FRITZ & BIANCULLI PARTNER SECURES $10.5 MILLION SETTLEMENT FOR THE DEATH OF A PHILADELPHIA UNION LABORER

John Johnson drowned in January 2016 during rehabilitation of Pier 78 on the Delaware River. 

 

Philadelphia, PA – A $10.5 million settlement has been reached in the wrongful death suit of Union 57 Laborer John “Jay” Johnson, by attorneys, Brian Fritz and Kevin Durkan, of the law firm Fritz & Bianculli, LLC.  

 

Johnson died on the night of January 14, 2016, when he tragically fell through a man-made cutout while working as a Union 57 Laborer on the Pier 78 Rehabilitation Project in Philadelphia that was awarded to defendant, Agate Construction Company, Inc. 

 

“Jay was a good man,” said family attorney Brian Fritz. “He and every worker deserve a safe worksite. This accident could have and should have been prevented. The defendant has a history of allowing poor and unsafe working conditions that have led to other workers being put in harms’ way.”

 

On April 10, 2012, pile driver, Patrick Montgomery, lost most of his left hand on an Agate project. Less than one year later, on February 17, 2013, diver, Michael McQuade, was killed during another Agate project. Disturbingly, the same inexcusable conduct that earlier cost Mr. Montgomery his hand and Mr. McQuade his life repeated itself on the Pier 78 Project. 

 

“We have to put an end to government contracts being blindly handed out to the lowest bidder,” said Fritz. “The wellbeing of the workforce has to be the top priority. Those awarding contracts should investigate these companies better to ensure the safety of all involved.”

 

Working on the newly formed 2 p.m. to midnight shift, it was Johnson’s fourth day on the job. A father and grandfather, the Wilmington, Delaware native accepted the shift, which was created to accelerate the progress of work, but the job site was not properly maintained, especially for night work, as the defendant is alleged to have cut corners to avoid fines and fees for missing deadlines.

 

Durkan added, “Agate was required to cover the holes cut in the pier deck and never did so. In fact, Agate regularly completed pre-accident safety reports that contained false and misleading information about the conditions of the pier.” 

 

Court documents show that the lighting was poor at best and the holes cut into Pier 78 were not properly covered or protected for worker safety. Johnson was working alone near one of the holes that led directly to the Delaware River. At approximately 7:30 p.m. on the night of the incident, the other crew members realized that no one had seen Johnson for about an hour. The crew members’ calls to his cell phone went unanswered and their alarm turned to panic when they spotted Jay’s hardhat floating ominously in the Delaware River. After the co-workers couldn’t find Johnson in the water, they called 911 and at approximately 9:20 p.m., Philadelphia Police Department divers found Johnson’s body. 

 

The Plaintiff’s forensic pathologist, Wayne K. Ross, M.D., believes that Johnson consciously suffered the physical symptoms of hypothermia, as well as the doom his impending death, for at least 15 minutes before finally losing the physical strength to keep his face above the bitterly cold river water. With his face now in the river water, he suffered excruciating pain and fear for an additional three minutes. After losing the ability to hold his breath any longer, Jay involuntarily inhaled, and suffocated on, the dirty, icy cold river water. 

 

Jay’s widow, Kimberly Johnson, said, “We hope that no other families know the suffering we have gone through, or the suffering the other prior victims have gone through, too. Hopefully, contractors with a terrible safety record, like Agate, are no longer given government contracts because it will save workers’ lives. If that had been done before, Jay would still be here.” 

FRITZ & BIANCULLI PARTNER SECURES $10 MILLION SETTLEMENT FOR PHILADELPHIA UNION CARPENTER AT CENTER CITY CONSTRUCTION SITE

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.”

ATTORNEY BRIAN FRITZ WINS $4.6 MILLION SETTLEMENT FOR GLOUCESTER COUNTY, NJ RESIDENT

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

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.

 

Announcement On Fight Against Opioid Epidemic

Undoubtedly, you, a family member, friend or someone you know has personally experienced the fallout caused by the opioid epidemic that is strangling our communities. The familiar scenario leading to the tragedy experienced is typically the same: pain pills were prescribed, more pain pills were prescribed, pain pills were no longer enough or too expensive to obtain, and a transition to heroin happened to fill the created addiction. The end, unfortunately, is usually the same, as well: some form of over dose. read more

Parents of Ariana Williams, who was killed by vehicular homicide by former Burlington township, NJ, police offer Justin Rodriguez, file civil lawsuit against Rodriguez and two establishments that over-served him alcohol the night of the fatal car accident

Burlington, NJ October 23, 2017   —   Ronald and Chavella Williams, the still-grieving parents of Ariana Williams who died in a horrific car crash on September 23, 2016 while in the passenger seat of a car driven by intoxicated former Burlington Township police officer Justin Rodriguez, today filed a civil lawsuit against Rodriguez and New Jersey establishments that the Williams family alleges over-served Rodriguez alcohol the night of the fatal car crash, despite Rodriguez appearing to be visibly intoxicated. The Williams family is being represented by the law firm of Fritz Goldenberg & Bianculli, LLC, which also represented the Williams family during the criminal proceedings against Rodriguez. Rodriguez‎, 26, recently pleaded guilty to Vehicular Homicide and Driving Under the Influence in the tragic death of Ariana Williams, who was just 27-years old at the time of her death. Rodriguez is currently incarcerated at the South Woods State Prison in Bridgeton, NJ, where he is serving a four-year sentence.

