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)

Bill Cosby Case Back In Court for Preliminary Hearing

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The preliminary hearing in the Bill Cosby case is underway this morning in the Montgomery County Court of Common Pleas. This is the first proceeding in which the prosecution will need to present some evidence to support the felony charges of aggravated indecent assault against Cosby. Cosby is charged with three counts of aggravated indecent assault based upon allegations that he sexually assaulted his accuser, Andrea Constand, in 2004 at his Montgomery County home.

What to Expect from a Preliminary Hearing in Montgomery County?

At a preliminary hearing, the prosecution must present evidence of each material element of the crime charged, and must establish sufficient probable cause to warrant a belief that the accused committed the crime.  If the judge determines that the prosecution has met their burden in this regard, then the case will proceed in the Court of Common Pleas where it will eventually be scheduled for trial. Otherwise, the judge could dismiss any or all charges for which there was insufficient evidence.  In making this determination, the judge is required to view the evidence and testimony presented in a light most favorable to the Commonwealth, and must draw all reasonable inferences from that evidence in favor of the Commonwealth.

Under Pennsylvania law, the credibility of the prosecution’s witnesses is not to be considered by the the judge at a preliminary hearing. That means that Cosby’s lawyers would not be permitted to question his accuser regarding the apparent inconsistencies in her story throughout the years and any other “baggage” she may have.

However, Cosby’s defense team might not have the opportunity to question his accuser at all. In a recent 2015 opinion, which the author of this post thinks was wrongly decided, the Pennsylvania Superior Court held that the government is permitted to establish its case at the preliminary hearing based upon hearsay testimony alone, and that the accused does not have a Constitutional right to cross examine his or her accuser at the preliminary hearing. Commonwealth v. Ricker, 120 A.3d 349 (Pa. Super. 2015). That means that the Cosby case could be held for further proceedings based upon only the testimony of police officers as to what Constand told them, without Constand taking the witness stand.  Note: the Ricker case is presently on appeal in the PA Supreme Court.


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