Drexel University and City of Philadelphia blame each other for plaintiff's alleged fall

By Nicholas Malfitano | Apr 16, 2019

PHILADELPHIA – A Delaware County couple say an uneven sidewalk in University City injured the husband-plaintiff and sued both Drexel University and the City of Philadelphia for damages, while the defendants argue that not only are they insulated from litigation, but each blames the other for the subject incident.

Joseph Murtha and Suzanne M. Murtha of Ridley Park filed suit in the Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas on March 12 versus Drexel University and the City of Philadelphia, both based in Philadelphia.

On July 19, 2017, Joseph states he was walking on the sidewalk adjacent to 3205 Summer Street in Philadelphia when the subject incident occurred.

“Plaintiff was lawfully and properly upon the sidewalk adjacent to the premises referenced above when he was caused to fall and be injured as the result of a raised, uneven and broken sidewalk, all of which was caused by the negligent, reckless and careless conduct of the defendants,” the lawsuit states.

Subsequently, Joseph suffered severe and permanent injuries, including but not limited to his neck and shoulder, in addition to aggravation of pre-existing conditions and resultant surgeries, plus other injuries, the suit claims. Joseph argues the defendants’ collective negligence directly caused his accident.

Through a new matter filed March 18, the City denied the plaintiffs’ allegations and argued it had immunity from suit under the Political Subdivision Tort Claims Act, the Pennsylvania Comparative Negligence Act and through the expiration of the claims’ respective statutes of limitation. Furthermore, the City asserted a cross-claim against fellow defendant Drexel University.

Drexel University also filed new matter on April 8, denying the complaint’s validity and explaining it was barred by the applicable statute of limitations, the plaintiff’s own negligent conduct and other reasons, such as the doctrines of waiver, estoppel, res judicata and/or laches – in addition to asserting an identical cross-claim against the City, putting sole liability for the accident on its shoulders.

For two counts of negligence and loss of consortium, the plaintiffs are seeking damages in excess of $50,000, plus interest and costs.

The plaintiffs are represented by Brad Cooper and Stephen Gontkosky of Brad Cooper & Associates, in Philadelphia.

The defendants are represented by Kathleen Kirkpatrick and Joe H. Tucker Jr. of Tucker Law Group and Matthew Rong of the City of Philadelphia’s Law Department, also all in Philadelphia.

Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas case 190100835

From the Pennsylvania Record: Reach Courts Reporter Nicholas Malfitano at nick.malfitano@therecordinc.com

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City of Philadelphia Delaware County Drexel University Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas

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