Latest News

$22 Mil. Settlement Reached in Allstate Bad-Faith Case

By P.J. D'Annunzio |

A bad-faith suit against Allstate Insurance Co. stemming from an auto-accident case that produced a $19.1 million verdict in Philadelphia has been settled for $22 million.

gevel in a courtroom

Two Turnpike Defendants Offered ARD

By Max Mitchell |

State Attorney General Kathleen Kane has offered two defendants in the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission corruption case accelerated rehabilitative disposition in exchange for a dismissal of charges.

Castille Details Court System's Drive to Tame Civil Backlog

By Max Mitchell |

The Pennsylvania court system is taking aim at reducing the backlog of civil cases across the state.


Cargill Keeps Cocoa Case in Eastern District

By Saranac Hale Spencer |

Although a federal judge in Philadelphia called a business dispute between Cargill Cocoa & Chocolate and ABCO Laboratories "California-centric," he held that venue was proper in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.

Should Pa. Be Funding the Enforcement of the Animal Cruelty Law?

By Penny Conly Ellison |

Cruelty to animals is a crime in Pennsylvania, just as it is in every other state. If you want to report a violation, you can contact your local police but they would likely refer you to a local humane society or SPCA. Under Pennsylvania law, 18 Pa. C.S. Section 5511(i), nonprofit humane societies and associations for the prevention of cruelty to animals are authorized to investigate complaints and initiate criminal proceedings for violations of the state animal cruelty law. Sworn humane society police officers (HSPOs), usually employed by these nonprofits, have authority to obtain search warrants and injunctions and also seize animals or obtain their forfeiture or surrender.

Sam Stretton

Lawyers Can Practice Temporarily in Other Jurisdictions

By Samuel C. Stretton |

Can I represent clients from other states?


Justices Decline Case on Liability Exception to Skylight Fall

By Max Mitchell |

The state Supreme Court has declined to hear arguments over whether a roofer's suit against a building owner stemming from a fall through a rare, antique skylight should be allowed to proceed under exceptions to the premises liability law.

Pa. Law Weekly - People in the News - Sept. 30, 2014 - Malcolm L. MacGregor Elected PAJ President

Malcolm L. MacGregor, a trial attorney and founding partner of McDonald & MacGregor in Scranton, Pa., was elected the 46th president of the Pennsylvania Association for Justice.

verdicts and settlements

Man Allegedly Injured in Cop Car Settles with City

At about midnight on June 23, 2011, plaintiff James McKenna was at a bar in Philadelphia with his girlfriend, the plaintiff's pretrial memorandum said. McKenna attempted to purchase a drink for an acquaintance who was at the bar with defendant Jesse O'Shea, a police officer with the Philadelphia Police Department, the memo said. O'Shea told McKenna that "neither his company nor his offer to buy a drink was wanted," the memo said. O'Shea then identified himself as a police officer and demanded McKenna leave the bar.

Pa.'s Maturing Energy Industry Leads to New Legal Work

By Max Mitchell |

As the energy industry in Pennsylvania has begun to mature, so has the legal industry supporting it, with more of the activity now centered on "midstream" work and litigation.

verdicts and settlements

Judge Awards Shareholders in Suit Over Company Sale

A Philadelphia judge has ruled in a shareholder suit that an advertising company's corporate officers were liable for accepting for themselves $12 million in proceeds from the company's sale, rather than distributing it.

Supreme Court Adopts New Rules for MDJ Conduct

By Max Mitchell |

New rules that the state Supreme Court adopted governing the conduct of magisterial district judges should bring greater clarity regarding their conduct on and off the bench, and will bring the regulations more in line with the newly enacted Code of Judicial Conduct.

Mixed-Use Developers Need Not Spell Out Exact Plans for Project

By Gina Passarella |

A divided Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled last week that a local municipality could tentatively approve a mixed-use development—known as planned residential developments—without requiring immediate disclosure of the exact nature of the buildings planned for the project.

En Banc Superior Court Panel Extends Will Termination

By Max Mitchell |

References to a newly born grandchild that a decedent made in his 1930 will indicated that the proceeds from his trust must be distributed sometime in the future, the state Superior Court has ruled.

Executive, Legislative Action for Week of Sept. 22, 2014

By John L. Kennedy |

Following is a listing of executive and legislative action for the week of Sept. 22. Members of the General Assembly were scheduled to return to session Sept. 29.

BI ExacuTrack One

Court Finds Post-Sentence GPS Tracking Unconstitutional

By Mary Pat Gallagher |

A divided New Jersey Supreme Court ruled Sept. 22 that requiring a sex offender to wear a satellite tracking device after he has completed his sentence violates the ex post facto clauses of the federal and state constitutions.

Michelle Koplitz.

Court Apologizes to Deaf Woman Denied Interpreter

By Zoe Tillman |

A deaf woman who sued the District of Columbia Superior Court claiming she was unlawfully denied an interpreter for grand jury service has received an apology from the chief judge.

Bill Would Provide Standing in Gun-Ordinance Challenges

By John L. Kennedy |

The state House of Representatives amended legislation that would give any individual or group standing to challenge local gun-control ordinances.

Riparian Buffers Would Be Optional Under Legislation

By John L. Kennedy |

The state House of Representatives approved a measure that would make optional riparian buffers and riparian forest buffers, which can minimize pollution from erosion.


Pennsylvania's Lawyers on the Fast Track 2014

Welcome to the 13th annual Lawyers on the Fast Track supplement! We use this opportunity each year to shine a light on the outstanding young attorneys in Pennsylvania and the work they are doing to help shape the legal profession.

People in the News - Sept. 30, 2014 - Opening of Garber Law LLC

Marc A. Feller, Dilworth Paxson partner and chair of the firm's public finance group, was elected by unanimous vote to become a fellow of the American College of Bond Counsel.

Diana C. Schimmel

Founder, Law Office of Diana C. Schimmel

Justine M. Kasznica

Counsel, Schnader Harrison Segal & Lewis

Priscilla E. Jimenez

Associate, Kline & Specter

Michael A. Iannucci

Associate, Blank Rome

Kenneth L. Racowski

Of Counsel, Wilson Elser Moskowitz Edelman & Dicker

Charece Z. Collins

Associate, Weber Gallagher Simpson Stapleton Fires & Newby

Krista-Ann M. Staley

Associate, Babst Calland

Nicolle R. Snyder Bagnell

Partner, Reed Smith

Robert M. Palumbos

Partner, Duane Morris

Dina Leytes

Associate, Griesing Law

Eric Rayz

Co-managing member, Kalikhman & Rayz

Neal R. Devlin

Shareholder, Knox McLaughlin Gornall & Sennett

Daniel J.T. McKenna

Partner, Ballard Spahr

Gregory L. Seltzer

Partner, Ballard Spahr

John S. Stapleton

Shareholder, Hangley Aronchick Segal Pudlin & Schiller

Linsey Bozzelli

Linsey B. Bozzelli

Partner, Blank Rome

Shauna B. Itri

Shareholder, Berger & Montague

Tiffani L. McDonough

Associate, Obermayer Rebmann Maxwell & Hippel

Rachel E. Licausi

Associate, Flaster/Greenberg

Kenneth E. Young

Partner, Dechert

Justine S. Patrick

Partner, Reed Smith

Philip D. Amoa

Associate, McCarter & English

Marc I. Simon

Owner, Simon & Simon

Nipun J. Patel

Associate, Reed Smith

Colby W. Smith

Partner, Morgan, Lewis & Bockius

Michael V. Phillips

Associate, Obermayer Rebmann Maxwell & Hippel

Monique Galloway

Associate, Kessler Topaz Meltzer & Check

Scott J. Etish

Associate, Gibbons P.C.

Jennifer E. Will

Member, McNees Wallace & Nurick

Marla K. Conley

Associate, Schnader Harrison Segal & Lewis

Kathryn Goldstein Legge

Associate, Griesing Law

Matthew P. Faranda-Diedrich

Partner, Dilworth Paxson

Jeffrey N. Rosenthal

Associate, Blank Rome

MaryTeresa Soltis

Member, Cozen O'Connor

Kevin Dooley Kent

Partner, Conrad O'Brien

Christian Petrucci

Commonwealth Court: Pension Offset Inures to Parent Company

By Christian Petrucci |

With the passage of Act 57 of 1996, the Pennsylvania Workers' Compensation Act was amended to provide for offsets against indemnity compensation for certain pension or severance payments as well as for "old age" Social Security payments and unemployment compensation benefits. The relevant section of the act dealing with the offsets of pension benefits is Section 204(a), which provides that "the benefits from a pension plan to the extent funded by the employer directly liable for the payment of compensation which are received by an employee shall also be credited against the amount of the" employee's disability benefits. On Sept. 10, in the matter of Stepp v. Workers' Compensation Appeal Board (FairPoint Communications), No. 2270 C.D. 2013, the Commonwealth Court dealt with the meaning of the phrase "the extent funded by the employer" as it pertains to a successor company in interest. Given that pension-offset situations arise in a small percentage of cases, reading Stepp will refresh the practitioner's awareness of the general principles and should provide a valuable practice tip.


Parameters of Showing Bias of Expert Witnesses

By Daniel E. Cummins |

A recent trend in personal injury matters has involved each litigant turning up the heat in their attempt to gather information to discredit the opposing party's medical expert and expose that witness as biased in favor of the offering party.

Richard A. Smolen

Associate, Dilworth Paxson

Samuel H. Pond and Andrew F. Ruder

The Great Tradeoff in Workers' Compensation Benefits

By Samuel H. Pond and Andrew F. Ruder |

When Maryland introduced America's first workers' compensation statute in 1902, the rights of injured workers were on the verge of changing forever.

Jonathan W. Hugg

Independent Expenditures and Election Influence

By Jonathan W. Hugg |

It's election time, and our business clients should view this as an opportunity. Nowadays, any mundane business issue—from land development and taxation to product packaging and worker benefits—can mean dealing with local government, which usually means coping with predatory local politics.

Skyline of downtown Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

More Dark Times Ahead for Philadelphia's Court System?

By P.J. D'Annunzio 
and Hank Grezlak |

The recent guilty plea of a Philadelphia Municipal Court judge to case-fixing charges and the suspension of two other judges, all occurring with the Philadelphia Traffic Court scandal still fresh in the public's mind, has seriously damaged the reputation of the Philadelphia judicial system, members of the legal community said.

Custody of child

Court Upholds $10K Fee Lawyer Must Pay to Contest Custody

By Gina Passarella |

A $10,000 payment a former Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney attorney agreed to make every time he attempted to change his child custody agreement is enforceable, the state Superior Court has ruled, rejecting the trial court's determination that the payment was against public policy.

Split Third Circuit Panel Gives Gas Company Eminent Domain

By Saranac Hale Spencer |

A gas company has the right to eminent domain in order to recast one of its pipelines, the Third Circuit has ruled in a thorny split opinion that the dissent warned is so broad that it grants, essentially, unfettered property access to a private company.

Pa. Justices Say SEPTA May Fall Under City Discrimination Law

By Gina Passarella |

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court rejected a lower court's ruling that SEPTA is an agency of the state that falls outside the scope of Philadelphia's local discrimination law. A divided high court sent the question back to the Commonwealth Court for an analysis of whether the goals of the transportation authority or the city should win out.

Pitts Carr: The major issue is whether it’s the retailers or the banks that “will be responsible for the enormous cost associated with cybercrimes.”

Credit Unions Sue Home Depot Over Data Breach

By R. Robin McDonald |

Two credit unions have sued Home Depot, claiming that they and other financial institutions have sustained millions of dollars in damages as a result of the Atlanta-based home improvement chain’s massive payment security breach.

U.S. Federal Trade Commission Building.

FTC Steps Up Pressure Against Bitcoin Fraud

By Jenna Greene |

After a long hands-off period, federal regulators are starting to crack down on bitcoin-related fraud. The Federal Trade Commission is the latest to make a move, winning a federal court order shutting down a Missouri-based company that sold specialized computers designed to produce bitcoins, the agency announced Sept. 23.

People in the News - Sept. 29, 2014 - Philadelphia VIP's Pro Bono Opportunities Day

Joseph J. Valane joined Kleinbard Bell & Brecker as an associate in the business and finance department.

Angela Giampolo

Changing the State of Hate-Crime Laws in Pennsylvania

By Angela D. Giampolo |

On Sept. 11, two gay men, ages 27 and 28, were brutally gay-bashed, allegedly by a group of young people who were dining earlier that evening at La Viola in Philadelphia.

Judy Weintraub and Harrie Samaras

Avoiding Litigation Over Infirm Dispute Resolution Clauses

By Judy Weintraub and Harrie Samaras |

When requiring an arbitrator to award attorney fees to the prevailing party, consider clearly defining what constitutes a prevailing party.

Larry Mendte, left, and Jeff Mordock

Who Owns Digital Assets When You Die?

Delaware Law Weekly reporter Jeff Mordock was recently a guest of Larry Mendte on The Delaware Way program, where he discussed Delaware's new digital asset law and proposals for similar laws in Pennsylvania and New Jersey.

City Hall in Philadelphia

More Trouble for Philadelphia's Court System

By P.J. D'Annunzio |

In the wake of former Philadelphia Municipal Court Judge Joseph C. Waters Jr.'s guilty plea to case-fixing, two more Municipal Court judges have been suspended and it has come to light that a Philadelphia court administrator has been fired for misappropriating funds.


Montco Clerk Files $100 Mil. Suit Against Big Banks

By Saranac Hale Spencer |

Three months after a federal judge entered declaratory judgment for the Montgomery County recorder of deeds in a class action case she brought against the private mortgage recording service called MERS, she has filed suit against the big banks that used that service.

Attorney General Kathleen Kane

Kane Displays Select Emails to Reporters

By Max Mitchell |

Attorney General Kathleen Kane has allowed reporters to view emails containing reportedly pornographic photos and videos that her office uncovered during the investigation into how the state Attorney General's Office handled the Jerry Sandusky sex-abuse case.

Area Firms Join Program for Women Reentering Practice

By Gina Passarella |

Two Pennsylvania law firms are part of a crop of 15 firms nationally that have agreed to hire fellows as part of the OnRamp Fellowship, a program designed to help female attorneys reenter the workforce after taking a few years off.

Fraud Claim in $40 Mil. Energy Dispute Gets Green Light

By Saranac Hale Spencer |

A claim of fraud in a $40 million business dispute brought by a pipeline contractor against a natural gas company has survived a motion to dismiss in federal court along with a claim for punitive damages.

Is Wage Theft the New Civil Rights Issue for Workers?

By Jeffrey Campolongo and Nadia Hewka |

If you have seen recent headlines about major wage-and-hour class actions, such as the FedEx misclassification case, Alexander v. FedEx Ground Package System, or the decision about off-the-clock work here in Pennsylvania, Braun v. Wal-Mart Stores, then you would know there is a growing problem of wage theft in the low-wage economy all over the country.

People in the News - Sept. 26, 2014 - Philly I-Day Conference Set for April

Business leaders, executives and college students from across the region will discuss and learn about trends impacting insurance and risk management at the Philly I-Day conference scheduled for April 9, 2015, at the Pennsylvania Convention Center.

Craig R. Tractenberg

Franchisors Should Stay Out of Franchisee Personnel Management

By Michael P. Curtis and Craig R. Tractenberg |

Traditionally, courts have not held franchisors liable for actions by their franchisees, as long as the franchisors did not have control over certain matters. Still, plaintiffs have attempted to hold franchisors vicariously liable or liable as joint employers. With the growth in franchising, franchisors have seen more claims, especially in the employment area.

Panel Orders Risk Modeling Firm to Produce Source Code

By Suevon Lee |

A divided panel of the Appellate Division, First Department on Sept. 18 reversed a lower court's denial of a motion to compel disclosure of additional source code in a computer software trade-secrets dispute that tests the limits of discovery.

LinkedIn Defends Use of Member Photos in Marketing Emails

By Ross Todd |

Lawyers for LinkedIn Corp. have renewed their effort to knock out a lawsuit claiming the company pestered users' contacts with spam-like invitations to join the professional networking site.

