CIVIL VERDICTS - PREMISES LIABILITY * Estate of Joan DeMarco v. The Marquis - Decedent business tenant of apartment/office complex owner murdered by former employee of defendant in violent assault during office burglary. Plaintiff's estate alleged negligent security theory of liability against defendant. Settlement negotiated with responsible insurance company in excess of One Million Two Hundred Thousand ($1,200,000.00) Dollars prior to trial. * Khaled Bakar v. Home Properties, Inc. - Plaintiff was standing on third floor balcony of friend's apartment owned by defendant, when the floor suddenly collapsed causing plaintiff to fall to ground. Plaintiff sustained fractured ribs, non-displaced tibia fracture and herniated disc, which was treated with physical therapy and multiple epidural injections. Montgomery County jury returned a verdict in the amount of Seven Hundred and Sixty Nine Thousand ($769,000.00) Dollars. Plaintiff filed Motion for Delay Damages which was granted and case was settled for Nine Hundred Thousand ($900,000.00) Dollars. * CIVIL VERDICTS - AUTOMOBILE ACCIDENTS * Riccardo v. Kim - Plaintiff sustained fractured cervical vertebrae at C5-6 level which required two surgeries and metal screws, arising from a two vehicle automobile accident. Out-of-court settlement negotiated with responsible insurance carriers in amount of Four Hundred Thousand ($400,000.00) Dollars prior to trial. * Estate of Robert Kane v. Joseph Falco - Decedent killed while passenger in one-car accident where intoxicated driver lost control of vehicle. Wrongful death claim settlement negotiated with responsible insurance company in the amount of Six Hundred and Sixty Thousand ($660,000.00) Dollars prior to trial. * Vinnie Moss v. Baldi Transportation/Erie Insurance Company - Plaintiff awarded Two Hundred Thirty Five Thousand ($235,000.00) Dollars by jury after trial. Defendant trucking company bankrupt and uninsured. Uninsured motorist claim settlement negotiated with plaintiff's insurance company in the amount of Two Hundred Thousand ($200,00.00) Dollars. * CIVIL VERDICTS - LIQUOR LIABILITY * Gerald & Irene Kane v. Dublin Wine and Spirits and Commonwealth of PA - Plaintiff husband and wife sustained multiple injuries in head-on collision with drunk driver. Husband-plaintiff sustained head injury resulting in brain hemorrhage and coma, with substantial recovery. Wife-plaintiff sustained broken ankle. Out-of-court settlement successfully negotiated against defendants prior to trial. Husband's claim - Two Hundred Forty Thousand ($240,000.00) Dollars. Wife's claim - Ninety Thousand ($90,000.00) Dollars. (Bucks County)* Edward Pisarek v. Adriatric Club - Plaintiff police officer assaulted while on duty by intoxicated bar patron skilled in martial arts. Plaintiff sustained permanent partial hearing loss and multiple lacerations. Non-jury trial verdict in favor of plaintiff and against defendant in amount of One Hundred Fifty Thousand ($150,000.00) Dollars. (Philadelphia County) CIVIL VERDICTS - PRODUCT LIABILITY* Keith Rosenberger v. Galoob Toys, Inc. - Plaintiff sustained temporary partial loss of vision in one eye with increased risk of future glaucoma, when struck in eye by defendants' children's toy, while plaintiff demonstrated newly purchased toy for child. Out-of-court settlement successfully negotiated against defendants in the amount of One Hundred Fifty Thousand ($150,000.00) Dollars prior to trial. (Montgomery County)* Raymond Cost v. Caterpillar, Inc. - Plaintiff sustained partial amputation of his lower leg, when his foot was crushed in an unguarded pinchpoint of rotating couplings inside engine area, while plaintiff was performing maintenance of defendant's heavy trash compactor/metal shearer. Out-of-court settlement successfully negotiated against defendant in the amount of Four Hundred Seventy Five Thousand ($475,000.00) Dollars prior to trial. (Montgomery County)

McMahon, McMahon & Lentz – Homicide Offenses

Self–Defense “The Castle Doctrine”

The affirmative defense of Self- Defense has always been established law in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. In essence, a person confronted with deadly force by another may defend themselves with deadly force under most circumstances. Deadly force is defined as the type of force likely to cause serious bodily injury or death. The person using deadly force in Self-Defense must prove that he or she had a reasonable belief under the circumstances of being in fear of serious bodily injury or death. Importantly, an accused who seeks to assert Self- Defense at trial must also not have violated a duty to retreat from the confrontation if possible, and also be free from provoking or continuing the confrontation. Self -Defense may be a complete defense to Murder, Voluntary Manslaughter, Aggravated Assault and Simple Assault charges and must always be disproved beyond a reasonable doubt by the prosecution once properly raised by the defense.

Recently, the Governor Corbett signed into law the so-called “Castle Doctrine”, which significantly expands the legal right of a citizen to use deadly force against an intruder who enters their home. The intruder is generally presumed to intend to cause serious bodily injury or death and the homeowner has no duty to retreat. Prior to the enactment of the “Castle Doctrine”, there have been Pennsylvania jury verdicts where homeowners were found guilty of homicide charges, usually Voluntary Manslaughter. In these cases, Self-Defense was asserted but not successfully established because the jury did not conclude that the homeowner’s belief that deadly force was necessary was reasonable.

In Commonwealth vs. Tano, the “Castle Doctrine” was directly relevant in a case in which we represented a client charged with Aggravated Assault and related charges arising from a shooting incident in his estranged wife’s apartment in which he shot her through the right arm. Mr. Tano had entered his estranged wife’s apartment during the early morning hours after he learned she had a male guest in her residence. She pulled out her handgun and threatened to shoot him; in response he pulled out his handgun which immediately discharged accidentally firing a bullet through her right arm.

At trial, Mr. Tano had hoped to assert a Self-Defense defense before a jury, but based on the applicable law under the “Castle-Doctrine,” instead decided to accept a plea-bargain we negotiated to the lesser charge of Recklessly Endangering Another Person in exchange for the withdrawal of the Aggravated and Simple Assault charges. At trial, our client’s Self-Defense claim would have been greatly undermined by his estranged wife’s presumed right to use deadly force simply upon his unauthorized entry into her apartment under the “Castle Doctrine”.

The “Castle Doctrine,” premised on the rationale that a citizen’s “home is his castle” will likely result in prosecutors carefully evaluating whether to even bring charges in certain cases in certain situations of self-defense by a homeowner, where deadly force is used against intruders. In cases where charges are brought, the accused homeowner employing deadly force in self-defense will have a strong defense to raise at trial.

The information contained herein should not be used as a substitute for personal
legal advice. You should contact the Law Offices of McMahon, McMahon & Lentz
to schedule a Consultation with an attorney who will speak to you regarding your
specific situation.