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26Oct 2019

Sweeney & Sheehan partners Robyn Farrell McGrath and J. Michael Kunsch presented at the 2019 USLAW Retail and Hospitality Law Exchange. Mr. McGrath presented on Fair Workweek legislation being enacted across the country. Her presentation, entitled “Big Brother as Referee: Don’t Strike Out with Fair Pay,” discussed the trend in major cities including Philadelphia, New York, Chicago and San Francisco, to enact scheduling and minimum pay statutes impacting the retail, fast food and hospitality industries. Mr. Kunsch participated on a panel discussion about combatting national discovery requests and their effect on defense costs and resolution of claims in the retail and hospitality industry.

26Oct 2019

Sweeney & Sheehan partner Robyn Farrell McGrath won a Rule 12 dismissal of a civil rights case in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania. In dismissing the claims brought by the Estates of two minors who were killed in an arson fire against a youth services organization of which the children’s family was a client, the Court found that the Estates had failed to state a claim for violation of the rights to procedural and substantive due process.

21May 2019

Sweeney & Sheehan partner J. Michael Kunsch obtained a defense verdict in a product liability case following three days of trial before Judge Mariani in the Middle District of Pennsylvania. Plaintiff claimed injury resulting from an alleged defect in a stepladder. The defense established that the ladder was not defective and did not cause the incident.

21May 2019

Sweeney & Sheehan partner Barbara O’Connell gave a presentation at the 2019 USLAW Spring Client Conference in Nashville, Tennessee. The session, Insurance Coverage in the #MeToo Age, presented an overview of ongoing insurance coverage litigation involving sexual abuse and harassment claims, including litigation involving Harvey Weinstein, Bill Cosby, Jerry Sandusky and the athletic department Penn State. The session also addressed how these insurance disputes affect the defense and ultimate resolution of cases, best practices for corporations and carriers facing such claims, and the overall impact of these cases on the insurance industry.

14Apr 2019

Sweeney & Sheehan attorneys Elizabeth Weber, Brian Dib, Joe Hauschildt and Frank Gattuso presented panel discussion concerning different forms of Alternative Dispute Resolution in Pennsylvania and New Jersey to the South Jersey Claims Association on April 3, 2019. The class was presented to insurance industry professionals and attorneys with certified continuing education credits provided at the Hotel ML in Mt. Laurel, New Jersey.

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.

01Oct 2018

Sweeney & Sheehan Partners Robyn McGrath, J. Michael Kunsch and Warren Voter gave presentations at the 2018 USLAW Fall Client Conference in Montreal, Canada.  Ms. McGrath participated in a panel discussion, Paid Leave Laws Impacting Employers Nationwide, in the Employment & Labor Law Group.  Mr. Kunsch participated on a panel discussion, Don’t Be Left Holding the Bag: How to Insulate Yourself from Insolvent (Foreign) Suppliers and Manufacturers, and Mr. Voter participated on a panel discussion, Dealing with the Pitfalls of National/International Claims Exposures When the Bad Claim Hits Your Desk, in the Complex Tort and Product Liability Group.

01Oct 2018

Sweeney & Sheehan Associates Elizabeth Weber and Joseph Hauschildt recently prevailed in New Jersey’s Appellate Division in Larry Pitt v. Tyrus Chi, LLC and Michael P. O’Connell, a case involving allegations of violation of the Consumer Fraud Act (CFA), common law fraud, and defamation per se. Mr. Hauschildt, a former Appellate Division clerk, wrote the brief, and Ms. Weber argued the case.

Plaintiff was an owner at a condominium complex in which defendants operated a café. Plaintiff dined at the café on many occasions. On one specific occasion, plaintiff and defendant discussed plaintiff’s insufficient tipping. As a result of this conversation and at plaintiff’s recommendation, the next time that plaintiff dined at the café, defendant included a gratuity on plaintiff’s bill as a separate line item. Plaintiff was told of the gratuity before he paid and refused to pay the gratuity as listed. A dispute arose between plaintiff and defendant, and defendant asked plaintiff to leave the café. Plaintiff refused and defendant called police to remove the plaintiff. Defendant reported to the dispatcher that plaintiff was causing problems and refusing to leave the café. He also reported that plaintiff was pushing his dining companion. Police responded and plaintiff eventually left the café. He did not pay any gratuity. Defendant banned plaintiff from the café as a result of the incident.

The Appellate Division found that plaintiff was unable to prove that he suffered an ascertainable loss as a result of the incident as required to support a CFA claim. The Appellate Division also dismissed plaintiff’s common law fraud claim because no misrepresentation was made to the plaintiff concerning the gratuity. Finally, the Court dismissed plaintiff’s defamation per se claim because he was unable to prove that the statement made to the police by the defendant was false. Moreover, plaintiff provided no competent evidence to support his contention that the statement made to police denigrated his reputation.