C&W Obtains Defense Verdict in Irish Festival Case

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On November 27, 2012, a Lackawanna County, PA jury entered a defense verdict for C&W client, Jack Frost Mountain Company.  The trial arose from an Irish Festival held by and at Jack Frost on Memorial Day weekend of 2001.  A severe thunderstorm hit Jack Frost causing considerable property damage, especially to a large tent erected for the Irish Festival, and causing numerous personal injuries.   Six of the individuals injured sued Jack Frost and Big Top Rentals, the tent company.  The Plaintiffs alleged that Jack Frost and Big Top were negligent with respect to the erection and maintenance of the tent and with respect to various weather related issues.  Some of these claims were based upon the existence of a severe thunderstorm watch which had been issued by the National Weather Service and which was in effect at the time of the event and for approximately 4 hours prior to it. 

The case initially went to trial in Lackawanna County in 2007.  Big Top was represented by now C&W partner in the Scranton office, David Heisler.  Jack Frost was represented at trial by Hugh Emory, then with the firm of Ryan, Emory & Ryan, and now “of Counsel” in C&W’s Blue Bell office. 

The 2007 trial resulted in defense verdicts for Jack Frost on most issues and Big Top on all issues.  However, there was  hung verdict on the issue of whether or not Jack Frost should have advised its customers of the existence of the severe thunderstorm watch.  Following the filing of post-trial motions, the trial court entered a Judgment Notwithstanding the Verdict in favor of Jack Frost.  Plaintiffs filed an appeal and obtained a reversal in the Pennsylvania  Superior Court.  Thus, the case was sent back to Lackawanna County for a new trial on just that issue. 

During the appeal, two of the Plaintiffs dropped out of the case.  The new trial with the remaining four Plaintiffs was held on November 26-27, 2012.  As indicated, the trial resulted in a defense verdict in Jack Frost’s favor.  The jury unanimously held that Jack Frost was not negligent when it did not advise customers of the severe thunderstorm watch.  Hugh Emory was trial counsel for Jack Frost at the re-trial. 

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