Joseph C. Romano Appointed to Disciplinary Board of Supreme Court of Pennsylvania

The Disciplinary Board of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania has appointed Burns White attorney, Joseph C. Romano, to a three-year term as a Hearing Committee Member for District IV. His appointment will take effect on July 1, 2018. There are 150 Hearing Committee members in the State of Pennsylvania who conduct hearings and act as a formal reviewing body to determine if a case might require discipline.

“I am honored to take on this role for the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania,” said Mr. Romano. “Maintaining the integrity of our state’s legal system is critical to insuring justice and public trust in our courts. I am happy to be a part of this process.”

Burns White Attorneys Granted Judgment as a Matter of Law in Legal Professional Liability Action after Negotiating for and Winning a Three-Day Summary Trial of Underlying Civil Rights Action

Attorneys James R. Schadel and Kenneth N. Schott, III earned a defense verdict after successfully trying an underlying civil rights action that formed the factual and legal basis for a legal malpractice action filed by a large insurance company against the firm’s clients, a lawyer and his law firm.  Burns White attorneys negotiated for and reached an agreement with opposing counsel to try the underlying civil rights action in summary fashion over three days and before a retired judge sitting as special master.  By way of contrast, a traditional jury trial would have lasted at least two weeks.  The efforts of the Burns White attorneys in negotiating for this summary trial format resulted in a significant cost savings to the firm’s clients.

The underlying plaintiffs asserted deliberate indifference to the serious medical needs of an inmate at a county jail in purported violation of the inmate’s Eighth Amendment right against cruel and unusual punishment.  The insurance company alleged that the lawyer, hired to defend the company’s insured, mishandled the underlying civil rights action thereby causing the case to settle for more money than it was worth.  The insurance company filed a complaint against the firm’s clients praying for $1,700,000.00 in damages and asserting three causes of action: (1) negligence, (2) breach of contract and (3) vicarious liability against the law firm.

A legal malpractice plaintiff in Pennsylvania must prove – by a preponderance of the evidence – that a judgment would have been recovered in the underlying case “but for” the attorney’s alleged conduct before any evidence of legal malpractice may be introduced.  With a victory in the underlying civil rights action in hand, Burns White attorneys filed a Motion to Enter Judgment as a Matter of Law in the instant legal malpractice action on behalf of the firm’s clients arguing that Plaintiff could not introduce sufficient evidence of causation and damages.  The United States District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania agreed and entered judgment in favor of the firm’s clients as a matter of law.

Burns White Cleveland, OH

Four Attorneys from Cleveland-Based Gallagher Sharp Join Burns White

Burns White LLC announced today that four partners from Cleveland-based Gallagher Sharp LLP have joined the firm, effective June 4, 2018. The addition of attorneys Kevin C. Alexandersen, Daniel J. Michalec, Colleen A. Mountcastle, and Holly M. Olarczuk-Smith expands Burns White’s existing Railroad and Mass Tort practice areas, and brings a new Maritime practice offering to the firm.

“Over the years, I have had the pleasure of working with these highly-regarded attorneys, and have enormous respect for their legal talent and reputation,” said David A. Damico, Executive Committee Member. “Their addition aligns well with our firm’s continued strategic growth initiatives—reinforcing our presence in Cleveland and extending our reach within the Great Lakes region.”

All four attorneys join the firm as members, and will remain in Cleveland. Mr. Alexandersen chairs Burns White’s newly created Maritime practice, and co-chairs the Mass Tort Practice with Burns White attorney, Daniel Donahoe. “The opportunity to join this growing and dynamic firm allows us to expand our service offerings to a broader base of clients,” noted Mr. Alexandersen. “We look forward to working with the many talented attorneys at Burns White as we continue to provide innovative, thoughtful legal solutions to our clients.”

Burns White’s Cleveland office is located in the US Bank Centre, 1350 Euclid Avenue.

Another Defense Verdict for Railroad Team, 5th in 5 Months

T.H. Lyda and Edwin Palmer received another defense verdict on behalf of a Fortune 100 railroad client after a two-week long jury trial in Erie County, Ohio. Plaintiff was a 51-year old machinist claiming that exposure to noise from retarders in a large classification yard led to his development of hearing loss and unbearable tinnitus, or ringing in his ears. The defense team asserted that:

  • the railroad provided plaintiff with a reasonably safe place to work
  • noise level monitoring at the yard complied with all federal health and safety requirements
  • the plaintiff was included in defendant’s hearing conservation program and provided adequate hearing protection, and
  • the plaintiff’s hearing problems and tinnitus were the result of unprotected exposure to gunfire

The jury agreed and returned a verdict in favor of the railroad, finding that it was not negligent.

