PHILADELPHIA – A Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) mechanic says that the rail entity failed to provide him with a safe work environment when he suffered a debilitating injuries in two incidents, while the company believes he himself negligently caused those same injuries.
Henry Najmola of Ridley Park filed suit in the Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas on Aug. 10 versus SEPTA, of Philadelphia.
“On Sept. 15, 2015, Henry Najmola, acting within the course and scope of his employment as a SEPTA mechanic, performed a 24-hour inspection of Train D5509’s Car No. 2402 in the Frazer Rail Car Yard located at 32 Sprout Road, Frazer, Pennsylvania 19355,” the suit states.
“Plaintiff attempted to pull himself into Car 2402’s second-door stairwell when the door’s thumblatch and horn mechanism malfunctioned, and a trap door fell towards plaintiff’s head. Plaintiff fell backwards in an attempt to avoid the falling door, landed on his feet in the ballast surrounding the track and immediately felt a severe and debilitating pain in his knee.”
Najmola says SEPTA’s negligence in failing to provide a safe workplace through the Federal Employers Liability Act and Federal Locomotive Inspection Act, failure to warn him of a dangerous condition and failure to provide appropriate safety measures, among others, led him to suffer a complex medial meniscus tear in his right knee and a tear in the posterior horn of his lateral meniscus in his left knee.
However, that would only be the first incident in which an allegedly-unsafe work environment would injure Najmola.
“On March 16, 2017, plaintiff, Najmola, exited a train on Track 4 at Frazer Yard to borrow a plug for a job he was completing, and upon exiting the train, plaintiff’s foot made contact with an accumulation of ice and/or snow or other defective condition on the sidewalk, thereby causing him to slip, trip and otherwise fall to the ground, and causing plaintiff to suffer severe and serious injuries and damages,” per the suit.
“Najmola suffered post-traumatic aggravation all of the following:: The complex medial meniscus tear in his right knee, the tear in the posterior horn of his lateral meniscus tear of his left knee and the major cervical fusion at his C5-C6 vertebrae and the mild bilateral neural foraminal encroachment at his C5-C6 vertebrae, plus mild bilateral neural foraminal encroachment at his C5-C6 vertebrae, left shoulder sprain and strain and left shoulder tendinopathy, which necessitated left shoulder arthroscopy on Nov. 3, 2017 and a repeat left shoulder arthroscopy on May 16, 2018.”
Through an answer to the complaint including new matter submitted on Aug. 22, SEPTA argues the plaintiff’s complaint fails to state causes of action under the Federal Locomotive Inspection Act, “AREMA” standards, federal law, statutes of limitations, the doctrines of accord, satisfaction, release and compromise and laches, in addition to an alleged failure to mitigate damages and recognize his own negligence in causing his own injuries.
In a reply to the defendant’s new matter also filed on Aug. 22, the plaintiff denied it wholesale.
For two counts of FELA-related negligence, the plaintiff is seeking damages in excess of $50,000, plus interest, costs and any other amount that the Court deems fit to award.
The plaintiff is represented by James J. McEldrew III of McEldrew & Young, in Philadelphia.
The defendant is represented by Richard K. Hohn & John A. Thiry of Hohn & Scheurle, also in Philadelphia.
Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas case 180800619
From the Pennsylvania Record: Reach Courts Reporter Nicholas Malfitano at firstname.lastname@example.org