Articles Posted in Pennsylvania

Victims of sexual abuse or sexual assault have the right to file civil lawsuits and get financial compensation. Recent changes in the law are now making it easier for abuse victims to seek justice in the civil courts. This post will look at the process of filing sex abuse lawsuits in Pennsylvania and review the applicable laws related to sex abuse civil suits. We will also discuss the average settlement compensation and jury payouts of Pennsylvania sex abuse cases and look at recent verdicts and settlements.

The Definition of Sexual Abuse in Pennsylvania

Under Pennsylvania law, sexual assault or battery is defined as any non-consensual touching of a person’s intimate parts intentionally done for sexual gratification or arousal. Under this broad definition, anything from groping breasts at an office happy hour to forcible rape falls under the definition of sexual assault or abuse.

Here are some interesting malpractice statistics in Pennsylvania:

  • Doctors won 77% of the medical malpractice cases that went to a jury trial. In fact, there is not a single jurisdiction in Pennsylvania where the plaintiff had a winning record
  • Less than a fourth of malpractice lawsuit filed in Pennsylvania were in Philadephia in 2021.  This is part of a downward trend of less malpractice lawsuits being filed in Philadelphia.

In Charlton v. Troy, a Pennsylvania Superior Court nixed a $40 million verdict, ordering a new trial in a birth injury lawsuit alleging excessive traction caused a severe spinal injury.

Facts of Charlton v. Troy

The case revolves around the events that occurred during the birth of the Charlton twins. Mrs. Charlton underwent routine prenatal testing at the hospital when she was 37 and a half weeks pregnant with twins. The ultrasound revealed that “Twin B” was 25 percent smaller than “Twin A,” indicating discordant growth and some tachycardia in Twin B.

Under 42 Pa.C.S. §§ 8541 et seq., political subdivisions in Pennsylvania, including public schools, receive a broad degree of governmental immunity under Pennsylvania tort law. But there are specific exceptions. In the recent case of Brewington v Philadelphia School District, the state’s high court expanded the “real property exception” to governmental immunity.

Case Facts

A nine-year-old boy was engaged in a relay race during his gym class at a Philadelphia elementary school when he tripped and fell. As a result, he was propelled into the concrete gym wall where he hit and cut his head causing him to lose consciousness. Soon after, doctors diagnosed him with a concussion that prevented him from attending school for nearly two months after the incident and experienced continuing headaches and memory problems for years after. The gymnasium wall in its surrounding entirety lacked any kind of padding to cover the concrete and provide at least some degree of protection.

There have been a lot of interesting personal injury and wrongful death verdicts and settlements in 2015 in Pennsylvania.  Here are five verdicts you will find of particular interest. pennsylvania injury verdicts

$450,000 Verdict – A woman is descending the stairs at her row home when she slips on one of the middle steps. She reaches for the handrail, but just misses it, causing her to fall down the remaining stairs. The woman calls an ambulance which transports her to the emergency room. At the ER, she is diagnosed with a fractured shinbone and a tear of the quadriceps. She has to receive care after the fall given that her leg is immobilized. After the accident, she sues the property-owner, alleging negligent maintenance of the stairs. In her lawsuit, she brings up the fact that she had told the property-manager about how slippery the stairs were on two occasions. At trial, her stair-expert suggests that the stairs were covered with too much polyurethane. This convinces the jury who awards her $450,000.

Continue reading

statute repose opinionStatutes of limitations can be very unfair.  But as harsh as the SOL can be, a statute of repose can far more Draconian, closing the courthouse steps on cases where the victims did everything they could to bring a timely action.

What is a statute of repose?  It is amazing how many tort lawyers do not know until they learn the hard way.   A statute of repose provides a date certain by which a claim must be brought.  In most states, there are no excuses.   Unlike a statute of limitations, it often cannot be tolled by the date the injury should have been discovered.

I can’t deny there is a purpose to the statute of repose.  The legislature wants to create some outer time limit where a claim is just too old to be pursued, no matter what.  But some states have these short statutes of repose, seven years in Pennsylvania, and only five in Maryland for medical malpractice cases that are just unfair.

Continue reading

The jury is out, literally, in a U.S. District Court case against the City of Pittsburgh. The jury’s decision – whether or not to hold the city at fault when the, now terminated, detective choked a man in a May 2010 road rage incident.

After a fender bender, the detective grabbed the plaintiff by the throat, then chased him down, waving his gun around after he fled. Crazy, right?

The plaintiff claims that the city showed “deliberate indifference” to the detective’s past behavior, and they should have done more to curb a man who showed a “pattern of choking, pattern of off-duty rage, pattern of road rage.” The sides stipulated to 32 citizen complaints against the detective over a 17-year career that ended with his firing and a subsequent criminal conviction on three misdemeanors following the incident.

Juries are regularly asked to evaluate injuries and compensate plaintiffs. People may like to speculate what an injury would be worth to them but, like all things in life, financial sums are relative. Juror “A” may believe an injury is worth $50,000 in damages whereas Juror “B” believes that the same injury is worth $500,000. It’s the court’s job to find a fair middle ground that compensates the plaintiff while not excessively punishing the defendant.

Jury awards sometimes make headlines when they are so high that the sheer number of zeros gives us pause.

Renna v. Schadt

This was more likely than Eli Manning coming through in the clutch: insurance companies running for the hills in the Penn State lawsuit flood that has already started. Pennsylvania Manufacturers’ Association Insurance (PMA) has filed a declaratory judgment lawsuit disclaiming coverage in allegations that Gerald Sandusky sexually molested children. Penn State claims coverage.

In the 16-page complaint, PMA argues that only the 1991 or 1992 policy is triggered, but, if it is the latter policy, coverage is precluded under that policy’s abuse or molestation exclusion.

I think there are two levels on the insurance coverage question in the Penn State lawsuits. First, was this a coverage act, or did the policy exclude intentional torts of employees or agents?

Max Kennerly writes about a lot of new bills being proposed in Pennsylvania. Any legislature can propose a bill and there is always someone in every legislature – on both sides of the aisle – who likes to put out radical bills so they can brag to their constituents about how crazy they are. Still, these proposed bills do not give you a warm fuzzy feeling about the political climate right now for injury victims.

Ultimately, I think the problem is that people want jobs or more stability in their jobs and that fear distracts them from thinking about the unlikely possibility that they will be seriously injured and want to be compensated for those injuries. Politicians love blaming personal injury lawyers because they are an easy target. Often, the people throwing the punches don’t really feel like oppressing tort victims is going to solve anything but they can’t resist grabbing the low hanging fruit of blaming lawyers. To make matters worse, we have a minority of personal injury lawyers who are more than willing to live up to the stereotype.

Contact Information