Nicholas Malfitano Jul. 19, 2016, 2:20pm


PHILADELPHIA – An elevator fall case against Best Western International, Inc. (BWI) has been tentatively listed for trial in the Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas, weeks after a $95,000 default judgment against the hotel company was struck down.

Lisa N. Cialino filed a motion to strike the judgment on Jan. 8, charging plaintiff Kelli Ingram Fofana and her counsel did not properly serve a copy of their complaint to BWI. Cialino said the complaint was served on June 3 of last year at the Best Western Plus Independence Park Hotel in Philadelphia (not the location of the accident in question), but the resulting affidavit failed to identify exactly who the complaint was served to.

Cialino said BWI is based in Phoenix, and says it had no notice of Ingram Fofana’s lawsuit. However, a default judgment was found in the plaintiff’s favor for $95,000 on Dec. 2. Next, the defense said a letter from plaintiff counsel providing notice of the judgment, sent to BWI in Phoenix, served as the first official notice of the lawsuit in general.

Cialino emphasized the Best Western Plus Independence Park Hotel and BWI are separate entities, and that BWI does in fact have a listed address in Harrisburg for the purpose of proper complaint service in the state of Pennsylvania.

On June 3 and after consideration of arguments from all parties concerned, Judge John M. Younge granted Cialino’s petition and ordered the $95,000 default judgment stricken from the record.

Further, Younge would later order the case placed on a brand-new case management schedule, with the following projected dates and proceedings:

- Settlement Conference: Jan. 2, 2017

- Pre-Trial Conference: March 6, 2017

- Trial: April 3, 2017

On Aug. 11, 2013, the defendants were alleged to have allowed a dangerous condition of standing water on the floor in, around and outside the elevator inside the Best Western hotel in Woodbridge, Va. This alleged condition caused Ingram Fofana to trip, fall and be violently thrown down due to this same dangerous condition – and the plaintiff argued the defendant’s failure to inspect, maintain, repair or warn visitors to the premises of the condition caused this accident.

Ingram Fofana allegedly suffered a right knee medial meniscus tear, severe chondromalacia patellae, right hip trochanteric bursitis, contusion of the hip and knee, plus other injuries and conditions.

The plaintiff is seeking a jury trial, damages in excess of $50,000, plus interest and costs in this case.

The plaintiff is represented by Jerry Lyons of Joseph Chaiken & Associates, in Philadelphia.

The defendant is represented by Charles W. Spitz and Cialino of Post & Schell, also in Philadelphia.

Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas case 150501352

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

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