Kline & Specter A Professional Corporation

Birth injury case brings $15M settlement

On May 12, after three weeks of trial, Shanin Specter, Kila Baldwin and Lisa Dagostino settled a birth injury case against a North Jersey hospital, labor and delivery nurse and obstetrician for $15 million. The case involved a delay in delivery and resulted in severe brain injury to the newborn. The case was complicated by the nearly complete charitable immunity enjoyed by New Jersey hospitals and the failure of the obstetrician to have more than $1 million in insurance coverage. Said Specter: "The settlement will ensure that this badly disabled child will get the care and support he needs for the rest of his life."

Whistleblower case yields
$6.2 million settlement

David Caputo and David Williams represented a client in a whistleblower case that resulted in a $6.2 million settlement for the city and state of New York. The whistleblower alleged in the case that Lantheus Medical Imaging Inc. and its former parent company, Bristol-Myers Squibb, made millions of dollars and avoided paying various taxes from 2002 to 2006. The settlement was announced by Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman, who praised Caputo and Kline & Specter for assisting the whistleblower in the case. “It’s simple,” Schneiderman said, “corporations doing business in New York are obligated to pay taxes on their earnings, and those companies that fail to do so will be held accountable. This resolution makes a huge difference for hard-working New Yorkers who pay their taxes and play by the rules." It also made a huge difference for the whistleblower, who received a percentage of the settlement as a reward as proscribed by law. The reward was $1,137,814.80.

Stern, Crawford win large settlement in birth injury case

Andy Stern and Liz Crawford won an 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 drug Pitocin, used to induce labor, contrary to both a doctor’s order and hospital policy. They also failed to recognize the importance of a non-reassuring fetal heart tracing that indicated evidence of fetal compromise nor did they appropriately administer oxygen to the mother. As a result of the delay in delivery, the baby suffered permanent neuro-developmental abnormalities, vision deficits and other indications of brain injury which will become more evident as the child ages. Details of the settlement were confidential.

Kline argues cap case before PA Supreme Court

Tom Kline addressed the Pennsylvania Supreme Court in Harrisburg on the issue of a state law that caps civil damages against school districts and municipalities at a maximum $500,000. He was joined by Chip Becker, head of the firm’s Appellate Division, and David Caputo. The matter stemmed from the case of Ashley Zauflik, a high school student in Bucks County, Pa., who lost her left leg after she was struck by a Pennsbury school bus on school property. Kline won a $14 million verdict in the case, but the award was limited under the Pennsylvania Political Subdivision Tort Claims Act. Kline claimed the law is unconstitutional on several counts. He told the high court: "The irony and the injustice here is that if the Pennsbury School District had this bus with a private contractor, there would have been a mandated $5 million (insurance) coverage. This same child in a public school district cannot even get 10 percent of the mandated coverage. I mean, talk about a violation of equal protection!" (Read The Legal Intelligencer and Pennlive coverage)

Suit filed in fatal NJ explosion case

Tom Kline and Dominic Guerrini filed a civil suit against PSE&G and a contractor on behalf of a New Jersey woman who was killed in a gas explosion that destroyed or damaged 55 condo units in Ewing Township. The suit was filed in Philadelphia Common Pleas Court for the family of Linda Cerritelli, 62, whose home was reduced to rubble in the March 4 explosion which occurred after utility workers digging outside struck a gas line. The lawsuit, which seeks punitive damages, was filed after an exhaustive investigation ordered by Kline. The independent probe uncovered several startling facts, including that workers onsite knew a gas line had been compromised and that they could smell the escaping gas, yet they failed to call 911, shut off the gas or try to evacuate residents while they searched for several hours for the source of the leak.

Verdict prompts change at
Parx racetrack

Neither a tragic death of a jockey in 2010 after he was thrown from a horse that was frightened by a chicken nor the filing of a lawsuit had convinced Parx Casino & Racetrak to ban non-equine animals from its premises. But a $7.8 million jury verdict won by Mike Trunk for the family of Mario Calderon did. A week after the verdict in April, this sign was spotted at the track:

Becker makes appeal case in
class-cert case

Chip Becker authored a friend of the court brief on behalf of Community Legal Services and the Public Interest Law Center in Reyes v. Netdeposit, Inc. involving the scope of class-action litigation in a major telemarketing fraud case. The case is currently pending in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. The appeal stems from the denial of class certification and claims the trial court used an improper legal standard for factual determinations and failed to consider key expert evidence supporting class certification. ”If the district court's approach is ratified on appeal,” said Becker, “it would be very hard to certify a class to remedy consumer fraud and to use class actions to pursue social impact litigation in areas like disability and education law.”


Shanin Specter will speak at the Delaware Trial Lawyers Association’s 2014 Annual Convention to be held June 6-7 at the Atlantic Sands Hotel in Rehobeth Beach. Specter is scheduled to appear at 10:45 a.m. on June 6 on the topic: “How to handle a case with important public safety issues.” For more information call the DTLA at 302-421-2801

Attorney pushes for city fire escape safety

Dominic Guerrini testified before a Philadelphia City Council committee on the importance of requiring landlords to conduct regular inspections of fire escapes. The April testimony followed the firm’s filing of a civil suit against the owner and landlord of a Rittenhouse apartment building where three people fell 40 feet when a fire escape landing collapsed. One young man was killed and two women suffered serious injuries. Guerrini told the committee that such tragedies can be avoided at a relatively small cost. He urged City Council to adopt the latest edition of the International Fire Code which mandates inspections of fire escapes and balconies every five years by independent qualified professionals. (Read news story)

Important ruling achieved in case
against City, DHS

Kline & Specter lawyers won an important ruling from a federal judge who decided that adoptive parents can proceed with their lawsuit against the City of Philadelphia and a caseworker for the Department of Human Services who favored placing the child, William Saunders, Jr., with his biological father and his fiancée. A few months later, seven-year-old Saunders was severely beaten by the fiancée, suffering cerebral edema and other serious injuries. Today, he continues to suffer reduced cognitive functions and neuropsychological problems. Tom Kline, in an interview with The Legal Intelligencer, praised the ruling by U.S. District Chief Judge Petrese B. Tucker as “gratifying.” David Williams briefed the opposition to the defendant’s summary judgment motion. The ruling clears the way for a trial.

CLS opens new Philly HQ

Community Legal Services opened their new Philadelphia headquarters at 1401 W. Erie Ave. with a dedication attended by former Gov. Ed Rendell and Merck CEO Ken Frazier, who spoke about the importance of access to the courts by the poor. Tom Kline and Shanin Specter also attended. Kline & Specter made a substantial contribution to the construction of the new headquarters. CLS was established by the Philadelphia Bar Association to provide free legal services to low-income Philadelphians and has served more than one million clients since its founding in 1966.

Kline & Specter attorneys run
Broad Street

Braden Lepisto helped raise $12,000 for the American Cancer Society by running for the 13-member “Rebels with a Cause” team sponsored by Kline & Specter in the May 4 Blue Cross Broad Street Run. Lepisto finished with a time of 1:09:18 and in 964th place out of more than 40,000 runners. Among other Kline & Specter race participants were Cori Maldonado (1:16:05), Dominic Guerrini (1:16:16), Michelle Tiger (1:23), David Inscho (1:29:08), Karen Kane (1:42) and Kyleen Mulligan (1:56:45)

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