As time passed, growth seemed imminent. In 1981, Lawrence R. Cohan joined Anapol Schwartz after serving as a law clerk for the Honorable Harry A. Takiff, a pre-eminent Philadelphia judge who organized and ran the emerging asbestos docket in Philadelphia County.
With Larry's expertise, Anapol Schwartz took on a whole new practice: that of actively representing asbestos victims. 1982 marked more growth at Anapol Schwartz when Joel Feldman joined the firm in March as its seventh attorney in only its fifth year of existence.
During 1982, Larry Cohan helped break new ground in collective bargaining agreement law in Rutledge v. SEPTA. After Larry's arguments, the court decided that employees discharged while working under a collective bargaining agreement are entitled, at a minimum, to a full hearing with the presentation of evidence and cross examination of witnesses prior to any final discharge.
Alan Schwartz continued to set the standard for outstanding verdicts outside the City of Philadelphia in Comegys v. Dorsey and Chloroben Corporation, 464 A.2d 886 (Del. 1983). This negligence and breach of contract case was tried in Wilmington, Delaware for serious and permanent facial and body scarring to a young girl who came in contact with sulfuric acid in the household product, Drainsnake. Drainsnake did not have a child resistant cap, thus enabling the girl to spill the contents of the sulfuric acid on her face and body. The jury awarded compensatory and punitive damages in the case, which at that time, was the largest punitive damage verdict in a personal injury case awarded in the state. Alan convinced the Delaware Supreme Court, in an unusual circumstance, to take testimony during arguments on a constitutional issue. This testimony proved crucial on holding the jury's punitive damage award.
In 1985, several landmark cases were favorably decided for Anapol Schwartz and its clients. Sol Weiss and Paul Anapol achieved a landmark decision in Alfiero v. Berks Mutual Leasing Co., 500 A.2d 169 (Pa. Super. 1985) in which CNA Insurance Company was forced to pay an amount its insured agreed to pay to protect its personal assets. CNA argued unsuccessfully that it had no legal duty to indemnify the insured until it personally paid the judgment. This precedent has helped both victims and small corporations settle serious personal injury cases when the insurance company would rather delay or unjustly deny payment. The firm also set another legal precedent in 1985 in Amadio v. Levin, et al., 509 Pa. 199, 501 A.2d 1085 (1985), when the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania reversed existing law by permitting wrongful death and survival actions on behalf of a viable but stillborn fetus. Until this Decision, parents could not recover for preventable stillborn births. Continuing on a successful year, the firm obtained a $1.3 million dollar verdict for our client who suffered disabling psychological injuries but little physical damage in Barnes v. SEPTA. Barnes, a sanitation worker for the City of Philadelphia was standing on a trash truck that was sideswiped by a SEPTA bus. SEPTA initially offered to settle the case for $10,000 prior to trial, calling Barnes a malingerer. The jury was not persuaded by those remarks. Finally, at year's end, the firm was successful in a personal injury action on behalf of a minor against a plastic surgeon and hospital for negligence and lack of informed consent in Peek-White v. Children's Hospital of Philadelphia and Caplan. In this case, a young black male of small stature had his ears reduced, but was left with unsightly scars. The mother of the child was never informed of the possible scarring risks involved in this simple, yet elective procedure. The jury awarded the plaintiff two million dollars.
Alan Schwartz spent two weeks in 1986 trying a wrongful death and survival action in Dauphin County, Pennsylvania. The case, Clark v. Hoener, M.D., et al., was the largest known victory in Harrisburg at $650,000, and reputed to be the first malpractice case that was successfully concluded in that County.
After T.V. Consumer Advocate and former Insurance Commissioner of Pennsylvania, Herb Dennenberg aired a series of exposés about ARCO gasoline sold in Pennsylvania and New York, blaming a methanol additive for causing engine sluggishness and unanticipated stalling in cars. Sol Weiss started a class action for AM/PM Mini Market operators against Atlantic Richfield, seeking to recover profits lost as consumers in the area boycotted Arco Gas Stations. In 1995, nine years in the making, Arco settled this class action lawsuit for supplying defective gasoline, and the settlement was approved.
