verdicts and settlements
()

Date of Verdict:

Feb. 13.

Court and Case No.:

C.P. Philadelphia No. 101201073.

Judge:

Annette M. Rizzo (retired).

Type of Action:

Products liability.

Injuries:

Paralysis.

Plaintiffs Counsel:

Kevin Marciano and Patrick MacAvoy of Marciano & MacAvoy, Philadelphia.

Defense Counsel:

Brett Wolfson of Rawle & Henderson, Philadelphia, for True Value Co.; Thomas F. Reilly of The Chartwell Law Offices for Gay’s True Value Hardware; Michael J. Dunn of Michael J. Dunn Law, Cherry Hill, New Jersey, for New Werner Holding Co.; and Diane Vuocolo of Greenberg Traurig for Old Ladder.

Comment:

A woman who was paralyzed after she allegedly fell from a ladder while attempting to retrieve a cat from a tree has settled her claims for more than $7 million, according to her attorney.

Attorney Kevin Marciano of Marciano & MacAvoy said his clients, Penny and Phil Raza, settled for $7.15 million the claims they raised in Raza v. New Werner Holding.

According to the complaint, Penny Raza climbed a Saf-T-Master Type III Household ladder in November 2009 to retrieve a cat. However, the ladder telescoped and she fell to the ground, sustaining spinal injuries that rendered her partially quadriplegic. According to the complaint, she underwent numerous neck surgeries that involved installing hardware, and she was no longer able to work. Penny Raza, who was 36 at the time, had worked as a cleaner for a cleaning company.

The complaint said the ladder was manufactured by Old Ladder, which was allegedly later acquired by New Werner. The complaint also said Raza’s father had purchased the ladder in 1989 from Gay’s True Value.

The Razas sued Old Ladder, New Werner and Gay’s True Value, raising products liability and negligence claims. Gay’s True Value subsequently joined True Value as a defendant in the litigation, contending that True value provided “sales, marketing, advertising and product services” to Gay’s True Value.

The Razas contended that the ladder was unreasonably dangerous and had a defective locking system that the manufacturer had been aware of prior to 1989.

The defendants denied the allegations, challenged the venue and raised a claim for spoliation, contending that the ladder had been damaged. New Werner and True Value also denied liability, with New Werner denying it was a successor to the product line.

The defendants also attempted to bar recovery due to prior bankruptcy proceedings, and several stays were imposed due to the bankruptcy proceedings.

According to court documents, the plaintiffs settled with New Werner in October 2016, which led both True Value and Gay’s True Value to contend they were entitled to summary judgment.

The remaining parties eventually settled the case with the aid of retired Judge Annette Rizzo acting as mediator.

Marciano said he was pleased with the result.

“Former Judge Rizzo was really helpful in mediation, and then for months after the mediation, she worked to get the case settled and we’re pleased with the results,” Marciano said.

Michael J. Dunn of Michael J. Dunn Law, who represented New Werner Holding Co., declined to comment.

Brett Wolfson of Rawle & Henderson, who represented True Value Co.; Thomas F. Reilly of The Chartwell Law Offices, who represented Gay’s True Value Hardware; and Diane Vuocolo of Greenberg Traurig, who represented Old Ladder, did not return a call for comment.

Max Mitchell, of the Law Weekly •