Zarwin Baum Trial Win

April 2024 • Source:

A Philadelphia jury on Thursday returned a $6.1 million verdict to a worker crushed by a pallet of exercise weights.

But the award was only a fraction of what the plaintiffs had estimated the value of the case to be.

According to attorneys involved in the matter, the plaintiff’s settlement demand at trial was somewhere between $51 million and $101 million.

Lead counsel for the defendant, Theodore Schaer of Zarwin Baum DeVito Kaplan Schaer Toddy, said the jury’s comparatively modest award of $6.1 million was significant for a city he described as seeming like “the capital of nuclear verdicts.”

Schaer said Philadelphia’s reputation as a hotspot for large verdicts can lead to unreasonable estimations of a case’s value. “It has gotten to the point where you can’t even mediate a case because the demands are so crazy today,” he said.

However, he said, the Thursday verdict in Kobeissi v. Shipwire demonstrates that “not every catastrophic injury case in Philadelphia is going to return a nuclear verdict.”

Attorneys for the opposing parties gave differing accounts to The Legal of what the plaintiff’s ultimate settlement demand was, though both said the numbers shifted during trial based on updated information about the defendant’s insurance coverage.

Saltz Mongeluzzi Bendesky partner Jeffrey Goodman, who represented the plaintiff, contended that the demand was $51 million, while Schaer asserted that the demand was $101 million by the time the case went to verdict.

Plaintiff Samer Kobeissi claimed his lower body was crushed by a double-stacked pallet of Peloton weights that fell while he was unloading it from a truck. He alleged that defendant Ingram Micro Inc., which loaded the cargo into the truck, ignored warnings that double stacking the pallets was dangerous.

Kobeissi said he required extensive pelvic surgery following the accident and was left with chronic pain and impaired mobility.

According to Schaer, Ingram Micro admitted negligence and acknowledged that Kobeissi had suffered a catastrophic injury. But the defendant also asserted that Kobeissi contributed to his injuries by trying to move the pallets although he was not trained in the proper unloading process.

“We talked to the jury a lot about personal responsibility,” Schaer said.

The jury determined that defendant Ingram Micro, which Schaer represented alongside co-counsel Gregory Mallon Jr., was 80% responsible for the plaintiff’s harm. The jury assigned 0% liability to a second defendant and the remaining 20% to Kobeissi.

The jury was also presented with an opportunity to award punitive damages against Ingram Micro, but it declined to do so.

The verdict followed a three-week trial before Judge Vincent Johnson of the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas, though the proceedings had originally only been scheduled to last 9 days.

“This was a long trial,” Goodman said, “and I will give the court credit for battling through to ensure the parties all had their day in court.”