Firm Newsletter: August 2017

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Construction Accident Settlement: 7th Largest in PA in 2016
Construction fall ends in $1.2 Million Settlement Before Jury Selection

Shaffer & Gaier represented a union shop iron worker severely hurt in a fall. Our client was working at a local university on an expansion project to construct a field house for the school. The university contracted with Sordoni Construction to act as the general contractor and construction manager. Sordoni then hired Rise Construction to fabricate and erect steel for the field house, who hired our client’s employer to erect the steel structure.

In early January of 2012, our client was assigned to work at the field house. He later shared in depositions that when he came to the site, he was shown a brief training video but was never given any fall protection training and never saw any safety personnel at the site from Rise or Sordoni. When he was instructed to climb a 15 foot wall to position steel joists that were to be welded the next day, he was not given fall protection equipment and there were no anchor points where he was working to tie off his harness. He was, in essence, walking a balance beam on a blustery January day. While he was walking the wall, he fell to the ground, shattering both feet and ankles.

Shaffer & Gaier brought suit against the general contractor and subcontractor. Through one of the premier construction experts in the country, we established that both the contractor and subcontractor violated their respective duties in failing to provide a safe work environment. The general contractor filed a Motion for Summary Judgment, which was originally granted by the magistrate judge, however, Shaffer & Gaier successfully overturned that decision. Before jury selection, the case was settled for $1.2 million. Additionally, the firm negotiated that the workers’ compensation lien be waived, effectively awarding our client $1.5 million.

Fellow Subcontractor’s Negligence Results in $1 Million Settlement During Trial

Another client was a construction worker performing work at the University of Pennsylvania. As he was descending a stairway, another subcontractor’s workers negligently removed a plank of wood, creating a large hole. He fell into the hole and tore his biceps, resulting in multiple surgeries. Shaffer & Gaier retained several construction experts to establish that this was an unreasonably
dangerous work site created by the negligence of the other subcontractor. After 4 days of trial, the matter settled against the subcontractors that negligently created the dangerous job site.

Incredible (and sometimes downright unbelievable) stories of things that happened with cases.
(Really, they did.)

Insurance Coverage Matters.

With all the debate about health care, let there be no doubt insurance coverage matters on the health care provided.

We represented “Richard W.” some years back. He was 35 years of age with a history of high blood pressure.

He went to a Montgomery County Hospital Emergency Room with excruciating head aches and exceptionally high blood pressure.

Unfortunately, Richard did not have health insurance, due to a recently layoff from his construction job. He was placed under the care of one of the staff neurologists.

The neurologist suspected that the symptoms might be caused by a clot in the brain but did not order a CT scan. As it turns out, Richard did, in fact have a clot in his brain that was causing the headaches.

The clot moved, causing Richard to have a massive stroke. He died weeks later.

Unbelievably, the doctor admitted during his deposition that he did not order the testing because of the lack of insurance. Soon after, the case settled for a confidential sum. Let there be no doubt, insurance coverage matters in the care you actually get!

Firm Newsletter: June 2017

Click here to download a printable pdf of this newsletter.


National Lab Pays for Genetic Testing Error
Michael Shaffer secured a settlement for the parents of a child who contracted a severe and rare disorder that was missed through genetic testing. The clients, residents of Sacramento, CA, sought genetic counseling before having children, as the father had a rare genetic condition called Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome (EDS) that ran in his family. EDS is a genetic disorder that causes severe vascular and connective tissue complications; it is often fatal.

The clients had sought genetic counseling to determine whether the father was a carrier; if so, they would opt for a pregnancy through in-vitro fertilization to ensure the gene did not pass to the child.

The father had bloodwork done which was sent to the defendant’s lab in Allentown, PA and the lab informed the father that the test was negative for EDS. The parents then had a child naturally. In 2012, the father developed severe complications that were similar to EDS. When new genetic testing was done it confirmed that he was, in fact, a carrier for EDS. Subsequently, testing was done on their son, which confirmed that he, too, had EDS. Had the initial test not been misread by the lab, their child would not be faced with the uncertainty of a future with EDS. However, a large settlement obtained before trial will provide for his future medical expenses.

