In 1994, Mark M. was a patron at a local night club in Bensalem, Pennsylvania. It had been his first time there at the club which was multi-level and had at least seven (7) different bar areas. Late in the evening he had become separated from his friends and in the confusion of searching for them, one particularly aggressive bouncer mistook him for a drunken troublemaker.
Mark recalls the bouncer announcing the word “daddy longlegs” on his walkie talkie. Within a minute, four (4) large framed male bouncers physically removed Mark from the premises, and in doing so, picked him up by his neck and threw him down a large flight of stairs.
This was done in full view of a shocked crowd. Mark sustained moderate injuries and was, above all, terribly humiliated by the attack. The case was eventually tried before a judge in Bucks County who awarded $30,000.00 to Plaintiff. The Judge found it compelling that Plaintiff’s counsel produced at trial (1) an independent witness who saw what had happened and heard the code word “daddy longlegs” being announced; and (2) production of the ER nurse who testified that the “choke” marks found on Plaintiff’s neck were consistent with a violent assault.
Fritz V.H. was a general carpenter working on the job in West Chester. At the time, he was driving masonry nails by hand when he felt a slight pinch in his right eye. Not thinking much of it, he continued working for the rest of the day.
The pinching sensation grew worse as time passed. However, Fritz’s strong work ethic prohibited him from complaining or missing work, so he never notified his employer, a fact that is usually fatal to a worker’s compensation claim.
Two (2) years later, he suffered a detached retina in his right eye. The retina was unable to be reattached after two surgeries and thereafter the eye, tragically has to be surgically removed. When Fritz sought the services of Attorney DeRita, the case had been rejected by two other “workers’ compensation” attorneys, on the basis that the statute of limitations had run, barring the claim.
However, proper investigation and research in this area proved the following:
(1) Claimants have three (3) years to file a claim from the date of injury or the date they should have known of the injury and its relationship to employment; and (2) there was a pathology report done on the removed eye (more than three years after the injury) which found small traces of iron are present.
Armed with this key evidence, Attorney DeRita was able to prove that the masonry nails used by Fritz contained iron and that the pinching sensation was actually a sliver of iron which entered his eye. Further, although more than three (3) years had passed since the injury, Fritz had not discovered the relationship between the incident and his eye injury until the hospital pathology report was discovered. Full workers’ compensation benefits were awarded for a total loss of use of the eye, under the Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Act.
1.1 Million Workers Compensation Litigation
This was a case where Attorney DeRita represented the claimant only on the workers’ compensation litigation. Lewis G., a heavy equipment operator for 20 years, was operating a crane at a construction site near Lancaster, Pennsylvania. The crane dangerously lost lateral support near the site of the building foundation which had been dug three (3) weeks prior. Lewis was thrown from his operator’s cab severely injuring his neck.
The insurance company argued at trial that Lewis’ injuries and resulting disability were caused by a rear pre-existing condition to his cervical spine. Attorney DeRita called Lewis’ treating orthopaedic surgeon to testify that even though there was a pre-existing condition, the work injury aggravated the cervical spine to the point that a cervical fusion was necessary. In fact, the injury was so severe, Plaintiff had to wear a “cervical halo,” a ghastly metal brace that restricts all neck movements by drilling screws into the side of your skull at four (4) separate points.
The Workers’ Compensation Judge’s award was one of the largest ever recorded in the state of Pennsylvania! The award gave Lewis the near maximum amount of weeks of compensation for five different areas of disfigurement due to the neck surgery and scars caused by the halo bolts. Lewis G. was awarded over 1,000 weeks of compensation and the case was settled for a confidential sum soon after.
2.2 Million Dollar Award Truck Accident
John M. and Jody C. worked for a drywall contractor in Philadelphia. They had been partners for years and in 2002, they were assigned to a new townhouse construction site in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania. While driving home in a company truck where 422 East intersects with 202 North, they were slammed from behind by a pick-up truck carrying a two-ton steel industrial pump. During the lawsuit that followed, it was revealed that the driver of the pick up was only 23 years old. His boss had directed him to pick up the pump from Reading, Pennsylvania and return to the Defendants plants in Toms River, New Jersey. The driver admitted that he was hopelessly lost, confused and that he begged his employer not to send him on the trip because he simply, “was not up to the task.”
Several depositions were taken. Both Plaintiffs required multiple surgeries, and vocational experts were retained on both cases to substantiate the wage loss of both. Prior to trial, Attorney DeRita received a call from defense counsel requesting a meeting with the relevant insurance companies.
After a three-hour session, at which the witness video testimony was shown, a combined settlement of 2.2 million was negotiated for both Plaintiffs.
1.8 Million Dollar Settlement
John M. was a lifelong mason who ran his own masonry business for 15 years before the recession forced him to close up shop. He became a foreman for a local commercial masonry contractor in Allentown, Pennsylvania. John was assigned to work at the Cedarbrook Mall in Cheltenham, Pennsylvania to build and oversee masonry work on a new Ross Dress-for-Less store.
Construction sites can be dangerous places when safety enforcement is compromised. Unfortunately for John, the steel erector contractor was working above John who was setting the first course of cinder blocks on the ground. As the last steel erector employee was coming down the ladder, (a 30-foot heavy duty aluminum extension ladder) it shifted and fell. John was struck on the head and fell into a ditch losing consciousness.
Attorney Joe DeRita represented John and his family on the Workers’ Compensation case
and the negligence case against the steel fabricator, steel erection company, the construction
manager and two other subcontractors on the job site. Construction experts, OSHA experts and
12 medical experts were brought into the case and after 15 months of grueling discovery, the case
was prepared for trial.
John’s primary injuries were reflex sympathetic dystrophy (RSD) and traumatic brain
injury, both of which disabled him for life as a mason or any type of construction work. His
wife, Dawn, was forced to stay home to care for John due to his declining mental and physical
health. All the Defendants teamed up to hire experts to refute John’s injuries. With trial eminent, the parties submitted the case to mediation before a former U.S. District Judge in Philadelphia. The case was resolved after 13 hours of mediation.