Defense counsel motions to withdraw representation in Catholic charities accident action

By Nicholas Malfitano | Oct 6, 2015

Attorneys argue communication with their clients has been "difficult."

Kyle M. Elliott  

PHILADELPHIA – Defense counsel for a group of parochial charity organizations and their driver, who are accused of negligence, have petitioned to be removed from the case, while the plaintiffs in the case have motioned for the opportunity to amend their complaint.

On Aug. 19, defense attorneys Kyle M. Elliott, Nicholas M. Centrella and Frank R. Emmerich Jr., all of Conrad O’Brien in Philadelphia, filed a motion with the Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas to collectively withdraw their appearance on behalf of their clients: Catholic Social Services, Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia and Tonya Beckham, all based in Philadelphia.

In their motion, the trio of attorneys described having “great difficulty” in communicating with Beckham, having made a number of unsuccessful attempts to contact her both in writing and on the phone. The attorneys said this difficulty has made defending her “unreasonably difficult."

In addition to withdrawing their representation, they asked the court for a 60-day stay of proceedings, in order for the defendants to retain new counsel.

On Friday, plaintiff's counsel Kathleen Kirkpatrick filed a motion to amend the negligence lawsuit filed by Philadelphia resident Denise Crawford, on behalf of her incapacitated daughter, Andrea Dyett. Pursuant to Pennsylvania Rule of Civil Procedure 1033, Kirkpatrick wants to add Catholic Community Services as a defendant in the lawsuit.

According to Kirkpatrick's motion, it was learned during the case’s discovery period that Catholic Community Services hired Beckham as a driver, and Beckham was in fact transporting a client of that organization at the time of the lawsuit’s accident in question.

Kirkpatrick noted the statute of limitations on the incident had not elapsed, and Catholic Community Services received notice of the action when its affiliated entities already named in the suit were served in March.

A hearing in this matter is set for Wednesday at Philadelphia City Hall, in court chambers.

On Oct. 1, 2014, Beckham was operating a vehicle on behalf of the defendants, traveling east on Girard Avenue at its intersection with 3rd Street in Philadelphia, when her alleged negligent driving caused a collision with Dyett, a pedestrian attempting to cross Girard Avenue. According to the suit, Beckham’s employers are vicariously liable for her actions.

Dyett suffered severe and permanent injuries to her brain, lungs, liver and left leg, in addition to fractures in her pelvis and skull, which required a number of corrective surgeries. Dyett also was in a coma for three weeks due to her traumatic brain injury.

The plaintiffs are seeking a sum jointly and severally, in excess of $50,000, plus interest, costs and other damages from all defendants in this case.

The plaintiffs are represented by Kathleen Kirkpatrick of Tucker Law Group in Philadelphia.

Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas case 150301637

From the Pennsylvania Record: Reach Courts Reporter Nicholas Malfitano at

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