Kline & Specter A Professional Corporation
Kline & Specter Eletter - February 2013

Kline & Specter tops – by far – in PA verdicts, settlements

Kline & Specter has won more verdicts and settlements of $10 million or more in Pennsylvania than any other firm lover the past 19 years – in fact, as many as the next three firms combined. That was the finding by The Legal Intelligencer in a report published in its recent 170th Anniversary edition. It noted that Kline & Specter compiled 26 verdicts and settlements of $10 million or more, although the newspaper included only publicly reported resolutions. The firm has many more when confidential settlements are counted. And it did not count Kline & Specter’s largest-ever verdict, a $153 million award against the Ford Motor Co. levied by a jury in Nevada. Among the cases included in the report was the $109 million verdict in 2012 in a case involving a woman’s death due to a fallen power line, a verdict that was the largest in a personal injury case in Pennsylvania history. That case later settled for $105 million. Also making the list was a $51 million verdict for a boy whose foot was severed in a SEPTA escalator, a $49 million verdict in a hospital error case, a $40.5 million settlement in a fatal apartment building fire, a $36.4 million settlement in a refinery worker’s death, a $33.1 million verdict in a late diagnosis breast cancer case, and a $29.6 million settlement in the Pier 34 collapse that left three women dead and dozens injured. (Read The Legal Intelligencer article)

Firm wins breakthrough Penn State/ Sandusky settlement

Tom Kline, along with Michael A. Trunk and David Williams, scored a major breakthrough with the first settlement of 31 civil lawsuits stemming from the Jerry Sandusky sexual abuse scandal at Pennsylvania State University. Kline, who was instrumental in negotiations with PSU, obtained a well-publicized settlement for the firm’s client. The inside story was reported in an exclusive article by The Philadelphia Inquirer. (Read article)

The amount of the settlement was confidential, but PSU’s chief negotiator described it as being “at the top of the top grouping.” Penn State earlier had confirmed it had Board of Trustees approval for $60 million in settlements. Kline represented Victim No. 5, who was sexually assaulted by Sandusky in a campus shower in August 2001, six months after another assistant coach, Mike McQueary, had reported to campus officials that he witnessed Sandusky assaulting another child, also in a campus shower. The Inquirer termed the settlement reached by Kline as “pivotal” in agreements being reached with other victims. (See full coverage)

Inscho wins Berks County med-mal verdict

David Inscho won a $1.7 million verdict in Berks County for the family of a three-month girl who died of a brain injury she suffered after a doctor failed to diagnose bacterial meningitis. A jury deliberated three and a half hours at the end of a weeklong trial to deliver the verdict for the girl’s parents against a doctor and Reading Hospital and Medical Center. The incident occurred in late 2007 when Emma Takacs was taken to the emergency room with a 103-degree fever. She was diagnosed with a middle-ear infection and sent home with a prescription for an antibiotic. The next morning she was pale and lethargic and was rushed to her pediatrician, then immediately transferred to Lehigh Valley Medical Center, where she was diagnosed with pneumococcal meningitis, hypoxic brain injury and hydrocephalus. She remained hospitalized for nearly four weeks before being discharged. About 20 months later, Takacs died  of respiratory complications related to the infection. The verdict was not appealed and was paid in full. Read more about the case

Trunk wins $2M settlement for Eagles’ Jason Peters

Michael A. Trunk won a $2 million settlement for Philadelphia Eagles left tackle Jason Peters who ruptured his Achilles tendon after the Roll-A-Bout device he was using caused him to topple to the floor. Peters, an all-star player, had been recuperating for three weeks  from Achilles surgery when the device, an alternative to crutches, broke at the handlebars and he reinjured himself in March 2012.  A second surgery was required and Peters, who had been expected back to playing football last October or November, ended up missing the entire 2012 season. The Roll-A-Bout was advertised for patients weighing up to 500 pounds, while Peters was listed at 340. (See news coverage)

Firm a leader in TVM mass tort lawsuits

Kline & Specter attorneys continue to play a major role in the burgeoning nationwide litigation involving transvaginal mesh and injuries caused to women by the defective medical devices. Lee Balefsky and Michelle Tiger are leading the representation of more than 1,000 women nationwide in lawsuits against makers of the products, also known as pelvic or bladder sling. Balefsky is a member of the plaintiffs' nationwide steering committee and is involved in taking key depositions of defendant corporate representatives. Several trials are scheduled to take place over the next several months. The FDA has issued product warnings regarding transvaginal mesh products and civil suits have been filed across the country involving injuries such as organ perforation, bleeding, infection, sexual dysfunction and urinary leakage. (Visit our transvaginal mesh website)