In 1987, David Jacoby defined New Jersey law when he successfully argued before the New Jersey Supreme Court that employees could directly sue their employer in civil court for money damages whenever the employer fraudulently conceals medical information. This rule does not apply to the Workers' Compensation Court. The case, Millison v. DuPont was tried in 1989, and the jury awarded $1.5 million dollars in punitive damages against Dupont for fraudulently concealing Millison's medical records. David Jacoby again took on DuPont in 1996, this time forcing them to pay a multi-million dollar settlement when it fraudulently concealed the toxic effects of its tetra-ethyl lead additive in gasoline.
As the firm became renowned for its personal injury litigation, more landmark decisions came to the forefront for our attorneys. In 1988, Joel Feldman and Paul Anapol established the right of passengers in trucks operating in interstate commerce to obtain full compensation for their injures under federal law and not be limited by state worker's compensation statutes in Wilkerson v. Allied Van Lines. In Smith v. BIC Corporation, the Third Circuit directed disclosure of BIC's butane lighter's claim experiences when plaintiff's counsel refused to enter into a Confidentiality Agreement. This was the first case nationally to obtain such documents without a Protective Order, successfully argued by Alan Schwartz. This meant that other burn victims would have complete access to all other burn claims. Lawyers at Anapol Schwartz obtained a million dollar verdict in Kuys v. Berkowitz, after the defense lawyer argued that his expert witness, with an eighty-six page resume, must be believed. In rebuttal, Anapol Schwartz attorneys told the jury that Richard Nixon had a longer resume, and he lied.
By 1990, the firm had grown to include fourteen attorneys, and the 1900 Delancey Place facility no longer afforded enough space for the firm to work comfortably. The firm purchased a second townhouse at 1710-12 Spruce Street, which became the new home for the Toxic Tort group. The firm also recognized the potential for growth in the Southern New Jersey law market, and in 1990, opened its New Jersey office with Larry Cohan as the Managing Partner. Larry also went on to become a New Jersey Certified Civil Trial Attorney. Due to such growth, the need for a managing shareholder was recognized, and in 1991, Joel Feldman was elected to this position, which he still holds today.
Larry Cohan, in 1992, achieved, at that time, the largest asbestos victory in Delaware County in Georgetta O'Donnell, Executrix of Estate of Dale O'Donnell, Deceased v. Armstrong Industries, et al. In this asbestos case, Mr. O'Donnell fell victim to mesothelioma, and was awarded a $1.5 million dollar award from a Delaware County, Pennsylvania Court.
1992 marked the end of an era at Anapol Schwartz when Paul Anapol retired from practice. In 1993, Richard Schwartz also retired, and the firm changed its name to Anapol, Schwartz, Weiss and Cohan.
Landmark decisions continued in 1994 as Alan Schwartz successfully convinced the court that immunity for artificial conditions ought not to apply in Bender v. Doe Mountain Enterprises, Inc., after a twenty-one year old skier fractured his spine when he hit an artificially created jump resulting in incomplete quadriplegia. Mr. Bender received a multi-million dollar settlement through Alan's efforts. Alan's efforts continued to pay off in 1995, when he obtained a multi-million dollar settlement in Scranton, Pennsylvania, on behalf of parents of triplets who died shortly after their birth.
In 1996, Stephen J. Pokiniewski argued that HMO's cannot seek protection under Federal ERISA laws and, therefore, they can be responsible to pay money damages under state laws for negligently preventing or allowing doctors to properly treat patients in Visconti v. U.S. Health Care. The case was argued before the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, and before this landmark decision, HMO's could not be held accountable to patients under state law medical negligence claims. The case later settled.
Sol Weiss argued in 1997 that a court and jury must focus on the manufacturer's conduct rather than the victim's actions in a products liability case, Surace v. Caterpillar, Inc., 111 F.2d 1039 (3d Cir. 1997). The lower court considered the victim's actions in dismissing the case.
