Caroselli, Beachler & Coleman, L.L.C.

Fatal accident leads to Pennsylvania premises liability suit

In October 2011, a Pennsylvania judge was attending an engagement party at a private residence. Somehow, he lost his balance and fell down a flight of stairs. He suffered life-threatening injuries and had to be rushed to the hospital by emergency responders. Sadly, he did not survive. Now, his estate is suing the host of the party for premises liability and wrongful death, among other claims.

The judge's wife and sons are all plaintiffs in the case. According to the lawsuit, the family alleges that the judge's fall was the direct result of a staff member of the company catering the party. The staff member apparently pushed through several people, ordering them to get out of the way. The lawsuit says the judge fell while trying to move for the staff member. The plaintiffs argue that several dangerous conditions in the host's home contributed to the judge's death.

Furthermore, the plaintiffs have argued that the host attempted to minimize the effect of the fall on the party by instructing emergency responders to not use the front door. The family argues that the party continued despite the judge's distress.

The host, however, tells a different story. She denies responsibility for the judge's death, saying that he slipped and fell while trying to put away dishes. She also called it "ridiculous" that the plaintiff's would allege that the party continued on while the judge waited for help.

As we wait to hear what happens with this case, there are a few things we can learn from it. First, it shows how complicated slip-and-fall cases can be. One person alleges one thing happened and the other says something completely different. Fortunately, disputes like this can be resolved in court, which brings us to our second point. If you or someone you love was injured or died because of someone's dangerous property, there are ways to hold them legally responsible. You have the right to expect that a person's property is safe to be in. If it's not and you get injured, you can take action.

Source: Daily Report, "Family of Pennsylvania judge sues attorney over fatal fall during party at her home," Amaris Elliott-Engel, March 14, 2013

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