This result is the latest in a series of five straight defense verdicts obtained by the Burns White railroad team since the first of the year.

Daniel Cerrito Recipient of 2018 Burns White Diversity in the Law Scholarship at Duquesne University

Daniel Cerrito is the inaugural recipient of Burns White’s Diversity in the Law Scholarship, awarded to a first-year, diverse law student at Duquesne University’s School of Law. Mr. Cerrito, a graduate of the University of Arizona Honors College, was selected from a competitive pool of qualified applicants.

“Burns White is extremely pleased to support Daniel in achieving his legal aspirations through, not only funding, but practical work experience and mentoring,” noted David White, Executive Committee Member. “The goal of this scholarship is to provide academic and practical opportunities to deserving individuals in underrepresented groups to diversify the composition of the legal profession. Daniel is an extremely qualified candidate who embodies the spirit of this award.”

The annual $10,000 Burns White Diversity in the Law Scholarship is awarded to a qualified candidate who adds diversity to the incoming class, and includes a paid summer clerkship at the firm following the successful completion of the recipient’s second year of law school. In addition, a mentor from Burns White will work with Mr. Cerrito for the duration of his legal education.

“I am so honored to be selected for this award,” said Mr. Cerrito. “The Diversity in the Law Scholarship will allow me to focus on my legal studies by assisting me financially, academically, and professionally. I appreciate the opportunity, and am eager to start my law school career at Duquesne with the support of Burns White.”

18 Burns White attorneys named to Prestigious Super Lawyers/Rising Stars lists

Eighteen Burns White attorneys in Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, and New Jersey were named to recently announced 2018 Super Lawyers/Rising Stars lists. These attorneys have been identified as being outstanding among their peers in the legal profession.

The Pennsylvania Super Lawyers rating is a distinction received by no more than five percent of attorneys practicing in the state. Burns White’s distinguished recipients for this year include:


  • John A. Bass, Member, practice areas: medical malpractice and long-term care litigation
  • Joseph A. Macerelli, Member, practice areas: medical malpractice, professional liability litigation, personal injury, insurance, and products liability defense
  • David B. White, Executive Committee Member, practice areas: commercial litigation, products liability litigation, professional malpractice litigation, financial institution litigation, employment litigation, and energy industry litigation

Additionally, two Burns White Members, David H. Dille and David R. Johnson, are ranked among the Top 50 Super Lawyers in the Pittsburgh region. Mr. Dille focuses his legal practice on workers’ compensation matters, and Mr. Johnson on medical malpractice, healthcare litigation, and general litigation cases.


  • Valerie H. Lieberman, Member, practice area: workers’ compensation
  • William J. Mundy, Executive Committee Member, Practice areas: medical malpractice, long-term care litigation, healthcare regulation, and litigation

The Rising Stars rating is a distinction given to no more than 2.5 percent of the top up-and-coming attorneys in each state who are either 40 years of age or younger, or who have been in practice for ten years or less. Our firm’s recipients include:


  • Matthew G. Brouse, Member, practice areas: energy litigation and transactions
  • Ashley L. Griffin, Member, practice areas: healthcare and long-term care litigation
  • Patrick M. Horvat, Member, practice areas: transportation, toxic tort litigation, and products liability litigation
  • Molly L. Kremer, Associate, practice areas: railroad litigation, occupational and toxic tort litigation, and products liability litigation
  • Daniel J. Margonari, Member, practice areas: healthcare and long-term care litigation
  • Matthew A. Meyers, Member, practice areas: insurance litigation, insurance coverage and extracontractual litigation, commercial litigation, and trucking law
  • Stephanie Solomon, Member, practice areas: commercial litigation, products liability litigation, retail and hospitality, trucking law, and professional liability litigation
  • Dorothy C. Wolbert, Member, practice areas: family law and collaborative law


  • Courtney C. Barbacane, Of Counsel, practice areas: medical malpractice litigation, nursing neglect, and professional liability litigation
  • Andrew J. Fuga, Member, practice areas: professional and general liability, construction

New Jersey

  • Ahsan A. Jafry, Member, practice areas: healthcare and long-term care defense, medical malpractice defense

An annual rating service of the Thomson Reuters’ Legal Division, inclusion on the Super Lawyers lists is based on a rigorous, patented selection process that consists of:

  • a statewide survey of lawyers in more than 70 practice areas,
  • independent research to identify outstanding lawyers,
  • evaluation of candidates based on 12 indicators of peer recognition,
  • a practice area panel review, and
  • a discipline check of each candidate
Burns White Attorneys Healthcare and Long Term Care

Burns White Attorneys Granted Motion for Summary Judgment for Medical Center

Attorneys, Stuart O’Neal, Sean Maravich, Katherine Senior, and Amy Riley obtained a dismissal of the firm’s client, a large regional medical center, pursuant to a Motion for Summary Judgment. Plaintiff claimed vicarious liability and corporate negligence against the medical center related to the prescription, oversight, and monitoring of blood thinning medication that allegedly resulted in the Plaintiff requiring an emergency craniotomy due to a brain hemorrhage.

