Kline & Specter attorneys take part in signing of anti-hazing law 

Kline & Specter lawyers Tom Kline, David Williams and Chip Becker looked on along with clients Jim and Evelyn Piazza as Gov. Tom Wolf signed the Timothy J. Piazza Anti-Hazing Law on October 19, 2018. The bill was sponsored by Sen. Jake Corman. The Kline & Specter lawyers were instrumental in working with Sen. Corman and his staff and drafting legislation aimed at deterring hazing in Pennsylvania, especially in fraternity and university life. The new law, the most comprehensive anti-hazing law in the nation, makes aggravated hazing that results in serious bodily injury or death a felony and enables forfeiture of real estate, such as a fraternity house, in such events. The law, designed as a deterrent and to save lives, provides safe harbor immunity for those who call for aid or render aid in a hazing incident. Tom Kline told the news media at the time of passage: “The parents of Tim Piazza are grateful for the unanimous passage of the Timothy J. Piazza Anti-Hazing law which, they believe, will serve as a national model for anti-hazing legislation. In particular, today was a significant step forward in deterring and eradicating the scourge of hazing on university campuses throughout the nation.” Prior to the signing, Jim Piazza, standing next to Gov. Wolf, Sen. Corman, along with Evelyn Piazza, Kline, Williams and Becker, commented: “We are proud today that the Timothy J. Piazza Anti-Hazing Law has been enacted. We have sadness in our hearts every day without Tim in our lives, but are encouraged that this law will serve to hold accountable those who commit the crime of hazing, which cost Tim his life and, by its deterrent effect, will save the lives of young men and women like Tim.” The new law was covered widely in the media, including WPVI6, featuring remarks by Gov. Wolf, Jim Piazza and Tom Kline. (Watch WPVI6 coverage
Specter, Guerrini, and Baldwin settle product liability case for $30 million 
Shanin SpecterDominic Guerrini and Kila Baldwin, settled a product liability case for $30 million against a motor vehicle manufacturer. Details of the settlement are confidential. This is the second $30 million settlement achieved by Specter in 2018. The earlier agreement, obtained by Specter, Michael Trunk and Patrick Fitzgerald, along with Sacramento counsel Robert Buccola, involved a cell tower worker who fell from an improperly maintained AT&T structure in Lehigh County, sustaining a severe brain injury. The tower worker, Thomas Jeglum, who is married and has two children, remains in a full-time neurorehabilitation facility in California. The latest case also was the second $30 million settlement achieved by Specter and Guerrini in a similar motor vehicle product liability case. That prior auto manufacturer settlement, the details of which are also confidential, benefited a 14-year-old Philadelphia girl.
Stern pens “Justice Under the Rubble” about building collapse case 

Mariya Plekan was pinned under the rubble of a Center City building that collapsed for 13 hours before she could be rescued. The new book “Justice Under the Rubble” looks into the gruesome events of June 15, 2013 and the ensuing physical and legal battle for Plekan, a Ukranian immigrant represented in one of Philadelphia’s longest trials by Andy Stern. The attorney wrote the account to give the public an inside glimpse not only of Plekan’s personal plight but also the epic legal battle that followed. Written with George Anastasia, a former reporter with The Philadelphia Inquirer and author of six books, “Justice Under the Rubble” looks into the injuries suffered by Plekan, the follow-up surgeries and how she copes with the entire lower half of her body severed. Plekan was trapped when the wall of a building being demolished came toppling onto the Salvation Army Thrift Store where she had been shopping. In the legal case, a verdict was delivered against several defendants, including the Salvation Army, which had failed to close the store to protect its shoppers against the dangers of a possible collapse. The defendants later agreed to a $227 million settlement for all those killed and injured of which Plekan was awarded a record $95.6 million. Said Stern: “As a trial lawyer substantially immersed in this multifaceted case of historical and human significance, I was compelled to provide the behind-the-scenes insight of what really happened and why.” The book can be pre-ordered now at Amazon and Barnes & Noble for release on Nov. 21. 

Kline & Specter at the top in most verdict, settlement categories for 2017 

Kline & Specter took home the most top honors in The Legal Intelligencer’s recently published Top Pennsylvania Verdicts & Settlements 2017. The No. 1 verdict in a Product Liability case went to Kila BaldwinTracie Palmer and Elia Robertson for a $57.1 million jury award in a vaginal mesh case tried in Philadelphia. The No. 1 Medical Malpractice verdict was $14.5 million won in federal court by Dominic Guerrini and Mark Polin, one of the firm’s five doctor/lawyers, in a birth injury case. (Guerrini and Polin followed with a $47 million jury verdict in a post-delivery injury case in federal court in 2018.) Braden Lepisto had the 8th largest medical malpractice verdict with an $870,000 jury award in rural Huntingdon County. The No. 1 Settlement was obtained by Tom Kline, Palmer and Guerrini against the City of Philadelphia for a pizza shop deliveryman who was shot and seriously wounded by plainclothes police officers who mistakenly thought he was a criminal suspect. The Legal Intelligencer omitted the huge arbitration award won by Andy Stern and Liz Crawford in the Center City building collapse case, a $95.6 million award for a woman who was buried for 13 hours in the rubble and suffered amputation of the lower part of her body. The award was the largest-ever personal injury recovery in Pennsylvania for one injured person. Also unreported was the $11 million verdict won by Nadeem Bezar and Emily Marks against a foster care placement agency and the adoptive parents of a girl who was physically and sexually abused by her foster parents.
Inscho and Cavaliere achieve settlement in rape case 

