Jon Campisi Sep. 20, 2012, 11:24am

The parents of a man who died earlier this year after his vehicle plunged into the

Delaware River have filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the City of Philadelphia, accusing the municipality of negligence for not erecting proper barriers between the dead-end road and waterway.

Attorneys with the high-power personal injury firm Saltz, Mongeluzzi, Barrett & Bendesky filed the civil action Sept. 14 at state court in Philadelphia on behalf of John P. McGeehan and his wife, Helen A. McGeehan, who reside in Philadelphia’s Fishtown neighborhood.

According to the complaint, Joseph McGeehan was operating his Jeep Liberty on Unruh Avenue in Philadelphia back on Jan. 7 of this year, traveling eastbound near the intersection with New State Road, when his vehicle plunged into the Delaware River at the end of Unruh Avenue due to the city failing to erect appropriate safety barriers at the location.

The plaintiffs accuse the city of negligence for failing to put in place property safety barriers and warning signs to protect drivers, failing to provide a “No Outlet” and “Dead End” sign at the end of Unruh Avenue, failing to adequately light the area in question, and allowing the road to be maintained in a manner so that the thoroughfare ended without any barrier between the road and the river.

As a result of the careless and negligent conduct of the defendant, the lawsuit states, Joseph McGeehan suffered “excruciating and agonizing pain, suffering and discomfort which ultimately resulted in his untimely death by drowning.”

In addition to the negligence count, the lawsuit also contains a wrongful death claim in which the plaintiffs seek to have the city reimburse them for medical and funeral expenses, loss of net projected pecuniary contributions from the decedent to the plaintiffs, expenses incurred in the administration of the decedent’s estate, and for loss of decedent’s services, companionship, comfort, society, solace and protection.

There is also a Survival Action count in the lawsuit.

For each of the three counts listed, the plaintiffs seek in excess of $50,000 in damages.

A Jan. 26 column in the Philadelphia Daily News written by Ronnie Polaneczky further painted the picture of an indifferent city, with friends and relatives of McGeehan’s quoted as saying that the city didn’t do enough to not only prevent the accident, but to help out the family following the incident.

This included the fact that Philadelphia Police apparently wouldn’t immediately aid in retrieving McGeehan’s body from the river, something Marine Unit personnel said was due to the dangerous condition of the river at the time.

A team of Good Samaritan divers finally retrieved McGeehan’s body – 13 days after the accident, the newspaper column stated.

According to the column, McGeehan, 31, also known as “Babe,” who worked for a towing company, had just left an Irish bar on Cottman Avenue in the city’s Bridesburg section when the accident occurred.


The case ID number is 120901706. 

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