“Justin Rodriguez’s guilty plea of Vehicular Homicide and Driving Under the Influence in the recent criminal case against him was only the start of the Williams family’s pursuit of justice in their beloved daughter’s tragic death,” says Fritz Goldenberg & Bianculli lead partner Brian Fritz. “Ariana’s family said from the outset of this nightmare that they intended to hold accountable every individual and every establishment involved in their young daughter’s tragic death. We will not cease until we have gotten justice for Ariana.”

Justin ‎Rodriguez, who was off duty from his job as a police officer on the Burlington Township, NJ, Police Department at the time of the fatal car accident, was drunk behind the wheel of his Acura Integra, after being served alcohol over extended periods of time by two bars in the area, Ruby Tuesday in Hamilton, NJ and the Brickwall Tavern in Burlington, NJ. Police estimate Rodriguez was driving drunk at 86 miles per hour in a 45 mile per hour speed zone when he lost control of his car and crashed into a pole in Florence, NJ. Rodriguez was ejected from his car and sustained injuries, but has since recovered. Ariana Williams, who was from the town of Florence, NJ, sustained catastrophic head injuries and was pronounced dead at the scene.

The Williams family’s civil suit was filed today by Fritz & Bianculli in the Superior Court of New Jersey, Burlington County, Civil Law Division.

Fritz & Bianculli recently supported and attended the Philadelphia Bar Foundation’s Andrew Hamilton Benefit BASH! The fundraising event is designed to help The Bar Foundation promote access to justice for all people in the community particularly those struggling with poverty, abuse and discrimination.

Fritz & Bianculli recently supported and attended the 12th Annual Raise a Glass for a Cure fundraising event sponsored by The Philadelphia Chapter of The Bouniconti Fund to Cure Paralysis. It is the fundraising arm of The Miami Project, the world’s most comprehensive spinal cord injury (SCI) research center dedicated to finding more effective treatments for and ultimately a cure for paralysis.

Fritz & Bianculli, LLC is the first firm where ALL ATTORNEYS AND STAFF ARE OSHA CERTIFIED!!!

WHAT IS OSHA?

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is the federal agency responsible for developing, issuing and enforcing workplace safety laws. So, no matter where you work, the OSHA laws must be followed to make sure you are safe at work. Unfortunately, most workplace accidents are the direct result of people or companies failing to follow OSHA safety laws.

Why should you have OSHA certified attorneys and staff work on your case?

In our experience, many people are told they do not have a case because the attorney reviewing it did not know that OSHA laws had been violated. Failing to follow OSHA safety law, leads to most workplace accidents. As a result, it is critically important for anyone who suffers a workplace accident to have attorneys and staff certified in OSHA laws. Thus, all at Fritz and Bianculli now have OSHA certification to better serve our clients who have been victims of workplace accidents.

So, if you, a family member or a friend has suffered a workplace accident, contact Fritz and Bianculli for a FREE CONSULTATION. Even if you have had your workplace accident case rejected by another attorney or firm. We have successful pursued cases where other attorneys thought no case existed. And, there are no fees for representation if no recovery is made. Please know there are time limitation on your ability to pursue a case—so call
Fritz and Bianculli today.

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Partner Brian Fritz selected as 2018 Super Lawyer

Fritz & Bianculli LLC would like to congratulate Partner Brian Fritz on his selection as a 2018 Super Lawyer as published in this month’s Philadelphia magazine.

Attorney Kristy E. McCabe Named New Partner at Fritz & Bianculli, LLC

Fritz & Bianculli, LLC is pleased to announce that Kristy E. McCabe has been named a new partner of the firm

Kristy has been with the firm since 2016. Since that time, Kristy has been integrally involved in cases where the firm has achieved multimillion dollar results for its clients. She brings to the practice over a decade of work defending corporations–including but not limited to construction companies, health care facilities, and product manufacturers–in catastrophic injury cases in both Pennsylvania and New Jersey. When she started her own family, Kristy realized her passion was helping individuals, children and families — not insurance companies. Kristy joined Fritz & Bianculli, LLC and has never looked back.

Kristy is a native of Gloucester County, new Jersey, where she still resides with her husband and three small children. She is a first generation professional and no stranger to hard work. Kristy prides herself in treating her clients like her friends and family, furthering the firm’s motto of “Making Justice Personal.”

