Archives for November 2019


From Patch

Mike Little represents a new group of victims in the opioid crisis—those hurt at work because of another worker’s addiction 

Mike Little’s life will never be the same after a February 2016 construction site accident in Center City left him unable to work ever again as an union carpenter. Little’s right leg was permanently injured when he slipped and fell on an icy surface after a water pipe burst. A settlement awarded Little a sum of $10 million, said his attorney, Brian Fritz, of the law firm Fritz and Bianculli in Philadelphia.

Fritz said that two of the defendants funded the settlement. Sulpizio Mechanical paid $1,950,000 in damages and First State Mechanical paid $8,050,000 for a total settlement of $10 million.

A resident of Northeast Philadelphia, Little, now 43, was working as a union carpenter as a member of Local 158 on the One Water Street Project. Contractor, First State Mechanical, was responsible for the work that ruptured the water line when the accident occurred. Its subcontractor, Sulpizio, drilled into the water line. Then, First State’s supervisor, an admitted opioid abuser, had abandoned the resulting icy conditions to allegedly visit a break truck. As a result, nothing was in place to warn workers of the unexpected hazard, and Little was injured.

“This case and settlement involve a whole new group of victims of the opioid epidemic – those hurt on the job site as a result of someone else’s addiction,” Fritz said. “And, unfortunately, this may be the first reported settlement in such a case, but it will not be the last.”

Since the accident, Little’s life has taken many bad turns, especially for his close family. His younger brother, Stephen, passed away and Little was unable to be a pall bearer at his funeral. Before that, his wife, Melissa, suffered her own health problems and he wasn’t physically able to care for her. As well as, the multiple surgeries he has undergone and an uncertain future he continuously faced.

“This case is a wake-up call to all construction contractors,” said Fritz. “The opioid epidemic is everywhere—including the construction site. Contractors have a responsibility to make sure they only employ safe and sober individuals. Not doing so presents a real risk of physical harm to the addict, as well as others on the jobsite, and today’s settlement indicates the possible economic consequences that employer faces too.”


$4.6 million settlement for Gloucester County woman injured in car crash caused by a volunteer firefighter.

October 28, 2019   

A Gloucester County woman who was permanently injured in a 2018 car accident received a court-approved settlement agreement for $4.6 million today. Attorney Brian Fritz of the law firm Fritz and Bianculli handled the case and said his client Melinda Baker’s life will never be the same.

Baker, who was 56 at the time of the accident, suffered life-threatening injuries on January 26, 2018 after being struck by a speeding car driven by Richard Campbell, a volunteer firefighter of the Wenonah Volunteer Fire Company. While racing to the scene of a fire, Campbell blew through a red light and struck the car that Baker was driving. As a result of the accident, Baker, a woman who had climbed mountains during her foreign missionary work, will never again be able to climb a simple flight of stairs. She now uses a wheelchair and a chair lift to move inside her home.

“This settlement agreement gives Melinda Baker a financial safety net that she desperately needed in the aftermath of a horrific accident that decimated her body and destroyed her quality of life,” said Fritz, who litigated the case. “Although we’re grateful to have secured this settlement for her, no amount of money can buy back all that she’s lost. This kind and gentle woman has touched so many lives through her missionary work and she continues to inspire everyone she meets with her faith, strength and courage in the face of such adversity. Her spirit is amazing.”

Attorney Kristy McCabe who co-counseled the case with Fritz, explained that defendant Richard Campbell was cited for careless driving, failure to obey a traffic signal and creating a risk of a motor vehicle crash. She also stated that the officer also found Campbell to be in violation of Title 39:3-54:12, “Rights of Motor Vehicle with Light in Operation,” which provides in relevant part: “Nothing contained herein is intended to grant to any member of the volunteer fire any privileges or exemptions denied to the drivers of other vehicles, and such members displaying emergency warning lights shall drive with due regard for the safety of all persons and shall obey all the traffic laws of this state”.

When emergency medical team arrived at the scene of the accident, Baker was trapped in her vehicle and the paramedics could not safely remove her. The paramedics had to wait for the “jaws of life” to arrive in order to extricate her from the vehicle. Paramedics told her they needed to take her to Cooper University Hospital, a Level 1 trauma center. Baker lost consciousness during transport to the hospital.

Baker had sustained more than 14 fractures to bones in legs, neck, arms and ribs, tremendous blood loss and a dissected artery. Baker endured many painful surgeries in the months following the traumatic accident.

Her life will never be the same.

Prior to the accident she had been living and working as a missionary in Malaysia where her help to transition women who had been subjected to sex trafficking. A very spiritual woman, Melinda’s passion was for missionary work and what she felt was her true calling in life. Her plan was always to return to her missionary work. However, that is no longer an option for her. In spite of that, her faith in God is stronger than ever.

“When the accident happened, I prayed to God for help,” Baker said. “God first sent me the paramedics to pull me from the wreck, then sent me the doctors to stabilize my body, and next He sent me Brian Fritz to help get me through the rest of my life.”

Brian Fritz further indicated that there was no question of liability in this tragic matter. Richard Campbell caused the accident. Campbell was an agent of the Wenonah Volunteer Fire Company. Wenonah Fire was responsible for Campbell’s reckless actions and inactions.