The client suffered grievous injuries as the result of being trapped in an apartment building during a fire. The client was the only individual to survive the fire and did so because she heroically hung from a four-story window and awaited firefighters' rescue. Unfortunately, the left side of the client's body that was holding on to the inside of the window was completely burned off. Client has no toes and very little foot on the left side, has no fingers and no left hand and all of the skin on the left side of the body was burned to the bone. Through numerous operations the client has had skin graft transfer that has allowed the client to survive despite the severity of the injuries. Unfortunately, the client has been rendered permanently and totally disabled and the psychological effects of the disfigurement are as serious as the physical infirmities. The client retained the services of Rosen Louik & Perry's law firm of Pittsburgh, PA, The Caring Attorneys. Liability against the building owner was hotly contested as Defendant claimed they were not responsible for arson. (The arsonist was convicted and sent to prison). After years of discovery, this case settled for $1,050,000.00, an amount in excess of available insurance.
During his employment as a tractor trailer operator, client was in the process of assisting with the unloading of two 4,000 pound jersey barriers from client's truck when the crane operator struck client and knocked him off of the back of his truck with the barrier. As a consequence of being struck by the jersey barrier and knocked off the trailer to the ground. The client retained the services of Pennsylvania Worker's Compensation lawyers Rosen, Louik & Perry of Pittsburgh. Plaintiff sustained a right hip fracture. This PA worker's comp case settled for $311,000.00.
While burning Christmas wrapping paper in his backyard, the decedent lost control of the fire and called for help. When firemen arrived ten minutes later they found the entire backyard engulfed in flame. While spraying the flames, the decedent was found lying face up with a charred phone next to his ear. The coroner determined the cause of death to be smoke inhalation. The defendant insurance company refused to pay accidental death benefits claiming the death was caused by a pre-existing heart problem that was triggered by the vigorous activity of trying to extinguish the brush fire. Pittsburgh lawyers Rosen Louik & Perry represented the victim's bad faith claim and obtained tapes of the 911 call and were able to establish that the client's decedent was snoring after he lost consciousness. This was inconsistent with an immediately fatal heart attack. Forensic pathologists were retained as experts who confirmed smoke inhalation as the cause of death. This case, including a bad faith cause of action, settled in excess of policy limits for $ 537,500.00.
News Herald A Titusville woman, appointed by the court as guardian for her incapacitated husband, has filed a lawsuit in federal court, seeking damages from his employer and another firm. The lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court in Pittsburgh by attorney Neil R. Rosen on behalf of Lenise Thomeier, the permanent guardian of Stephen Thomeier. Named as defendants in the lawsuit are Rhone-Poulenc Specialty Chemicals Co. of New Jersey and Pennzoil Co. of Oil City. Rhone-Poulenc operates a plant in Cornplanter Township. Pennzoil owns and operates a refinery near Rhone-Poulenc. The lawsuit lists two counts, seeking damages in excess of $50,000 each. The lawsuit says Stephen Thomeier was injured and incapacitated following an accident Oct. 14, 1993, as he was standing in the area of a two-inch bleed line Rhone-Poulenc. Thomeier was employed as a maintenance supervisor with Rhone-Poulenc. The lawsuit states "the bleed line assembly suddenly and without warning began to rotate on its axis. When the bleed line assembly began rotating, it struck (the) plaintiff in the head with extreme force, causing plaintiff to suffer ... serious and severe injuries." The court action alleges the accident occurred after a diesel pump that supplied a fire water system to the Rhone-Poulenc plant failed, leaving the property without a supply of water to fight any fire. The lawsuit says Rhone-Poulenc maintained an agreement with Pennzoil. Under that agreement, Pennzoil was to supply a back-up source of water through a pipe that started on the Pennzoil property, connected to a pipe owned by Rhone-Poulenc and eventually connected to Rhone-Poulenc's fire water line.
Because the pipe was above ground and subject to freezing, the lawsuit says, the pipe was kept empty. On the day of the accident, the lawsuit says, Pennzoil employees activated the back-up system. The lawsuit claims the force of the water or air through the pipe caused the bleeder assembly to begin rotating out of control, striking the plaintiff. As a result of the accident, the lawsuit states Thomeier's health and earning capacity have been seriously and permanently impaired. Because of the seriousness and permanence of those injuries, the suit says Thomeier was adjudicated "a totally incapacitated person" on Jan. 27, 1994, by Crawford County Court. The lawsuit demands a jury trial.
Post Gazette By Matthew P. Smith US Air and Boeing Co. have reached out-of-court settlements with the families of two passengers who died in the Sept. 8, crash of US Air Flight 427. The settlements were announced yesterday by Pittsburgh lawyer Neil R. Rosen, who represented the families of Stephen Shortley, 37, of Ross, and Ronald Brown, 49, of Trafford. Rosen declined to disclose the amounts of the settlements. "Both the Brown and the Shortley families will receive very substantial statements that will provide lifelong economic security," he said. Lawyers who specialize in aviation cases have said that previously that such settlements usually exceed $2.5 million. Both families filed lawsuits in U.S. District Court last year after the Boeing 737-300 plunged into a ravine in Hopewell, killing all 127 passengers and five crew members. Shortley had a masters degree in human resources was a consulting manager for Ernst and Young in its National Technology Consulting Practice. He was also a member of the Alcosan board. He is survived by his wife and two children. Brown, a Westinghouse engineer, died three days before his 50th birthday. Brown, who had remarried four months before the crash, is survived by his wife, two children, and one grandchild. Rosen said he and the family members were appreciative that the cases were settled early. The out-of-court settlements are believed to be the second and third to be reached since the crash. Rosen said early settlements resulted in greater financial benefit for the victims' families, because they avoid lengthy litigation and permit a substantial reduction in legal fees and related costs. US Air and Boeing are insured by Associated Aviation Underwriters of Short Hill, N.J.
Equitable Gas, Duquesne Light to pay for 1998 gas explosion
By Marissa N. Scarvel
Western Pa. Legal Intelligencer In personal injury actions, the elderly do not typically receive high monetary awards. But when Pittsburgh lawyer Neil Rosen of Rosen Louik & Perry was attempting to settle a case against Equitable Gas Co. and Duquesne Light Co., Rosen made it clear that he wouldn't accept anything less than seven figures for the death of Ann Gaydos Palmer, 72. "Death claims for older people tend to get lower amounts than they warrant," Rosen said. "Lawyers settle for smaller sums of money. In this case, the negligence on the part of both entities bordered on outrageous." The case was settled for $1 million. As part of the settlement, the defense lawyers -- P. Brennan Hart of the Pittsburgh office of Marshall Dennehey Warner Coleman & Goggin for Duquesne Light and C. Leon Sherman of the Pittsburgh firm C. Leon Sherman & Associates for Equitable Gas -- requested a confidentiality agreement that bars Rosen from speaking to the "general news media." Although Rosenagreed to the provision, he reserved the right to discuss the case within the legal community as long as he does not identify the defendants. However, because of the nature of the facts, it was obvious that the case involved the well-publicized gas explosion on Sept. 7, 1998, in which Palmer died in her two-story house in McKeesport. Gas Explosion
According to reports, the explosion ignited a fire and leveled the home, where Palmer had lived since the late 1960s. A report filed by the Fire Department said that after the explosion, Palmer was heard crying for help but that she could not be rescued. Investigators concluded that a damaged gas line near the home caused the explosion. Duquesne Light workers broke the line, which had been mismarked by Equitable Gas. The result was a slow leak. Rosen sued in 1999, claiming that negligence on the part of both companies caused the explosion, the fire and Palmer's death. The suit claimed that in addition to Equitable responsibility for mismarking the line, Duquesne Light also was partially responsible because workers failed to notify Equitable that they had broken the line. After several unsuccessful attempts to reach a settlement agreement in the case, the defense lawyers suggested mediation. Rosen said he initially declined because he did not believe the defendants were willing to pay at least $1 