In April 1999, Sol represented the principal objectors to the Plaintiffs' Management Counsel's Limited Fund Settlement with Interneuron Pharmaceuticals, Inc. The Court invalidated the Limited Fund Settlement because the defendant failed to put up all of its assets. The terms of the settlement were not fair or adequate to some of the members of the class action.
As one of our three lead trial lawyers, Sol Weiss started a nine week trial in Middlesex County, New Jersey seeking medical monitoring screening benefits for New Jersey residents. The case was eventually stayed when Mr. Weiss and other lawyers negotiated a nationwide $3.75 billion dollar settlement in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.
1999 also marked an influential case with regard to building codes, when Joel Feldman successfully resolved the Estate of McConnell case in which a developmentally disabled adult died in a fire in a group home. The home locked the apartment door of residents with a key from the inside, and the key was missing. As a result of this tragic accident, building codes were changed in Pennsylvania to prevent such an accident from happening again.
Also in 1999, the firm took on the big corporation Rohm and Haas in Ewing v. Rohm and Haas. This was a toxic tort class action claim against Rohm and Haas arising out of extensive property damage caused by chemicals leaking from under its Bridesburg, Philadelphia chemical manufacturing facility. The company agreed to compensate all of the homeowners affected by the leak, and, in many cases, to purchase the homes.
In New Jersey, Larry Cohan handled Linda and Thomas Lowe v. Faramarcz C. Zarghami, M.D. In this case, the New Jersey Supreme Court held that doctors must disclose to their patients their employment status at the time of treatment or lose the opportunity at governmental immunity. As a result, this defense, which was used to dismiss meritorious claims on procedural grounds, has not been raised since 1999.
As the 90s ended and 2000 began, Anapol Schwartz continued its advocacy for the plaintiff. The firm changed its name to its full name Anapol, Schwartz, Weiss, Cohan, Feldman and Smalley. Also, Sol Weiss, along with David Jacoby, negotiated a settlement for 900 individual diet drug lawsuits on behalf of clients from seven law firms in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. The firm obtained a huge verdict of $22 million dollars for a thirty-eight year old construction worker who underwent unnecessary back surgery, and at the time, this was the fifth largest personal injury verdict ever in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Larry Cohan tried Odessa Shields v. Robert Gerard, M.D. in Camden County, New Jersey, garnering a $1.7 million dollar verdict in a medical malpractice case involving a doctor's failure to diagnose a rupturing abdominal aorta aneurysm. The year was rounded out with Alan Schwartz earning a $9.6 million dollar verdict for a profound birthing injury during labor.
2000 also marked a milestone year in philanthropic activities at Anapol Schwartz. In April, The Linda Creed Breast Cancer Foundation bestowed upon the firm their Award for Service recognition. Larry Cohan also began a three-year term as Chairman of the Board of the Jewish Community Centers of Greater Philadelphia, a non-profit organization serving over 40,000 individuals at nine locations throughout the Delaware Valley.
Growth continued at the firm in 2001 Larry Cohan continued his successes in New Jersey in Margaret and Philip Vassallo v. American Coding and Marking Ink, Co., et al. when he persuaded the New Jersey Appellate Division to overturn the Trial Court's rejection of expert testimony. The Court held that no Trial Judge in the State of New Jersey could dismiss a plaintiff's case for lack of expert testimony without a full blown Evidentiary (Rule 401) Hearing. This case assured plaintiffs in complex cases that their experts' opinions would be fully reviewed.
2002 marked a milestone in any law firm's history; the 25th anniversary of the firm's founding. In February of 2002, Anapol Schwartz was named one of Pat Sumerall's "Success Stories", and Alan Schwartz and Sol Weiss were interviewed by Mr. Sumerall. (Click here to see the interview). The firm was also cited by the Mayor of Philadelphia, the Philadelphia City Council and the United States Congress for twenty-five years of dedicated service to the legal profession.
