Andrew J. Stern is one of the Philadelphia area’s most accomplished trial lawyers, known for his dedicated representation of clients and the record-breaking results it produces in and outside the courtroom. Specifically, Stern won the largest-ever Pennsylvania medical malpractice verdict and, most recently, the biggest personal injury recovery for a single person in state history. In sum, Stern holds the record for the largest verdict, settlement and arbitration award for a single injured person in the history of Pennsylvania.
Stern, who joined Kline & Specter in 2005 as a partner, won a jury verdict in 2000 that is still talked about – $100 million for a baby who suffered severe brain damage in a medical malpractice case. (See The Vlasny case.) The verdict is the largest-ever compensatory and medical malpractice verdict in Pennsylvania. All told, Stern has obtained verdicts and settlements that well exceed $400 million.
In May 2017, Stern obtained a record $95.6 million arbitration award for a woman who was catastrophically injured in a Center City Philadelphia building collapse. The recovery is the biggest in history for a Pennsylvania personal injury case. Stern was among a group of plaintiffs’ attorneys who won an historic jury verdict and subsequent $227 million settlement following a 17-week trial involving the 2013 building collapse that killed seven people and injured 12 others. And, as The Philadelphia Inquirer wrote in an article, Stern was "the lead lawyer in the case against the Salvation Army. His argument convinced the jury, which found that the charity bore 75 percent of the liability to the victims." Stern’s client, Mariya Plekan, was trapped beneath the rubble for nearly 13 hours and lost half of her body after a building undergoing demolition fell onto the adjacent Salvation Army thrift store in which she had been shopping. Of all the victims involved in the tragedy, Stern’s client received the highest award. (Read article)
The Plekan case formed the basis of a book published in November 2018 titled “Justice Under the Rubble: The Salvation Army Building Collapse” written by Stern with co-author George Anastasia. The book details the plight of surviving victim Mariya Plekan and provides a close-up look into lengthy legal proceedings and Stern's successful trial strategy.
With his substantial piloting and aviation litigation background, Stern has litigated a number of cases involving airplane and helicopter crashes. Most recently, he was retained as lead counsel to represent one of the 157 people who died aboard Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302, a Boeing 737 Max 8 that the lawsuit contends was caused by a defectively designed flight control system. His client is a citizen of India and lawful United States medical resident practicing at East Tennessee State University. (Read article). Stern has also filed two suits in federal court in the Western District of Pennsylvania and is a lead lawyer in these cases involving a tragic helicopter crash causing the death of a 23-year-old engaged union lineman and a 35-year-old married lineman with two minor children. In an earlier case, Stern in 2015 was involved in a lawsuit against a major helicopter corporation in a Philadelphia federal court case that settled for a substantial sum. Due to design defects in the helicopter, it crashed in New Jersey, with Stern’s client suffering a brain injury and being rendered fully and permanently disabled. (Read article)
In another major case, Stern won a $38.2 million verdict in Delaware County Court in a case against the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation and the Borough of East Lansdowne for a girl who was badly injured in an auto accident at an infamously dangerous intersection. The verdict in the Robley Case is the largest in a Pennsylvania county outside of Philadelphia. (See The National Law Journal, Top 100 Verdicts)Stern in early 2016 obtained an eight-figure confidential settlement for a teenager who suffered permanent brain damage after medical providers in New Jersey failed to properly monitor, diagnose and treat him following an orthopedic-related surgery.
Only a few months earlier, Stern won a $10.1 million verdict for a child who suffered deafness and brain-related injuries after doctors in the emergency room of Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia delayed diagnosis and treatment for bacterial meningitis. The verdict was delivered at the close of a four-week trial in Philadelphia Common Pleas Court. It was among the Top 10 verdicts in Pennsylvania for 2015, according to The Legal Intelligencer, and the largest medical malpractice verdict involving a minor. The Philadelphia Inquirer, in an article about the case, noted that while the verdict was large, it was by no means as large as Stern's $100 million verdict in the 2000 Vlasny case. (Read article) In April 2016, the presiding judge in the case denied post-trial motions filed by the defense and additionally approved delay damages that increased the award by $1.25 million. (Article)
Earlier in 2015, Stern won a $7.4 million verdict in Delaware County, Pa., for a 61-year-old man who suffered a crippling stroke after his doctor failed to treat symptoms including high blood pressure. The verdict was among the 15 largest in Pennsylvania in 2015. (Cuff)
In 2014, Stern won a substantial, eight-figure settlement against a Philadelphia hospital for the family of a newborn who suffered permanent brain injury due to deprivation of oxygen during delivery. The medical providers repeatedly failed to properly monitor and regulate the use of the labor-induction drug Pitocin. Stern has achieved many similar outstanding results in cases involving brain injured babies and children.
