiring complete confidentiality.
One of the most common causes of accidental injury in the United States are falls from ladders. Locks Law Firm's Jerry A. Lindheim has represented clients who were injured in falls from extension ladders, step ladders, job built ladders, and rope ladders. In one case, he obtained a substantial settlement for a nuclear coatings inspector who suffered a serious back injury when a rope ladder that had failed and been repaired with duct tape by a contractor was put back in service and then failed again when he was ascending it through a narrow shaft in a nuclear power plant.
In another case, he obtained a settlement for a client who suffered a brain injury when a thirty-foot extension ladder telescoped while he was climbing it. Through extensive analysis of the ladder and the scene and testing of the ladder, Tom Gowen and the expert he retained were able to demonstrate the failure mode of the ladder and the means to prevent such failures in future designs.
Additionally, he has represented workers who have fallen from scaffolding lacking OSHA-required guard rail and improperly constructed scaffolding resulting in serious injuries.
When racing to raise the level of masonry scaffolding on a construction project in New Jersey, a contractor's employees failed to place the necessary supports under the corner pieces of masonry scaffolding at the fifth story. The plaintiff, a master bricklayer, suffered severe fractures of the heel, leg and pelvis when he stepped on the corner piece while returning to work. He fell five stories onto the ground. A significant settlement was obtained after the negligence of the contractor was proved and the defense was persuaded that New Jersey law should apply to the case, even though the contractor and the plaintiff were both from Pennsylvania.
Backyard trampolines are among the most dangerous pieces of recreational equipment on the market today and most homeowners who buy them for their children don't realize it. The industry attempts to shift responsibility for all injuries onto the homeowner through standards that require unrealistic levels of adult supervision and which do not require the mandatory use of enclosures or effective warnings. Locks Law Firm lawyer Tom Gowen represented a 14-year-old boy who was playing catch on a trampoline with two friends. As the boys bounced on the 15-foot trampoline surface, Mr. Gowen's client was struck in the eye while coming down by the elbow of one of his friends who was going up on the same trampoline. There was no adult supervision present in the backyard at the time and the homeowner did not realize that more than one child should never be allowed to jump on a trampoline at a time. Mr. Gowen's client suffered a fractured orbital bone, which entrapped a muscle in the eye and has caused permanent double vision. He obtained a substantial settlement against the homeowner with contribution from the manufacturer.
In another trampoline case, the United States District Court for the District of Maryland agreed with Mr. Gowen's position in a trampoline case and denied motions of both the manufacturer and the homeowner to dismiss his case, which led to settlement for his client. The court wrote an excellent opinion at Celmer v. Jumpking and Zacharia 2006 U.S. Dist. Ct. Lexis 34104, 2006 WL 1520689. Mr. Gowen asserted that the manufacturer had failed to provide an enclosure for the trampoline to prevent someone from being thrown off, that it failed to adequately warn against multiple jumpers, and that it unreasonably placed the burden of injury prevention on the homeowner. The homeowner was not trained in trampoline injury prevention or gymnastics and did not realize that more than one jumper at a time should never be allowed to jump or that the industry expects competent adult supervision to be present at the trampoline whenever in use. Both the manufacturer and homeowner contributed to the settlement of the case.
Failure to Guard or Warn
Tom Gowen, our Pennsylvania personal injury lawyer, represented burn victims who were covered with melted plastic and rubber which erupted from a plastic injection molder in once case and an extruder in the other. In neither case were the machines equipped with pressure relief valves and the plastic injection molder lacked a lock on the view plate which blew off the machine when gases from the melting of the plastic inside expanded rapidly do to a clog down line in the machine. Both men suffered facial and upper body burns when they were coated with molten plastic and rubber. Settlements were obtained from the machine manufacturers.
Personal injury lawyer Jerry A. Lindheim was able to obtain insurance coverage on behalf of an injured client and ultimately settled a conveyor belt accident claim for the full limits of the insurance policy, in addition to obtaining excess damages for bad faith in denying insurance coverage.
