Nicholas Malfitano Apr. 1, 2016, 8:46am


PHILADELPHIA – A motion to transfer a negligence lawsuit revolving around a teenager’s accidental drowning has been denied by a judge in the Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas.

John G. Devlin filed a motion to transfer a suit from Harrisburg residents Eric Doku and Comfort Dodoo from Philadelphia County to Dauphin County, on the grounds that the subject accident occurred there. In addition, Devlin pointed to the logistical challenges associated with securing evidence and witnesses to travel from central Pennsylvania to Philadelphia, said the case had no connection to or service within the City or County of Philadelphia, and labeled the chosen forum as “oppressive and vexatious” to the defendants.

On Monday, Judge John M. Younge denied the transfer motion.

On June 17, 14 year-old Benjamin Dodoo was using the in-ground pool at the Aspen Hills Apartments in Harrisburg, with defendants Vanessa Jelyzkova and Ozlem Suel of Hanover, Md., as the lifeguards on duty. However, Jelyzkova and Suel were allegedly sitting at a table checking in pool visitors without a clear view of Dodoo.

As Dodoo had been swimming in the deep end of the pool for a “considerable” amount of time without resurfacing, according to the lawsuit, other patrons went to the deep end and found Dodoo unconscious and unresponsive.

The patrons who located Dodoo began to perform CPR, since Jelyzkova allegedly began to perform resuscitation exercises improperly and was pushed aside, while Suel was not present at this time. Paramedics arrived and attempted to help revive Dodoo, but their attempts were unsuccessful and Dodoo died. The coroner’s report labeled Dodoo’s cause of death as “freshwater drowning."

Doku and Comfort Dodoo levied charges of negligence against Chambers Ridge Associates of Glenside, Altman Management of Fort Washington and Aquasafe Pool Management of Hanover, Md., for failing to maintain safe premises and hire properly-trained lifeguards, and charges of negligence against Jelyzkova and Suel for failing to ensure patron safety and assist in Dodoo’s CPR, among other claims.

Doku and Dodoo sued all defendants for wrongful death, survival action, negligent infliction of emotional distress and loss of consortium, for damages in excess of $50,000, plus interest and costs. Further, the plaintiffs asserted charges of breach of contract/warranty against Aquasafe for the same amount.

The plaintiffs are seeking damages in excess of $50,000, plus interest, costs and other relief in this case.

The plaintiffs are represented by James P. Goslee of Cohen Placitella & Roth, in Philadelphia.

The defendants are represented by Devlin of Devlin Associates, plus Yvette N. Bradley and Mark R. Kehoe of McElroy Deutsch Mulvaney & Carpenter, also all in Philadelphia.

Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas case 150902610

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

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