$1.778 million judgment for shocking an electrician while working in a commercial building

Gallagher v. 1760 Market Associates

Verdict: $1,778,000

Judgment date: October 31.

Court and Case Number: CP Philadelphia No. 210202318.

Judge: Carmela Jaquinto.

Action Type: Premises Liability.

Injuries: brachial plexus injuries.

Plaintiffs’ Attorney: Jeffrey F. Lavie and Samuel I. Reich, Lavey, Bucci and Kent, Philadelphia.

Plaintiffs’ experts: Nirav K. Shah, Neurosurgery, Princeton, New Jersey; Andrew C. Verzelli, Economics, Lansdale; Stephen H. Gommerman, Vocational Rehabilitation, Huntingdon Valley; Richard Cummings, Real Estate Management, Myrtle Beach, South Carolina; Jeffrey M. Kobilka, electrician, Lancaster.

Defense Attorney: John J. Delaney III, Marshall Dennehy, Philadelphia.

Defense experts: E. Howard Levin, Neurology, Jenkintown; Anne E. Resch, Property Management, Incline Village, Nevada; Chad L. Staller, Economics, Philadelphia; Charlie Martorana, electrician, Annapolis, Maryland.


On January 31, 2020, plaintiff Matthew Gallagher, 39, an electrician, suffered an electrical shock while working in a fire-damaged commercial building at 1760 Market Street in Philadelphia.

Gallagher claimed to have suffered injuries to his brachial plexus, as well as aggravation of a pre-existing cervical spine condition.

Gallagher sued the building’s owners, 1760 Market Street LLC and 1760 Market Partners LP, and the property manager, Stockton Real Estate Advisers LLC. Gallagher alleged that the defendants were negligent in allowing a dangerous condition to exist.

In January 2019, a year before the accident, Gallagher’s employer conducted an electrical inspection of the building and identified 35 problems with its electrical system, with 23 identified as safety risks. At the time of the accident, after making the necessary lockout of the floor’s power supply and testing it to ensure it was de-energized, Gallagher attempted to remove wires from a disconnect switch located in the 14th floor electrical closet, which was the same closet. That had a safety risk identified in the previous year. His electrical engineering expert testified that Gallagher suffered a serious electrical shock after he disconnected the wires and flexible metal conduit from the disconnect switch. According to the expert, this led to the path to ground being cut off for the ground current or neutral current being illegally fed from a separate power supply. The expert concluded that Gallagher then became part of the current path and received electric shocks.

Gallagher’s property management expert opined that Stockton had actual notice of the electrical safety hazards at the property for a full year before the incident occurred, and chose not to take any measures to address the hazards. The expert held that Stockton breached her duties as property manager by failing to act reasonably in response to a safety risk on its premises. The defense contended that any liability found should be against Gallagher and his employer, as Gallagher’s employer had conducted the electrical inspection in January 2019 and had first-hand knowledge of the risks identified. (Gallagher did not participate in the January 2019 inspection.)

According to the defense’s electrical engineering expert, the accident could not have occurred as Gallagher claimed because there was no physical connection between the two boards he was working on. However, upon cross-examination, the expert admitted that he did not appreciate how the two panels were physically connected, and therefore the accident could not have occurred as Gallagher claimed.

The defense’s property management expert testified that Stockton acted reasonably because it had a plan in place to notify any future contractor or party about the electrical problems identified in the January 2019 inspection report. According to plaintiffs’ counsel, this plan did not take into account the occurrence of something unexpected, e.g. What brought Gallagher into the building that day.

Gallagher did not seek medical attention until about a week after the accident, after experiencing a severe headache, pain, numbness and tingling spreading through his non-dominant left arm. He was eventually diagnosed with a left brachial plexus injury, cervical pain, cervical radiculopathy, neck strain, and aggravation of a pre-existing bulge in the C5-6 cervical intervertebral disc.

By 2022, Gallagher, who was under the care of a neurosurgeon, was treated with intensive physical therapy and pain management, consisting of medications and a number of nerve block injections. During that period, Gallagher underwent multiple imaging tests that confirmed his injury.

At the time of trial, Gallagher continued to consult with a neurosurgeon. The neurosurgeon testified about Gallagher’s injuries and how his poor motor skills prevented him from performing the physical duties required as an electrician, such as cutting and pulling wires.

According to Gallagher’s vocational rehabilitation expert, Gallagher’s vocational prospects are limited by his physical disabilities and will affect his ability to earn in the future.

Gallagher testified that he still had neck pain, numbness and tingling throughout his left arm, hand and fingers, causing him to prefer his right arm. He tried to work out for three months in 2022, but said he had to stop due to his pain and limitations. In 2023, Gallagher began working in a stable management position at an electrical company. Gallagher also testified about how his injuries interfered with physical interaction with his children. He sought to recover $2.4 million to $2.6 million in past and future lost profits. The defense’s neurology expert testified that although there was objective evidence that Gallagher had a brachial plexus injury, his subjective complaints were not related to the objective findings.

The defense economist testified that Gallagher earned relatively the same salary in his new position as he had as an electrician. The expert determined that Gallagher could work until age 62, which would mean a loss of $840,000 in future earnings.

The jury found Stockton Real Estate Advisers 75% liable and 1,760 Market Partners 25% liable. No liability was found against Gallagher. The jury decided that Gallagher would receive $1,778,000.

This report is based on information provided by plaintiffs’ counsel. The defense attorney did not answer the reporter’s phone calls.

-This report first appeared in VerdictSearch, an ALM publication

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