Trucking co., driver seek transfer of accident case to federal court

By Jon Campisi | Dec 18, 2013

A Philadelphia attorney representing a trucking agency and a commercial

driver embroiled in a vehicle accident case brought by a central Pennsylvania couple has moved to transfer the litigation out of state court and into a federal venue.

Attorney Jay Barry Harris, of the Philadelphia law firm Fineman Krekstein & Harris, filed a removal notice at the federal courthouse in Harrisburg this week seeking to have a U.S. District Court judge take up jurisdiction in a case brought by Nedal Morad and her husband, Ashraf Musleh.

The couple is suing Old Dominion Freight Line Inc. and driver Michael Maxwell over a Sept. 1, 2011, accident along Interstate 81.

The lawsuit, filed earlier this month by Harrisburg attorney Matthew L. Owens, says that Morad was driving along the highway near mile marker 57.2 when Maxwell, of Waco, Texas, rear-ended the woman’s vehicle, causing the plaintiff to sustain serious back injuries.

Morad claims she suffered both cervical and lumbar spine injuries that required medical treatment and physical therapy.

The plaintiff alleges she incurred medical expenses to treat her injuries, and that she suffered from mental anxiety and nervousness as a result of the crash.

The lawsuit accuses Maxwell of failing to maintain a safe speed, failing to keep a safe following distance, failing to properly look out for other vehicles operating on the roadway, and failing to be “highly vigilant.”

Morad acted with due care and was not liable for contributory or comparative negligence, the complaint says.

Old Dominion Freight Lines, Maxwell’s employer, is vicariously liable for the accident and Morad’s injuries because Maxwell was operating the company’s vehicle at the time and was a “permissive driver in the course and scope of his employment at the time the accident occurred.”

Old Dominion stands accused of failing to properly train drivers, failing to monitor drivers’ behavior and driving habits, failing to properly screen and hire drivers, and failing to adhere to and comply with general state and local vehicle operating ordinances.

The plaintiffs seek damages for pain and suffering; past and future embarrassment, humiliation and mental anxiety; past and future incidental costs; loss of life’s enjoyment and pleasures; earnings losses; and for Morad’s limited range of motion.

In his removal notice, defense attorney Harris wrote that the matter belongs in the federal court system because the action is between citizens of different states.

Harris also maintains that despite the plaintiffs’ contention that the damages will hover around $50,000, the reality is that damages would likely exceed $75,000, which would trigger U.S. District Court oversight.


The federal case number is 1:13-cv-03008-SHR.

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