The plaintiff led several officers of our Police Department client on a high-speed chase for over 12 miles with speeds in excess of 100 MPH through rural and residential areas resulting in a one-car accident, multiple, serious injuries necessitating a life-flight to a local hospital. The plaintiff, after being “brought back to life” on two occasions at the hospital, presented a claim alleging his 14th Amendment rights were violated due to the “outrageous” reaction of the Police Department by engaging in such a lengthy high-speed chase over a modest parole violation. Plaintiff further alleged a “state created danger” evolved when the Police in unmarked cars approached his vehicle in a dark parking lot. Additionally, the proximity of the chase amounted to a violation of the Plaintiff’s Fourth Amendment seizure rights. In addition to generally negligent conduct on behalf of the Police the Plaintiff claimed his cause was actionable per of 42 U.S.C. Section 1983.

Our Central PA based partner, Rolf Kroll, Esq., contended on behalf of the Police Department that the mere approach of police is insufficient to establish a Fourth Amendment seizure – the Court agreed and dismissed the Fourth Amendment claim in its entirety.

Rolf further contended the 14th Amendment argument was irrelevant as the Plaintiff’s parole violation was a sufficiently exigent circumstance to warrant a traditional substantive due process analysis and the Court noted in rejecting the Plaintiff’s due process violation argument that the Defendant officers were forced to make “split-second decisions… in a hyper pressurized environment…” warranting the high-speed pursuit.

The Court noted nothing about the facts alleged in Plaintiff’s Complaint “shocked” the Court’s “conscience,” and dismissed the “State Created Danger” theory and finally, the Court agreed with Rolf’s position that the Police Defendants had immunity as provided within the Political Subdivision Tort Claims Act and dismissed the negligence claims. The Plaintiff’s case has been dismissed.

Our Harrisburg partner, Rolf Kroll will be presenting to an insurance carrier client The Reptile Theory and Bad Faith on April 25, 2018.

Plaintiff allegedly tripped over an older rubber floor mat while entering our client’s pizza shop sustaining a herniated disc resulting in permanent, intractable, neck and arm pain. Plaintiff’s counsel argued the floor mat was formerly an industrial indoor kitchen mat not intended for outdoor use and which, with time and exposure to the elements, had curled up and become a hazard – photographs introduced at trial supported this claim to some extent.

Our Harrisburg based partner, Rolf Kroll, focused upon inconsistencies in the Plaintiff’s testimony and the absence of objective evidence supporting her injuries. Despite adverse rulings, including the preclusion of any evidence demonstrating lack of notice of the dangerous condition, and allowing Plaintiff to argue spoliation (the mat was thrown away after photographs were taken), at the conclusion of the four-day trial, the jury returned a verdict finding Rolf’s client only 60% responsible for the happening of the accident and limiting Plaintiff’s general damages after reduction for causal fault to $3,600 in past and future pain and suffering. Plaintiff had previously rejected offers for significantly greater amounts.

Rolf Kroll obtained a unanimous verdict of no negligence for his 16 year-old client who was driving on her permit, at night, when she attempted a left turn from a parking lot onto Route 30 and collided with the Plaintiff who had the right of way. The evidence revealed that Rolf’s client crossed four lanes of travel on Route 30, before she collided with the Plaintiff’s vehicle in the right, eastbound lane of the busiest road in town. Plaintiff claimed that Rolf’s client traveled directly across four lanes of travel and collided with the side of her vehicle in the fifth lane of travel. Plaintiff claimed that the accident caused her to undergo multiple knee surgeries and resulted in permanent injuries and damages. Plaintiff claimed as a result of the injuries sustained in the accident, that she was permanently and totally disabled.

With regard to damages, prior to trial, Rolf moved to exclude causation testimony from Plaintiff’s treating orthopedic expert on the basis that such testimony was beyond the scope of his reports. As a result of the motions, the Court allowed the expert to testify, but limited the testimony to just six months of care and treatment. Consequently, Plaintiff’s expert was precluded from testifying regarding permanent injury. Additionally, Plaintiff was precluded from mentioning all but one of the surgeries performed. Plaintiff was similarly precluded from testifying regarding pain and suffering that post-dated the accident by more than six months. Finally, Plaintiff’s medical records were used to debunk her claims that she had no prior injuries.