David Inscho and Michael Cavaliere obtained a $4 million settlement for an autistic woman who was raped while a resident at a Philadelphia area treatment facility. The victim, a long-term resident of the facility, had the mental functioning of a five year old. In the early morning hours of March 6, 2016, a staff member assigned to the victim’s care entered her room and found her being raped by another employee. Despite the shocking scene, the staff member failed to report the crime to his supervisor for more than an hour and a half. When the rape finally was reported, the rapist was arrested, then later tried and criminally convicted and sentenced to seven to 15 years in prison. Extensive discovery taken by Kline & Specter revealed egregious failures by the institution in the training and supervision of its employees to ensure that the facility’s vulnerable and disabled population was properly monitored. Rounds had gone undone, staff members had been caught sleeping on the job, and a number of them testified that they were too busy doing chores to properly check on residents. After more than a year of discovery and a number of depositions, the case settled for $4 million. The name of the institution is confidential under terms of the settlement. 

Injury case finally over after years of appeals 

Shanin Specter and Chip Becker finally wrestled one of the firm’s longest-running cases to the ground. It ended when the Pennsylvania Supreme Court recently denied the petition for allowance of appeal in the case of a woman injured when she made a promotional video for a knee replacement. The case dated back more than 12 years to the injury sustained by Margot Polett, represented by Specter at trial and Becker, head of the firm’s Appellate Division. Defendants in the case were Zimmer Inc., an orthopedic medical device manufacturer, and Public Communications Inc. The original jury verdict was $27.6 million but that was reduced by the trial court to $20.6 million. But a three-judge panel of Pennsylvania Superior Court and then a nine-judge panel of the same court tossed the entire verdict. Then the Supreme Court reinstated the verdict. Zimmer again appealed in Superior Court, which ordered the verdict reduced by the trial court. The trial court modestly reduced the verdict, which was upheld by the Superior Court. The Supreme Court then declined to hear the case again, which finally puts an end to the labyrinth legal matter. The amount ordered to be paid, including interest and delay damages, came to $22,687,797. Following the Supreme Court’s decision, Specter told The Legal Intelligencer: “The Poletts are glad that this … legal odyssey is over, unless, of course, Zimmer appeals to the U.S. Supreme Court and then the International Court of Justice in The Hague.” No such appeals were filed. The clients received their money.

Bezar picked for Field Center board

Nadeem Bezar was named to the Advisory Board of the Field Center for Children's Policy, Practice and Research, an organization that marshals the resources of the University of Pennsylvania to enhance and assure the well-being of abused and neglected children and those at risk of maltreatment. The Field Center brings together various disciplines and some of the nation’s leading experts in child welfare to collaborate on reforming the systems responsible for protecting children. Bezar is one of those experts. He is among the leading attorneys in litigation against public and private child care agencies in cases that have failed in their responsibilities to provide children with safe environments and to follow up to ensure their welfare. Bezar has won a litany of major verdicts and settlements on behalf of children who have been physically or sexually assaulted or, in some cases, killed because of abuse or neglect by their caretakers.

Jimenez among Pennsylvania’s Top 100 Influential Latinos 

Priscilla Jimenez was recognized as one of Pennsylvania's 100 Most Influential Latino Leaders at the Pennsylvania Latino Convention held in late September in Lancaster. The award was given by WITF, the Harrisburg-area affiliate of the Public Broadcasting Service, which noted that Pennsylvania is home to nearly one million Latinos. The event was held to coincide with the first anniversary of Hurricane Maria hitting Puerto Rico, killing thousands and destroying countless properties. The convention addressed the needs of the Latino community in Pennsylvania and hosted discussions and workshops on topics such as education, jobs, health, immigration and poverty.

Williams addresses CLE on Cecil B. Moore

David Williams was a speaker at an historic all-day CLE program titled “Standing on the Shoulders: The Black Philadelphia Lawyer.” The event featured 20 speakers and was sponsored by the Tucker Law Group, the National Bar Association-Women Lawyers Division and the Barristers’ Association, of which Williams has been elected to become president in September 2019. The event was a tribute to the accomplishments of some of the greatest attorneys and judges in American history. Williams addressed the audience in the day’s final segment, “Black Lawyers and the Struggle for Dignity and Equality.” He spoke about Cecil B. Moore, the Philadelphia lawyer and civil rights activist who, among other things, fought to integrate Girard College. Moore was also a member of Philadelphia City Council and president of the local chapter of the NAACP. An avenue and neighborhood in North Philadelphia are named for Moore, who died in 1979. The CLE program concluded with a discussion of “Challenges for the next generation of black lawyers.” The event was featured in a Philadelphia Tribune column, which singled out Williams for doing “an exceptionally impressive job enlightening the audience about Cecil B. Moore.” (Read the account)

