PA Personal Injury Case Denied

Posted on: June 26th, 2012       Attorney Thomas Newell

A 2010 decision of the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania affirmed a lower court ruling to dismiss a PA personal injury claim.  A man was working as an irrigation technician at a golf course owned by the City of Philadelphia.  He was instructed to take a pick and shovel to remove crocus bulbs from a flower bed.  His pick unexpectedly got stuck in some landfill containing chunks of concrete and asphalt under the topsoil.  While trying to pull the pick out, he suffered a serious back injury.

His Pennsylvania personal injury lawyer filed a lawsuit vs. the City of Philadelphia (City). During discovery, testimony was given that proved that the flower bed was originally constructed years ago by an independent contractor hired by the City.  Based upon the Trial Court’s jury instructions, including local governmental immunity, the jury found Philadelphia not negligent and, therefore, not responsible for the Plaintiff’s injuries.

The Appeals Court ruled that since the City presented evidence establishing that the flower bed was constructed by an independent contractor, the burden of proof shifted to the personal injury victim.  Without proof that a City employee participated in the construction of or supervision over the building of the flower bed, Philadelphia was immune from legal responsibility.  Nardo v. City of Philadelphia, 988 A.2d 740 (Pa. Cmwlth. 2010)

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