While celebrating this anniversary, the law does not cease to move forward. In March, David Jacoby convinced a jury that a pharmaceutical company mislabeled the benefits of a calcium supplement in a class of all New Jersey citizens in Folbaum v. Dexall Sundown. In one of the more unusual cases handled by the firm, a Philadelphia County jury awarded $700,000 to the estate of a lawyer slain in Olde City in 1998 in a wrongful death case against a cleaning company in Louis DeVita, et al. v. Five Star Building Services, et al. The aspect that was remarkable about the case was that the jury found Five Star Cleaning Service equally as culpable as the murderer, finding that the cleaning service failed to notify the homeowner about their employee's criminal past.
July 2002 more honors were bestowed on our attorneys in September when associate Tracy Finken was named among the fifty best lawyers under the age of forty in Pennsylvania. In November, Bernard was honored again and elected as a Fellow of the International Academy of Trial Lawyers.
As our attorneys' successes mounted in 2003, Joel Feldman co-authored a book on elevator accidents, as well as a manual for property managers and attorneys dealing with escalator and elevator accident prevention and liability. Lawyers at Anapol Schwartz obtained an astounding $19 million dollar verdict for an iron worker who fell thirteen feet, broke his neck, and was rendered a quadriplegic. In March, Steve Pokiniewski argued in Whitehead v. McGrane that a sixty-year old woman with prior lower back pain resulting from an improper post-operative pain medication injection, had permanent sciatic nerve damage causing devastating nerve and ultimately muscle wasting damage to her left leg that left her a prisoner in her own home. The jury awarded Mrs. Whitehead $3.5 million dollars. In Douglas White v. Cooper Hospital Medical Center, the New Jersey Supreme Court, in a case of first impression dealing with a hospital's limit on liability under the New Jersey Governmental Immunity Act, decided that the highest available limit should apply. It also decided that the trigger date for application of the limit is the later of the date of incident or discovery of the cause of the injury. The case opened the door for substantial recoveries against negligent New Jersey hospitals. Later in the year, David Jacoby joined the firm in August 2003 as its second lateral shareholder and headed up the Southern New Jersey practice of Anapol Schwartz.
During the summer of 2003, the firm settled a burn case for a 34 year-old man for $1 million dollars. Hotel employees in this case negligently used sulfuric acid, causing second and third degree burns to a vacationer on the hotel premises in the Bahamas. The settlement was significant for maintaining jurisdictional venue in Philadelphia County over a foreign corporation who set up a separate corporate advertising entity to avoid being sued in the United States. The argument was defeated.
In a landmark decision in August 2003, a team of lawyers from Anapol Schwartz settle the Erin Jacobs' case. Erin became catastrophically ill after contracting E-coli at a suburban Philadelphia petting zoo. The legal team settled for an undisclosed multi-million dollar amount, Pennsylvania mandated that hand-washing stations be installed at all public petting zoos.
Sol Weiss continued his success in pharmaceutical liability with a $68.5 million dollar settlement for 168 people seriously injured by the cholesterol lowering drug, Baycol. Sol negotiated the settlement with Bayer, who withdrew the medication from the market in 2001. At the end of 2003, Anapol Schwartz celebrated the season by sponsoring a holiday party for the Red Cross House in West Philadelphia. The Red Cross House is a full-service facility that provides relief to families who have lost their homes in a disaster.
In March of 2004, Attorneys at Anapol Schwartz received a million dollar plus jury verdict in a medical malpractice case. She joins the illustrious "million dollar verdict" group of Anapol Schwartz, which totals twelve attorneys. In May, the firm began the "Lawyers for the Cure" as part of the Philadelphia "Race for the Cure"® with the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation. More than 210 Anapol Schwartz employees and their families participated in this worthy cause on Mother's Day.
Personal injury law firms have faced a changing landscape as a result of tort reforms implemented since the mid-1970s. Anapol Schwartz has confronted these changes and evolved into a multi-faceted, regional practice representing victims of civil injustices. While historically considered a "personal injury" firm, Anapol Schwartz has grown by diversifying its practice into new areas of law including securities and employment litigation. But the firm does not forget its roots, maintaining its traditions of excellence in medical malpractice, pharmaceutical, toxic tort, class actions, products liability and automobile accident litigation. As the future unfolds, Anapol Schwartz will continue to work tirelessly to preserve the American justice system.