An engineer who sued after he nearly died more than three years ago, when he fell 38 feet through a glass ceiling at the Rodin Museum, has reached a $7.25 million settlement with the defendants, including the Philadelphia Museum of Art and the museum's security company, lawyers for the man said Tuesday.
The settlement was reached last week in Philadelphia Common Pleas Court before jury selection began, said lawyers Larry Bendesky, David Kwass, and David Langsam, who filed the suit on behalf of Phani Guthula.
On Nov. 26, 2012, Guthula, then 27 and working as an engineer for ICF International, was inspecting lighting fixtures in the museum when he fell.
The suit contends that the Art Museum, which administers the Rodin Museum, and its security company, AlliedBarton Security Services, failed to protect him from harm when he stepped onto the unprotected glass floor.
Guthula, who at the time lived in North Wales, Montgomery County, suffered femur, hip, pelvic, rib, and elbow fractures and other traumatic injuries, his attorneys said. He was hospitalized for more than 45 days, and requires intensive ongoing medical care.
At the time, the Rodin had recently completed a $9 million renovation. Guthula was conducting an energy audit of the building, which had applied for an energy rebate with Peco.
While conducting the audit, an AlliedBarton security guard gave Guthula access to the museum's attic area, the lawsuit said. Guthula was required to inspect light fixtures located above a glass-paneled surface, and the guard told him he could step onto the glass. He soon plummeted to the museum floor.
Lawyers for the Art Museum and AlliedBarton could not be reached for comment Tuesday.
In a court filing, AlliedBarton said its security guard had never been properly warned about the safety risks by the museum.
Kwass said Guthula might have been out on the glass surface for as long as five minutes before he crashed through.
Guthula has partially recovered, but walks slowly, and suffers from a lack of energy and an inability to concentrate at times, Kwass said.
Guthula is engaged and plans to marry in the coming months, he said.
Norman Keyes, a spokesman for the Art Museum, confirmed in an email Tuesday that the case had settled. He declined to comment further, except to say that the museum "has always adhered to the highest safety standards and complied with all legal requirements regarding safety."
Besides the Art Museum and AlliedBarton, defendants in the suit were L.F. Driscoll, a construction company, and Elliott-Lewis, a maintenance company. Driscoll and Elliott-Lewis had performed construction and maintenance work at the Rodin.
Bendesky, one of Guthula's lawyers, said all defendants except AlliedBarton collectively offered a $2.5 million settlement last week. Then, on Friday, he said, the plaintiff's lawyers settled separately with AlliedBarton for $4.75 million.