Gao v. City of Philadelphia

$2.75 million settlement

Date of Settle: June 30.

Court and Case No.: C.P. Philadelphia No. 151202745.

Mediator: Joseph Ricchiuti.

Type of Action: Motor vehicle, premises liability.

Injuries: Traumatic brain injury, spinal fractures.

Plaintiffs Counsel: John D. Pallante, Law Offices of John D. Pallante, Philadelphia.

Plaintiffs Expert: Timothy Bussard, commercial transportation specialist, and Andrew Verzilli, economist.

Defense Counsel:  Andrew Kramer of Kane Pugh Knoell Troy & Kramer, Norristown; Donald Davis of Margolis Edelstein, Philadelphia, and Sheldon Kivell of the Philadelphia Law Department.

Defense Expert: Evan Kovalsky, orthopedic surgery.


A man injured by a street light that was knocked over by a reversing truck agreed to settle his claims against multiple defendants for $2.75 million.

According to plaintiff Xue Ping Gao’s settlement conference memo, he had been walking at the intersection of 10th and Apple streets in the Chinatown section of Philadelphia on April 23, 2015, when a man delivering musical equipment to the Trocadero Theatre knocked over a street light that fell on Gao.

The driver, William Everette, was employed by Janco LTD and had been driving a tractor trailer. According to Gao’s memo, Everette had asked Graham Noel, an employee of the Trocadero, to help him park by stopping all motor vehicle traffic on 10th street.

Gao suffered a severe traumatic brain injury, as well as subarachnoid hemorrhage and post-concussive syndrome, according to his memo. He also suffered a herniation in his cervical spine and compression fractures in his thoracic spine. The memo said he also suffered from cognitive impairments, and mood disturbances as a result of the incident.

Gao sued the City of Philadelphia, the Trocadero and Janco, alleging negligence, negligent hiring, and that the placement of the light fixture was defective, as it had been placed too close to the curb. Gao’s wife also sought a claim for loss of consortium.

Timothy Bussard, commercial transportation specialist, opined that Everette had been negligent and lacked adequate training. He also opined the Trocadero failed to control the loading and unloading area.

The defendants denied Gao’s claims.

Gao’s attorney John D. Pallante said that after the suit was filed he was able to obtain surveillance footage from several nearby stores, which provided multiple videos of the accident from differing angles.

“It was fortunate that Mr. Gao and his wife retained me shortly after the accident because I was able to immediately send an investigator and translator, which helped me obtain several surveillance videos and helped the case to resolve in a relatively expeditiousness manner,” he said.

According to court documents, the Trocadero defendants contributed $375,000 to the settlement, while the Janco defendants contributed $2,375,000, with $500,000 coming in the form of an annuity with a 10-year payout. Philadelphia did not contribute to the settlement.

Both Donald Davis of Margolis Edelstein and a paralegal for Andrew Kramer of Kane Pugh Knoell Troy & Kramer did not return a call for comment. Sheldon Kivell of the Philadelphia Law Department said the city had no comment.