Pennsylvania Record

Saturday, March 28, 2020

Fired gun range employees who claimed respiratory injuries under workman's comp withdraw their case

State Court

By Nicholas Malfitano | Sep 11, 2019

1280px small firearm training at an indoor firing range

PHILADELPHIA – Former employees of a Philadelphia shooting range who allege they were fired after filing Workers' Compensation requests for suffering respiratory-related injuries have withdrawn their case.

On Aug. 9, counsel for the plaintiffs filed a praecipe to withdraw the case without prejudice, thus keeping the door open for possible refiling in the future.

Chris Garber, Matthew Sadoon and James Kelly of Philadelphia, Justin Mateer of Verona, Dave Petnick of Wayne and Justin Richway of West Chester collectively initially filed suit in the Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas on Aug. 20, 2018, versus James J. Colosimo of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., Yuri Zalzman and The Gun Range, LLC, both of Philadelphia.

According to the lawsuit, the plaintiffs were employees of The Gun Range who claimed the facility had a “non-functioning, defective and/or inoperable” ventilation system which allowed the accumulation of lead and other particles to remain in the air in the interior of the premises, along with issues of proper cleaning of the range and bullet removal, which the plaintiffs say were not remedied.

As a result, the plaintiffs alleged they suffered ongoing fatigue, dizziness, nausea, and headaches and various other ills and injuries.

“Garber also informed Zalzman that the VA has reported his condition and the cause of his condition to OSHA. Justin Mateer, Dave Petnick, Matt Sadoon, Justin Ridgeway, and James Kelly were experiencing similar symptoms as Christopher Garber and they all informed Zalzman that they were obtaining lead testing and that they would also be pursuing worker’s compensation claims for the injuries they sustained,” the suit stated.

“On Sept. 23, 2016, after expressing their concern over the health and safety violations, and their intent on pursuing worker compensations claims, Chris Garber, Justin Mateer, Dave Petnick, Matthew Sadoon, Justin Ridgeway, and James Kelly were all terminated from their employment at the Gun Range. Yuri Zalzman was aware of the employees’ intentions of filing worker’s compensation claims he acted in his individual capacity and terminated all plaintiffs. Plaintiffs’ termination was in retaliation for their notification to their employer that they would be pursuing benefits pursuant to and exercising their legal rights under the Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Act.”

The suit stated the defendants failed to provide an adequate ventilation in the range, failed to take any action to provide warning or caution in an area where there was the defect in the real estate of the non-operational ventilation system and failed to exercise the degree of care and regard for the rights and safety of the plaintiffs as was required under the circumstances, among other charges.

On Aug. 27, 2018, The Gun Range and Zalzman filed preliminary objections, contending the plaintiffs could not prove they filed a Workers' Compensation claim before they were fired and thus, cannot sustain a cause of action for wrongful termination. Furthermore, the objections stated the Worker’s Compensation Act was the sole remedy for the charges involved and deprived the Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas of jurisdiction for the case.

Prior to withdrawal and for counts of negligence and wrongful discharge, the plaintiffs were seeking damages jointly and/or severally, in excess of $50,000, together with interest and costs of suit.

The plaintiffs were represented by Edith A. Pearce and Nicole Vitale of Pearce Law Firm, in Philadelphia.

The defendants were represented by Rufus A. Jennings of Deasey Mahoney & Valentini, plus Daniel J. Rucket and John H. McCarthy of Rawle & Henderson, all also in Philadelphia.

Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas case 180603459

From the Pennsylvania Record: Reach Courts Reporter Nicholas Malfitano at

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Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas