Judge rules for Philadelphia after man stops pursuing personal injury claim

By Nicholas Malfitano | May 16, 2019

PHILADELPHIA – A judgment of non pros has been entered in a Philadelphia man’s litigation, one filed after he claimed to be injured by an errant sewer drainage cover by City of Philadelphia agencies and state authorities.

On April 18, Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas Judge Shelley Robins-New entered said judgment in favor of all defendants because plaintiff Anthony Brown failed to appear at a settlement conference, not complying with a court order dated Jan. 22, and by not appearing at a show cause hearing on April 18.

Brown, of Philadelphia, first filed suit in the Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas on Dec. 18, 2017 versus the City of Philadelphia and the Philadelphia Housing Authority, plus the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (DOT), in Harrisburg.

On Jan. 29, 2016, Brown says he encountered a trip-and-fall hazard and twisted his foot, ankle and leg, causing him to sustain serious and permanent injuries, at the Northeast corner of Arch Street and Yewdall Street. The hazard in question consisted of “an area of old, crumbling, broken, dilapidated and missing area and chunks of cement at, near and abutting the metal sewer drainage cover.”

According to Brown, all of the defendants had actual and sufficient prior notice of the trip-and-fall hazard for it to be repaired, replaced and/or remedied in a timely manner, but allegedly took no action to do so.

“Defendant Anthony Brown sustained permanent, disabling and life-altering new onset bodily injuries and/or exacerbated prior conditions and he is entitled to damages from defendants,” the suit stated.

Brown suffered a fractured thumb, osteochondral injury of the lateral talar dome of the right ankle, torn distal lateral Achilles insertion of the right ankle and Achilles tendinitis of the right ankle, all per MRI, plus disfigurement, suffering and other injuries, the suit said.

In response, the state DOT filed a motion for summary judgment on Oct. 15, citing sovereign immunity from suit and denying any control over the sewer drainage cover in question – which it alleged is the sole responsibility of the City of Philadelphia.

The City provided work orders substantiating several years’ worth of inspection and repair records for the subject sewer inlet, the motion said, and the DOT further said the road and intersection in question is not a state highway, thus absolving it of liability.

Therefore, the DOT requests its motion for summary judgment be granted, dismissing all claims and cross-claims against it with prejudice.

For counts of negligence and recklessness, the plaintiff is seeking damages, jointly, severally, directly and/or vicariously in excess of the arbitration limits, plus interest, costs and any other sums that the Court deems appropriate.

The defendants were represented by William B. Shuey of the City of Philadelphia’s Law Department and Susanna Randazzo of Kolber & Randazzo, all in Philadelphia.

Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas case 171201124

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

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