Mr. Allen's Notable Cases
Prison Wrongful Death / Suicide – $725,000 Settlement During Trial
Our clients were the parents of a 24-year-old man who committed suicide in prison. The young man had a history of substance abuse and threatened to commit suicide prior to his incarceration. The parents cooperated with police and assisted in arranging for his arrest in the hope that he would obtain help and be maintained in a safe environment.
Initially, prison staff placed the young man in a camera cell but failed to notice he was engaging in self-harmful behavior. Although briefly seen by a mental health counselor, no arrangements were made for him to be examined by a psychiatrist before he was released from the camera cell / suicide watch. Once released from suicide watch, corrections officers failed to make cell checks consistent with prison procedures, and the young man hung himself from the overhead vent with a bed sheet.
We filed suit in Federal Court on behalf of the estate of the young man against the involved prison staff, including corrections officers, a mental health counselor, and the medical director under the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and 42 U.S.C. Section 1983 for deliberate indifference to serious medical needs. On the fifth day of trial after the presentation of our case, the defendants settled for $725,000.
Police Misconduct - Brain Injury $3.9 Million Settlement 3 Weeks Before Trial
We represented a mother of three who suffered a permanent brain injury in a motor vehicle accident involving a high-speed police chase. Our client, who was on her way to pick up her teenage son from a friend’s house, was struck in her vehicle as she pulled out from a stop sign into the path of a police car that was allegedly chasing a vehicle with an expired inspection sticker at speeds in excess of 65 miles per hour in a 25 miles-per-hour zone. We were able to prove that the officer was not operating his siren as he pursued the alleged violator in this residential area.
The matter was filed in Federal Court on behalf of the mother and her three children against the police officer and the municipality with which he was employed under a civil rights violation theory, including claims under the 4th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution and 42 U.S.C. 1983.
During his deposition, the police officer testified that he was actually pursuing a man who he believed had an illegal handgun, but the officer failed to explain why his initial report made no mention of this weapon. The insurance companies for the municipality and the police officer vigorously defended the case citing “qualified immunity” that is afforded police officers. Both defendants filed motions for summary judgment, but after argument, the court allowed the case to proceed against the police officer. Three weeks before trial was scheduled to begin in Federal Court, the insurance company for the defendants met with us and settled the case for $3.9 million. With that settlement, we were able to assist the family in arranging the necessary medical care for the victim as well as counseling for the children.
Motorcycle Accident - $1.3 Million Jury Verdict
We represented a motorcyclist who was seriously injured when the defendant driver pulled out across three lanes of travel into the path of our client. The defendant’s insurance company denied liability, and we filed suit in the Lancaster County Court of Common Pleas. Our client had previously worked as a bus mechanic and, as a result of injuries sustained in the accident, including bilateral knee and wrist injuries requiring surgeries, was unable to return to his job.
The Court bifurcated the trial, requiring us to first present the liability issues and, if we won, in the second phase of the trial we could present the damages aspect of the case. The jury first found the defendant driver 75% liable for the accident, and in the damages phase of the trial awarded $1.3 million to our client.
Motor Vehicle Accident – Jury Verdict $760,000; with Delay Damages, $812,000
Our client was a working mother of adult children who sustained debilitating back injuries when the vehicle in which she was a passenger was struck from behind by a vehicle driven erratically by an older man. The defendant driver’s insurance company denied liability for the accident, alleging that the man had a sudden medical emergency.
After extensive discovery, including the review of medical records and depositions of the defendant’s medical doctors, the case went to trial. We were able to demonstrate that the man had been noncompliant in the care of his medical condition and therefore could not rely on a sudden medical emergency defense. On the first day of trial, the insurance company for the man conceded liability for the accident but still denied that the accident had caused any injury to our client. We were able to prove to the jury that the accident did, in fact, cause our client’s injuries and disability. The jury awarded $760,000 in damages, which was later increased to $812,000 with the inclusion of delay damages.
Workers’ Compensation Benefits Awarded to Minor Children
Our clients were two teenage children who resided with their mother and a man who suffered brain injury and was killed on his job in a tragic construction accident. Before the Workers’ Compensation Judge we were able to prove that the children were eligible dependents of the deceased man (that he stood in loco parentis, or in the place of the parent), thereby entitling them to workers’ compensation death benefits until they reached the age of majority.
The employer and its insurance company appealed the matter to the Workers’ Compensation Appeal Board, and the Judge’s decision was reversed. We then appealed to the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania. The Commonwealth Court reversed the Workers’ Compensation Appeal Board and reinstated the Judge’s decision granting benefits to the children.
Although the employer and its insurance company appealed to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, we opposed the appeal and the Supreme Court refused to hear the appeal, thereby allowing the decisions of the Workers’ Compensation Judge and the Commonwealth Court to stand.
Workers’ Compensation Benefits for Medical and Wages for Mental and Physical Injuries in Excess of $650,000
Our client was a woman who suffered work-related physical and mental injuries. We were able to prove through the presentation of extensive medical evidence that our client suffered mental injuries from threats at the workplace and that she suffered physical injuries from an assault that occurred at her home but was nevertheless related to her employment. The Workers’ Compensation Judge (WCJ) awarded benefits back to the point when the claimant stopped working, plus 10% interest.
The employer and its insurance company appealed to the Workers’ Compensation Appeal Board (WCAB) and refused to pay the claimant in violation of the orders of the WCJ and the WCAB. We successfully pursued a penalty petition for the failure to pay in a timely manner, and an additional 15% was awarded.
The case was litigated for several years and ultimately settled. The claimant had received over $570,000 in wage benefits and over $95,000 in medical benefits, and the insurance company remains responsible for the payment of ongoing medical expenses.