Trial lawyer Andy Stern, advocate in Salvation Army collapse case, dies in Jersey Shore accident

Andrew J. Stern, a powerhouse Philadelphia trial lawyer who helped win the largest personal injury settlement in Pennsylvania history, died Saturday after an accident at the Jersey Shore, his wife, Gwen, said in a Facebook post.

Police in Longport, N.J., said Saturday that Stern was believed to have fallen into the bay Friday night. He was rescued in Margate that evening and died of his injuries Saturday morning, police said.

Stern, 60, is survived by his wife and three children, Eric, 29; Jeff, 27; and Jen, 24. In a phone interview Saturday night, the family said they were devastated, and described Stern as a dedicated lawyer and consummate family man who, despite a caseload that included some of the most prominent trials in the city’s history, always made time for them.

“He was my best friend,” Gwen Stern said, through tears. “He was the most honest, ethical, respectful, brilliant, compassionate trial lawyer — and an incredible father who was always there, even though he had so much work to do. Every morning, we would have coffee together and talk for hours — about so many things. I was so excited to see him when he came down the stairs.”

Stern was a longtime partner at the Philadelphia law firm Kline & Specter, and had recently started a firm with Kline & Specter colleague Elizabeth Crawford. Founding his own firm had been a longtime professional goal, Gwen Stern said.

Stern often took on high-profile cases. He was lead trial lawyer in the case of victims who died in 2019 in the crash of Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302, a Boeing 737 Max, and he won a $100 million medical malpractice case in 2000.

In 2017, he represented Mariya Plekan — the woman trapped for 13 hours in rubble after the collapse of the Salvation Army store on Market Street in Center City in 2013 — in a civil suit over the collapse, which killed six people.

In total, the survivors of the collapse and families of the deceased received $227 million in a settlement, the largest ever in the…

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