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Parents of Ariana Williams file Civil Lawsuit

Ronald and Chavella Williams, the still-grieving parents of Ariana Williams who died in a horrific car crash on September 23, 2016 while in the passenger seat of a car driven by intoxicated former Burlington Township police officer Justin Rodriguez, today filed a civil lawsuit against Rodriguez and New Jersey establishments that the Williams family alleges over-served Rodriguez alcohol the night of the fatal car crash, despite Rodriguez appearing to be visibly intoxicated. The Williams family is being represented by the law firm of Fritz Goldenberg & Bianculli, LLC, which also represented the Williams family during the criminal proceedings against Rodriguez. Rodriguez‎, 26, recently pleaded guilty to Vehicular Homicide and Driving Under the Influence in the tragic death of Ariana Williams, who was just 27-years old at the time of her death. Rodriguez is currently incarcerated at the South Woods State Prison in Bridgeton, NJ, where he is serving a four-year sentence.

“Justin Rodriguez’s guilty plea of Vehicular Homicide and Driving Under the Influence in the recent criminal case against him was only the start of the Williams family’s pursuit of justice in their beloved daughter’s tragic death,” says Fritz Goldenberg & Bianculli lead partner Brian Fritz. “Ariana’s family said from the outset of this nightmare that they intended to hold accountable every individual and every establishment involved in their young daughter’s tragic death. We will not cease until we have gotten justice for Ariana.”

Justin ‎Rodriguez, who was off duty from his job as a police officer on the Burlington Township, NJ, Police Department at the time of the fatal car accident, was drunk behind the wheel of his Acura Integra, after being served alcohol over extended periods of time by two bars in the area, Ruby Tuesday in Hamilton, NJ and the Brickwall Tavern in Burlington, NJ. Police estimate Rodriguez was driving drunk at 86 miles per hour in a 45 mile per hour speed zone when he lost control of his car and crashed into a pole in Florence, NJ. Rodriguez was ejected from his car and sustained injuries, but has since recovered. Ariana Williams, who was from the town of Florence, NJ, sustained catastrophic head injuries and was pronounced dead at the scene.

The Williams family’s civil suit was filed today by Fritz Goldenberg & Bianculli in the Superior Court of New Jersey, Burlington County, Civil Law Division.

Tips for Choosing Safe Toys

warning for child

In an earlier blog, we told you about toys to avoid, toys that pose a serious risk of injury to your child. Here are some ways that you can minimize the risk that your child will be hurt by a toy.

  • Read the label before you buy a toy—Find out what the toy is made from and where it’s made. You’re usually better off buying something locally made, as opposed to something built in China or Japan.
  • Choose toys that are made of more natural substances—Wooden toys with no finish or cloth toys are usually safer than plastics or metal toys.
  • Be willing to spend a little more for better quality—More often than not, the more expensive toys are less likely to break, have fewer small parts, and will last a lot longer.
  • Avoid kids’ jewelry and cosmetics—You don’t know what kinds of chemicals are in a kid’s cosmetic kit. In addition, children’s “jewelry” tends to have lots of small pieces that can present choking hazards. Kids’ jewelry can also have high levels of lead
  • Check out reports on a toy before you buy it—HealthyToys.org maintains a database that can help you determine any potential risks with a toy.
  • You can also sign up to receive recall alerts from the Consumer Product Safety Commission—Visit the CPSC website for more information.

At the law firm of Fritz & Bianculli LLC, we have more than 30 years of combined experience successfully protecting the rights of personal injury victims in the greater Philadelphia area. We have recovered millions in settlements and verdicts in cases that other law firms initially turned down.

To set up a free initial consultation, call our office at 215-458-2222 or send us an e-mail. Evening and weekend meetings can be arranged, if necessary. We will come to your home or the hospital for an appointment.

Social Host Liability in Pennsylvania and New Jersey

drunk man

In every state, there are laws that govern the responsibility of individuals who serve alcohol to persons who subsequently cause injury to others. When the server is a bar, tavern, restaurant or employee thereof, the legal basis for a lawsuit is generally referred to as dram shop liability. However, when the person serving the intoxicating beverages is a private individual, at a party, dinner or other private event, the term used to describe legal responsibility is “social host liability.”

Social Host Liability in Pennsylvania

Unlike many states, Pennsylvania has a fairly restricted application of social host liability. A private individual will only be legally responsible under a theory of social host liability in Pennsylvania if the person served was a minor. It has long been the rule in Pennsylvania that social hosts have no legal liability for the actions of adults to whom they have served beer, wine or liquor.

Social Host Liability in New Jersey

In New Jersey, social hosts may have liability for the wrongful acts of persons to whom they served alcoholic beverages. The New Jersey statute requires that the person to whom alcoholic beverages was served was “visibly intoxicated.” The law also restricts application to injuries caused by the negligent operation of a motor vehicle after consuming alcohol. Judicial opinions in New Jersey have extended liability to situations where guest self-served, as well as to beverages brought by other guests.

Contact Fritz & Bianculli LLC

At the law firm of Fritz & Bianculli LLC, we have over 30 years of collective experience successfully protecting the rights of personal injury victims in the greater Philadelphia area. We have recovered millions in settlements and verdicts in cases that other law firms initially turned down.

To set up a free initial consultation, call our office at 215-458-2222 or send us an e-mail. Evening and weekend meetings can be arranged, if necessary. We will come to your home or the hospital for an appointment.