Prior to that litigation, Stern won a settlement in a cancer misdiagnosis case that resulted not only in a monetary payment but also changes in hospital policy. In that case, a woman had been incorrectly diagnosed as being cancer-free, leaving her disease untreated for two years. The hospital has agreed to now confirm cancer diagnoses by a second board-certified pathologist. "Hopefully, the demand for this change in hospital policy will help improve cancer patient outcomes and ultimately save lives," said Stern. (Read more about the case.)
Stern's accomplishments have been recognized for 16 consecutive years (2005-2020) by Super Lawyers with its selection of Stern as one of the top lawyers in Pennsylvania, while he was also selected as a New Jersey Super Lawyer through 2021. In 2015, Stern was named by Best Lawyers as the Philadelphia Product Liability Lawyer of the Year. He was also selected for Best Lawyers in America 2008-2021 editions and Philadelphia’s Best Lawyers, and is included among the Presidential Who’s Who Among Business and Professional Achievers. And the The Legal Intelligencer and Pennsylvania Law Weekly mentioned Stern’s record-setting legal victories in naming him to the list of Top 10 attorneys switching to new law firms in 2005. Attorneys were selected based on a number of factors, including name recognition, the opinions of local experts and because each was considered “a star” in the legal community. (Read the article.)
Stern in February 2007 won an $8 million settlement for the family of a millworker who fell into a high-temperature paper pulping machine that was not properly guarded in compliance with OSHA industry standards. As a result of the accident, the worker sustained horrific burns and ultimately died, leaving behind his wife and 12-year-old son. The settlement came at the conclusion of a lengthy trial. (See Green.)
In another case, Stern won a $15 million verdict for a woman (See Dupon) who suffered a stroke following carotid artery surgery. Before returning their verdict, the jurors in that case had one question: "Is there a maximum amount of monetary compensation that we can assign?" And in yet another medical malpractice case, Stern convinced a jury to take the unusual step of awarding punitive damages against a dentist who had altered his medical records, a fact Stern revealed during the trial in Bucks County.
In other major cases, Stern won the following:
- A $3 million verdict for a woman injured during surgery to remove a benign pituitary tumor. The medical errors left Sheila Grolimund with little sense of taste or smell, forcing her to give up her bakery business. The verdict was handed down in December 1999.
- A $2.8 million Philadelphia jury verdict in March 2004 for a man whose doctor's failure to order diagnostic testing allowed his cancer to grow for five months, resulting in painful treatments and an increased risk of recurrence. (see Denning)
- A $1.8 million verdict for a woman whose doctor failed to timely diagnose her breast cancer. The award, decided in February 1994, was a record at the time in Gloucester County, N.J. (see Brotsker)
In addition to medical malpractice, Stern has broad experience in product liability cases, where he has successfully handled suits involving aircraft accidents, defective helmets and head gear, defective machine tools and automotive design defect litigation. He also has significant experience in the field of construction and workplace accidents.
Stern initially acquired his private pilot’s license in 1993 and was an enthusiastic flyer of World War II and modern aircraft. This experience enabled Stern to develop a substantial aviation background that has assisted him in litigating a number of important aviation cases. He appears regularly on news programs to provide expert commentary on aviation matters and plane crashes, including the January 2009 emergency Hudson River landing of a jetliner in New York and the crash of a Continental Airlines jet near Buffalo, N.Y. which killed 50 people. (See TV news clip.) Stern continues to actively participate in news media commentary relating to aviation related accidents.
In one highly publicized aviation case, Stern represented the estates of two pilots killed in the April 1991 mid-air crash over Merion, Pa., that resulted in the deaths of U.S. Sen. John Heinz and several others. Stern won a substantial settlement in the case against the Sun Company, whose helicopter crew was proved to be the primary cause of the accident.
Stern also worked on a case in which a defective jet de-icing system – one which shed chunks of ice directly into turbofan engines – caused the deaths of Federal Aviation Administration inspectors in a crash near Latrobe, Pa. That case concluded in a large settlement. Stern has also litigated a number of other aviation-related cases, and is currently prosecuting several other cases in which individuals have sustained fatal and other serious injuries due to defective aviation related products and negligent maintenance/service.
Stern has also successfully argued leading cases in the appellate courts. In 2001, he convinced the Pennsylvania Supreme Court to allow evidence concerning patient's fear of recurring cancer in cases in which doctors fail to properly diagnose and treat the disease.
In 2004, Stern was appointed to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court Procedural Rules Committee. He served 2 terms on that distinguished committee until 2010. The panel, created in 1937, is the oldest of the high court’s committees and assists the court in the preparation, revision and administration of civil practice rules.