With the damage portion of the case in hand, Rolf attacked Plaintiff’s negligence claim. At first this appeared to be an uphill battle. There was no dispute that Rolf’s client was in the process of turning left onto Route 30. There was no dispute that she was in the process of making a left turn across multiple lanes of traffic, in the rain, and at night. At trial, Plaintiff made much of the fact that Rolf’s client was still operating on her learner’s permit and admitted at the accident scene that she “did not know what happened.” Additionally, the damage to Plaintiff’s vehicle was to her driver’s side in the area of the mid-post, arguably supporting Plaintiff’s claim that she was “t-boned.” Finally, the evidence suggested that the point of impact was all the way across four lanes Route 30 also supporting Plaintiff’s claim. However, Rolf presented testimony from his client along with circumstantial evidence in the nature of damage photographs of both vehicles, aerial images of the roadway to establish that the accident did not occur in location or in the manner described by Plaintiff. Instead, Rolf argued that at the time of the accident, his client was all but straightened out, and headed west in the same direction that Plaintiff was traveling. Rolf asserted that the accident occurred when Plaintiff attempted to pass his client on the right and then cut back in front of her in such an aggressive manner that she actually caused the collision. In less than thirty minutes the Jury returned its verdict for the Defendant -“No negligence”.

On March 1, 2013 a Cumberland County jury returned a verdict of “no negligence” in favor of Mr. Kroll’s client, RESTORECORE, INC., an emergency fire and water damage restoration service.  Plaintiff sustained damage to his restaurant following a pipe burst on March 4, 2009.  Plaintiff’s commercial lines insurer retained RESOTRECORE, Inc., to repair the damages to Plaintiff’s restaurant, pursuant to the policy of insurance issued to Plaintiff.  Plaintiff contended that RESTORECORE was negligent in failing to consult with him in decisions regarding the scope of restoration, in failing to complete the work in a timely manner, and in performing work plaintiff described as a “nightmare.”  Plaintiff claimed the alleged negligence of RESTORECORE caused a fatal interruption of his income stream and ultimately resulted in the loss of his business which he operated on premises he rented.  Plaintiff also claimed he was the victim of violations of the Landlord-Tenant Act by his landlord during the restoration process and that his commercial lines insurance company breached the terms and conditions of the policy they issued by failing to pay benefits in a timely manner.  Plaintiff asserted damage claims including a loss of his initial investment in his business of over $120,000.00, lost business income and property damage of over $200,000.00 during the period of restoration, and significant lost future profits.  Plaintiff also asserted claims for punitive damages and intentional infliction of emotional distress.  Plaintiff rejected all settlement offers.  Mr. Kroll established that his client responded within 90 minutes of receiving the phone call notifying it of the loss.  Further Mr. Kroll proved that his client performed quality work to restore the restaurant to its pre-loss condition. Although the jury vindicated the work of RESTORECORE, it entered an award against the landlord for both compensatory and punitive damages.

Plaintiffs, two chiropractors, alleged their civil rights were violated when their practice was searched and treatment records seized.  In presenting their claim against a Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Authority, the chiropractors alleged the Authority had established policies and procedures which, essentially, encouraged improper seizure of patient records and that the seizures resulted in the ultimate failure of their practices.  Rolf Kroll, Esq., a partner in our Harrisburg office, filed a Motion to Dismiss the Chiropractors’ claims contending the pleading was defective; an Amended Complaint was filed by plaintiffs, in response to which Mr. Kroll presented a Rule 11 letter to their counsel contending the plaintiffs failed to state a claim against the Authority.  A Notice to Dismiss, with prejudice, was ultimately provided by the Chiropractors’ counsel resulting in the closure of the case.

The community of Sunbury, PA, had enacted an ordinance defining a “nuisance property” as one which had received three or more “founded” code violations in a 12 month period.  Plaintiffs, residential landlords, were cited for violations, however, they contended they were not “founded” and that no procedural mechanism had been established in the ordinance permitting a property owner to challenge either the citations or the “nuisance property” designation.  Plaintiffs further contended their reputation had been damaged by virtue of their inclusion on the list, that one of them had suffered severe physical and emotional trauma as a result of Sunbury’s conduct and that this trauma was confirmed in an independent psychological examination.
 
When coupled with “additional deprivation” of a protected right, injury to reputation may be considered an interest protected by the constitution.  The plaintiff alleged her undisputed physical and psychological injury constituted the additional protected interest necessary to state a claim.  

Mr. Kroll argued the psychological injury at issue was not a loss or deprivation independent of the stigmatization associated with the allegedly negative labeling of the property and thus did not state a constitutional claim.  The Third Circuit agreed:  “If we were to hold that the emotional trauma resulting from government defamation was, without more, sufficient to constitute the plus factor necessary in a Fourteenth Amendment due process liberty claim, virtually every defamation plaintiff would have a constitutional claim ready-made to survive at least to summary judgment, because defamatory remarks or acts, by their very nature, often cause severe distress to their target.”
 
This important holding may now be cited on behalf of municipalities defending constitutional claims, even when plaintiff presents undisputed physical and psychological injury associated with allegations of defamatory conduct.

Copies of the opinion are available upon request.