Suit filed in building collapse case

Andy Stern filed suit on behalf of a woman who suffered severe injuries when she was buried for nearly 13 hours beneath the rubble of a Center City building that collapsed on June 15. The suit states that Mariya Plekan suffered injuries that “led to the removal of her entire lower body.” The 52-year-old immigrant from Ukraine lost both legs and also suffered kidney failure, cardiac arrest, liver dysfunction and sepsis. Plekan, a widow, had been shopping at a thrift shop when a wall of the building being demolished next door collapsed onto the store’s roof. Six people died in the incident and 14 were injured. Among those named as defendants in the suit are a  principal in STB Investments Corp., which owned the building that was being demolished, the demolition contractor and the property manager See news coverage

Kline Speaks at State Trial Judges Conference

Tom Kline, along with Judge Terrence Nealon of Lackawanna County, Judge Marilyn Horan of Beaver County and Dan Ryan of O'Brien & Ryan conducted a daylong presentation at the Pennsylvania Conference of State Trial Judges Annual Meeting  on July 26 in Hershey, Pa. Kline’s presentation, titled “Medical Malpractice,” covered topics ranging from recent legal developments to the statistics of medical malpractice filings and trials to cutting edge issues in electronically filing medical records. The morning and afternoon sessions were well-attended and well-received by trial judges from around the commonwealth.

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Six named by Best Lawyers as among tops in nation

Best Lawyers announced its winners for 2014 and … they were the same as the previous year. Named once again as among the Best Lawyers in America from Kline & Specter were Tom KlineShanin Specter – who each were selected for the 12th time Andy SternLee Balefsky, head of the firm’s Mass Tort Department, Michelle Tiger and Chip Becker, who heads the appellate division. The honor is given for legal excellence. Kline had already been named Philadelphia Medical Malpractice “Lawyer of the Year” for 2013 by Best Lawyers, an independent attorney rating service. Kline & Specter was named one of the nation’s best law firms in several categories, including Medical Malpractice, Product Liability and Mass Tort Litigation. Click here for more

Five suits filed so far in unneeded stent surgeries

Kline & Specter has filed five lawsuits for patients who underwent unnecessary stent procedures performed at Pennsylvania Hospital. Several additional suits were expected in the coming weeks in the wake of Penn’s revelation that about 20 patients had the small, mesh tubes implanted when they were not needed to open clogged coronary arteries. Penn notified patients in April as well as state and federal authorities of its discovery after a review of the patients of one doctor, Vidya Banka, who performed the surgeries. He has since given up his medical privileges at the hospital. The first suit, which names Banka, the hospital and the University of Pennsylvania Health System as defendants, was filed on behalf of a 51-year-old woman from the city’s Olney section and seeks compensatory and punitive damages. (See news coverage)

Specter CLEs a hit in Pittsburgh, Philadelphia

Shanin Specter conducted two more CLE programs from his popular series titled “Lessons Learned from the Goretzka Case” about his $109 million verdict (and subsequent $105 million settlement) in a fallen power line wrongful death case against West Penn Power. The CLEs played to packed houses in Pittsburgh, where the nearly four-week trial was held, and in Philadelphia. Click here to view the program or to   learn more about The Goretzka Case.

Smerconish praised for independent thinking, voice

Michael Smerconish, national radio talk show host and of counsel at Kline & Specter, was praised in a lengthy profile in The Pennsylvania Gazette for his “Purple Passion,” namely his ability to discuss politics without siding with either the ”Red” Republican or “Blue” Democratic parties. The article noted: “Trained as a lawyer and steeped in politics, Smerconish is very much at home in the rapid-response world of hardball politics. Though his energy is controlled, he brings an almost frightening amount of it to his work, along with a boundless curiosity about the world and ideas, a junkie’s attraction to politics, and a storyteller’s gift for finding fresh angles.” It quoted Smerconish as noting he is not registered as a member of either major political party: “I’m registered as an Independent because I don’t want to be associated with the thought processes of either one.” Read the complete article

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