Pennsylvania Record

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

New arbitrators assigned to case filed by injured Norristown man against PetSmart and Banfield Pet Hospital

Federal Court

By Nicholas Malfitano | Nov 22, 2019


PHILADELPHIA – Per judicial order, a lawsuit now in federal court filed by a Norristown couple regarding a slip and fall inside PetSmart and Banfield Pet Hospital in Plymouth Meeting will have a new trio of arbitrators assigned to the case.

On Nov. 19, U.S. District Court Judge Wendy F. Beetlestone ordered that the panel appointed to serve as arbitrators in the matter consisting of William Herbert Howard, Stanley J. Ellenberg and Scott M. Wilhelm were dismissed – and replacing them will be Patrick Murphy, Jerome Kline and Daniel Wooster.

The change was made nearly one month ahead of an arbitration hearing set for 9:30 a.m. on Dec. 18, at the James A. Byrne U.S. Courthouse on Market Street in Philadelphia.

Cornelius and Iris Potts initially filed suit in this matter in the Montgomery County Court of Common Pleas on Feb. 3 against PetSmart and Banfield, though the defendants removed the case to the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania the following month, citing diversity of citizenship with Arizona-based PetSmart and Washington-based Banfield – along with the amount in controversy exceeding $75,000, as rationale for removing the case.

In the lawsuit, Cornelius Potts claimed he slipped and fell at Banfield Pet Hospital where he and his wife took their dog for grooming.

“On or about Feb. 4, 2017, the incident date, plaintiffs Cornelius and Iris Potts, hired the above defendants individually or jointly for the purpose of having veterinary and grooming services performed on their pet, a 200-pound Bull Mastiff. Specifically, the services sought by the plaintiffs and provided by the defendants were rinsing out the dog’s ears and clipping the dog’s nails,” the original complaint said.

While Cornelius was attempting to hold the dog while its ears were being examined, he “was caused to slip and fall backwards on the wet and slippery floor, striking his head on the floor, the result of which caused him to suffer serious and permanent personal injuries and damages,” the suit said.

The suit sought damages for multiple counts of negligence and one count for loss of consortium.

However, the defendants filed an answer to the complaint on May 17, applying a number of affirmative defenses in denying all allegations and charging that the plaintiffs failed to state upon which relief could be granted, failed to timely file a case before the statute of limitations expired and were contributorily negligent, among other defenses.

The matter will soon enter arbitration, per the Court’s recommendation.

The plaintiffs are represented by Robert F. Datner of The Datner Firm, in Landsdowne.

The defendants are represented by Marc H. Perry, Richard B. Wickersham Jr. and Aaron L. Dunbar of Post & Schell, in Philadelphia.

U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania case 2:19-cv-01059

Montgomery County Court of Common Pleas case 2019-02046

From the Pennsylvania Record: Reach Courts Reporter Nicholas Malfitano at

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