Stern earned his bachelor’s degree in 1983 from Pennsylvania State University, where he graduated with distinction. In 1986, he received his law degree from The Beasley School of Law of Temple University, where he won the Barrister’s Trial Award and also was one of the “Founding Fathers” of the Temple Trial Team. During law school, Stern clerked for the late Judge James Hunter, III of the Third Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals.
In 2019, Stern and his wife, Gwen Stern, a professor at the Thomas R. Kline School of Law, announced a $1.65 million donation to the Andy and Gwen Stern Community Lawyering Clinic located at Drexel's Dornsife Center in West Philadelphia. The center provides free legal assistance to people who cannot afford it. Both also volunteer their services at the center. In article in the Philadelphia Business Journal, Clinic Director Rachel López said: “Andy and Gwen’s generous gift will allow us to realize the clinic’s full potential. Not only will it mean that we can provide more high-quality legal assistance to some of Philadelphia’s most vulnerable, but it will also create new opportunities for innovations that will facilitate a more collective and holistic approach to legal problem-solving.” The center in 2020 released an annual report showing that it helped several hundred members of the community in litigation, legal advice and referrals and that the donation by the Sterns also enabled it to hire additional legal staff.
Stern has had teaching responsibilities with Temple’s LLM program and has lectured on the use of experts in litigation at a LLM class. He also has been involved in teaching trial advocacy techniques to students at The Thomas R. Kline School of Law at Drexel University, is a frequent guest lecturer at the school and assists its nationally recognized trial team. Stern in Spring 2015 was a contributing author for an article in the Law Review of the Kline School of Law on the protection of disclosure of attorney-client communications regarding Barrick v. Holy Spirit Hospital. (Read the entire article.) Stern is a faculty member with the National Institute for Trial Advocacy's (NITA) National Mid-Atlantic Program and has also worked as an adjunct professor in legal writing and trial advocacy at The Beasley School of Law. He has taught Continuing Legal Education (CLE) courses for attorneys on Products Liability, Demonstrative Evidence, Trial Strategy, Advanced Deposition Strategies and Advanced Trial Skills, among others. Stern has conducted CLEs on Voir Dire and Expert Witnesses. He was moderator for the acclaimed 2003 Masters on Trial seminar.
Stern currently volunteers his teaching services for NITA and the Kline School of Law. He contributes to many charities in the region and nationally, including: Temple Law School, Kline School of Law, Pennylvania State University, Daniel B. Allanoff Foundation, Tara Miller Melanoma Foundation, Hospital For Special Surgery, Share Food Program, Jewish Federation of Philadelphia, Parkinson’s Foundation, National Multiple Sclerosis Society, Dinah, Inc., Sandy Hook Promise, Lower Merion Police Pension Association, Montgomery Child Advocate Project, Narberth Ambulance, Longport Policemen’s Benevolent Association, Israel Children’s Cancer Foundation, Make-A-Wish Foundation, Delaware Valley Friends School, Gladwyne Fire Company, Longport Volunteer Fire Department.
Stern continues to be actively involved in teaching various Continuing Legal Education related seminars. He recently held a two-credit CLE at the Kline School of Law at Drexel University exploring techniques for handling challenging claims of comparative negligence in medical malpractice cases in which the defense seeks to blame the plaintiff for a poor outcome. The program was sponsored by the Civil Litigation Society and the Health Law Society.
Stern is a member of the Pennsylvania Association for Justice, the Philadelphia Trial Lawyers Association and the American Association for Justice. He is a member of the Board of Governors of the Philadelphia Trial Lawyers Association and has held that position for approximately 10 years.
