By Kevin L. Connors, Esquire
Belying the prized ignominy of being characterized as a “judicial hellhole” year-in and year-out, recent statistics published by the Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas suggest that there are no clear absolutes in terms of Philadelphia juries, particularly when compared against neighboring suburban Counties, although the consensus, particularly true within the Plaintiffs’ bar, remains true, as Plaintiffs favor Philadelphia County, over any neighboring suburban County, as a venue for trying personal injury lawsuits, under whatever theory of liability.
Tracking the first three quarters of trial statistics in 2013, Philadelphia is reporting that there were 18 verdicts rendered by juries, or following Bench Trials, that resulted in Plaintiff awards of $1,000,000.00 or more.
In 2012, the same statistics revealed 15 verdicts at or higher than $1,000,000.00.
Although the total number of higher verdicts was greater in 2013 than in 2012, the largest verdict in 2013 was a $20,000,000.00 verdict, while the largest verdict in 2012 was a $78,000,000.00 verdict.
Through the first three quarters of 2013, the 18 verdicts of $1,000,000.00 or more represented 7% of the total number of verdicts rendered in Philadelphia, either from Jury Trials or from Bench Trials. There were 126 Jury verdicts, and 44 verdicts rendered after Bench Trials, over the first three quarters in Philadelphia County in 2013.
In 2013, the average Jury verdict was $798,089.00, with the highest Jury verdict being $20,000,000.00, and the lowest Jury verdict being $500.00.
Bench Trials resulted in average awards of $80,574.00, spanning a range of $2,700,000.00 and a low of $1.00.
Although there were 126 Jury verdicts in favor of Plaintiffs, with the average verdict being close to $800,000.00, there were also 143 defense verdicts, resulting in awards of $0.00 to Plaintiffs seeking personal injury damages.
With 143 defense verdicts to 126 Plaintiff verdicts, the ratio of defense verdicts to Plaintiff verdicts equaled 1.13.
Those statistics were not replicated in Bench Trials, as there were 221 awards in favor of Plaintiffs, following Bench Trials, and only 73 findings in favor of Defendants.
The top Jury verdicts in 2013 were rendered in the following cases:
• Rolland v. Senn-$20,000,000.00;
• Hennessey v. Robertson-$19,100,000.00;
• Lewis v. Toyota Motor-$15,600,000.00;
• Heyse v. Acme Markets-$6,300,000.00;
• Delgravia Condominium Association v. 1811 Belg-$5,100,000.00;
• Wilson v. Jamison Road Associates-$3,500,000.00;
• Lorenzo v. Miller-$3,300,000.00;
• Henao v. Hall-$2,700,000.00;
• Kappe v. Lentz Cantor & Massey-$2,500,000.00;
• Amato v. Bell and Gossit-$2,500,000.00;
• Vinciguerra v. Boyer Cropscience-$2,300,000.00.
Although these statistics do not completely debunk the myth, more like reality, that Jury Trials in Philadelphia result in higher Plaintiff verdicts than in the neighboring suburban Counties, it certainly reinforces our general impression that everyone involved with personal injury litigation in Southeastern Pennsylvania regards Philadelphia as the Plaintiffs’ bar’s favorite County, a conclusion borne out by the 126 verdicts in favor of Plaintiffs in the first three quarters of 2013 representing, by average, a net for Plaintiffs and their attorney of over $100,000,000.00, at $800,000.00 per clip.
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