20Jun 2016

Associates Neal Thakkar and Joe Hauschildt recently prevailed in New Jersey’s Appellate Division in Lassandro v. Pep Boys, a case involving the intentional wrong exception to the exclusive remedy provision of the Workers’ Compensation Act. Under the Act, if an employee is entitled to recover workers’ compensation benefits, he is barred from suing his employer in tort unless the employer committed an intentional wrong. To overcome the bar, the plaintiff must prove that the employer’s act was substantially certain to result in injury or death, and that the resulting injury was plainly beyond what the legislature intended to immunize. This is a formidable standard that permits a plaintiff to recover in tort only under the most egregious of circumstances.

Here, the plaintiff was a service technician at Pep Boys, and he was injured while loading a vehicle onto a lift when the lift suddenly dropped, causing him to fall and injure his knee. The lift’s safety mechanisms had been disabled by another technician for convenience, but not at the direction of management. There had been no prior close calls with the lift, and the modification did not increase profit or productivity at the expense of safety. The evidence did show, however, that Pep Boys should have been aware that the safeties were defeated, and that it permitted the condition to exist for at least two years.

Plaintiff recovered workers’ compensation benefits, but sued Pep Boys for damages. The trial court denied summary judgment, but the Appellate Division granted leave to appeal and reversed. In its opinion, the court found that while Pep Boys’ conduct was arguably negligent, creating a risk of injury by omission is not tantamount to acting with the substantial certainty that an injury would result. Further, the court held that the injury suffered by plaintiff was not one that plainly beyond what the legislature intended to immunize, as the nature of the plaintiff’s employment led to the risk of injury.

Joe Hauschildt, a former Appellate Division clerk, wrote the brief, and Neal Thakkar argued the case. The opinion can be found here: http://www.njlawarchive.com/201606101025091314065283

23Dec 2015

Sweeney & Sheehan Partner Robyn McGrath obtained a defense verdict in a malicious prosecution case tried to a jury in Atlantic County, New Jersey. The case was based upon allegations by Plaintiff, president of an HVAC contracting company ,that the Defendant owner of an equipment supplier wrongfully filed a criminal complaint against Plaintiff personally when the Plaintiff’s company bounced several checks. After a three day trial, the jury returned a verdict in favor of the Defendant after only five minutes of deliberation.

23Dec 2015

Sweeney & Sheehan continued its tradition of supporting the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve Toys For Tots program. The goal of Toys for Tots is to deliver, through a new toy at Christmas, a message of hope to less fortunate youngsters that will assist them in becoming responsible, productive, patriotic citizens.
TFTTFT3

23Dec 2015

In November 2015, Sweeney & Sheehan Partner Frank Gattuso prevailed with a defense verdict at a trial before Judge Millenky in Camden County Superior Court. A jury of 8 persons unanimously rendered a verdict of “no cause” in an automobile liability case where liability was stipulated. After a 5 day trial where there was a significant amount of legal argument made during the trial concerning the admissibility of evidence, the jury felt that the plaintiff did not have permanent injuries related to the accident and found in favor of the defense.

15Sep 2015

Sweeney & Sheehan Managing Partner Warren Voter and Partner Barbara O’Connell will be giving presentations at the USLAW Fall Client Conference, scheduled for September 17-19 at the Westin Copley Plaza in Boston, Massachusetts. Mr. Voter is speaking in a Product Liability presentation on Managing the Media in the Aftermath of a Catastrophic Event, and Ms. O’Connell is speaking in a Labor and Employment presentation on The Birds, The Bees and The Legalese of Pregnancy Leave. For more information about USLAW, visit www.uslaw.org.

28May 2015

Sweeney & Sheehan partners Barbara O’Connell, recognized for Employment Litigation: Defense, and Warren Voter and J. Michael Kunsch, each recognized for Personal Injury Products: Defense, have been named 2015 Pennsylvania Super Lawyers  by Thomson Reuters.   In addition, Sweeney & Sheehan Associate Brian Perez was recognized as a Rising Star for Personal Injury Products: Defense.  Super Lawyers is a rating service of outstanding lawyers from more than 70 practice areas who have attained a high degree of peer recognition and professional achievement. The selection process is multifaceted and includes independent research, peer nominations and peer evaluations.  Only 5 percent of the state’s 50,000 lawyers make it through the rigorous selection process.

13Apr 2015

Sweeney & Sheehan partner Michael Kunsch gave two presentations at the Spring 2015 USLAW Client Conference in San Antonio, Texas. On Friday, April 10, Mr. Kunsch spoke on the topic of risk management and indemnity agreements. On Saturday, April 11, he participated in a panel presentation on managing construction defect litigation. For more information about USLAW, visit www.uslaw.org.