Kline Law moves up in national trial competition rankings

The Thomas R. Kline School of Law at Drexel University has been ranked No. 4 in the United States in the 2017-18 Trial Competition Performance Ranking published by Fordham University School of Law. That’s a two spot jump from the previous year’s No. 6 ranking. The Trial Competition Performance Ranking (TCPR) provides points for different competition wins as well as teams making it to the final or semi-final rounds in regional and national tournaments. Kline Law’s trial team won a number of prestigious awards over the last academic year, including: National Champion, Top Gun National Mock Trial Competition; Regional Champions, American Association of Justice Trial Competition; Regional Champions, Texas Young Lawyers Association Trial Team Competition; National Champions, Tournament of Champions, sponsored by the National Board of Trial Advocacy.

Future Arlen Specter US Squash Center on display

Details and diagrams of the upcoming – Fall 2020 – Arlen Specter U.S. Squash Center at Drexel University were revealed recently in a new video and the complex truly will, as advertised, showcase the sport “like never before.” The 65,000-square-foot Specter Center will have 20 courts (18 singles and two doubles) plus the U.S. Squash Hall of Fame. And it promises “unparalleled access” with community engagement and urban youth and education programs. The center will host many squash matches and tournaments, including the U.S. Open. Tracey and Shanin Specter are the lead donors to the project. (Watch video)

Paznokas article published by noted immigration publication 

Michelle Paznokas was published in Bender’s Immigration Bulletin, a twice monthly LexisNexis publication considered an authoritative source for the latest in immigration news featuring case digests and articles by experts in the field on the latest developments and their implications for legal clients. An excerpt from the article: “For the past few decades, undocumented children have arrived at the U.S. border in growing numbers, and while many have been eligible for asylum and other forms of legal status, those fleeing parental violence and neglect were largely unprotected. In 1990, Congress created ‘Special Immigrant Juvenile Status’ to provide a pathway to Lawful Permanent Residence for children who have been abused, abandoned, or neglected by one or both of their biological parents. Unfortunately, many state court judges, ill-informed and confused about their role in the process, are still reluctant to make findings in favor of SIJS applicants; some judges rule on the merits of the application—which is the federal government’s role—instead of limiting their considerations to what is in the child’s best interest—which is their actual role. In effect, the success of an SIJS applicant depends not on the merits of her claim, but rather on the jurisdiction she happens to land in. This note suggests the process be amended by working toward two long-term goals: (1) creating a nationwide ‘best interest standard’ based on current U.S. family law statutes and the United Nation’s Convention on the Rights of the Child, and (2) creating a standard SIJS order that all state court judges must complete when deciding SIJS matters.” Read the entire article -- which was also published in the Thomas R. Kline School of Law’s Law Review. 

Kline plays the Borgata 

Tom Kline was the featured speaker closing the 18th annual Philadelphia Bar Association Bench Bar Conference held at the Borgata Hotel in Atlantic City. His speech was titled “Old and New Ideas: A Recipe for the Future Based Upon Experience of the Past.” The one-hour presentation was attended by many of the 350 lawyer/judge conference attendees who were treated to some of Kline’s experiences from 40 years at the bar. The speech focused on universal principles that have guided Kline throughout his career as well as the wisdom of various other lawyers, judges, philosophers and even athletes. Kline’s overarching message when practicing law was a simple one: “Be happy.”


Shanin Specter modeled for Epirus, a British manufacturer of athletic bags,on their social media sites.  Specter, an avid squash player, is often seen toting a bag throughout the streets of Philadelphia or wherever he might be. 


New to the family:         

Born to Heather and Kline & Specter's Michael Dooner, Max Dooner 
Upcoming events:
  • Nov. 15 -- Andy Stern will be on the prosecution team for the murder trial of Aaron Burr (for killing Alexander Hamilton). The live and historical courtroom drama, worth 3 CLE credits, is based on the dueling and murder law in effect in 1804. Presiding will be Judge Ketanji Jackson (D.D.C.). The prosecution team includes Stern and Greg Garre, former Solicitor General of the United States; the defense team includes Pat McKinney, Senior Advisor, Training, Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office, and Neal Katyal, former Acting Solicitor General of the United States. David Williams will play the part of Aaron Burr and Tom Kline will give opening remarks. At the Thomas R. Kline Institute for Trial Advocacy, 1200 Chestnut Street. Breakfast and registration 8 a.m. to 9 a.m., program goes to 12:15 p.m. 
  • Jan. 9 -- Kila Baldwin and Dominic Guerrini along with Dean Jules Epstein of the Temple University Beasley School of Law, will present a one-credit Substantive Law CLE on “Evidence and Effective Trial Advocacy.” Noon at Del Frisco’s restaurant, 1426-1428 Chestnut St., Philadelphia. 


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