Burns White attorneys filed a Motion for Summary Judgment on behalf of the medical center arguing that Plaintiff’s proffered expert reports lacked the required expert opinions to establish professional negligence in a malpractice action in Pennsylvania on either Plaintiff’s vicarious or corporate theories. This motion was opposed by Plaintiff. After oral argument, the Court ruled to grant summary judgment, dismissing Plaintiff’s case against the medical center entirely.


Burns White Attorneys Railroad Law

Lyda, Railroad Team Secure Defense Verdict

T.H. Lyda, Dan Hampton, and Burns White’s Railroad Practice Group recently received a defense verdict in a multi-million dollar ride-quality case on behalf of a Class 1 railroad client. Plaintiff was a 54-year old locomotive engineer claiming injuries under the Federal Employer Liability Act (FELA), and violations of the Locomotive Inspection Act due to whole-body vibration exposure, and loose, wobbly and poorly designed and maintained locomotive seats during his 24 year career at the railroad. He underwent two back surgeries, including a multi-level lumbar spinal fusion, and had lost wages and incurred medical expenses greater than $1 million dollars. Plaintiff’s counsel asked for $2.5 million during closing argument. After three hours of deliberation, the jury returned a verdict in favor of the railroad on all claims. Local counsel for the case, which was tried in Clay County, Missouri, was Dan Church of Morrow Willnauer Church.

Attorney Wolbert Recognized as Best Law Firm Mentor, Firm Honored as Best Innovator

The Legal Intelligencer, a Pennsylvania law journal, recognized Family Law Attorney Dorothy Wolbert among its 2018  Best Law Firm Mentors, and awarded Burns White one of its prestigious 2018 Law Firm Innovator awards for the firm’s use of Alternative Fee Arrangements to meet client needs.

Ms. Wolbert was nominated for her ability to provide valuable knowledge to younger attorneys, paving the way for advancement and stellar contributions to the industry. A practitioner of the Collaborative Resolution Process—focusing on open communication, transparency, and a supportive environment—she leverages these skills while working with younger attorneys on the Family Law Practice team.

The publication also acknowledged the ground-breaking, innovative contribution that Burns White made to the legal industry in the area of Alternative Fee Arrangements. While this practice has become a common part of the legal landscape, this creative approach to billing and client service was not always broadly known or accepted. Burns White was among the first to propose and leverage this practice, and continues to offer a variety of Alternative Fee Arrangements tailored to meet clients’ various business needs and objectives.

The awards ceremony will be held June 27th in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Railroad Group Secures Appellate Victory in Case Interpreting Release

The Burns White Transportation and Appellate Practice Groups recently won a significant victory in the Pennsylvania Superior Court in a case for a railroad client involving the interpretation of a release agreement under the Federal Employers’ Liability Act (“FELA”).

Plaintiff brought an action in the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County pursuant to the FELA alleging that her husband, a former railroad employee, developed lung cancer as a result of exposure to asbestos. Several years previously, the employee had sued the railroad alleging that he had developed asbestosis as a result of his railroad employment. The first lawsuit was settled, and the employee, represented by counsel, signed a release which provided that the employee was also settling future claims, which included language specifically releasing the railroad from liability for development of cancer arising from his alleged exposures to asbestos.

The railroad, represented by Burns White, filed a motion for summary judgment, arguing that the release barred the second lawsuit alleging development of lung cancer. The trial court agreed, granted summary judgment and dismissed the lawsuit. Plaintiff then appealed to the Pennsylvania Superior Court. Her primary argument was that the release was invalid due to the application of the FELA, which, according to the Plaintiff, restricted the ability of railroads to release claims for future injuries that had not yet manifested themselves at the time the release was executed. Following extensive briefing, the Superior Court affirmed the decision in an unpublished non-precedential opinion on March 23, 2018.

Due to a lack precedential appellate rulings from the Pennsylvania courts on the important question concerning the scope of releases in FELA lawsuits, Burns White, led by Transportation Group Chair David Damico and Appellate Practice Chair Ira Podheiser, filed a motion with the Superior Court to have the opinion published. On April 13, 2018, the Superior Court took the rare step of granting the motion to publish. As a result, this important ruling can be cited by the Pennsylvania courts, and by counsel, as binding precedent.

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