Bat mitzvah invitee sues synagogue and congregants over stairway slip-and-fall incident

By Jon Campisi | Nov 29, 2011

A bat mitzvah invitee who claims he had to have spinal surgery after slipping on ice-and-snow-covered stairs at a Pennsylvania synagogue is suing the religious institution and the couple who was hosting the Jewish right-of-passage ritual.

Attorneys Mark W. Tanner and Royce W. Smith, of the firm Feldman, Shepherd, Wohlgelernter, Tanner, Weinstock & Dodig, filed the civil action Nov. 23 on behalf of Wayne Wakshul of Voorhees, N.J.

The defendants named in the slip-and-fall suit are Abington, Pa.-based Old York Road Temple Beth Am, and Cheltenham, Pa. residents Sam and Jodi Stern.

According to the complaint, Wakshul, who was attending a bat mitzvah ceremony for the couple’s daughter back in December 2009, slipped and fell on the synagogue’s exterior steps while he was attempting to help the couple to bring items to their car following the event.

The lawsuit claims that it had snowed while the event was going on inside, and when it came time for Wakshul to leave, he was unaware that the steps were in a slippery condition.

As a result of his fall, the suit claims, Wakshul sustained herniated discs and a tear, which resulted in him needing surgery.

Wakshul also has been left with a permanent bilateral foot drop, the suit claims, and he has experienced pain and weakness throughout his lower extremities since the incident.

The lawsuit also claims that Wakshul has experienced embarrassment and humiliation, mental anguish, disfigurement, a loss of life’s pleasures, medical and other expenses and other ills and injuries.

The lawsuit accuses the defendants of negligence for failing to remove the snow and ice from the exterior steps, failing to salt the outside steps, failing to warn guests of the dangerous condition that existed outside of the synagogue, failing to protect the plaintiff from foreseeable harm and violating various codes related to proper snow removal.

Wakshul demands judgment against the defendants in a sum in excess of $150,000, together with interest and other court costs.

A jury trial has been demanded.

The federal case number is 2:11-cv-07309-ER.

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