Wrongful death lawsuit to stay in Philadelphia court, judge says

By Nicholas Malfitano | Jul 26, 2016

PHILADELPHIA – A wrongful death and survival action will remain in the local court system, per a recent order from a judge in the Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas.

Michael J. Diamond filed a motion to transfer on April 29, arguing forum non conveniens and seeking the case moved to the Chester County Court of Common Pleas. Diamond labeled the forum chosen by Stephanie Gray and Joseph Williams in their suit as “oppressive and vexatious” – citing all actions in this matter having taken place in Chester County, and the vast majority of witnesses planning to be called in this case have either a residential or professional connection to that county.

On July 20, Judge Arnold L. New overruled Diamond’s transfer motion, effectively keeping the litigation in Philadelphia.

On Dec. 4, 2014, Bennett says she was served alcoholic beverages by VFW Post No. 845, the Department of Veterans Foreign Wars of the United States and at the Crossroads Bar (all located in Downingtown) after she was already visibly intoxicated. Bennett avers she was served with eight alcoholic beverages at these location, and then attempted to operate her vehicle – in violation of Pennsylvania law.

Bennett drove her 2011 Honda Pilot on Lincoln Highway in Downingtown, where she struck a pedestrian on the road’s sidewalk, Ke’asya Gray, and then fled the scene, according to the lawsuit. Gray allegedly received multiple traumatic injuries that caused her conscious pain and suffering prior to her death.

Stephanie Gray and Joseph Williams, Ke’asya’s parents and co-administrators of her estate, filed a multiple-count lawsuit, charging Bennett with failing to safely operate her motor vehicle and for driving under the influence; negligence versus VFW Post No. 845, the Department of Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States and Crossroads Bar for continuing to serve Bennett past the point of intoxication; wrongful death versus all defendants and survival versus all defendants.

The plaintiffs are seeking interest, costs, monetary and punitive damages permissible under Pennsylvania state law from all defendants in this case.

The plaintiffs are represented by Samuel A. Anyan Jr. in Philadelphia.

The defendants are represented by Thomas P. Bracaglia and Joanna D. Buchanico of Marshall Dennehey Warner Coleman & Goggin, Diamond of The Chartwell Law Offices, Joseph A. Ricchezza and Justin P. Callaway of Salmon Ricchezza Singer & Turchi, plus Geoffrey F. Sasso of White & Williams, all in Philadelphia.

Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas case 160101382

From the Pennsylvania Record: Reach Courts Reporter Nicholas Malfitano at nickpennrecord@gmail.com

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