Nicholas Malfitano Jun. 24, 2016, 1:16pm


PHILADELPHIA – A local judge presiding over a premises liability lawsuit filed against Longwood Gardens has overruled preliminary objections seeking the case's transfer to Chester County court.

Joseph H. Riches filed a motion for preliminary objections on March 15, seeking a transfer of Richard and Lorie Wolanin’s suit against Longwood Gardens, Inc. and a number of its related on-premises restaurant agencies to the Chester County Court of Common Pleas.

Riches explained both plaintiffs resided there and the cause of action in this matter occurred there, making it the ideal venue, and that the defendants conducted no business within Philadelphia County.

But on June 17, Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas Judge John M. Younge overruled Riches’ preliminary objections without prejudice, in order for the issues contained therein to be revisited if and when the restaurant defendants are dismissed from the lawsuit.

Subsequently, on June 21, Longwood Gardens, Inc. filed an answer through Riches with new matter and a cross-claim – which sought judgment in their favor and against the plaintiffs, through the dismissal of their complaint in its entirety with prejudice, and an award of costs, expenses and attorney’s fees.

On Nov. 30, 2013, Wolanin was at the restaurant 1906 at Longwood Gardens in Kennett Square, working as a chef. According to the plaintiff, floor mats were placed in the vicinity of the restaurant’s outdoor walk-in freezer – and furthermore, were placed on top of salt pellets and ice melt, which had itself been laid down outside the freezer in response to then-recent weather conditions.

When Wolanin was walking to the freezer and stepped on the floor mat, it moved and caused Wolanin to fall to the concrete, striking his back and buttocks in the process, the suit says. As a result, Wolanin allegedly suffered herniated discs in his neck and back, injuries to his arms, shoulders, muscle tissue and nerves, requiring a number of surgeries.

The plaintiffs are each seeking damages in excess of $50,000, plus interest and costs in this case. This includes Lorie Wolanin suing for loss of consortium.

The plaintiffs are represented by Christopher A. Bradley and Andrew D. Swain of The Swain Law Firm, in Bensalem.

The defendants are represented by Riches of the Law Offices of Jeffrey H. Eiseman and Joanna T. Vassallo of Shook Hardy & Bacon, both in Philadelphia.

Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas case 151103517

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

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