Philadelphia woman's lawsuit claiming her car fell into a sinkhole headed to arbitration

By Nicholas Malfitano | May 14, 2019

PHILADELPHIA – Arbitration proceedings have been scheduled for a case brought against the City of Philadelphia, Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and its Department of Transportation, by a motorist who claims to have been injured when her car fell into a sinkhole in Philadelphia.

After two continuances, arbitration sessions for the case brought by Shirley Parlin-Nelson have been slated for July 25 in the Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas’ Arbitration Center on JFK Boulevard, in Center City, Philadelphia.

Parlin-Nelson of Philadelphia first filed suit in the Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas on June 11, 2018 versus the City of Philadelphia, Bruno Fiorenza and Marisa Fiorenza of Philadelphia, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation of Harrisburg, plus Norman Cole Sr. and Norman T. Cole Plumbing & Heating, of Yeadon.

“On June 12, 2016, plaintiff Shirley Parlin-Nelson was operating her vehicle on the public roadway at or around 1924 Reed Street, Philadelphia, when she encountered a condition in the form of pothole, hole, cave-in and/or depressed section of roadway, which said dangerous and defective condition caused plaintiff’s vehicle to sink down into said hole, cave-in and depression, causing plaintiff’s body to be violently thrown about the vehicle. The defect was located at or near the front of 1924 Reed Street in the portion of the roadway which abuts the sidewalk curb at that location,” the complaint read.

“Upon information and belief, at some time prior to June 12, 2016, defendants performed repairs, maintenance and/or construction work, on said public roadway causing the cement/pavement to be constructed and left in a defective condition. On or about June 12, 2016, and for a substantial period of time thereto, there did exist a dangerous and defective artificial condition or defect of defendants’ property, specifically at the location aforementioned. The defendants knew or should have known of the existence of this condition in light of its location, legal duty and duty owed to plaintiff and the general public.”

The Norman Cole defendants denied the plaintiff’s assertions in a response filed Aug. 1, arguing the plaintiff failed to state a claim upon which relief could be granted, that the Norman Cole defendants owed no duty and breached no duty to plaintiff and that the action was barred by the applicable statute of limitations, among other counter-arguments.

For seven counts of negligence, one for each individual defendant, the plaintiff was seeking damages, individually, jointly and/or severally, in excess of $50,000, plus interest, court costs, attorney’s fees and such other relief as the Court deems appropriate.

The plaintiff is represented by Patrick J. Rodden of Rodden & Rodden, in Philadelphia.

The defendants are represented by John H. McCarthy and Reid I. Howell of Rawle & Henderson, John A. Livingood Jr. and Ryan C. Smith of Margolis Edelstein and Pauline J. Manos of the City of Philadelphia Law Department and Gregory R. Webber of the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s Office, all in Philadelphia, .

Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas case 180601140

From the Pennsylvania Record: Reach Courts Reporter Nicholas Malfitano at

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City of Philadelphia Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Margolis Edelstein Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas

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