Nicholas Malfitano Aug. 27, 2015, 9:41am


PHILADELPHIA – Counsel for a California plaintiff allegedly injured by a bed bug infestation in her former Philadelphia apartment wishes to officially withdraw from the case.

Kimberly M. Frascella, of Stief, Gross & Sagoskin in Newtown, filed a petition to withdraw her appearance on July 17. Frascella explained she communicated her intention to plaintiff Brooke Murray of Venice, Calif., though could not publicly reveal the reason for her withdrawal due to “continuing duties with the plaintiff.”

Further, defense counsel Joseph J. Stathius, of Robert J. Casey Jr. & Associates in Philadelphia, filed preliminary objections on Aug. 5, alleging Murray’s suit was verified improperly. Stathius alleged the lawsuit was only verified by Frascella and not Murray herself, and that Murray’s claims lacked specificity.

However, Frascella responded on Aug. 12 that the defendants had 20 days in which to file their preliminary objections to Murray’s amended complaint from June, and instead waited 43 days to do so.

As more than twice the deadline time had elapsed, Frascella sought to strike the defense’s preliminary objections, because it would “severely prejudice the plaintiff” and “the statute of limitations had expired.”

A hearing in these matters was set for Wednesday at Philadelphia City Hall, in Court chambers.

Murray’s lawsuit (filed in February and amended in June) alleges Chen Chih Ying Lin and Chen Yu Neng, both of Brooklyn, N.Y., entered into a lease agreement for a Philadelphia property they owned on Longshore Avenue on Feb. 5, 2013, commencing on March 1, 2013 with Murray listed as a tenant.

Murray moved into the property on Feb. 27, and allegedly learned by March 1 that the property was infested with bed bugs. Murray allegedly suffered bites from the bugs that drew blood and caused an allergic reaction, skin lesions and scarring.

Subsequently, Murray hired Integrity Pest Management in Philadelphia to handle the bed bug issue, and was allegedly advised by their staff that the infestation had begun prior to her lease starting.

Panphil Realty agent Jason Zu admitted the property had been infested with bed bugs and offered to reimburse Murray for the expenses of hiring Integrity Pest Management and the replacement of her belongings, which had been destroyed in the process, the suit says. Murray’s mother delivered an invoice to Zu on March 2, 2013.

At the time, Murray was enrolled at Penn State University’s Abington campus. Though after the bed bug situation, Murray withdrew from classes and as a result, lost her tuition money for the spring 2013 semester, the suit says.

Murray sued Lin, Neng and Panphil Realty for breach of warranty of habitability, negligence and breach of covenant of quiet enjoyment. The plaintiff is seeking a sum not in excess of $50,000, plus interest, court costs, delay damages and counsel fees.

The defendants are represented by Stathius of Robert J. Casey Jr. & Associates, in Philadelphia, plus Andrew J. Good and James L. Barlow of The Law Offices Of James L. Barlow, in King Of Prussia.

Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas case 150202944

From the Pennsylvania Record: Reach Courts Reporter Nicholas Malfitano at nickpennrecord@gmail.com

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