Robert Connell Pugh was recently involved in a trial in the Court of Common Pleas of Montgomery County, involving alleged personal injuries due to a gasoline leak from a local gasoline station.
On May 3, 1998, an underground gas leak was discovered at a gas station in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, just hours before a pump house across the street burst into flames. An investigation discovered a hole in a pump line that had allowed at least 10,000 gallons of gasoline to leak over a course of four months, filling the pump house with fumes. The gas station was built in 1995. The owner immediately began a remediation process which the state eventually completed, pumping much of the gasoline out of the ground.
In April, 1999, 28 people living within a half-mile of the gas station claimed that gasoline had seeped beneath their homes and exposed them to harmful chemicals. Early in, two of the plaintiffs settled out. The judge bifurcated the case and the claims of four plaintiffs were considered by the jury. Plaintiffs’ counsel alleged that the owner was negligent in monitoring the discrepancy between the amount of gasoline he purchased and the amount of gas he sold. Plaintiffs’ counsel further alleged that the equipment was negligently installed or that the equipment itself failed.
Because the trial was bifurcated, the question presented to the jury was whether the plaintiffs suffered causal damages. After an eight-week trial, the jury found that no causal link existed between the plaintiffs’ injuries and the gasoline leak.
Recently, Robert Connell Pugh successfully defended an emergency room physician who was sued in a medical malpractice case in the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia.
The case involved a 49 year-old individual who presented to the emergency department with various physical complaints, including chest pain. Plaintiff was treated and released from the emergency room with the instructions to follow up with his family physician. Two days later the patient died of an apparent MI (myocardial infarction). Plaintiff's widow sued the emergency room doctor and defendant hospital alleging that plaintiff's complaint of chest pain was not adequately evaluated. After a three-week trial, the jury returned a verdict in favor of all defendants. Currently, the case is on appeal in the Superior Court of Pennsylvania.
The defense was based upon the proposition that the plaintiff's mild chest pain was appropriately associated with his flu-like symptoms that he had in the emergency department. After receiving hydration, plaintiff felt much better and no longer complained of any pain at all. Furthermore, the defense presented a renowned cardiac pathologist who, after reviewing the cardiac pathology slides, opined that the plaintiff had normal myocardium and, therefore, did not die from a heart attack caused by coronary artery disease as alleged by plaintiffs. The defense maintained that the plaintiff died from an unknown and undetectable infectious process.