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Philadelphia County

The plaintiff brought this action against the Philadelphia Stock Exchange and an individual stock trader whom the plaintiff claimed pulled him backwards and caused his head to strike a steel pole. The plaintiff contended that the conditions in the trading pits of the stock exchange forced traders to face a "free-for-all" and to fight for position. The individual defendant contended that he went to the bathroom and returned to find that the plaintiff had taken his position in the pit. The individual defendant stock trader settled the plaintiff’s claims under a joint-tortfeasor’s release prior to trial. The defendant stock exchange maintained that it had adequate security measures in place and had no duty to regulate the behavior of the traders working on the floor.

The plaintiff was a 34-year-old male stock-trader at the time in question. The plaintiff contended that the defendant stock exchange forced traders to fend for themselves in order to obtain a position on the floor close to a specialist. Testimony established that the specialists were the individuals conducting the trades and traders must be able to get the attention of the specialist in order to make a trade.

The plaintiff testified that he was in one of the many "pits" on the stock exchange floor and the group was trading semiconductor companies. The plaintiff testified that he was approached from behind by the individual (settling) defendant, yanked backwards and his head struck a steel pole. The plaintiff fell to the floor and lost consciousness.

The plaintiff argued that the defendant stock exchange was aware that a similar fight had occurred in one of the pits two days before the plaintiff’s injury. The plaintiff contended that the defendant discussed the situation in a meeting, but did nothing to correct the situation. The plaintiff contended that the lack of assigned positions in the pits, absence of security guards and lack of rules created an environment in which the traders were encouraged to act aggressively. The plaintiff’s security expert testified that the security guard stationed at the entrance of the stock exchange was ineffective to control behavior in the pits, which could contain 60 to ________ traders at a time.

The plaintiff’s treating neurosurgeon testified that the plaintiff had preexisting stenosis or narrowing of the cervical spine. The plaintiff claimed he was previously unaware of the condition and it was asymptomatic. The plaintiff’s doctor testified that the trauma aggravated the spinal plaintiff’s condition and caused permanent nerve damage to his cervical spine.

The plaintiff complained of chronic neck pain with radiculopathy. He has undergone cervical injections for pain which he testified are effective only for brief periods of time. The plaintiff’s doctor testified that surgery may be indicated as the next step in the plaintiff’s treatment.

The plaintiff’s vocational expert testified that the plaintiff’s neck injury prevented him from returning to work as a stock trader. At the time of trial, the plaintiff was employed as a salesman for roofing material. The plaintiff claimed a diminished future earning capacity of $1.1 to $1.7 million. His former supervisor testified that the plaintiff had been a good worker and excellent stock trader.

The individual (settling) defendant admitted pulling the plaintiff backwards and causing him to strike his head. He testified that he was trying to get back his position in the pit and did not mean to hurt the plaintiff.

The defendant stock exchange argued that the individual stock traders were responsible to conduct themselves in a reasonable manner and the defendant had no duty to police them. The defense contended that it had a reasonable system of control in the pits through its "floor surveillance" program, whereby traders volunteer to referee the other traders in the pits. Testimony established that the individual defendant was approved for floor surveillance after the plaintiff’s injuries.

The defendant also disputed the plaintiff’s claim for loss of future earnings, arguing that his job on the floor of the stock exchange had been replaced by electronic trading.

The jury found the defendant stock exchange 50% negligent; the individual (settling) defendant 30% negligent and the plaintiff 20% comparatively negligent. The plaintiff was awarded $________ in damages which was reduced accordingly. The award was comprised of $1.8 million to the plaintiff and $________ to the plaintiff’s wife for her loss of consortium.

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