Diving Board Accident
Personal injury lawyer Jerry A. Lindheim successfully settled a claim on behalf of a man who was injured due to an excessive oscillation of a diving board at a home swimming pool. During the case, Mr. Lindheim retained an expert to inspect the board. Mr. Lindheim discovered that, in anticipation of the expert inspection, the home owner had switched the diving board on which Mr. Lindheim's client was injured with another one. Due to the spoliation of evidence and threat of sanctions and punitive damages, Mr. Lindheim was able to obtain the full policy limits for his client.
Propane Gas Explosion
Locks Law Firm partner and Pennsylvania personal injury attorney Tom Gowen was lead counsel representing six men who were badly burned when a propane gas canister brought into a truck repair garage during the winter ruptured at a weak weld and sprayed the contained gas toward an open flame space heater attached to the ceiling of the truck repair garage. The resulting explosion caused severe burns to two men and moderate burns to four others.
Mr. Gowen was able to demonstrate that the propane tank had been overfilled, that the filler for the company selling the gas did not know the limits of the canister and that the driver of the delivery truck did not know that he was required to remove gas canisters before taking the truck indoors for repairs to avoid gas expansion and rupture of the tank when the canisters were exposed to higher indoor temperatures in the winter. A settlement of $6.5 million dollars was agreed upon prior to trial in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania.
Failed Medical Device
Steve Knowlton recently achieved a six-figure settlement of a lawsuit brought on behalf of a 56-year-old woman who underwent four surgeries to correct damage caused by a faulty hip implant. The device had been in place for almost six years when the plaintiff began to experience pain and other symptoms that required medical attention. Her orthopedist determined that the implant had failed, been dislodged and had caused damage to her joint. Multiple surgeries and a new device were required as a result.
Defectively Designed Automobile
Jim Pettit recently was admitted pro hac vice in Maryland to handle a complex case against an automobile manufacturer that designed its vehicle with a "grab bar" on the dashboard. When the car crashed into another vehicle, our client, a front-seat passenger, reached for the bar and the airbag deployed, breaking one hand and several fingers on the other hand. Her local Maryland lawyer handled the case against the driver of the car in which she was a passenger. Mr. Pettit handled the product liability case against the manufacturer, which then settled for $125,000 only ten months after Mr. Pettit began handling the case.
Jim Pettit settled a matter involving the tragic death of a worker who had a coworker raise him by a forklift to a 15-foot height, where he stood on a piece of equipment and then fell. At first blush, the matter might seem to be limited to a Workers' Compensation claim against the employer but Mr. Pettit took the case and established liability against the manufacturer and installer of the machine on which the worker was standing. The theory of liability involved a defectively designed machine and failure to warn. The matter settled for $650,000 despite a relatively modest income loss and a strenuous defense mounted by the defendant corporations and their professionals.
Automobile Accidents and Auto Insurance Cases
Automobile Insurance Coverage
Our Pennsylvania firm's personal injury lawyer Jerry A. Lindheim represented a gentleman in a motor vehicle accident. Dispute centered on whether the client was insured under the automobile policy. After evidence and testimony, the court concluded that the client was insured and covered for the loss.
Joe McGill represented a family in a truck accident case where a stalled passenger vehicle was rear-ended by a tractor trailer. The driver of the stalled vehicle was a mother of two small children. While the woman called for assistance on the shoulder, a truck approached from behind. Although he had adequate time to see the car, the driver failed to control his truck as he approached the stalled vehicle. The truck struck the car with a massive impact and a subsequent fire. The vehicle was destroyed, and tragically, both children were killed by the flames. Mr. McGill negotiated a seven figure settlement for the family against the trucking company.
In a truck rollover case, our personal injury attorney Tom Gowen was able to use the laws of physics to demonstrate that the improper loading of an eighteen wheeler by a product shipper caused the load to shift on a curve and caused the truck to roll over, killing the driver. Mr. Gowen obtained a substantial settlement for the driver's widow after eliminating alternative causes of the accident and showing that the load pattern used by the shipper was prone to load shift particularly when the truck went into a curve as occurred in this case.
