Joe Petka obtained back to back defense verdicts for two local hospitals in two separate jury trials in Philadelphia and Delaware county. The Philadelphia trial involved a 53 year old woman who fell off the curb outside of the front entrance of a city hospital resulting in fractured ankle which required hospitalization and a left ankle ORIF surgery. She also alleged that this fracture aggravated her Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (“CRPS”) and left her bedridden and unable to leave her house since the accident. The plaintiff claimed that she fell because she had just had her eyes dilated and thought she was walking down the handicap ramp when she stepped off the curb to the left of the ramp. She argued that the hospital was negligent for failing to properly mark their handicap ramp. The plaintiff had an expert engineer testify as well as her neurologist and numerous hospital employees and witnesses. For defense Mr. Petka crossed examined the engineer with regard to the fact that he did not cite a single Pennsylvania law that was violated and instead only referred to voluntary standards and recommendations that are not binding on the hospital. Mr. Petka argued that the Hospital’s ramp conformed with every local and state law. Moreover, he impeached the plaintiff with regard to her version of the accident which seemed to change after her expert report was completed in order to conform to the expert’s opinion. Ultimately the jury of 5 men and 7 women found that the hospital was not negligent and entered a defense verdict.
The Delaware County trial also involved a trip and fall at a local hospital. In that matter, the plaintiff, a 58 year old lab technician, tripped over a slightly raised threshold at top of a set of stairs which caused him to fall down the steps. The plaintiff alleged herniations in his lumbar spine and a tear in his knee. He also sustained cuts on his left leg which resulted in scars, which he showed the jury. Mr. Petka argued that the threshold at issue was only a trivial defect and could not create liability on the hospital. Specifically, the plaintiff’s own picture of the threshold showed that it stuck up less the height of a penny. Mr. Petka called several witnesses from the hospital to testify that threshold had always been there and had never caused a problem before. Moreover, Mr. Petka cross-examined plaintiff’s son and wife who both admitted that the plaintiff did not have his shoes tied or use the railing as he was attempting to go down the stairs. Additionally, he also impeached the plaintiff and his experts on the fact that plaintiff had a history of both back and knee pain which he did not tell his treating doctors about and denied at his deposition. The Delaware County jury was out for less than 30 minutes before returning a verdict finding that the hospital was not negligent.