Man Injured by Defective Paint Can at Work Turns to Shaffer & Gaier, Wins $1,000,000
A client of Michael Shaffer whom we’ll call “Matt” was employed by a concrete manufacturing plant. His responsibilities included inspecting the concrete molds for cracks and defects. When he would notice a crack or defect, he had been instructed by his employer to mark the defect with spray paint.

However, one day, as he shook a new can of spray paint, the bottom of the can flew off, creating a missile-like object that struck Matt in the face. The sheer force caused him to fracture his eye socket and lose sight in his left eye.

Shaffer & Gaier brought a product liability action against the manufacturer and seller of the spray paint can, alleging that the product was not properly tested during the manufacturing process and establishing during extensive discovery that the defendants had a history of similar incidents.

Shaffer & Gaier Saves Family Home from Major Mortgage Lender
Michael Gaier represented a son and daughter whose father was tricked into refinancing their Philadelphia home they grew up in and which had been in the family for 42 years. The clients’ father, who was 79 years of age, did not realize the negative extent of the mortgage loan terms during the refinancing process. When he died suddenly, his son and daughter were faced with the choice of paying the mortgage loan in full or lose the house.

When the lender filed a foreclosure action against the father’s estate, Shaffer & Gaier filed a counterclaim right back against the bank seeking money damages for the fraud inflicted upon the father and, in effect, the entire family. After discovery was exchanged between the parties, a confidential settlement was reached which not only included cash and reduction of the loan balance, but more importantly, the right for the clients to purchase the family home at a reduced value with excellent interest rates.

Firm Challenges Big Bank, Gets Significant Principal Reduction for Local Hero
Michael Gaier worked with a client, a fireman in Camden, NJ, after he bought a house for $252,000 and encountered fraud upon settlement. He had been promised a 6% interest rate, but at closing, the rate jumped to 10.5% with the potential to reach 16.5%.At closing, the mortgage broker advised that the man would need to obtain a second mortgage in order to qualify: an additional $60,000 in financing. Sensing his apprehension, the lender advised him that he could refinance in one year. However, when he tried refinancing later, the mortgage company refused to answer his calls or emails; they subsequently went out of business.

A large bank acquired the loan and filed a foreclosure lawsuit. However, upon Shaffer & Gaier’s sign-on as the man’s law firm, the bank withdrew its lawsuit one day before the trial. Shaffer & Gaier then brought a parallel action against the bank for predatory lending, fraud and misrepresentation of important terms of the mortgage, which resulted in a settlement that lowered the principal balance by $166,000 and negotiated a 3.5% interest rate for the remaining balance. In addition, the firm secured a 90% reduction in the principal balance of the second mortgage

Michael Shaffer Named President Elect of Temple American Inn of Court
Michael Shaffer has been named the president elect of the Temple American Inn of Court. The American Inns of Court, a national organization, was formed in the late 1970s by a group of judges. Wishing to reinforce polished skills, professionalism and ethics of the bench and bar, they based the principles of the organization on the traditional English model of legal apprenticeship, modified to fit the needs of the American legal system. Now, hundreds of chapters across the United States offer members the opportunity to come together and learn from one another, especially the more experienced individuals in the group. Members include judges, lawyers, law professors and third-year legal students.

Michael Gaier Presents Educational Program to NJ Homeowners
Michael Gaier recently presented a foreclosure defense seminar to homeowners at the Voorhees Camden County library. In his presentation, Gaier provided in-depth insight into how homeowners who have become delinquent in their mortgage payments have numerous legal options to save their home, either in conjunction with a foreclosure action or with other remedies. Gaier is a recognized mortgage foreclosure defense authority who has represented thousands of homeowners in matters involving loan reduction, foreclosure and predatory lending.

Incredible (and sometimes downright unbelievable) stories of things that happened with cases.
(Really, they did.)