In another trucking case, he represented a client whose unnecessary death could have been prevented by providing a rear end loader track truck with an interlock on the gearing system. In that case, on the last stop of a rainy day, Mr. Gowen's client, a helper on the truck, ran to the back of the truck, which was backing up toward an apartment building. When the truck stopped, he threw a switch to send power to the trash compacter, but he did not know that the driver had not yet completed the shift out of reverse to neutral. When he threw the PTO at the back of the truck, the truck accelerated uncontrollably and crushed him between it and the apartment building. Mr. Gowen was able to demonstrate that the accident should have been prevented by equipping the truck with an interlock on the PTO that would not have allowed the helper to shift the PTO until the gear in the cab was fully in neutral. He obtained substantial funding for the child of the deceased client through demonstrating the defective nature of the product.
Pennsylvania personal injury attorney Jerry A. Lindheim successfully tried a case involving an intersection/highway accident. The defendant disputed liability for the accident. Mr. Lindheim's client, a 57 year-old woman, suffered a herniated disc and underwent microscopic surgery to repair the injury caused in the automobile accident. The verdict was in excess of $600,000.
Joe McGill litigated an auto accident case where our client was rear-ended by another vehicle, causing severe neck and lower back pain, multiple radiculopathies and root irritations. He was diagnosed with a permanent disability. Joe McGill negotiated for the limits of the negligent party’s insurance policy for $100,000.00 and proceeded to litigate an underinsurance claim which resulted in an award of additional $400,000.00.
Locks Law partner Jerry A. Lindheim negotiated a settlement of a motor vehicle accident involving a husband and wife who were rear-ended by a commercial waste disposal truck. Both husband and wife were transported to a local hospital for head and neck injuries. He was able to settle the mater with the waste disposal truck insurance company for $975,000.
Karl Friedrichs settled claims against several defendants involved in a motor vehicle accident on the Garden State Parkway that resulted in the death of a 19-year-old college student. The claims against the defendants alleged negligence on the part of the driver of the vehicle in which the plaintiff was a passenger before being ejected onto the roadway and negligence on the part of another driver who struck her while she lay in the roadway, critically injured. Additionally, a claim was brought alleging negligence for service of alcohol to a minor by a home owner prior to the accident. The evidence established, through professional review by a forensic pathologist, that the college student was still alive after being ejected onto the roadway but before being struck by the second driver.
Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy
Locks Law Firm partner Tom Gowen has represented clients in three automobile accident cases where traumatic injuries to the bodies of the plaintiffs led to the development of reflex sympathetic dystrophy, also known as complex regional pain syndrome. High six figure settlements were obtained in each case, one in the middle of trial when Mr. Gowen showed through expert neurologists the progression of the original injury to RSD and the severe and debilitating pain that was associated with the condition. He effectively cross examined defense experts who disputed the existence of RSD and showed that his clients' continuing, pain, weakness and disability resulted from the original automobile crash.
Industrial Equipment Injuries
A farmer, working by himself, harvesting the corn crop with the aid of a tractor drawn mechanical cornpicker, notices that the husking box has become clogged. The farmer gets off his tractor and goes back to determine the problem. He sees a husk of corn stuck between the rollers, which caused the clutch to slip and the roll to stop. He reaches into the husking box and pulls on the top of the corn husk, thinking he can safely pull it out, much as a person might pull a piece of paper out of a copy machine.
But little does he know that as soon as he pulls on the husk, the clutch will engage and the roll will begin moving at 12 feet per second – approximately four times faster than human reaction time. Before he even realizes what happened, the farmer's arm is drawn between the rollers and crushed.
Tom Gowen has represented two farmers under identical circumstances, who suffered amputations of their arms to a point above the elbow while being trapped between the rolls of the cornpicker. He proved that the farm equipment manufacturers knew for years that these severe injuries were happening frequently during the corn harvest and they could have prevented virtually all of them by equipping the machines with an interlocked cover that would have disengaged the power to the rollers whenever the lid was lifted. He showed that the technology for this type of guard had been known since before the beginning of the twentieth century and would not interfere with operation of the machine. He recovered substantial settlements in these cases after trial of the first.
