Ready for Anything
Plaintiffs seeking justice turn to Sacks, Weston & Petrelli LLC for its expertise in virtually every area of the law
by Bill Donahue

Although the ferocious storm known as Hurricane Sandy merely brushed the Philadelphia area, massive swaths of New Jersey and New York—and elsewhere—were not nearly as fortunate. Andrew B. Sacks, who has a 53-year history with Long Beach Island, N.J., knows this better than most.

“Sandy has been horrifying,” says Sacks, partner in the general-practice law firm Sacks, Weston & Petrelli P.C., which has offices in Jenkintown and Center City. “You’re talking about a 1,000-mile-by-1,000-mile swath. If you think about the depth of the storm, Lake Michigan had the largest waves ever from the storm. On LBI, you have lines of shops that were obliterated, taking people’s livelihoods and memories along with it.”

To make matters worse, stingy insurance companies have been preventing those hardest hit from rebuilding and returning to normal life. He likens Sandy to another destructive storm: 2005’s Hurricane Katrina, which rocked the Gulf Coast.

“Sandy is following the track of Katrina, where insurance companies denied tens of thousands of victims,” Sacks says. “When people get denied by insurance companies or FEMA, they need to hire us because we’re experienced; we know the exclusions, we know how the process works, and we also know how to litigate. A public adjustor is not going to be able to handle it.

“You’re talking about $100 billion worth of claims, and in the end insurance companies are not going to pay,” he continues. “If a massive tree falls and smashes your car, that’s fairly cut and dried. But if a business that had been doing $10,000 a week [in sales] had to shut down for week because of an ‘act of God,’ that’s more difficult to measure. We have the experience, the resources and the knowhow, and we’re smart enough to have coupled with a firm that has already handled the Katrina cases.”

The firm is intimately familiar with the damage Katrina left in its wake, having previously opened a satellite firm in New Orleans to be closer to the clients whose land had been contaminated. In fact, the firm pioneered NORM (naturally occurring radioactive materials) litigation, which ultimately resulted in the largest single-landowner verdict—more than $1 billion—in the nation’s history. To this day, Sacks, Weston & Petrelli remains one of the country’s leading plaintiffs’ law firms in NORM litigation, as well as in other environmental and toxic tort matters.

In addition, the firm is currently handling complex mass-tort litigation, including cases pertaining to significant injuries—and, in some instances, even death, according to Sacks—suffered by patients who had been operated on with the da Vinci Surgical System. The injuries resulted from design defects, according to Sacks, and although the defects have since been addressed by the manufacturer, there has been no recall of the old systems dating back to the da Vinci’s 2000 approval by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Experience Matters
The attorneys at Sacks, Weston & Petrelli P.C. are able to fight for justice on behalf of clients in virtually any case, from the monumental to the most intimate. For example, a January 1, 2012 merger with Petrelli Law P.C. added the talents of family-law “superstar” Thomas J. Petrelli Jr., thereby significantly expanded upon the kinds of cases it can handle.

“Before Tom came aboard we didn’t do the kind of family law work that he does so well,” Sacks says. “I thought he would add nice component to the partnership, and it’s worked out wonderfully.”

Before merging with the Sacks Weston firm, Petrelli was the managing partner of Petrelli Law, where he focused on divorce and family law. With a Juris Doctor from the Vermont Law School, an LLM in Trial Advocacy from Temple University James E. Beasley School of Law and a Master’s of Studies in Environmental Law from Vermont Law School, he has helped families overcome the difficult legal matters that arise in matters of divorce, including child custody, parental rights, child support and estate planning, among others.

Interestingly, Petrelli began his career practicing environmental litigation and insurance law in Pennsylvania before expanding his knowledge to include real estate and environmental Litigation in New Jersey. Furthermore, he helped shape environmental policy and regulations while working for the Clean Air Council and remains active in community education in matters of real estate and insurance law.

Sacks, for his part, earned his Juris Doctor degree from Dickinson School of Law and began his legal career practicing personal injury law in Philadelphia. In 1994 he purchased his employer’s assets and launched the present firm, which has since evolved and diversified to serve a broad client base. He currently maintains dual interests in general practice law and environmental law, with a focus on pursuing litigation against companies and industries that damage the environment or injure property or individuals. He is one of the few U.S. attorneys who has handled two cases in excess of $1 billion and has settled more than a dozen cases with verdicts in excess of millions of dollars.

In addition to Sacks and Petrelli, the firm’s experienced attorneys include John K. Weston, as well as associates Albertine Y. DuFrayne and Kristen Sawicki. Weston, who has been involved in areas as diverse as real estate law and corporate practice, personal injury and civil rights litigation, labor and municipal law and employment litigation, handles the firm’s “unusual” cases and supervises the firm’s complex litigation, as well as commercial law and appellate cases. He received his J.D. from the Ohio State University College of Law and is admitted to practice in the U.S. Supreme Court and the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, and the U.S. Circuit Courts of Appeal for the First, Second, Third, Fourth, Fifth and Sixth Circuits.

The firm continues to grow in both size and scope. Next the firm intends to add another attorney—“an excellent trial lawyer to round out what we’re doing,” says Sacks—who focuses solely on personal injury.

“We’re a plaintiff law firm, and we’ve been in existence long enough to handle anything that comes across our desk,” says Sacks. “This makes us a full-service firm of the highest caliber, and we pride ourselves on making sure our clients are treated fairly and responsively.

“I have three children, and I’ve always wanted my children to admire me and what I do for a living,” he continues. “My job is to help people, not hurt people, and that’s what we strive for with each case we take on.”

Sacks, Weston & Petrelli P.C.

1818 Market Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103

114 Old York Road
Jenkintown, PA 19046