PHILADELPHIA – Counsel for one of a quartet of companies accused by a Philadelphia man of poisoning him with methyl bromide pesticides two years ago are attempting to dismiss claims of reckless behavior and punitive damages with prejudice.
On April 12, defense counsel Jared B. Shafer filed a motion of preliminary objections to dismiss Jonathan Olszewski’s aforementioned claims against Adams Expediting, Inc., on the premises that the claims were precluded by workers’ compensation law in both Pennsylvania and New Jersey, and were not pled with substantive evidence.
“Under Pennsylvania law, a plaintiff’s injuries are compensable exclusively under the Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Act. As such, employees are precluded from suing their employers for work-related injuries. Further, when the Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Act applies to a work place injury claim, Pennsylvania Courts lack subject matter jurisdiction to adjudicate any tort claim against the employer at issue pertaining to the cause of that injury,” Shafer said, contending those stipulations did not apply to the instant case and the ones the plaintiff made under New Jersey law were insufficient.
“As plaintiff is surely aware from his long history of employment with Adams, Adams has no interaction with the pesticide methyl bromide,” Shafer stated.
Shafer also believed Olszewski did not provide sufficient evidence the company acted outrageously.
“Plaintiff has not cited any conduct that rises beyond the level of negligence,” Shafer said in the motion. “The averments set forth against defendant Adams amount to nothing more than negligence, which are clearly insufficient under Pennsylvania case law to support a claim for punitive damages.”
Shafer added the plaintiff’s complaint is “completely devoid of any facts which would support a finding that defendant Adams conduct was sufficient to justify an award of punitive damages, as the complaint merely alleges acts/omissions that amount to nothing more than negligence” and factually insufficient.
Olszewski initially filed suit on Feb. 15 in the Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas, versus Adams Expediting, Inc. of Philadelphia, Royal Fumigation, Inc. and Royal Pest Control, Inc. both of New Castle, Del., and Royal Pest Management of PA, Inc., in Kemblesville.
“Plaintiff came into contact with the methyl bromide containing pesticides complained about herein at all three of the Adams Expediting, Inc. locations. During the month of March of 2015, plaintiff worked a significant amount of hours at the Delaware and New Jersey locations and was working in close proximity to the methyl bromide containing pesticides. Furthermore, during the several months prior to March of 2015, plaintiff had worked strenuous amounts of hours at the Delaware and New Jersey locations, which often consisted of 15-hour shifts with no days off,” the complaint details.
“On or about March 9, 2015, after having worked approximately 23 days straight without a day off and numerous hours per day, plaintiff began experiencing severe blurry vision, and an unsteady gait. Upon returning home, he essentially collapsed and was taken to the emergency room and examined and diagnosed with diabetes,” the complaint adds.
The plaintiff attempted to work through the conditions, but would later go on to suffer a psychotic breakdown in June 2015, requiring hospitalization at Pennsylvania Hospital’s in-patient psychiatric and treated with medication.
The plaintiff says the defendants’ negligence caused him injuries such as extreme anxiety, sleepiness, hallucinations, paranoia and psychotic delusions, eye damage, ataxia, neuropathy and severe toxic metabolic encephalopathy, in addition to depression, psychosis, breakdowns and permanent disability.
For counts of strict product liability – design defect, negligence, negligent design, fraud, misrepresentation and suppression, constructive fraud, breach of express and implied warranties and workplace safety intentional tort, the plaintiff is seeking damages in excess of $50,000, including compensatory, punitive and delay damages plus costs.
The plaintiff is represented by Nicholas L. Palazzo of DeFino Law Associates, in Philadelphia.
The defendant is represented by Lisa M. Grandner and Ernest J. Bernabei III of Pillinger Miller Tarallo, plus Shafer and Walter H. Swayze III of Segal McCambridge Singer & Mahoney, all also in Philadelphia.
Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas case 170203552
From the Pennsylvania Record: Reach Courts Reporter Nicholas Malfitano at firstname.lastname@example.org