PHILADELPHIA – After the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) was denied a new trial in the case of a former conductor who was assaulted on one of the agency’s train cars and later won a jury verdict in excess of $200,000, the transport group has appealed that decision to the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania.
Initially, Richard K. Hohn filed a post-trial motion on behalf of SEPTA on Dec. 23. Two days earlier, a jury verdict found the transportation authority fully negligent in the incident where plaintiff Nicole Hooks was injured and awarded her $229,000.
Hohn sought a new trial, as the defense felt testimony from an expert witness of Hooks’ was based on “hearsay” and not fact, that Hooks admitted the assault was “unforeseeable and completely unanticipated”, and that Hooks underwent limited physical examination for alleged post-concussion headaches she sustained as a result of the train ride assault.
Hohn requested the Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas to do one of the following: Order a new trial, enter a judgment NOV or remit the jury verdict amount awarded to Hooks. But on April 27, Judge Denis P. Cohen denied SEPTA’s post-trial motion and entered final judgment for Hooks.
Hohn summarily appealed to the Commonwealth Court on May 18 complaining of errors by the state court in their decision to award judgment to Hooks, a proceeding which remains pending at the present time. Hohn claimed Hooks did not sufficiently prove the third-party assault she sustained was “reasonably foreseeable” by SEPTA, and thus she was not eligible for a jury verdict and a related damage award.
Hooks’ lawsuit explained she was a railroad conductor working on SEPTA’s Wilmington/Newark Line, when she was seriously injured in an altercation with an unruly passenger on July 5, 2011. Hooks alleged her injuries were caused by the “negligence, gross negligence, carelessness, recklessness and unlawful conduct of the defendant.”
Hooks claimed SEPTA failed to provide her with a safe work environment, adequate security measures, proper training, and other violations; Hooks then brought suit under the Federal Employers Liability Act (FELA).
In the incident, Hooks averred she suffered a concussion and post-traumatic headaches, back and neck injuries and severe nervous system shock.
The plaintiff had been seeking compensatory damages, plus costs, interest and other relief in this case.
The plaintiff is represented by Samuel J. Rosenthal in Philadelphia.
The defendant is represented by Hohn and John A. Thiry Jr. of Hohn & Schuerle, also in Philadelphia.
Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas case 140602615
From the Pennsylvania Record: Reach Courts Reporter Nicholas Malfitano at email@example.com