Shaffer & Gaier was contacted by the mother of two children whose husband, “Omar,” was killed in a car accident in Delaware County, Pennsylvania.

Omar had been performing maintenance work on water lines in Chester and was checking the line pressure while standing in a manhole. His body was positioned partially inside the manhole and partially above street level. A Chester Water Authority vehicle was parked – illegally – behind Omar. Suddenly, a vehicle lost control and struck the Chester Water Authority vehicle. The impact pushed the vehicle forward and over the manhole, striking and killing Omar.

Our client, “Victoria,” though separated from Omar, had been sharing custody of their two sons. As a matter of course, Victoria requested a copy of the death certificate through the funeral home,
where she was shockingly informed that they were divorced.

Apparently, two weeks before his death, Omar had filed for divorce in Cambria County in upstate Pennsylvania. As Victoria had never signed the paperwork, it was determined that her signature had been forged by someone.

Shaffer & Gaier mobilized investigators and legal personnel in Cambria County to have the divorce decree voided. Victoria has since brought suit on behalf of Omar’s estate so her two children
can attempt to recover damages for their father’s tragic and untimely death.

Homeownership Obstacles

There are many obstacles that stand in the road to homeownership. Prospective buyers need to take many preventative measures to ensure their deal. A simple precaution a buyer can take is evaluating all financial information with their lender. Any surprises could disrupt the lending process. Another step to take would be not to make any major purchases when the deal is being closed. This is because lenders can recheck the buyers credit history right before closing, and any new credit obligations may cause for concern.

In today’s competitive market, buyers must obtain more than just pre-approval, but also obtain a loan commitment. A loan commitment is a guarantee that the needed money will be made available to the buyer. This commitment can help ensure the buyers success in this competitive house market.

Contact Shaffer & Gaier – Protecting Homeowner Rights

The law firm of Shaffer & Gaier protects the rights of those who are facing foreclosure or seeking mortgage modifications in New Jersey and Pennsylvania. To set up a free initial consultation, contact our office online or call our foreclosure hotline at 855-289-1660. Or call our office location in Philadelphia at 215-751-0100, or in New Jersey at 856-429-0970.

Senior Citizens Threatened by Foreclosure

Over the last 5 years, the mortgage crisis has made senior citizens especially vulnerable to foreclosures. From 2007 to 2011, nearly 1.6 million older Americans lost their homes as a result of the mortgage crisis. Millions more seniors are underwater (meaning they owe more on their mortgage than their home is worth) and are likely to face foreclosure even as the housing market stabilizes, according to the AARP. According to its report released in July 2012, AARP stated that “millions of older Americans are carrying more mortgage debt than ever before, and more than 3 million are at risk of losing their homes.” In fact, 2.5 million loans of people over 50 years old were underwater, which would result in older homeowners having some of the highest and most serious delinquency rates.

Some of the factors that are contributing to this trend are retirement, loss of job and death of a spouse, all of which decrease a senior’s income, making foreclosure a realistic probability. While some of the factors at work can be planned by the homeowner, most are not planned, and when coupled with the distressed housing market, often leads to the inevitable foreclosure notices.

It is widely believed that Federal and State government programs, which were designed to stem the progression of the foreclosure crisis, have not been adequate. Many seniors are not aware that there are government programs that can offer help, even for the homeowner who is in danger of falling behind on their mortgage payments. One of these programs is Home Affordable Refinance Program (HARP), launched by President Obama to help stabilize the U.S. Housing Market. There are specific guidelines in order to qualify for HARP, one of which is that the homeowner must be current on their payments. Everyone involved in these programs agrees that it can be frustrating and time consuming, but keeping your financial records currnet and readily available is the only way to get through the process.

Contact Shaffer & Gaier

To set up a free initial consultation, contact our office online or call our foreclosure hotline at 855-289-1660. Or call our office location in Philadelphia at 215-751-0100, or in New Jersey at 856-429-0970.

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