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Hockman Verdict

May 30, 2012 - Recent Verdicts by Jason G. Wehrle


(PHILADELPHIA, PA, May 30, 2012)  MSZLM attorney Louis Hockman secured a defense verdict in favor of client RD America, an owner of a restaurant supply warehouse, following a bench trial on a fall-down case in the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas.   In the case, Roberta Williams v. RD America, LLC, plaintiff had been shopping for approximately a half hour and was going to place her last item (a rack of bread) in a cart prior to checking out.  Her cart was filled and was left in an area about 10 feet from where she eventually fell.  Plaintiff walked by the area of her fall, took a 3 x 4 foot rack of bread from a pallet and began to walk back to her cart.  As she was approaching her cart, an empty bread rack which had been placed on a display of water was, somehow, knocked off of the water display into her path.  Plaintiff stepped on the empty bread rack, causing her to trip forward, injuring her neck, back, wrist, and right shoulder. 

            Discovery disclosed that plaintiff had a prior incident during which she tore her right rotator cuff completely and surgery was recommended.  She treated with the same physicians in that incident as she did in connection with the instant matter.  However, her treating physicians conveniently omitted this significant medical history and attributed her right rotator cuff tear to the incident which is the subject of our litigation.

            At trial, Mr. Hockman challenged the existence of any negligence on behalf of our client.  Further, we argued that if it is found that our client was negligent, that such negligence was not the actual cause of plaintiff’s fall in light of her prior medical history.  While plaintiff’s counsel had, up until the time of trial, asserted a right rotator cuff tear as a result of this fall, he reassessed his position at trial and merely argued that plaintiff suffered an exacerbation of a previous existing condition. 

            The Court returned a verdict and judgment fully in favor of our client.