Mesothelioma can be caused by exposure to small amounts of asbestos. The attorneys at the Locks Law Firm have successfully handled asbestos cases for persons who were exposed to asbestos brought home on the clothing of family members. For example, a case for a woman who developed mesothelioma at age 63 as a result of washing the clothing of her insulator husband was settled for over one million dollars.
Mesothelioma from Childhood Asbestos Exposure. Lisa's case was one of the most unusual, most rewarding and most successful mesothelioma cases ever handled by the attorneys of the Locks Law Firm. Working along with Steven J. Nolan, Esquire, of Towson, Maryland, Michael Leh and other attorneys in the Locks Law Firm represented Lisa, who was diagnosed with mesothelioma at age 33. She was exposed to Georgia-Pacific Ready-Mix joint compound when she was eight years old. Her father finished the walls and ceiling of the rec room and basement in their home using Ready-Mix, which contained 3% chrysotile asbestos. Eight year old Lisa was exposed from watching her father work.
The jury awarded $9,188,000.00: $1.9 million for loss wages, $253,000.00 for medical expenses, $2.1 million for loss of consortium and the remainder for pain and suffering. Since Maryland has a statutory cap on non-economic damages, it was necessary to prove that Lisa's mesothelioma began to develop prior to 1986, in order to obtain more than $350,000.00 for pain and suffering.
Georgia-Pacific’s appeals were unsuccessful, and the case was eventually settled. Unfortunately, by that time, Lisa had passed away, leaving the money to her widower, Scott, and her daughter, Danielle, who was just two years old at the time of trial.
A case was brought on behalf of the family of a man who was exposed to gasoline while driving a tanker truck which delivered gasoline from distribution terminals to service stations and who died of myelodysplastic syndrome. The case was settled with a major oil company for a substantial, confidential amount.
Michael Leh and Andrew DuPont have settled numerous cases brought on behalf of persons who have developed disease as a result of exposure to benzene-containing products, and have many more such cases representing refinery workers, furniture refinishers, and printers pending throughout the country.
Mr. Leh and Mr. DuPont have recently settled three separate cases involving persons who were diagnosed with acute myelogenous leukemia (AML). The first involved a man who was diagnosed with AML at age 31 and died of that cancer at 33, leaving behind a wife and two young children. He worked as a sportcraft technician repairing motorcycles, watercraft, snowmobiles, and ATVs and in doing so was exposed to benzene-containing solvents.
Another case involved a man who was diagnosed with AML at age 28 and died at age 32. He was an automotive mechanic and was exposed to solvents used in repairing cars. The third case was settled on behalf of a man who worked as an auto body technician, repairing and painting the bodies of automobiles. He was exposed to both spray paints and solvents that contained benzene. All three cases were settled with numerous major corporations who manufactured or sold the benzene-containing products to which they were exposed.
The Locks Law Firm also recently settled a case brought by a woman suffering from AML who lives in Tom’s River, New Jersey and was allegedly exposed to benzene-containing products not in the workplace, but in the environment around her home.
Asbestos Personal Injury
Our firm has represented clients in more than 50 jury verdicts in federal and state courts in Pennsylvania, New York, Kentucky, and Maryland totaling millions of dollars in compensatory and punitive damages, including the first asbestos trial in Pennsylvania.
Joe McGill tried an asbestos case where a 66 year old retired sheet metal worker from Westinghouse Electric suffered and died from malignant mesothelioma resulting from the inhalation of asbestos fibers from products at Westinghouse. The jury returned a verdict of 1.85 million dollars. This unfortunate man’s spouse of 44 years was awarded 1.6 million dollars of that verdict because of her claim for loss of consortium, which is the loss of the society, companionship, affection, guidance and comfort of her spouse. This was one of the largest loss of consortium verdicts in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.
Joe McGill tried an asbestos case in Federal Court in KY where a seventy-four year old laborer who worked at several worksites had died from lung cancer resulting from the inhalation of asbestos fibers from products to which he was exposed at those worksites. The jury reached a verdict of $750,000.00 despite a lifetime history of smoking and $500,000.00 of that was loss of consortium.