Andy Stern in the news
- Attorneys Skeptical of Boeing's Promise of $100M to Address 737 Max 8 Plane Crashes, The Legal Intelligencer, 7/9/19
- Kline & Specter Sues Boeing Over Crash of Ethiopian Airlines' 737 Max 8, The Legal Intelligencer, 4/17/19
- Judge rules lawsuit over student's suicide can proceed, Scranton Times-Tribune, 12/29/18
- 'I'm not angry,' says Mariya Plekan, 5 years after losing legs in Salvation Army building collapse, The Philadelphia Inquirer, 6/1/18
- Andy Stern Comments On Southwest Emergency Landing, Fox 29 4/17/18 5PM
- To serve ... and endanger? Philly police blunder puts woman on rapist's radar, WHYY-FM, 10/18/17
- Record award in center city building collapse, Good Day Philadelphia, Fox 29 5/26/17; KYW News Radio 5/26/17
- $95.6 million to woman who lost legs in building collapse; The Legal Intelligencer, 5/26/17; The Philadelphia Inquirer, 5/25/17; ABC Action News 6 (AP), 5/26/16; US New & World Report, 5/26/17; CBS 3, 5/25/17; AP, The Daily Mail, London, 5/25/17
- Philly Hospital Can't Overturn $10.1M Med Mal Verdict, Law360, 2/28/17
- Superior Court Upholds $10M Award Against CHOP, The Legal Intelligencer, 2/28/17
- Salvation Army Suit Settles for $227M, A Record Sum, Attorneys Say, The Legal Intelligencer, 2/9/17
- Andy Stern Comments On Building Collapse Settlement, CBS 3, 2/8/17 (watch video)
- $227 Million Settlement Reached In Deadly Center City Collapse Case, The Philadelphia Inquirer, 2/8/17
- Plaintiffs hint at punitives as Sal Army damages phase opens, The Legal Intelligencer, 2/3/17
- All defendants found liable in deadly '13 Philly building collapse, The Philadelphia Inquirer, 1/31/17
- A Quality Reputation: Kline & Specter, The Legal Intelligencer, 11/2/16
- Salvation Army official rejects responsibility for deaths, injuries, The Philadelphia Inquirer, 10/22/16
- Salvation Army officials dithered on closing thrift store during demolition, The Philadelphia Inquirer, 10/4/16
- Expert: Salvation Army had duty to close store destroyed in deadly collapse, The Philadelphia Inquirer, 9/28/16
- Lawyer for 2013 building collapse victims: 'Salvation Army failed them all', The Philadelphia Inquirer, 9/20/16
- Salvation Army Collapse ‘No Accident,’ The Legal Intelligencer, 9/19/16
- Plaintiff’s Lawyer In Market Street Building Collapse Trial: ‘This Was No Accident’, CBS Local.com, 9/19/16
- Court won't overturn $10.1M award against against CHOP, The Legal Intelligencer, 4/20/16
- Stern wins ruling in building collapse case, The Philadelphia Inquirer, 2/1/16
- Jury awards $10.1M in malpractice case against CHOP, The Philadelphia Inquirer, 11/19/15
- Andy Stern comments on verdict in criminal trial in center city building collapse, ABC News 10/19/15
- Andy Stern interviewed about Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, Fox 29 3/25/14
- Andy Stern comments on U.S. Airways runway accident, Fox 29 3/14/14
- Andy Stern comments on missing Malaysia Airlines plane, Good Day Philadelphia 3/10/14
- Andy Stern comments on child drowning lawsuit: NBC 10-TV 12/12/13-5PM; CBS 3-TV 12/12/13-6PM; CBS 3-TV 12/12/13-5PM
- Andy Stern comments on OSHA Findings in center city Building collapse: NBC 10-TV 12/4/13-6PM; NBC 10-TV 12/4/13-4PM
- Building collapse victim speaks out, Stern comments: NBC 10-TV 11/25/13; CBS 3-TV 11/25/13; ABC 6-TV 11/25/13; The Philadelphia Daily News 11/26/13; The Philadelphia Inquirer 11/26/13
- Andy Stern comments on center city building collapse, NBC 10-TV 11/14/13-5PM
- Andy Stern comments on updates in the buiding collapse case, WDAS-FM 8/25/13
- Andy Stern comments on building collapse video, ABC 6 7/18/13-11PM
- Andy Stern comments on representing victim of building collapse -- See all coverage
- Andy Stern comments on airport control tower problems, Fox 29 4/14/11
- Andy Stern interviewed on airplane runway mishaps, Fox 29 4/12/11
- Andy Stern on SW Airlines mishap, Fox 29 4/5/11
- Andy Stern comments on duck boad accident, Fox 29 7/9/10
- Andy Stern comments of F-16 collision scare, Fox 29 4/9/10
- Andy Stern comments on airplane near collision, Fox 29 3/31/10
- Andy Stern comments on kids in airplane control towers, Fox 29 3/3/10
- Andy Stern comments on unsafe planes, Fox 29 2/2/10
- Andy Stern on the Buffalo crash pilot recordings, Good Day Philadelphia 5/13/09
- Andy Stern interviewed about Buffalo plane crash, Fox 29 5/12/09
- Andy Stern comments on Buffalo plane crash probe, Good Day Philadelphia 2/16/09
- Andy Stern interviewed on fatal Buffalo plane crash, Fox 29 2/13/09
- Salvation Army Suit Settles for $227M, A Record Sum, The Legal Intelligencer 2/9/17
- Andy Stern analyzes pilot action in NYC jet crash, Good Day Philadelphia 2/6/09
- Andy Stern interviewed on Hudson River plane crash, Fox 29 2/5/09
- Andy Stern comments on Hudson River Plane crash, Fox 29 1/16/09
- Andy Stern interviewed on NYC plane mishap, Fox 29 1/15/09