Appearance withdrawal motion OK'ed in premises liability case against herbal products store

By Nicholas Malfitano | Jun 3, 2016

PHILADELPHIA -- Plaintiff counsel for a customer injured in a slip-and-fall accident at an herbal products store had their motion to withdraw from the resulting litigation approved in the Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas.

Alan D. Silverman of Gold Silverman Goldenberg & Binder filed a motion to withdraw his appearance on April 14, explaining he was first retained by plaintiff Jamila Cole in August 2013. However, Silverman described a lack of communication from that point until June 2015 -- until Silverman forwarded a complaint for Cole’s review, since the statute of limitations in her action was approaching last August. Subsequent attempts to establish contact were not successful, Silverman said.

In December, defense counsel filed a motion to compel discovery, and Silverman said he wrote to Cole several times regarding that motion from that point until April, but did not hear back from her. Further, not one letter sent to Cole was marked as undeliverable.

In the interim, Athena O. Pappas of Deasey Mahoney & Valentini entered appearance for defendant Victoria Onwuchekwea (doing business as Chic Afrique), and obtained a court order compelling a response to discovery requests.

Silverman said he was unable to abide by the discovery request due to Cole’s lack of communication, but added her Camden, N.J., address remains valid. In addition, Cole’s absence and lack of communication made his representation “unreasonably difficult.”

An arbitration hearing in this case, originally set for May 6, was recently continued to July 7.

On May 20, Judge Linda Carpenter released an order allowing Silverman’s motion to withdraw appearance, and directing him to enter a praecipe with the court’s Prothonotary within 10 days, attaching an affidavit certifying the order was sent to Cole -- and updating the Prothonotary with Cole’s current address information. The case docket describes Silverman as having entered the praecipe on May 24.

According to Carpenter, all other case deadlines -- including the July arbitration date -- remain in effect.

On Aug. 15, 2013, Cole entered Chic Afrique at 3943 Lancaster Avenue, and was allegedly caused to fall on rose petals and other types of vegetation spread throughout the floor, leading to her injuries. Cole alleged the shop's failure to correct this dangerous condition resulted in her fall.

Cole allegedly suffered cervical and lumbar strain and sprain, right trapezius myofascitis, aggravation of pre-existing spinal bifida and traumatic anxiety.

The plaintiff is seeking damages not in excess of $50,000, plus interest and costs.

The defendant is represented by Pappas and Francis J. Deasey of Deasey Mahoney & Valentini, also in Philadelphia.

Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas case 150801080

From the Pennsylvania Record: Reach Courts Reporter Nicholas Malfitano at

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