Michael Leh and Joseph McGill obtained what is believed to be the only verdict against Sears, Roebuck and Company in a case alleging exposure to asbestos-containing shingles. The plaintiff was diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma at the age of 75 and died of that horrible disease one year later. Fifty years earlier, he and his two brothers had re-shingled his home in Philadelphia using asbestos-containing shingles that they purchased at Sears. They applied shingles in their spare time over a two month period. Sears argued that his mesothelioma was caused not by exposure to the shingles, but by his exposure to asbestos-containing insulation product while working as an electrician at the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard for two years. The jury found Sears liable for one hundred percent of a substantial six-figure verdict. The case settled following the trial.
Asbestos Property Damage
Locks Law Firm has represented numerous school districts, municipalities, and states in asbestos removal litigation, resulting in jury trials and settlements of multiple millions of dollars on behalf of the taxpayers in those jurisdictions.
Partner Marc P. Weingarten's appellate advocacy has resulted in changing the law in numerous jurisdictions to benefit injured people, including establishing the law of Pennsylvania with respect to proof needed to win an asbestos case and also establishing that Kentucky workers are allowed to sue manufacturers of asbestos products even if they were employed by them.
Traumatic Brain Injury
Locks Law Firm attorney Tom Gowen obtained a verdict of $1.2 million for a 50-year-old woman who was severely injured in a head-on automobile accident with a car passing a truck on a two-lane highway. His client, a local businesswoman, was hospitalized for several months and had ongoing symptoms of brain injury, even though she appeared perfectly fine to the casual observer by the time of trial. By developing the neuropsychological and neurological evidence and effectively cross examining the defense experts, he was able to obtain a verdict of $1.2 million dollars in Bucks County, Pennsylvania.
Mike Galpern recently negotiated and settled a serious motor-vehicle case resulting in traumatic brain injury for $1 million. The plaintiff was a 17 year old passenger in a car being driven by his intoxicated 19 year old friend. The driver lost control of his vehicle and crashed into a bridge abutment. The plaintiff was ejected from the car and thrown 100 feet. He was found by paramedics to have profuse bleeding and a depression on the right side of his head, with blood coming from his ear.
Mr. Doe was airlifted to the local trauma center, where a CT of the head confirmed a severe closed head injury, including skull fractures, extensive blood collections and cerebral edema . Mr. Doe remained hospitalized for nearly three months. He continued to slowly progress, and by the time he was released to go home, he was able to walk on his own. In the following months, Mr. Doe continued to receive extensive outpatient physical and cognitive therapy. Although he has made significant progress, he still has significant physical disabilities and cognitive impairments. Mr. Galpern was able to successfully settle the matter with the driver's auto insurance company for $1 million prior to having filed a lawsuit. Mr. Galpern also was able to secure an additional $240,000 of insurance coverage to pay for Mr. Doe's medical bills.
Locks Law Firm Partner Tom Gowen has handled a number of carbon monoxide poisoning cases. Most prominently, he pursued the case of a young man who suffered serious brain injury from a faulty heating system in an apartment building where the victim was living. The evidence demonstrated neglect by the building owners and acquiescence by furnace repair companies in doing band-aid repairs for a heating system that needed to be replaced. The plaintiff suffered progressive neurological deficits beginning with severe headaches and flu like symptoms, progressing to incoordination, foot drop, memory loss and Parkinsonian-like symptoms resulting from continuing exposure to carbon monoxide from the defective heating system. After extensive discovery, the case settled for $3.5 million to compensate for severe brain injury and permanent impairment in cognitive abilities and motor function.
