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Philadelphia County, PA

The plaintiff was employed as a research supervisor with the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia when a part of a laboratory tech research desk fell and struck her in the head. The plaintiff claimed that the incident was caused by the negligent failure of the defendant, millwright, who installed the desk to properly align the Z-clip hardware that would secure the side panel to the desk. The plaintiff also alleged that the defendant construction manager and architect negligently failed to inspect the work of the millwright subcontractor to ensure that the installation was performed in accordance with contract specifications. The defendants denied negligence, and maintained that the desk had been properly installed.

The plaintiff was working in one of the labs that were equipped with laboratory tech research desks. She was standing in the aisle talking to a co-worker who was sitting in a chair in front of one of tech desks. The plaintiff claimed that the side panel for the outside shelving of the desk fell from its support and struck her in the head.

The plaintiff did not initially receive medical treatment, but went to the emergency room later that day. She was not admitted, as all diagnostic tests were negative. No bruising or other physical injuries to the plaintiff’s head were observed in the emergency room.

However, over the course of several weeks, the plaintiff contended that she began developing headaches and some sensitivity to fluorescent lights. The plaintiff continued to treat with her neurologist for these symptoms for several months following her accident, and was diagnosed with a concussion accompanied by post-concussive symptoms of episodic headaches and light sensitivity, which she contended was caused by the incident. The plaintiff was ultimately released to return to work without any medical restrictions five months after her accident.

The plaintiff claimed past medical expenses of $________. She also sought five month wage loss at $________.

The defendants claimed that the design of the interlocking Z-clips for the side panels of the lab tech desks were commonly used for this type of research furniture and were consistent with custom and practice in millwright design. The defendants argued that the construction project had been completed two years prior to plaintiff’s accident, and there was no report of the side panel being misaligned, dislodged, or not secure in that period of time.

In addition, the defendants contended that the specifications provided by the plaintiff’s employer particularly excluded the use of any self-locking bolts, because the plaintiff’s employer insisted on hidden securement hardware (Z-clips) so that the lab tech and desk furniture would be ascetically pleasing.

Furthermore, the defendants argued that neither the construction manager nor architect was responsible for specifying the means and methods of hardware used by the millwright subcontractor to secure the side panels in place.

On damages, the defendants argued that based on extensive neuropsychological testing, there was no evidence of any organic brain injury, and that the plaintiff did not have any deficits or impairments with any cognitive functions. The defendants’ damage experts suggested that the plaintiff was over-exaggerating her symptoms, which were not consistent with any objective evidence of a brain injury, and that her symptom magnification was based on secondary gain.

The defense stressed that the plaintiff had returned to work at the same position she held before her accident performing the same research assignments that she was doing at the time of her accident.The case settled during mediation for $________.

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