Litigant in DUI-related personal injury case must find new counsel or risk dismissal of case, court stipulates

By Nicholas Malfitano | Jul 12, 2016

PHILADELPHIA – All proceedings in a matter concerning a plaintiff paralyzed as a result of driving while intoxicated after leaving a West Chester pub have been stayed until early September, pending the litigant’s procurement of new counsel.

Christopher Maloney filed a motion to withdraw appearance on behalf of himself and his firm, Ross Feller Casey in Philadelphia, from representing Cotty J. Lukk in Essington. Maloney said the impasse was reached due to “irreconcilable differences," and it was no longer appropriate for him and his firm to represent Lukk.

Maloney further sought a 90-day stay of all proceedings, in order for Lukk to secure new counsel.

According to a judicial order from Judge John M. Younge issued on June 3, all proceedings in the case were stayed for 90 days, so Lukk could secure new counsel. If and when that occurred, present counsel would transfer the case file to the new representation, the stay would be lifted and a new case management schedule would be mutually devised – and if such new counsel was not secured by the end of the 90 days, Maloney and his firm would be permitted to withdraw from the case and the stay would remain in place, with a status conference to take place between 90 and 150 days from the date of the order.

Additionally, Younge said Lukk was to be served with the order within seven days and informed that any eventual failure to secure new counsel or proceed pro se would result in dismissal of the case with prejudice.

From the late evening of Nov. 14, 2013 to the early morning hours of Nov. 15, 2013, Lukk says he was a customer at Kildare’s Pub in West Chester. Lukk added while there, he was overserved alcoholic beverages, despite having difficulty walking and obvious impairments to his speech.

Despite being intoxicated at the time, Lukk left Kildare’s in his car. However, Lukk control of his vehicle and it left the roadway, striking a tree in the process. The collision caused Lukk to suffer a subarachnoid hemorrhage, spinal compression fractures, bilateral pulmonary contusions and right frontal lobe contusion fractures.

The accident also left Lukk paralyzed from the mid-chest down.

Lukk filed counts of both negligence and negligence per se versus all defendants, individually. The plaintiff is seeking damages, jointly and severally, in excess of $50,000 and in excess of prevailing arbitration limits, plus pre-judgment interest, post-judgment interest and costs.

The plaintiff is also seeking exemplary damages in the same amount from all defendants – due to the “known risk” of overserving patrons and the defendants using “willful, wanton and callous” disregard for Lukk’s safety.

A settlement conference in this action is scheduled for July 18 in the Court’s Dispute Resolution Center, at Philadelphia City Hall.

The defendants are represented by John J. Snyder, Mary Ann Capriotti and Erin E. Lamb of Rawle & Henderson, Noah S. Shapiro and Theodore M. Schaer of Zarwin Baum DeVito Kaplan Schaer Toddy in Philadelphia, John F. Barrett and Kevin M. Blake of Bennett Bricklin & Saltzburg, in both Philadelphia and Blue Bell.

Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas case 150300843

From the Pennsylvania Record: Reach Courts Reporter Nicholas Malfitano at

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