Other Personal Injuries
Amusement Ride Case
The first-million-dollar verdict in the history of Montgomery County, Pennsylvania was obtained by Locks Law Firm attorney Tom Gowen in representing a 15 year old girl who suffered severe leg injuries when the pin attaching the gondola of the Paratrooper amusement ride on which she was riding with her boyfriend failed and allowed the gondola to fall thirty feet. In the fall, the young girl suffered a near severing of her foot, fracture of the tibial plateau and fracture of the femur. Mr. Gowen proved that the Paratrooper ride had been inadequately lubricated in part because of the poor maintenance practices of the amusement park and in part because of a failure of the oil channel to transmit oil to the surface of the pin causing excessive abrasion and fatigue failure. After deliberating for six hours, the jury awarded a verdict against both defendants of $1.2 million dollars.
Often when a tree falls onto a roadway in an inhabited area, property owners or building contractors can be shown to be negligent by failing to protect the trees, by failing to take down dangerously diseased or dying trees, or by covering the root systems with fill or concrete. After a 150-year-old oak tree that appeared healthy to a casual observer fell onto the car killing a woman who was riding in the vehicle, Locks Law Firm attorney Tom Gowen was able to prove that a builder had piled fill on top of the roots on one side of the oak tree thereby depriving the roots of oxygen. Mr. Gowen retained expert archeologists, geologists and arborists to prove that despite the builder's denial, fill from off site was placed over the roots in the year of the construction project and that the injury to the tree also began in the same year. The expert reading of the rings of the tree demonstrated the decline of the root system on the side of the tree away from the road on which the fill had been piled when a house was built. Through production of this evidence a substantial settlement was obtained for his client's estate.
Nursing Home Neglect
Personal injury lawyer Jerry A. Lindheim represented an elderly woman who had limited ability to walk independently. She moved to an assisted living facility, where her needs could be met and her well-being could be safeguarded. Instead, the elderly lady experienced nursing home neglect when the nursing staff left her alone to walk into the dining room for her meal. The abandoned woman was forced to enter the dining room unassisted for dinner, and she tripped and fell over a negligently designed threshold. She fell to the ground and shattered her hip. Mr. Lindheim successfully negotiated a settlement for the woman, which allowed her to seek care in a safer facility.
Manhattan-area personal injury lawyer Jerry A. Lindheim successfully represented a young college woman who was injured during a chemistry class, sustaining second and third degree burns, due to negligence on the part of the college. The college endangered its chemistry students by disabling audible alarms on the fume hood that sound when vapors accumulate. The young woman was burned when the vapors combusted. Mr. Lindheim resolved the case in the young woman's favor for a substantial, confidential amount.
Premises Liability/School Accident
Locks Law partner Jerry A. Lindheim settled a matter involving inadequate education and training of a college student in performing class activities. The student sustained a cervical fracture when performing at a school sanctioned event. The defense countered that the student assumed the risk of his injuries. However, Mr. Lindheim was able to establish that the method that his client used in performing this activity was identical to the method used by other students who performed the activity at other universities. In addition, Mr. Lindheim was able to establish that the activity had been outlawed or banned by other institutions years before his client was injured. The case settled for six figures shortly thereafter.
Personal Injury/Environmental Contamination
Since early 2001, the Locks Law Firm has represented nearly 1,200 victims of gasoline leaks from underground storage tanks at service stations in Hazelton, Pennsylvania. We sued four major oil companies, including the biggest corporation in the world, and many distributors and service station operators. Claims include more than twenty personal injury claims for the development of leukemias and lymphomas, as well as property damage, nuisance, and medical monitoring. In 2007, about half of the defendants entered into significant but confidential settlements. The suit continues against the remaining defendants, and the case is scheduled to go to trial in late 2008.
Defective Passenger Airplane
Locks Law attorneys obtained a verdict against Boeing in New Jersey Federal Court, proving that the Boeing 757 was defectively designed, causing injury to a flight attendant.
Our firm's attorney Tom Gowen brought suit on behalf of an art student against her college after she suffered a severe toxic neuropathy from exposure to hexacarbon solvents in her art materials in poorly ventilated classrooms. The art materials contained n-hexane, toluene, xylene, and ethyl methyl ketone. The student suffered severe respiratory distress, loss of vocal strength, foot drop ad severe headaches as a result of the exposure to these toxic solvents in the sprays and fixatives used by the art students in classes without proper ventilation.
