Over the past sixty years, Gekoski and Bogdanoff has helped develop case law throughout Pennsylvania and within Federal Court. We have been involved in a wide variety of cases and we have
established a reputation for finding unique solutions for our client’s legal issues. Our performance has been recognized and complimented by judges, mediators, and arbitrators. Yet, our greatest
accomplishment is that our clients remain confident in our skills and continue to seek our representation.
By way of example, here are some of the matters our attorneys have handled over the years:
· Brain injury cases where carbon monoxide allegedly leaked into an enclosed area by a floor removal machine.
· Representation of developers in cases alleging negligent security in parking areas, stadiums, restaurants, and strip malls.
· Bad faith cases where claimant’s alleged “lowballing” settlement offers as well as manipulation of data and claims files, and collusion with arbitrators.
· Insurance coverage cases where companies have disputed priorities of payment, priorities of claims, and priorities of coverage.
· Catastrophic injury cases where claimant alleged motorcycle or product defects caused the loss.
· Complex contractual disputes among sophisticated parties including telecommunication companies, developers and tenants, and other business entities.
· Product liability cases involving such products as space heaters, lighters, medical office equipment, box-manufacturing machines, breast implant devises, heavy industrial equipment, and athletic
· Defamation cases, including those that take place in both public and private forums.
· Employment cases, including representing management in sexual harassment suits.
· Sexual assault cases where landowners and social hosts were sued for alleged activities taking place on their premises.
· Commercial disputes and construction litigation where jobs were allegedly not completed on time, on budget, or in a workmanlike manner.
· Premises liability disputes where claimants have alleged negligent installation of ceiling tile, poor parking lot maintenance, lighting issues, defective equipment, and road irregularities.
· Fire loss from alleged defective products or other causes, utilizing significant cause and origin investigation.
· Interpretation of trucking standards, regulations, statutes, and coverage questions.
· Appeals to the Superior and Supreme Courts of Pennsylvania as well as appeals to the Federal Courts of Appeal.
· Multi-million dollar subrogation claims where our clients have retained us to pursue responsible parties for fire loss and other property damage claims.
· Federal questions of law, including constitutional claims, maritime claims, and matters involving parties of several states.
· Insurance fraud cases including investigation and litigation on denial of coverage.
· Intellectual property cases involving copyrighted and patented material, fair use, and public domain disputes.
Some highlighted decisions …
We have achieved substantial success in our defense of product liability cases. Some years ago, we defended Randy, Inc. (our client) in what was a leading decision obtained by a defense firm in products liability at that time. Bascelli v. Randy, Inc., 339 Pa. Super. 254 (Pa. Super 1985). There, Bascelli was in an accident allegedly caused by the defective front-end assembly of his motorcycle. As a result of said accident Mr. Bascelli lost an arm and claimed permanent addiction to drugs.
Months after the accident, during a conversation with the front end assembly retailer, Bascelli stated that “nothing really happened to the front end…” Bascelli, 339 Pa. Super at 259. Rather, Bascelli indicted that the front end began to wobble and the accident occurred after he lost control of his motorcycle while traveling one hundred miles per hour. Evidence of Bascelli’s statement was not admitted by the trial court because causation was not a defense to product liability. Without evidence of Plaintiff’s contributory actions, the jury held for Plaintiff and issued a damage award in the amount of one million seven hundred and fifty thousand dollars.
Through our efforts on appeal, the Superior Court reversed the decision by the trial court, holding that causation is relevant to a determination of liability within products liability suits. The court looked beyond the defective nature of the product to the factors leading up the alleged injury. The case was remanded for a new trial and the excessive jury verdict was overturned. Today, Bascelli continues to be cited as the precedent for addressing causation under Pennsylvania products liability law.
