Erica A. Sabatini

Erica A. Sabatini

esabatini@willmanlaw.com

esabatini@willmanlaw.com

  
Erica A. Sabatini joined Willman & Silvaggio in 2013. Since then, her focus has been on civil defense litigation and the area of toxic torts. Ms. Sabatini earned her Juris Doctor from the Duquesne University School of Law in 2013. She was an active member of Duquesne’s Trial Advocacy team and was deemed an Outstanding Advocate for the First Year Appellate Argument Exercise. In her second year, Ms. Sabatini led her team to victory and her team was named regional champion of the American Association for Justice Student Trial Advocacy Competition. In the fall of that year, her team placed second at the National Civil Trial Competition.

During her time at Duquesne University, Ms. Sabatini received numerous awards including the Katie Elisabeth Westbrook, the Shalom Moot Court Award, and the Lynette Norton Memorial Award. Most notably she was chosen for membership in The Order of the Barristers — an honorary society that recognizes excellence in trial advocacy. She has previously served as a coach for the Duquesne University School of Law National Trial Advocacy Team and annually serves as a judge for mock trial competitions.

Prior to attending the Duquesne University School of Law, Ms. Sabatini graduated with honors in 2010 from Allegheny College. She earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in History and minored in French. As a result, she is fluent in the language.

Ms. Sabatini is admitted to the Pennsylvania Bar and the United States District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania in 2013. She was subsequently admitted to the West Virginia Bar and the United States District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia in 2014. She is an active member of the Allegheny County Bar Association and the Young Lawyers Division.

In addition, Ms. Sabatini had the honor of being a selected as a member of 20th Anniversary Class of Fifty Finest for the Western Pennsylvania Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. She personally raised over $10,000 for research and funds to assist families with children impacted by Cystic Fibrosis. In her free time, Ms. Sabatini is an active member of her church as a lector and serves on the CORE team of her church’s youth group. She is also an avid obstacle course racer.
 
  
  
Erica A. Sabatini joined Willman & Silvaggio in 2013. Since then, her focus has been on civil defense litigation and the area of toxic torts. Ms. Sabatini earned her Juris Doctor from the Duquesne University School of Law in 2013. She was an active member of Duquesne’s Trial Advocacy team and was deemed an Outstanding Advocate for the First Year Appellate Argument Exercise. In her second year, Ms. Sabatini led her team to victory and her team was named regional champion of the American Association for Justice Student Trial Advocacy Competition. In the fall of that year, her team placed second at the National Civil Trial Competition.

During her time at Duquesne University, Ms. Sabatini received numerous awards including the Katie Elisabeth Westbrook, the Shalom Moot Court Award, and the Lynette Norton Memorial Award. Most notably she was chosen for membership in The Order of the Barristers — an honorary society that recognizes excellence in trial advocacy. She has previously served as a coach for the Duquesne University School of Law National Trial Advocacy Team and annually serves as a judge for mock trial competitions.

Prior to attending the Duquesne University School of Law, Ms. Sabatini graduated with honors in 2010 from Allegheny College. She earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in History and minored in French. As a result, she is fluent in the language.

Ms. Sabatini is admitted to the Pennsylvania Bar and the United States District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania in 2013. She was subsequently admitted to the West Virginia Bar and the United States District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia in 2014. She is an active member of the Allegheny County Bar Association and the Young Lawyers Division.

In addition, Ms. Sabatini had the honor of being a selected as a member of 20th Anniversary Class of Fifty Finest for the Western Pennsylvania Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. She personally raised over $10,000 for research and funds to assist families with children impacted by Cystic Fibrosis. In her free time, Ms. Sabatini is an active member of her church as a lector and serves on the CORE team of her church’s youth group. She is also an avid obstacle course racer.
 
  
Admitted to:
 
  • Pennsylvania 
  • West Virginia 
  • United States District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania
  • United States District Court for the Northern District of West Virginia 
Admitted to:
 
  • Pennsylvania 
  • West Virginia 
  • United States District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania
  • United States District Court for the Northern District of West Virginia 
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Court of Appeals of West Virginia reverses and remands summary judgment order in workers` compensation deliberate intention action

6/14/2010
In a Per Curiam opinion dated June 2, 2010, the Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia reversed and remanded the Circuit Court of Fayette County’s entry of summary judgment in favor of defendant R.M. Logging.  In doing so, the Supreme Court of Appeals believed that plaintiff presented sufficient evidence to create a question of fact regarding two contested elements of a deliberate intention action under the West Virginia Workers’ Compensation Act found at W. Va. Code § 23-4-2(d)(2)(ii).
            On December 2, 2003, the plaintiffs’ decedent, Clarence Coleman was working as a timber cutter for R.M. Logging at a timber site near Smithers, West Virginia.  While at work on that date, Mr. Coleman cut a large maple tree that fell to the ground.  Shortly thereafter, Mr. Coleman cut two large hickory trees, one becoming lodged roughly twenty feet above ground.  After cutting the third tree, Mr. Coleman proceeded back to the cut down maple tree.  In doing so, Mr. Coleman walked underneath the lodged hickory tree.  At this exact moment, the lodged hickory tree broke loose and fell, hitting Mr. Coleman on the head.  Although he was wearing a hard hat, the injury sustained by Mr. Coleman resulted in his death.  A subsequent Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) inspection found eleven R.M. Logging infractions. 
            As a result of Mr. Coleman’s death and the subsequent OSHA findings, plaintiffs filed a workers’ compensation deliberate intention action against R.M. Logging.  After summary judgment was granted in favor of R.M. Logging by the Circuit Court of Fayette County and a subsequent reversal and remand of that summary judgment order by the Supreme Court of Appeals, defendants filed another summary judgment motion.  R.M. Logging’s second motion for summary judgment was granted by the Circuit Court and plaintiffs’ appealed.
            On appeal, two of the five essential factors were at issue: W. Va. Code § 23-4-2(d)(2)(ii)(B) and (D).  Subsection (B) requires proof “[t]hat the employer had a subjective realization and an appreciation of the existence of the specific unsafe working condition and of the high degree of risk and the strong probability of serious injury or death presented by the specific unsafe working condition[.]”  Subsection (D) requires proof “[t]hat notwithstanding the existence of the facts set forth in subparagraphs (A) through (C), inclusive, of this paragraph, the employer nevertheless thereafter exposed an employee to the specific unsafe working condition intentionally[.]” 
            The Supreme Court of Appeals began their analysis by explaining that “in order to withstand a motion for summary judgment, a plaintiff must make a prima facie showing of dispute on each of the five factors.”  Accordingly, to satisfy subsections (B) (D), the Court explained that each “requires an interpretation of the employer’s state of mind, and must ordinarily be shown by circumstantial evidence, from which conflicting inferences may often reasonably be drawn.”  Moreover, the Court asserted that “while a plaintiff may choose to introduce evidence of prior similar incidents or complaints to circumstantially establish that an employer has acted with deliberate intention, evidence of prior similar incidents or complaints is not mandated.” 
            After applying the facts of this case to the elicited principles, the Court determined that despite plaintiffs’ evidence being circumstantial, states of mind must often be proven by circumstantial evidence.  Thus, the Court asserted, plaintiffs’ abundance of circumstantial evidence regarding subsections (B) and (D) were more than sufficient.  Consequently, the Court concluded that because genuine questions of material fact existed in regards to R.M. Logging’s subjective knowledge of a specific unsafe working condition and intentional exposure of Mr. Coleman thereto, the Circuit Court of Fayette County erred in granting summary judgment to R.M. Logging in respect to W. Va. Code § 23-4-2(d)(2)(ii)(B) and (D).
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