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Third Circuit Affirms Bonner Kiernan Verdict in Favor of National Retailer
March 21, 2012

Bonner Kiernan attorneys successfully persuade the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit to affirm a zero dollar verdict in favor of a national retailer in a traumatic brain injury case. Plaintiff was working as a tractor- trailer driver when he was struck in the head by a falling box containing weight lifting dumbbells. The tractor-trailer was loaded by defendant at its distribution center located in Philadelphia. Plaintiff alleged that the pallet of boxes was negligently stacked and loaded by defendant. At trial, defendant maintained that plaintiff was negligent in the manner in which he unloaded the boxes and caused his injury. As a result of being struck by the box, plaintiff alleged that he experienced significant symptoms related to post concussive syndrome and brain injury. He claimed that he was permanently disabled.

Plaintiff filed suit in Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas. Defendant removed the case to United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania and the case proceeded to trial in September, 2010. Plaintiff’s demand at the time of trial was $1.2 million.

At trial, defendant presented testimony to rebut both the existence and the severity of Plaintiff’s injuries and the causal link between the accident and his symptoms. At the conclusion of trial, the jury found both plaintiff and defendant 50% liable, but it awarded no damages. Plaintiff filed a Motion for a New Trial arguing that the jury’s decision not to award damages was against the weight of the evidence. The District Court denied plaintiff’s motion and plaintiff filed his appeal to the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. In affirming judgment entered in favor of defendant, the court ruled that while plaintiff presented evidence that the accident caused his concussion, which was challenged by defendant, the jury was nonetheless entitled to evaluate the expert testimony presented by defendant and find that plaintiff’s concussive symptoms, if real, were caused by something other than the accident. Thus, judgment in favor of defendant was affirmed.

Mark A. Lockett tried the case in the District Court. The Brief on Appeal to the Third Circuit was authored by John Kiernan and Andrew Butz.

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