Barbara R. Axelrod first came to Jim Beasley Sr.’s attention in 1989, when she was an assistant city solicitor working for the City of Philadelphia. Barbara wrote a brief that prompted the state Supreme Court to vacate a $3.8 million judgment that Beasley had won in the case of Scarborough v. Reading Railroad.
The case involved a then-9 year-old boy, Eddie Scarborough, who hopped a freight train, and after a short ride, tried to get down off the train, but slipped and fell under, suffering the loss of both legs below the knee. Beasley sued the railroad and the city for negligence, arguing that the city should have repaired a hole in the fence that Eddie Scarborough climbed through on his way to the railroad tracks.
The railroad opted to settle its portion of the case for $1.3 million. The City of Philadelphia appealed, however, and Barbara argued that the city was not liable for negligence on adjoining property that it didn’t own or control. The state Supreme Court agreed, and vacated the then-record verdict.
Beasley didn’t like the decision, but he did take note of the lawyer who beat him and subsequently hired Barbara to handle his appeals. At the Beasley Firm, Barbara has won many appeals in areas such as medical malpractice, product liablity, personal injury and libel.
In Zieber v. Bogert, Barbara successfully argued that a plaintiff who suffers continued growth and metastasis of a tumor, due to failure to timely diagnose his condition, has sustained a physical injury for which compensatory damages may be awarded.
In Sprague v. Walter, Barbara’s appeal resulted in the upholding of a record $24 million libel verdict against the Philadelphia Inquirer, on behalf of former prosecutor Richard A. Sprague. In Doe v. Raezer, Barbara’s appeals work resulted in the reversal of a remittur, and the reinstatement of a $2.25 million jury verdict on behalf of the plaintiff.
In Mitzelfelt v. Kamrin, Barbara successfully argued that a jury properly found in favor of an injured patient whose medical expert testified that a doctor’s negligence had increased the risk that she would suffer harm. This victory overturned a series of lower court cases that held that a patient could not recover damages when there was a possibility she would have suffered harm anyway as a result of her disease.
A native of Philadelphia, Barbara was a 1973 cum laude graduate of Middlebury College, where she received her B.A., and a 1977 graduate of Villanova University, where she received her J.D. She is a member of the Philadelphia Bar, the Pennsylvania Bar, U.S. Court of Appeals, Third Circuit; U.S. District Court, Easter District of Pennsylvania, U.S. Supreme Court.
She worked for the City of Philadelphia’s Law Department from 1977 to 1989, rising to Divisional Deputy Solicitor. She has been a participant in the Myrna Marshall Moot Court Competition. She has also served as chair of the Philadelphia Bar Association’s Appellate Courts Committee.