Joseph R. Fowler
Three Logan Square
1717 Arch Street, Suite 1310
Philadelphia, PA 19103
- Villanova University School of Law (J.D., 1989)
- Villanova University (B.A., 1986)
- Pennsylvania, 1989
Joseph R. Fowler is a founding partner of FHMS and the managing partner of the firm’s Philadelphia office. Mr. Fowler focuses his practice on the defense and investigation of commercial vehicle and construction accident cases for trucking companies, public transportation companies, and their insurers. He also represents construction companies and sub-contractors in catastrophic losses. Mr. Fowler defends bad faith and UM/UIM cases, and is routinely appointed as a defense arbitrator for numerous insurance carriers. He regularly represents commercial property owners in severe injury cases.
For over 24 years, Mr. Fowler has directed the investigation and defense of catastrophic commercial vehicle accidents from the date of loss. This includes the immediate counseling of drivers and safety directors, the retention of accident reconstruction experts, and evidence preservation. Mr. Fowler regularly counsels a variety of national commercial transportation companies to ensure their compliance with Department of Transportation and Federal Motor Carrier Safety Act regulations. In addition to his transportation work, Mr. Fowler routinely represents and counsels general contractors and subcontractors during their post-accident and OSHA investigations.
Mr. Fowler has extensive trial and appellate experience in both the Pennsylvania federal and state courts. He recently obtained a defense verdict in a case in which plaintiff claimed catastrophic injuries as a result of being rear-ended by a bus operated by the defendant bus company. Phillips Trial (2013). Mr. Fowler also successfully defended a construction company receiving a defense verdict where the defendant’s truck struck a low hanging cable line resulting in the death of a Verizon worker. Hetrick Trial (2012).
Mr. Fowler has drafted multiple white papers regarding the transportation industry. He speaks internationally on transportation-related topics for a variety of organizations, including the Transportation Lawyers Association, Mealey’s Publications, Dispute Resolution Institute, Pennsylvania Bar Institute, and Lorman Education, as well as numerous insurance companies and self-insureds.
Since 2007, Mr. Fowler has been recognized by his peers as a Pennsylvania Super Lawyer, as published by American Lawyer Media and Philadelphia Magazine. Mr. Fowler’s Martindale-Hubbell rating is AV, the highest rating given by Martindale-Hubbell.
- Defense verdict after a three-week trial in Philadelphia County with an 18-million-dollar demand. Plaintiff sustained significant and permanent injuries after a tractor that he hot-wired ran over his foot. He alleged a crush injury to his foot, Complex Regional Pain Syndrome, and an injury to his neck that required a cervical fusion. The case proceeded against multiple defendants on claims of negligence, product liability, and breach of warranty. FHMS was able to get the product liability and warranty claims dismissed through a Motion for Summary Judgment. A defense verdict was secured through pointing to the dealer’s testimony that responsibility to inspect the tractor in question was theirs.
- Settlement through a 2-day mediation of a multi-million-dollar case arising from a workplace accident involving a power surge conveyor, life-changing injuries, multiple defendants, and significant legal and factual disputes. The first day of mediation was with defendants only, in order to establish a hierarchy of liability. The second day, with Plaintiffs present, allowed the mediator to push through difficult arguments involving comparative negligence, medical causation and legal issues including the Statute of Repose.
- Settlement of an automobile accident one month after assignment. A quick identification of liability on behalf of our insured driver was followed by settlement for a fraction of Plaintiff’s demand before filing a responsive pleading or conducting discovery.
- Settlement of a trip and fall case with a large demand and claims of Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy. We defended on liability and countered that the injury was a bone bruise. The case settled on the first day of trial for less than one tenth of the demand. The matter was resolved within 9 months of assignment.
- Defense verdict in the case of Hetrick v. American Infrastructure following a two week trial in Chester County, Pennsylvania, in favor of a construction company and driver. Demand from plaintiff’s counsel during the pretrial phase of the case was $12,000,000. Plaintiff suffered massive head injuries when defendants truck struck a telephone line which crossed the street. Plaintiffs’ expert opined that defendant saw the line pre-impact and should have stopped after hearing the line come in contact with the truck. Jury returned a verdict in one hour. Defendant presented both construction and accident reconstruction experts.
- Defense verdict following a two-week trial. Defendant commercial vehicle driver rear ended plaintiff’s vehicle when defendant yawned and took his eyes away from the roadway. Post-accident, Plaintiff unsuccessfully underwent spinal cord surgery which resulted in massive neurologic limitations. Plaintiff’s experts identified significant wage loss future medical expenses. Plaintiff demanded $3,000,000 at trial. The jury returned a verdict for defendant finding that defendant was not negligent. The Superior Court sustained the lower court’s decision to uphold the jury’s verdict.
- Plaintiff was killed when the car she was riding in went off the road at a high rate of speed striking the client’s parked trailer. The trailer was parked approximately 17 feet from the edge of the roadway. The accident occurred when Pennsylvania law was still controlled by the Joint and Several Liability Act. The host tortfeasor, who was traveling 62 in a 25 mph zone, had clear liability. Plaintiff’s two experts opined that the accident would not have happened if the area had been better illuminated, if defendants had a clear zone on the side of the roadway that allowed vehicles to regain control, and if the trailers were not lined up to form an “underride wall”. They also opined that the area on which the trailers were situated was poorly maintained due to depressions, bumps and railroad ties, which affected the driver’s ability to regain control. After an extensive Frye hearing, the Court found that neither expert, both of whom had testified in court hundreds of times, had utilized appropriate scientific methodology. All of the opinions with regard to negligence offered by the two experts were precluded as not supported by methodology generally accepted in the expert’s scientific community. Summary judgment was then granted on behalf of all defendants.