Date of Verdict:
Court and Case No.:
C.P. Philadelphia No. 110600556.
Type of Action:
Christopher Moyer, Master Weinstein Schatz Moyer, Philadelphia.
Sean Buggy, Naulty, Scaricamazza, & McDevitt, Philadelphia.
Dr. Ronald Greene, orthopedic surgery, Bala Cynwyd, Pa.; Varsha Desai, medical costs, Blue Bell, Pa.
Richard Santoro, security, Atlantic City, N.J.
A Philadelphia jury sided with the defendant pub in a case in which a man who broke his leg in a fight with a fellow patron alleged the bar was negligent for failing to provide adequate security.
Plaintiff Kenneth Peters, 38, alleged in his complaint that shortly after entering defendant Ashton Pub in Northeast Philadelphia on August 29, 2009, he was verbally and then physically assaulted by defendant Dan Whitman.
According to the complaint, the bar’s doorman left his post and went outside at some point during the approximately 10-minute verbal altercation.
While the doorman was still outside, Whitman struck Peters in the face and kicked him in the right knee, the complaint alleged.
Peters was subsequently taken to Aria Torresdale Hospital and diagnosed with a fractured knee, according to the complaint.
On September 2, 2009, Peters underwent surgery for a depressed fibial plateau fracture, according to the complaint.
Plaintiffs expert Dr. Ronald Greene examined Peters in August 2012 and opined that Peters had developed post-traumatic arthritis in his right knee, according to the complaint.
The complaint said Peters had been a business invitee of Ashton Pub at the time of his injury and alleged that the bar was negligent for failing to hire properly trained security staff and for failing to provide an adequate amount of security.
Ashton Pub, in its own pretrial memorandum, said the doorman, Joseph Papeika, had stepped outside to break up a verbal altercation occurring outside the pub and that when he re-entered the pub he saw the plaintiff and another man grappling with each other.
The pub said in its memorandum that Papeika then broke up the fight.
The pub also said in its memorandum that its security expert, Richard Santoro, opined that Papeika had not been on notice that a fight was about to occur.
Santoro also noted that the skirmish was over quickly, according to the pub’s memorandum.
Santoro said that before the altercation occurred, there was no evidence of a prior dangerous condition that would have required Papeika to step in, according to the pub’s memorandum.
The pub also said in its memorandum that Peters was not actively receiving any therapy for his right leg and that he testified at deposition that his leg “feels good.”
According to the pub’s memorandum, Peters returned to work as a steamfitter at a jet-fuel refinery.
According to the plaintiff’s memorandum, however, Greene opined that Peters would eventually need to have his right knee replaced and medical costs expert Varsha Desai estimated Peters’ total projected medical costs at between $261,000 and $267,000.
Whitman, meanwhile, never responded to the suit and had no involvement in the trial.
Ultimately, on February 7, following a four-day trial, an eight-member jury unanimously awarded a defense verdict to the pub and levied a $240,611 verdict against Whitman.
According to the pub’s attorney, Sean Buggy, his client’s insurer agreed to pay $55,000 pursuant to a high-low agreement.
Buggy said the case was one of the last cases to fall under the previous version of the joint and several liability law and had the jury found his client even 1 percent negligent, it would have been responsible to pay the entire amount of the verdict.
According to Buggy, the plaintiff’s demand prior to jury selection was $875,000.
Following jury selection, the parties reached a high-low agreement with $700,000 as the high amount and $55,000 as the low amount, according to Buggy.
At the close of the plaintiff’s case, plaintiffs counsel lowered the demand to $475,000, but no settlement could be reached, Buggy said.
Counsel for the plaintiff, Christopher Moyer, could not be reached for comment.