Personal injury lawyer Karl Friedrichs reached a confidential settlement with a local township in Gloucester County and an officer on the county's police force in a wrongful death lawsuit brought on behalf of the estate of an 18-year-old township resident, who died from injuries sustained in an automobile accident with a police car. The settlement concluded three years of litigation against the municipality.
The accident occurred while the officer, a ten-year patrolman with the police department, was responding to an emergency dispatch call. The accident occurred on a two-lane road with a posted speed limit of 35 mph. The Estate alleged that while en route to the emergency call, the officer failed to activate his overhead lights and siren, while traveling at speeds approaching 90 mph. The collision occurred when the officer was unable to yield as he approached the vehicle ahead of him, driven by the plaintiff-decedent, which was attempting to make a left-hand turn off of Broad Street on to a side street.
Discovery in the case revealed that the police department failed to have any written guidelines that addressed the proper way for an officer to respond to an emergency call. Still, the defendants attempted to dismiss the case, asserting that the state's Tort Claims Act provided them with immunity from liability. The court denied the defendants' motions, and the case settled while scheduled for trial. The Estate was prepared to offer into evidence at trial the expert testimony of a police procedure expert and an accident reconstructionist to support its liability claims.
Supreme Court Medical Malpractice Victory
Tom Gowen represents a woman who after having worked in a factory for 25 years had repetitive stress injuries to her hand and wrist. She went to a general surgeon, whom she had previously known, who recommended doing Carpal Tunnel Surgery and a deQuervain’s Release in two separate procedures. The Carpal Tunnel went reasonably well but she was in severe pain after the deQuervain’s release. This lady had great faith in her surgeon and returned to him regularly for 13 months, having EMGs that he ordered and going to see an orthopedic consultant as well and no one diagnosed her condition. It was not until she went to another surgeon, this time a hand surgeon, who ultimately re-opened her wrist and found that the original surgeon had severed a nerve and had failed to accomplish the deQuervain’s release that she knew that she had actually been injured in the surgery. She filed her case two years before her first meeting with the last surgeon, but the defense asked the court for summary judgment based on the statute of limitations and the court found that she must have known that she was injured even though her doctors did not. Mr. Gowen appealed her case to the Superior Court which agreed in a two to one vote with the trial court. Then Mr.Gowen appealed her case to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. After extensive briefing and oral argument, the Supreme Court unanimously reversed the decision of the lower courts and returned the case for trial. The Supreme Court did a lengthy analysis of the “discovery rule” as it is applied in Pennsylvania to toll the running of the statute of limitations in cases where the plaintiff is not aware that she has an injury or its cause despite being reasonably diligent in seeking a medical explanation for her condition. In this case even though she knew that her arm was very painful and that her hand eventually became claw like, no doctor was able to tell her that she had a lacerated nerve or whether she had a natural condition like deQuervain’s disease, arthritis or epicondylitis. It was not until the last surgeon re-opened her wrist and saw what had occurred that she could have had the requisite knowledge to know that she was injured by the surgery. Mr. Gowen argued that she should have two years from the date that she knew the nature of her injury and the cause of her pain to file suit. Pennsylvania has many confusing cases in this area of the law and Justice Baer and Justice McCaffrey urged the Court to more clearly define the law so that the plaintiff would have to have enough knowledge of her injury so that she or her lawyer could provide enough information to a reviewing expert, to obtain a Certificate of Merit. The majority of the Court, found in favor of Mr. Gowen’s client, stated several principles that should be helpful in future cases including that it would not hold that a lay plaintiff should be held to a higher standard of medical knowledge than had been communicated to her by the doctors on whom she relied.
Contact a Personal Injury Attorney
Although we are pleased to share examples of our past successes, we are most excited about the next case we will handle. Contact the Locks Law Firm to schedule a case consultation if you have been injured as a result of another party's negligence or misconduct. An experienced Pennsylvania, New Jersey, or Manhattan personal injury lawyer at our firm has the skill and knowledge necessary to obtain the compensation you deserve.