Walter J. Klekotka

Co-Chair, Premises and Retail Liability Practice Group

    Walter currently practices in the areas of premises liability, asbestos, hospitality/dram shop, product, auto, trucking & transportation and pharmaceutical matters. He has extensive experience in premises liability in the retail sector, having handled several hundred cases ranging from slip and falls to falling merchandise claims. He likewise has broad experience in pharmaceutical matters, representing numerous pharmacies and pharmacists in misfill and mislabel matters. In the course of his career, Walter has taken more than 50 matters to trial, including many jury trials. He is also quite skilled in alternative dispute resolution forums such as mediations and arbitrations.

    Walter is a graduate of the University of Delaware where he obtained a Bachelor of Science degree in Economics. He received his juris doctor from The Delaware Law School of Widener University, after which he joined Marshall Dennehey. In 1991, he moved to the New Jersey office where he concentrated his practice on general liability matters. He has been a shareholder since January of 1996.

    Walter initially began his career in the asbestos department where he handled hundreds of asbestos personal injury actions involving various claims of lung disease. As such, early in his career, he took numerous cases to verdict.

    Walter is frequently asked by clients and industry organizations to lecture on a variety of topics concerning premises liability, automobile law and general liability matters.

    Significant Representative Matters

    Obtained summary judgment for their client, a large retail store, in a premises liability case. 
    Plaintiff brought suit against our client, a large retail store, alleging negligence for a physical altercation between a former employee and a customer. Plaintiff argued that the former employee held himself out as an employee, and the store was negligent in failing to protect the customer from criminal acts. We moved for Summary Judgment as the assailant was a former employee, and there was no foreseeability to put the store on notice for any criminal acts by a third party. At oral argument, we established that the record was clear as to the former employee's status at the time of the incident, and that the opposition arguments (the employee was stocking shelves and wearing clothing similar to the store uniform) were not genuine issues of material fact. The judge agreed and granted Summary Judgment for our client.

    Successfully defended a grant of summary judgment in the New Jersey Appellate Division that resulted in a published opinion. Our clients were the owner and manager of an apartment complex for seniors. The plaintiff resident had returned from walking her dog and alleged she received injuries entering the elevator. She had allowed the dog to enter first, when the doors began to close. She alleged injuries occurring when the right door struck her arm, and when she used her left arm and left side of her body to slow the doors from closing while she leapt into the elevator.  

    She sued our clients and the company hired to maintain the elevator, but was unable to establish any proof of negligence. The trial judge dismissed the case, declining to apply the doctrine of res ipsa loquitur, in part, because the plaintiff could not establish the third element of the doctrine: that the injury did not result from the plaintiff’s own voluntary act or neglect. On appeal, the plaintiff argued that the Appellate Division should eliminate this third element. The Appellate Division, in a published opinion, concluded that the third element is a well-established law in New Jersey and only the New Jersey Supreme Court could eliminate it, and that court has shown no inclination to do so. Because the plaintiff could not demonstrate the third prong, res ipsa was not applicable and the failure of the plaintiff to establish negligence resulted in summary judgment in the defendants’ favor.

    Obtained a defense verdict for a large supermarket chain involving an injury to a vendor from a swinging door.

    Obtained a defense verdict for a large supermarket chain involving a fall down as a result of a foreign substance on the floor.

    Obtained a defense verdict representing a Gas station Mini Market involving a slip and fall on foreign substance on the floor.

    Obtained a defense verdict in a case involving allegations of RSD.

    Successfully mediated products liability matter with loss of sight in one eye.

    Successfully mediated products liability case involving permanent facial disfigurement.

    Classes/Seminars Taught

    Successful Strategies for Effective Mediation, Marshall Dennehey Client Seminar, July 20, 2022

    Jurisdictional Trends & The COVID-19 Impact on FL NY NJ & PA, Marshall Dennehey Virtual Client Presentation, December, 2020

    1997 Civil Motion Practice, New Jersey State Bar Association Civil Litigation for Paralegals, CISI Dram Shop, South Jersey Claims Association

    Published Works

    "No More Pigeonholes in Premises Liability Law," New Jersey Law Journal, August 21, 2006

    "New Jersey Charitable Immunity Act: Public University Exempt From Suit Even Though Judgment Would Be Paid From Public Funds," Defense Digest, 2002-09, Vol. 8, No. 3

    "The Downsizing of the Collateral Source Rule," Defense Digest, 2001-12, Vol. 7, No. 6, co-author

    "Then N.J. Appellate Division Clarifies Duty Owed by Commercial Tenant," Defense Digest, Vol. 3, No. 1, 1997

    "The Blizzard's Backlash: A Symposium on Issues Confronting Pennsylvania and New Jersey Property Owners," (Co­author), Defense Digest, March 1996

    "New Jersey Spoliation of Evidence and the Doctrine of Res Ispa Loquitur," Defense Digest, August 1995

    "New Jersey Creates Recreational Sports & Leisure Activities Liability Study Commission," Defense Digest, Summer 1994

    New Jersey
    Widener University School of Law (J.D., 1987)
    University of Delaware (B.S., 1983)
    Honors & awards
    AV® Preeminent™ by Martindale-Hubbell®

    The Martindale Hubbell rated attorney list is issued by Internet Brands, Inc. A description of the selection methodology can be found here. No aspect of this advertisement has been approved by the Supreme Court of New Jersey.

    Associations & memberships
    Camden County Bar Association
    Claims & Litigation Management Alliance (CLM)
    New Jersey State Bar Association
    Year joined