million. Talks began in the $700,000 range, he said. Thomas Frampton of Pietragallo Bosick & Gordon in Pittsburgh served as the mediator. Frampton, a former judge on the Mercer County Court of Common Pleas, helped get the case settled by putting all the facts and issues on the table and facilitating the negotiations. When the defendants did reach the $1 million mark, Rosen said, the plaintiff decided to settle. "After we hung in there and got what we wanted, I thought it was in the best interest of all parties to settle," Rosen said. "The decedent had two grown daughters who are successful in their own right. It was a gory case to have to try." As in any case, Rosen said, a jury trial could have gone either way. "The decedent was a lovely lady who worked as a waitress her whole life and lived a modest and religious life," Rosen said. "That fact that I had a fire report that said she was crying out for help showed obvious pain and suffering. The Fire Department was right next to the house, so we could only prove that the pain and suffering lasted 1 minute. She was older, with no income other than Social Security and no dependents. These cases are extraordinarily difficult to get big money." Even though Rosen questioned whether he could have secured as high a verdict had the case gone to trial, he said he was confident that he would have won a plaintiff's verdict of some value. "We had provable damages and third-party observers," Rosen said. "There is shock value when a woman goes into her basement, flips a light switch, and has the house blow up. Any juror would realize it could happen to them or their parents or their grandparents. This was a terrible tragedy and a preventable one." Because of the confidentiality agreement, Rosen would not say how much of the settlement each defendant must pay. The settlement was strictly for Palmer's death. Rosen said a property claim for damage done to the house was settled with an insurance company, which may now make a claim against the defendants. Criminal Charges
While Equitable has settled the civil suit against it, the utility still faces criminal charges arising out of the explosion. The state Department of Labor and Industry filed a criminal complaint against Equitable last year, alleging improper marking of the area. According to the complaint, Equitable failed to mark the position of a natural gas service line within 18 inches, as required by law. Equitable marked the line at least 56 inches from its actual location, the complaint says. If convicted, the utility would be liable for at least $20,000 in fines and the cost of prosecution.
Date Received: July 11, 2001
Cataney v. Robinson Coal Co.
$1.5 million settlement Date of Verdict or Settlement:
Jan. 18, 1999.
Court and Case Number:
C.P. Allegheny No. GD93-18005.
Type of Action:
Jon R. Perry and Neil R. Rosen,
Dennis Mulvihill, Bruce E. Rende, P.
Brennan Hart and John F. Doherty,
Spencer L. Butterfield, M.D., orthopedic surgeon, Pittsburgh; Bruce Sharpnack, M.D., family practice, Hickory; Margaret Reidy, M.D., Rehabilitative medicine, Pittsburgh; Sharon Leak, PhD., vocational psychologist, Pittsburgh; Frederick G. Clerici, physical therapist, Moon Township; James R. Kenkel, Ph.D., economist, Pittsburgh.
Paul Lieber, M.D., physiatrist, Pittsburgh; Lawson Bernstein, M.D., psychiatrist, Pittsburgh; Sharon L. heinlein, vocational specialist, Pittsburgh.
James Cataney was a certified U.S. Air jet engine and powerplant mechanic when he was injured as a result of blasting activities conducted by Robinson Coal Co. and Senex Explosives Inc. The blasting was being done near Cataney's home as part of strip mining operations. Cataney, who suffered a grade 3B open tibia fracture, pursued claims under absolute strict liability and negligence theories. He sought damages for pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment of life, disfigurement and a lost wage claim for his permanent and total disability. Robinson argued Cataney was able to work with very little, if any, wage loss.
After the injury trial started, one juror admitted being a lifelong friend of the principal of Robinson but the court declined to replace the juror with an alternate. A directed verdict on the issue of liability was directed in favor of Cataney.
At the close of evidence, Cataney again requested an alternate juror but the court again refused. The jury returned a verdict in his favor in the amount of $350,000. Cataney appealed the verdict in part on the trial court's refusal to strike the biased juror. The state Superior Court reversed and remanded. The state Supreme Court denied Robinson's request to grant allocatur. The case was settled two days before the retrial for $1.5 million.
By Jon Schmitz
Post-Gazette Staff Writer
By Jon Schmitz
Post-Gazette Staff Writer
By Lawrence Walsh
Post-Gazette Staff Writer