Weight loss coach sues promoters of 'break-through' motivational event, defense seeks transfer of venue

By Jon Campisi | Aug 16, 2013

The Montgomery County attorney representing two defendants in a case

involving injuries arising out of an event put on by a motivational group has filed a petition to transfer the litigation to federal court.

Blue Bell, Pa. attorney Anthony W. Hinkle, of the firm Cipriani & Werner, filed court papers Aug. 15 with the Eastern District of Pennsylvania seeking to have a federal judge take up jurisdiction in a case initiated at Philadelphia’s Common Pleas Court late last month by Montgomery County couple Anne and Jacob Furbacher.

Ann Furbacher claims she sustained a fractured wrist back on July 21, 2011, while, during her job as a weight loss coach for Take Shape for Life Inc., she participated in a “Break-Through Event,” a motivational exercise in which participants attempt to break through wooden boards.

Furbacher claims that she attempted to break through a pine board with her right wrist and ended up suffering an acute right distal radial fracture necessitating surgery.

The defendants named in the litigation are Take Shape for Life Inc., Medifast Inc., Medifast Weight Control Centers, Jason Properties LLC, and Brian Biro and his business, Brian Biro Enterprises LLC.

Biro and his company, the defendants being represented by Hinkle, the Blue Bell attorney who filed the removal notice, had been hired by Take Shape for Life Inc., the Medifast defendants and Jason Properties LLC to coordinate and perform the “Break-Through Event.”

The plaintiffs are suing for both negligence and loss of consortium.

Biro and his company are accused of failing to provide event attendees with a safe environment, failing to properly train employees and participants prior to the “Break-Through Event,” failing to adequately warn attendees and participants of the risks associated with breaking the wooden board during the presentation, failing to adequately inspect the boards used during the event, failing to adopt and employ proper and adequate safety procedures, and allowing attendees, including the plaintiff, to participate in an event in which other participants had previously become injured.

Furbacher claims she had to have a metal plate and screws placed in her wrist during surgery. She also says she endured extensive and painful post-surgical physical therapy.

The couple also alleges they suffered earnings losses and damage to future earning capacity due to the woman’s injuries.

Hinkle, Biro’s lawyer, wrote in his removal petition wrote that counsel for the other defendants don’t oppose a transfer of the matter from state to federal court.

The defense lawyer contends that the case should be litigated in federal court because there is diversity of citizenship among the parties and because the amount of damages sought by the plaintiffs exceed the jurisdictional limit at Common Pleas Court.

The plaintiffs are being represented by Philadelphia attorneys Jeffrey F. Laffey and Laura E. Nowicki of the firm Laffey, Bucci & Kent LLP.


The federal case number is 2:13-cv-04750-TON. 

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