Independent produce supplier sues wholesale market, others over marketplace injury

By Jon Campisi | Sep 16, 2013

A self-employed produce supplier alleges in a civil complaint that he

fractured his elbow and sustained head injuries after coming into contact with a piece of equipment at a Philadelphia food distributor.

Paraskevas Papadopoulos claims he was severely injured on Aug. 18, 2011, when visiting the Philadelphia Wholesale Produce Market run by the Procacci Bros. Co. at 6700 Essington Avenue in South Philadelphia.

While at the premises with the goal of purchasing produce for resale, the plaintiff claims that while en route to pick up his order, he was struck by a piece of equipment, believed to be a powerjack, that was being operated by another patron.

After he came into contact with the device, Papadopoulos fell to the ground, sustaining a fractured right elbow with chipped bone, a concussion and other head injuries, lower back injuries, and other physical problems including headaches and dizziness.

The plaintiff also claims he sustained mental anguish, emotional suffering, and economic and other losses as a result of the marketplace incident.

The suit accuses the defendants of negligence for improper operation of the mechanical equipment, operating mechanical equipment with excessive speed under the circumstances, failure to keep a proper lookout, failure to warn the plaintiff of the operation of the equipment, improper training and supervision of the employee who was operating the device, and being otherwise careless and negligent in fact and at law.

The various defendants named in the lawsuit are as follows: Procacci Bros. Co., Procacci Bros. Sales Corp., J. Ambrogi Food Distribution Inc., Tom Reilly, Regional Produce Cooperative Corp., and Garden State Farms.

Reilly, identified as an employee of J. Ambrogi Food Distribution, was the man who allegedly struck the plaintiff with the piece of equipment.

Reilly, the suit says, was also purchasing produce from the marketplace at the time of the incident.

The plaintiff and his wife, Susan Papadopoulos, say they are seeking more than $50,000 in damages, plus interest and litigation costs.

They are being represented by attorney Edward J. Zanine, of the Bucks County firm Flager & Associates.

While the suit was filed last month at the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas, the record shows that lawyers representing the defendants are seeking to transfer the matter to the U.S. District Court in Philadelphia.

In a recently filed removal petition, attorneys David F. White and Adam M. Sorce, of Marshall, Dennehey, Warner, Coleman & Goggin, who represent Procacci Bros. and Garden State Farms, wrote that the case should be litigated in federal court because the defendants are citizens of different states, and federal civil procedural rules give the defense the ability to remove an action based on diversity jurisdiction.

“For the purposes of these proceedings, there exists a complete diversity of citizenship between the Plaintiffs and the Defendants and the United States Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania has original jurisdiction,” over this case, the lawyers wrote.

The defense attorneys also wrote that a reasonable reading of the complaint shows the plaintiffs are likely seeking damages that would exceed state court jurisdiction.

A damages claim of $75,000 or more would trigger federal court oversight.

The matter was assigned to U.S. District Judge Mary A. McLaughlin.


The state case ID number is 130801407 and the federal case number is 2:13-cv-05330-MAM.

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