Tony Baratta is a Volunteer and Board Member of the Philadelphia VIP, a non-profit that offers pro-bono legal services for residents of Philadelphia. Here is a story that was recently published in the Philadelphia VIP newsletter.
Tonia’s Story – Preventing Homelessness
Tonia, a teacher and long-time Philly resident, inherited her family home and has fixed it up piece-by-piece over the years. “I do what I can,” she says. “I don’t have much, but with every income tax, I try to find something new to fix.”
Each day she goes to work and comes home to her comfort-able home and close-knit neighborhood. But about three years ago, Tonia arrived home to find a sink-hole in front of her house. She was served with a slip-and-fall torts claim and needed an an attorney to defend her against the lawsuit.
When she came to VIP, Tonia was paired with Anthony J. Baratta, an accomplished trial lawyer and founding member of Baratta, Russell & Baratta. Anthony prepared Tonia for her deposition. “Anthony was great,” Tonia explained. “I was a little intimidated at first, but he really prepared me for what I was about to go through.
He worked so hard and his office staff was so professional. I was never pushed aside.” During the deposition, Anthony discovered that when the City of Philadelphia had originally fixed the cement, it wasn’t filled properly, leaving air pockets underground. They won the arbitration, but the plaintiff appealed and the case eventually went to court. “I remember all of the lawyers went in the back to talk,” Tonia recalls. “I held my breath because I knew that if we didn’t win, I would lose my home.”
In the end, they won and Tonia was ecstatic. “I cried that day because I could have lost everything. I have a daughter who is ready to go to college; without VIP I might not have been able to send her to school.” She describes Philly VIP as a blessing and refers the organization to friends, neighbors and individuals who need help.