In the area of trucking, our firm was involved in Mamalis v. Atlas Van Lines, Inc. a claim where Atlas (our client) was joined as the passive principal due to the actions of Atlas’s active and allegedly negligent agent, a local trucking company. 522 Pa. 214 (Pa. 1989). The local trucking company affiliated with Atlas independently contracted to move Father Mamalis from Pennsylvania to New Jersey. The local trucking company packed Father Mamalis’s belongings into a truck and stored the truck at its facility. Overnight, the truck caught fire causing Father Mamalis to loose his personal belongings. Mamalis then sued the local trucking company and its principal, Atlas. As a result of financial difficulties, the local trucking company settled with Plaintiff for $25,000.00 and Plaintiff continued to press its suit against Atlas.
The trial court ruled against Atlas and held that the release of one joint tortfeasor does not discharge the other joint tortfeasor unless the release so provides. We appealed this decision and the Supreme Court overruled the trial court holding that the right against a passive principal is extinguished where an active tortfeasor who is an agent, through which a claim passes to the passive principal, settles Plaintiff’s claim with the agent. The Court reasoned that a Plaintiff who agrees to indemnify the agent for any claim by a principal through a release, is prohibited from gaining more than he received under the release. Our attorneys were able to persuade the Court to rule that passive joint tortfeasors are not liable where the claim of the active tortfeasor has been negated by a settlement. Through our efforts passive national corporations have a defense to suits brought against them based on the actions of their active local agents.
We have also been successful in achieving results in cases dealing with conflict of laws. In a notable case, Plaintiff fell down external stairs while staying at the Holiday Inn in Bermuda (our client). Reifinger v. Holiday Inns, Inc, etc., 315 Pa. Super. 147 (1983). She alleged that she fell because one of the stair risers was as much as 3/16” of an inch larger than the other end of the riser. Plaintiff was taken to the hospital as a result of this injury, and was issued crutches to assist her with walking. Plaintiff was walking with her crutches in her hotel room when they gave way. She fell and suffered injuries that caused her to become a quadriplegic.
Suit was filed by Plaintiff in Pennsylvania State Court. Questions of law arose as to whether Bermuda or Pennsylvania law would govern the issue. In an effort to resolve the conflicts of law, our attorneys obtained an expert in Bermuda law who was able to prove that Bermuda law differs from Pennsylvania law on this issue.
Plaintiff’s counsel was opposed to any discussion of settlement because he believed the jury would award his client an extremely large verdict. During the trial of this matter Plaintiff was wheeled in on a gurney to testify. While unknown to our attorneys at the time, Plaintiff’s counsel had hired mock jurors to sit in on the court proceedings and report their daily opinions of the trial. After Plaintiff’s cross-examination, the opinions provided by the mock jurors were not favorable to Plaintiff’s case. After learning the opinion of his mock jurors, Plaintiff’s counsel readily engaged in settlement discussions. Ultimately the case settled for the monetary offer we issued Plaintiff at the onset of trial.
We know that preparation is the best way to achieve successful trial results. Through research and experience, we have found that mock juries are often helpful in determining what evidence to present to a jury during trial. Mock juries were instrumental to our defense team in a case involving a catastrophic injury at a local mall (our client).
In the underlying case, an individual was injured at a local mall where many security precautions were taken but only one security guard was on duty at the time of the late-night accident. The victim was treated at a local hospital, but he passed away after approximately two weeks of treatment.
In preparing for trial we set out to determine the best evidence to produce by utilizing mock juries. Our attorneys carefully analyzed and selected four different mock juries who accurately represented the community. We presented evidence through different methods to the mock juries in an effort to determine how to best represent our client. From these mock jurors we learned the best defense theories to utilize at trial. We had also learned that the mock jurors believed the mall was negligent for only having one security guard on duty at the time of the accident.
The trial of this case was extensive, yet after the two-day cross-examination of Plaintiff’s expert witness, the Judge initiated settlement discussions. Plaintiff’s attorneys were instructed to scale down their demand and a settlement agreement was reached by the parties. After the settlement agreement had been obtained, the Judge asked the trial jury for their opinions as to the underlying case. Consistent with the findings of our mock jury, the trial jury had believed that the mall was negligent for failing to have more than one security guard on duty at the time of the incident. However, the trial jury did not believe that the mall’s negligence caused the individual’s death. As a result, the mock jury process had helped predict the outcome of the case and it assisted us in achieving our client’s desired result.