UGI, property owner sued by Plains Twp. woman for sidewalk fall

By Patrick Kernan - [email protected]
This image was submitted to the Times Leader by attorney Peter Biscontini, who claims his client Kathleen O’Boyle suffered injuries by tripping in this hole in a Plains Township sidewalk. The suit claims the sidewalk disrepair was caused by UGI Penn Natural Gas, and should have been taken care of either by the company or property owner. - Submitted photo

WILKES-BARRE — A utility company is responsible for the injuries suffered by a Plains Township woman after she tripped on a township sidewalk, according to a copy of a lawsuit provided to the Times Leader.

Kathleen O’Boyle, through her attorney Peter Biscontini, claims the sidewalk was left damaged by UGI Penn Natural Gas, leading her to fall and sustain some serious injuries, including a broken clavicle and a head injury.

Biscontini said the suit was filed in Luzerne County Court on Monday. However, the suit had not appeared in public records by the courthouse’s close Thursday. Biscontini provided the Times Leader with a copy of the complaint.

According to the lawsuit:

On Oct. 24, 2016, O’Boyle was walking outside a property at 108 N. Main St., Plains Township. The suit says the property is owned by Gary Wargo, who is also named as a defendant.

O’Boyle tripped in a large hole in the sidewalk that had been covered in leaves, hiding it. O’Boyle broke her left clavicle and suffered injuries to her left shoulder, left ankle and left ear. She has since had to deal with nausea, vomiting, arthritis, tinnitus and blurred vision.

The suit claims the sidewalk was in a state of disrepair after UGI made alterations to the walkway to access its nearby natural gas line at some point prior to that date.

O’Boyle is claiming both Wargo and UGI were negligent in not making repairs to the sidewalk. She claims Wargo was responsible for maintaining the safety of the property, while UGI had a duty to make repairs to the sidewalk after altering it.

She is requesting compensation for her injuries and loss of earnings and earning capacity.

UGI Penn Natural Gas’ parent company, UGI Corporation, is also named as a defendant. UGI declined to make a comment on the suit.

Biscontini, who is also a commissioner for the township, said this lawsuit is meant to send a message to utility companies.

“As a commissioner, I’ve noticed a growing problem where public utility companies perform work and leave the area a dangerous mess, which poses a safety risk for hardworking people who pay their utility bills every month,” Biscontini wrote in an email to the Times Leader.

The attorney said he hopes the suit can help prompt a change for the better.

“Lawsuits like this can send a message to utility companies to get their act together and think about the health and welfare of the citizens of Luzerne County, not about their profits,” he wrote.

According to Biscontini, attempts to reach property owner Wargo over the past year have been unsuccessful, and he is unsure if Wargo still lives in the area. Attempts by the Times Leader to contact him were also unsuccessful.

This image was submitted to the Times Leader by attorney Peter Biscontini, who claims his client Kathleen O’Boyle suffered injuries by tripping in this hole in a Plains Township sidewalk. The suit claims the sidewalk disrepair was caused by UGI Penn Natural Gas, and should have been taken care of either by the company or property owner.
https://www.timesleader.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/web1_UGI.jpgThis image was submitted to the Times Leader by attorney Peter Biscontini, who claims his client Kathleen O’Boyle suffered injuries by tripping in this hole in a Plains Township sidewalk. The suit claims the sidewalk disrepair was caused by UGI Penn Natural Gas, and should have been taken care of either by the company or property owner. Submitted photo

By Patrick Kernan

[email protected]

Reach Patrick Kernan at 570-991-6386 or on Twitter @PatKernan

Reach Patrick Kernan at 570-991-6386 or on Twitter @PatKernan