Lancaster fighting lawsuit over alleged sidewalk slip-and-fall

By Angela Underwood | Aug 7, 2017

LANCASTER – The City of Lancaster claims that a woman's negligence lawsuit against is barred by the Pennsylvania Political Subdivisions Tort Claim Act.

Represented by Philadelphia attorney Joel Kofsky, plaintiff Thomasina Howell filed a civil lawsuit June 8 against defendant city of Lancaster alleging the city was negligent in maintaining property where she allegedly was injured in 2015 when she crossed a nearby sidewalk and slipped and fell. The suit states the fall occurred on West Andrew Street between Queen and Beaver streets.

“The aforementioned dangerous condition of the defendants premises, namely, a broken and crumbled road or sidewalk, existed for a substantial period of time prior to the incident, and the city of Lancaster had a constructive notice of said dangerous and hazardous condition,” according to the complaint, adding that because of the negligence, “Howell suffered severe and permanent injuries to her head, back, spine, shoulders, extremities and a severe shock to her nerves and nervous systems and other injuries which may be unknown.”

The complaint alleged that the aforementioned injuries could be second to future injury that would “cause further physical pain, suffering and mental anguish,” according to the complaint. If future injury were “permanent and progressive,” Howell’s recovery would remain indeterminate, inevitably causing medical bill cost and loss of earnings.

“As a result, Howell has suffered the loss of enjoyment of her usual duties, avocations, life’s pleasures and activities, and the shortening of her life expectancy, all to her great detriment and loss,” according to the complaint.

Fighting back in its answer, filed on July 10 by the firm William J. Ferren & Associates, the City says it is considered a political subdivision or agent of a political subdivision "whose liability claims in tort is statutorily prescribed by the Pennsylvania Political Subdivisions Tort Claim Act (PPSTC)."

Lancaster further notes the act offers a wide-ranging grant of protection to political subdivisions and “further provides limited exceptions under which recovery for tort claims may be made against political subdivisions such as defendants,” according to the answer.

The City of Lancaster argues that Howell’s cause of action is barred by the PPSTC, especially since she failed to give the required six-month statute of limitations. 

“Some of if not all of Plaintiff’s allegations of negligence are not cause of action that fall within expectations to the PPSTC,” according to the response.

Lastly, the city of Lancaster argues it had no warning about the alleged dangerous demographic in order to take preventative public safety measures. 

“Any damages not responsible for and wherefore, answering defendant demands judgement in its favor against all other parties together with interests and costs,” says the answer.

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