Date of Verdict:

January 30.

Court and Case No.:

C.P. Philadelphia No. 110401665.


Karen Shreeves-Johns.

Type of Action:

Personal injury.


Torn rotator cuff.

Plaintiffs Counsel:

Michael Lalli, Silverman Trotman & Schneider, Philadelphia.

Defense Counsel:

John G. Devlin, John G. Devlin & Associates, Philadelphia.

Plaintiffs Expert:

Dr. Bong S. Lee, medical, Philadelphia.

Defense Expert:



A man who tore his rotator cuff when he tripped over a piece of wood attached to the door jamb of a church kitchen was awarded $250,000 by a Philadelphia jury.

According to the plaintiff’s pretrial memorandum, plaintiff Nicodemus Reid was walking into the second-floor kitchen of a building rented by defendant Mount Zion Baptist Church when he tripped over a wooden board that was attached to the door jamb, just above the threshold of the doorway.

Reid fell and, according to plaintiffs medical expert Dr. Bong S. Lee, suffered a “‘massive tear of the rotator cuff,’” which required a hemiarthroplasty of the left shoulder — a procedure that involves replacing the shoulder with an artificial joint — according to the plaintiff’s memorandum.

Lee said that following the operation, Reid was left with an “‘extremely limited’” range of motion in his shoulder and persistent pain, according to the plaintiff’s memorandum.

Reid sought damages for “pain and suffering, embarrassment, humiliation and loss of life’s pleasures,” the plaintiff’s memorandum said.

Mount Zion, however, said in its own pretrial memorandum that photographs taken by Reid’s stepdaughter the day after his fall do not show any board attached to the door jamb.

While Reid alleges the board was removed following his fall at the order of Mount Zion Bishop Rudolph Nash, the defense said in its memorandum, Nash testified that there never was a board attached to the doorway and that Reid’s suit was a scam.

According to Mount Zion’s memorandum, Reid had a “complicated medical history” that began in 1983, when a cinder block fell on his left leg at a job site, putting him out of work.

In 1996, Reid’s right leg was amputated below the right knee because of circulation issues caused by diabetes, according to the defense’s memorandum.

In 1998, Reid sued the manufacturer of his artificial leg after a fall, the defense alleged in its memorandum.

In 2006, Reid injured his neck, back, knees and hip while riding a SEPTA trolley and, in 2011, he fell again on a SEPTA bus, according to the defense’s memorandum.

Reid currently has a suit pending against SEPTA regarding the 2011 fall and a Pain Management Center report subpoenaed from that case makes no mention of the alleged 2009 fall at Mount Zion, the defense said in its memorandum.

On January 30, following a five-day trial, an eight-member jury awarded Reid $250,000, according to court documents.

Reid’s attorney, Michael Lalli, said he and his client were pleased with the result.

Mount Zion’s attorney, John G. Devlin, said the case is currently on appeal.

— Zack Needles, of the Law Weekly •