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Werley Secures Defense Verdict for Client in Face of a Multi-million Dollar Demand

January 7, 2016

Bryan P. Werley, Esquire, a Zarwin Baum trial attorney, recently secured a defense verdict for his client, a maintenance company which was hired to perform certain maintenance functions at a Center City high rise office building.  The building management and building owner were also named as Defendants.  Prior to trial, Plaintiff made a $6 Million dollar demand, claiming that her knee injury forced her to retire early and that she would not be able to work for the remainder of her life.  She was injured when she stepped on a cast iron walkway which cracked.   There was evidence that the crack could only have happened when a truck, dumpster or other heavy object was dropped on the cast iron. Plaintiffs argued it had existed for some time and would have been obvious to anyone performing inspections.
 
Werley argued that the owner and management company only required his client to perform visual inspections.  Although Plaintiffs’ experts, a metallurgist, a structural engineer and a property management expert, all opined that the cast iron would have had to break long before the accident occurred; through Werley’s cross examination of the metallurgical expert, he forced the expert to admit that the physics of the accident made it possible that the load applied to the cast iron caused a crack, but not a fracture, of the cast iron, leaving the crack undetectable to a visual inspection.  He elicited testimony from Plaintiff herself on cross examination that she was looking at the cast iron walkway as she stepped on it and observed no cracking.  Werley argued to the jury that the cast iron could have been cracked, but was not yet fractured until Plaintiff stepped on it and that his client would have had no reason to observe through its visual inspections that the crack had occurred.
 
The jury returned a verdict against the building owner and management company, but agreed with Mr. Werley that his client was not negligent.   

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