Joe Petka obtained a defense verdict in a Philadelphia Jury trial in which there was a quarter of a million-dollar demand at the time of trial. The case involved a 51-year-old woman who claimed she was struck in the neck by a portable x-ray machine while visiting her mother, who was a patient at the hospital. After the alleged incident, the plaintiff went to the emergency room complaining of neck pain. She then went on to receive treatment involving epidural injections and multiple courses of therapy, before undergoing an anterior cervical discectomy and fusion at three levels. The neurosurgeon performed the surgery through the front of the plaintiff’s throat, which left a noticeable scar. The plaintiff alleged $130,000 in economic damages, which included a lien for the cost of the surgery and future medical costs that her expert neurosurgeon testified that she required.
Joe defended this matter on liability. Specifically, the x-ray technician who was operating the machine denied striking the plaintiff. Moreover, Joe attacked the plaintiff’s version of the incident by pointing out inconsistencies. For example, the plaintiff initially claimed that she was struck once by the machine; however, at her deposition, she alleged, for the first time, that she was struck twice by the machine. Plaintiff’s mother, who was a patient in the bed next to the plaintiff at the time of the incident, was the only witness to corroborate plaintiff’s version of the accident. Although the plaintiff’s mother testified that she saw the machine strike her daughter, Joe impeached the plaintiff with her prior testimony that her mother was asleep at the time of the incident.
Ultimately, the jury of 7 men and 5 women, agreed with Joe and found in favor of the hospital on liability.
This win ended 19 straight days of trial for Joe. He had just finished defending a different local hospital that was sued for assault following an altercation between a security officer and a patient. In the assault case, a Philadelphia jury found that the alleged assault was not the factual cause of the plaintiff’s injuries.