PITTSBURGH – A man who suffered a severe spinal cord injury at a house party where alcohol was consumed argues that his paralysis was the result of the party hosts’ negligence in allowing him to be overserved with alcohol.
Andrew Reese and Courtney Reese of Export filed suit in the Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas on June 3 versus Thomas E. Zahn of Pittsburgh, Cara Perricelli Zahn of Murrysville and John Doe
“On or about the evening of July 18, 2020, defendants Thomas E. Zahn and Cara Perricelli Zahn hosted a social gathering at their home, which would last into the morning hours of July 19, 2020. Defendant John Doe is a fictitious name for the bartender working at the party at 1218 Twelve Oaks Ct., Murrysville, PA 15668 on July 18, 2020 and into the morning hours of July 19, 2020,” the suit says.
“The name of this individual, after reasonable investigation, is unknown to plaintiffs. The use of a fictitious name is permitted under Pennsylvania Rule of Civil Procedure 2005, allowing the use of fictitious names due to plaintiffs’ inability to ascertain the party’s identity despite diligent efforts, so as to preserve a cause of action against said defendant within the applicable statute of limitations.”
The Zahns invited the Reeses to the adult-only party, who accepted the invitation, to which the Zahns provided alcohol for their guests to consume, including: A fully-stocked bar with hard alcohol, beer and other alcoholic drinks next to their swimming pool; funnels for consuming beer; Jell-O shots; Individual bottles of Jameson whiskey; and specialty cocktails.
Knowing their guests would become intoxicated, the Zahns pre-arranged for Ubers to provide rides home to the guests, including the plaintiffs.
“Unsurprisingly, plaintiff Andrew Reese became intoxicated. The defendants knew Mr. Reese was intoxicated, but encouraged him to drink more. Because of the defendants’ knowledge as to Mr. Reese’s intoxication and observations of his behavior, including but not limited to, observing Mr. Reese attempt to dive into the pool from a second-floor height and observing Mr. Reese dive headfirst into the shallow end of the pool, the defendants knew and/or should have known that Mr. Reese was a danger to himself and others,” the suit states.
“Defendants failed to remove Mr. Reese from the party. Defendants Thomas E. Zahn’s and Cara Perricelli Zahn’s pool had no warnings against diving. Defendants Thomas E. Zahn and Cara Perricelli Zahn failed to mark their pool clearly with depth indicators. At approximately 12:02 a.m. on July 19, 2020, Mr. Reese and Mr. Zahn wrestled and grappled on the pool deck near the shallow end of the pool. Mr. Reese attempted to push Mr. Zahn and Mr. Reese’s momentum carried him stumbling toward the edge of the pool. Mr. Reese jumped into the air and dove into the shallow end of the pool. Mr. Reese entered the shallow end of the pool headfirst and struck his head on the bottom of the Thomas E. Zahn’s and Cara Perricelli Zahn’s pool, suffering injuries, including a spinal cord injury which has left Mr. Reese a quadriplegic.”
According to the plaintiffs, the defendants’ negligence is the direct and proximate cause of this incident.
For multiple counts of negligence, negligent infliction of emotional distress and loss of consortium, the plaintiffs are seeking damages in excess of the arbitration limits and in excess of $50,000 in compensatory damages, delay damages pursuant to Pennsylvania Rule of Civil Procedure 238, interest, allowable costs of suit and brings this action to recover the same.
The plaintiffs are represented by Robert J. Mongeluzzi, David L. Kwass and Benjamin J. Baer of Saltz Mongeluzzi & Bendesky, in Philadelphia.
The defendants have not yet secured legal counsel.
Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas case GD-22-006842