Pennsylvania Record

Saturday, April 4, 2020

Settlement reached for rider whose SEPTA bus fell into construction hole on Philly street

State Court

By Nicholas Malfitano | Jan 14, 2020

Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA)

PHILADELPHIA – A local man who initiated legal action against the City of Philadelphia, Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania’s Department of Transportation (DOT), after he was allegedly injured when the bus he was riding fell into a construction hole, has settled his case.

On Nov. 8, Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas Judge Denis P. Cohen explained the case had been settled prior to trial – and on Nov. 25, counsel for plaintiff Richard Stevens filed a praecipe to mark the instant case as discontinued in regards to him. Terms of the settlement were not disclosed.

Stevens, of Philadelphia, first filed suit in the Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas on July 13, 2018 versus the trio of defendants, all of whom are based in Philadelphia.

(A.P. Construction, Inc. was later added as a defendant.)

“On Aug. 4, 2017, at approximately 6:20 p.m., the plaintiff, Richard Stevens, was a passenger lawfully riding the SEPTA Route H on Bus No. 8546, when the bus was caused to fall into a construction hole in the roadway of the 1300 block of Erie Avenue, which controlled and created by defendant A.P. Construction, Inc., which condition or conditions existed for a period of many days, and which defendants had or should have had knowledge thereof,” according to the litigation.

The suit says that the defendants collectively failed to prevent creating the defective condition, failed to warn of it, failed to provide a safe roadway for vehicles traversing city streets and failed to properly secure and reinforce its steel construction cover plates over open construction holes, among other claims.

As a result, Stevens says he suffered full-body injuries in the accident, specifically herniation at his C4-C5 vertebral junction, multiple cervical and lumbar disc protrusions, strain and sprain of his entire spine and unspecified internal injuries.

SEPTA filed an answer to Stevens’s complaint on Sept. 13, denying the allegations and asserting the complaint fails to state a cause of action upon which relief can be granted, that Stevens is subject to the limited tort option and “may not recover for any non-economic loss unless plaintiff suffered a ‘serious injury’ as that term is defined in the Pennsylvania Motor Vehicle Financial Responsibility Law," failed to use reasonable efforts to mitigate, reduce, or lessen the injuries at issue in this lawsuit, and that his claim is “barred or limited by the Fair Share Act.”

Prior to settlement and for three counts of negligence, the plaintiff is seeking damages, individually, jointly and severally, in excess of $50,000.

The plaintiff was represented by Dennis A. Pomo of Pasquarella & Pomo, in Philadelphia.

The defendants were represented by Sharon E. Ulak of the City of Philadelphia’s Law Department, Barry W. Smiley of SEPTA’s Law Department and Gregory R. Webber of the State Attorney General’s Office, also all in Philadelphia.

Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas case 180701449

From the Pennsylvania Record: Reach Courts Reporter Nicholas Malfitano at

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Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority