Conflicts between client and counsel in elevator fall case lead attorney to withdraw

By Nicholas Malfitano | Aug 23, 2016

PHILADELPHIA – Conflicts between a woman claiming to be injured in an elevator fall and her representation have caused that lawyer to exit the lawsuit.

Joseph P. Guzzardo of Swartz Culleton in Newtown filed a motion to withdraw appearance on July 14, on behalf of himself and his firm. Guzzardo explained the motion resulted from plaintiff Rhonda Shired’s repeated promises to terminate his and his firm’s representation of her, attempting to secure the services of other firms, then apologizing and asking he continue to represent her.

Guzzardo added the discovery period had not yet expired and an arbitration hearing would not occur until Oct. 24, so Shired and her case would not be prejudiced if his motion were to be granted.

On Aug. 18, Judge Abbe F. Fletman ordered the withdrawal motion granted and gave Shired 30 days in which to obtain new counsel – while keeping the scheduled arbitration date of Oct. 24 on the calendar.

On Dec. 17, 2014, Shired was working on the premises of the Belmont Center for Comprehensive Treatment, on the campus of Albert Einstein Medical Center, when the elevator doors on the 3rd Floor failed to level – in the process, Shired says she was injured when she attempted to step into Elevator No. 10. Shired avers the defendants’ supposed failure to repair or warn of the defective elevator directly led to her injurious fall.

Shired allegedly suffered lumbar/thoracic radiculopathy and radiculitis, lumbar strain and sprain, plus other nerve-related and psychological injuries.

The plaintiff is seeking negligence damages not in excess of $50,000 from each of the defendants in this case: Eastern Elevator Services and Sales Company of Windber, plus Albert Einstein Medical Center, LaSalle University and Willow Terrace, all in Philadelphia.

The plaintiff is represented by Theodore C. Levy of Fine & Staud, in Philadelphia.

The defendants are represented by Brian L. Calistri and Dean C. Seman of Weber Gallagher Simpson Stapleton Fires & Newby and Lori C. Miller of Goldberg, Miller & Rubin, both in Philadelphia, Edward J. Schwabenland of Schwabenland & Ryan, plus Lawrence D. Jackson and Helena E. Lazares of Lewis Brisbois Bisgaard & Smith, all in Wayne.

Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas case 150603483

From the Pennsylvania Record: Reach Courts Reporter Nicholas Malfitano at

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