The Legal Intelligencer recognizes two verdicts won by Eisenberg Rothweiler in its list of top Pennsylvania verdicts and settlements for 2019. Ken Rothweiler, Fred Eisenberg, and Todd Schoenhaus were recognized for their $24.8 million verdict; Todd and Joshua Schwartz were recognized for their $2.5 million verdict
Both verdicts resulted from cases referred to us by other attorneys.
Ken Rothweiler, Fred Eisenberg, and Todd Schoenhaus were recognized for their $24.8 million verdict
Coming in at #6 on The Legal Intelligencer’s list of top Pennsylvania verdicts in 2019 was the firm’s $24.8 million verdict for Michele Kalinowski and her husband Sean Kalinowski, a professional roofer, who was severely and permanently injured after falling through a skylight while working on a roof in Delaware County in June 2016. There were no witnesses to the accident. Sean was unable to testify about the accident because it left him incapacitated.
After two days of deliberations following a four-week trial in the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas, the jury reached its verdict which included approximately $19 million in economic damages and $6 million in non-economic damages.
Ken Rothweiler, Fred Eisenberg, and Todd Schoenhaus argued that the defendants (the landlord and tenant) were negligent because they were aware the skylights were dangerous and did nothing to remedy the situation. They additionally argued that screens, which now cover the eight skylights on the roof Mr. Kalinowski fell from, could have easily been installed and prevented his injuries.
In part because there were no witnesses to our client’s accident, the defense had a strong comparative negligence argument. The defense argued that our client caused the obstacles that led to his tripping and falling into and through the skylight. In addition, the defense argued that the building was not cited by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration nor was the building owner told that the skylight was dangerous.
“Through aggressive trial advocacy, we were able to overcome the defense’s arguments and get a verdict that will allow Michele to provide care for Sean and financial support for their two children,” said Ken. “By, among other things, asking the judge for a pre-testimony point for charge, having a defendant demonstrate how brittle the skylight material was, and getting in evidence of subsequent remedial measures, we put on a trial that thoroughly convinced the jury that the defendants’ conduct was the overwhelming cause of Sean’s injuries.”
Todd and Joshua Schwartz were recognized for their $2.5 million verdict
Coming in at #16 on the The Legal Intelligencer’s list of top Pennsylvania verdicts in 2019 was the firm’s $2.5 million verdict for the family of William Pratt, a 75-year-old wheelchair-bound double amputee who in July 2015 died two weeks after falling face-first down a set of outdoor concrete steps while strapped to his wheelchair. Mr. Pratt fell down the steps within ten minutes of being discharged by the Wills Eye Emergency Department at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital in Center City Philadelphia after an eye examination during which his pupils were dilated and he received an antibiotic ointment on his eye.
Todd Schoenhaus and Joshua Schwartz secured the verdict after a six-day trial in the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas. They argued that the medical professionals who examined Mr. Pratt—including the triage nurse, the discharge nurse, and the attending physician—were negligent for failing to advise him of the danger of traveling home alone via his wheelchair, failing to arrange transportation assistance for him, and failing to document that they had instructed him accordingly.
Without any witnesses to Mr. Pratt’s fall, the defense focused on the standard of care. The core question for the jury was whether the Wills Eye emergency providers were required to provide discharge assistance to an independent, though disabled, man who went to the emergency department on his own, and was familiar with the effects of dilation.
The jury answered in the affirmative, which must have surprised the defense. They made no pre-trial settlement offer. As the jury was returning to the courtroom to deliver their verdict, the defense offered Todd and Josh a high-low agreement. They rejected the offer, confident in their arguments and ability to persuade the jury. The jury’s verdict in favor of Mr. Pratt’s family included non-economic damages.
“While no amount of money will bring Mr. Pratt back, his family was happy to see the jury hold the defendants accountable for his death,” said Todd. “His death was a tragedy that could have easily been prevented. His family hopes that his death causes changes at Wills Eye so that nobody ever suffers the way Mr. Pratt did and the way his family has.”