In Memorium – Donald J. P. Sweeney – 1938-2021Please Click Here
12Feb 2019

Sweeney & Sheehan Partner J. Michael Kunsch obtained summary judgment in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania following a successful Daubert challenge of plaintiffs’ liability expert in a product liability case. Plaintiffs asserted claims of strict liability, negligence and breach of warranty against the manufacturer and seller of a fiberglass stepladder. The husband-plaintiff fell off the ladder in the master bathroom of his home while painting a skylight. He had positioned the ladder on a tarp, and claimed the ladder feet slipped and caused his fall. The ladder contained a warning to “Set all four feet on a firm level surface. Do not place on unstable, loose or slippery surfaces.” Despite the presence of that warning, plaintiffs’ engineering expert opined that the ladder should have had a specific warning about the danger of the ladder slipping when placed on a tarp on a smooth tile surface. The Court found the expert’s opinion did not satisfy the Daubert reliability and fit requirements, noting that he made no inspections of the ladder or scene, performed no tests, cited no relevant industry standards, offered inconsistent opinions, and simply accepted plaintiff’s testimony about how the accident happened. After precluding the expert, the Court further found that no reasonable jury could conclude that the ladder was defective and entered summary judgment.

Donald J. P. Sweeney, Esquire

1938-2021

Sweeney & Sheehan mourns the loss of its founder, Donald J.P. Sweeney, Esquire, on June 8, 2021. He was a proud graduate of St. Athanasius Catholic School, St. Joseph's Preparatory School, Villanova University and Temple Law School. He practiced law for nearly 40 years, and founded Sweeney & Sheehan in 1971. He was active litigator and he specialized in catastrophic product liability cases. Don supported his children's activities, serving as soccer coach at St. Albert the Great Catholic Church and President of the CYO. He was a lector for nearly 48 years and a member of the choir. He was an active supporter of St. Joseph's Prep and was awarded the Alumnus of the Year Award in 1999 and the Rev. Charles Schnorr, SJ '37 Service Award in 2005. He retired from the practice of law in 2004.

Don is survived by his wife of 59 years, Ann, his children, Shannon, Patrick, Daniel, Gerard and Suzanne, and ten grandchildren.

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