Jon Campisi Dec. 3, 2013, 9:36am


An attorney representing Philadelphia-based ACME Markets and

Minnesota-based SuperValu Inc. are seeking removal of a premises liability action from state to federal court.

Elizabeth A. Chalik, a lawyer practicing with Philadelphia-based Marks, O’Neill, O’Brien, Doherty & Kelly, filed a removal petition with the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania on Nov. 27 seeking to transfer a civil case initiated by Jill and Christopher Whitman against the grocers.

Chalik maintains that the matter should be litigated in federal court because the amount of damages sought by the plaintiff is likely to exceed the jurisdictional limited at the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas, which is where the suit was initially filed in late October.

The Whitmans, who reside in Collegeville, Montgomery County, are suing the defendants over a slip-and-fall incident that occurred on July 15 of this year.

According to the plaintiffs’ complaint, Jill Whitman had gone with her teenage daughters to the ACME store on the 1100 block of Welsh Road in Lansdale, Pa. when the woman fell on her way to the checkout aisle.

Whitman slipped on a puddle of sticky liquid substance that had been pooled on the floor of the market at the time, the lawsuit states.

Her fall occurred in the aisle stocked with shampoo, soaps and other seasonal items.

Whitman claims that while she was able to hold onto her shopping cart at the time, she nevertheless still experienced immediate pain and swelling in her right leg and ankle.

A store employee ultimately helped Whitman, the complaint states, although the plaintiff was unable to drive because of her injury, and had to summon her husband to come and pick her and her daughters up from the store.

Whitman refused an ambulance at the scene, although she eventually sought out hospital treatment and has been under medical care and a physician’s supervision ever since, the lawsuit states.

The plaintiff has since been diagnosed with Complex Regional Pain Syndrome, “which has worsened over time and which has negatively impacted every aspect of Mrs. Whitman’s life,” the complaint reads.

The lawsuit contains counts of negligence, premises liability and loss of consortium.

The Whitmans say they are seeking damages in excess of $50,000, but in the removal notice the defense contends that damages are likely to exceed $75,000, which would trigger federal court jurisdiction.

Chalik, the defense attorney, also noted in her removal petition that contrary to the plaintiffs’ complaint, SuperValu is a Delaware corporation, not a company whose principal place of business is in Minnesota.

ACME, too, is a Delaware-based corporation, Chalik wrote, meaning diversity of citizenship exists between the parties, another requirement for removal to federal court.

The plaintiffs are being represented by attorney Keith M. McWhirk of the Skippack, Pa. firm of Mandracchia & McWhirk.

 

The federal case number is 2:13-cv-06937-PBT and the state case ID number is 131002717.

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