Judge Joseph Waters

Former Phila. Judge Waters Pleads Guilty to Case-Fixing

By P.J. D'Annunzio |

Former Philadelphia Municipal Court Judge Joseph C. Waters Jr. pleaded guilty in federal court Wednesday to corruption charges stemming from fixing cases for campaign donors.

$56.5 Million Settlement Over Adderall Marketing Claims

By Saranac Hale Spencer |

The maker of Adderall, Pennsylvania-based Shire Pharmaceuticals, has settled a whistleblower suit for $56.5 million in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.

Attorney General Kathleen Kane

AG Won't Release Allegedly Offensive Emails

By Max Mitchell |

Attorney General Kathleen Kane has denied requests from several media outlets to release purportedly pornographic emails that were uncovered during the investigation into how the state Attorney General's Office handled the Jerry Sandusky sex-abuse case, despite a supervising grand jury judge's decision last week to lift a stay on the requests.


Tort Claimants Lack Priority Over Creditors in Explosion Suit

By Jeff Mordock |

Tort claimants seeking damages against Caribbean Petroleum Corp. do not have priority over the company’s unsecured creditors, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit has ruled.

People in the News - Sept. 25, 2014 - Lauletta Birnbaum Adds 3 Attorneys

Stradley Ronon Stevens & Young partner Andrew K. Stutzman is scheduled to speak at the Mortgage Bankers Association's 2014 Regulatory Compliance Conference on Sept. 28 in Washington, D.C.

Former Bayview Correctional Facility in Chelsea

Court Finds State Negligent for Rape of Inmate by Guard

By Joel Stashenko |

The state was negligent for failing to prevent a corrections officer at the shuttered Bayview state prison in Manhattan from raping and impregnating an inmate after other prisoners made sexual abuse complaints against the guard, a state judge has determined.

If Unchanged, Legal Education Will Remain a Business in Decline

By The YL Editorial Board |

Over the last 10 years, the number of students applying to accredited law schools has declined from 100,600 to 59,400, according to the Law School Admission Council. The drop represents an astounding 40 percent decline in law school applicants, with double-digit decreases during the last three years. Although the decline may be blamed in part on the recession, we must accept the fact that the decline is also a self-inflicted wound caused by irresponsible law schools and the failure of the American Bar Association to properly regulate legal education. Without changes and a renewed sense of accountability, the decline will continue.

U.S. Securities & Exchange Commission building in Washington, D.C. August 21, 2013. Photo by Diego M. Radzinschi/THE NATIONAL LAW JOURNAL.

Court Affirms Importance of Private Remedies for Insider Trading

By Peter J. Kreher and Frank P. Trapani |

In Kaplan v. SAC Capital Advisors, --- F. Supp. 2d ---, (S.D.N.Y. Aug. 13, 2014), the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York addressed several important questions regarding the remedies available under the federal securities laws for private plaintiffs injured by insider trading. This article reviews three key aspects of the court's opinion and discusses their implications.

EEOC Hits Hospital With Pregnancy Discrimination Suit

By Sheri Qualters |

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has sued a Chicago hospital in an early test of fresh agency guidelines addressing discrimination by failure to accommodate pregnancy-related medical restrictions.

Philadelphia City Hall building at night

Phila. Judge Waters Resigns Amid Alleged Charges

By P.J. D'Annunzio |

Philadelphia Municipal Court Judge Joseph C. Waters Jr. has resigned amid what sources say are pending federal charges against him.

Inversions May Slow, but Related Legal Work Won't

By Gina Passarella |

There may be nothing better for a lawyer's book of business than uncertainty in the law, so while new regulations announced Monday that aim to limit the controversial corporate inversion may put a stop to some of those deals, it won't stop the need for tax attorneys to dissect these new rules and the promise of continued political machinations.

(l. to r.) Stephen Vajtay and David Sorin

McCarter & English Grabs 17-Lawyer Firm With Tech Startup Focus

By David Gialanella |

McCarter & English will grow its ranks and bolster its corporate practice by snatching up a boutique focused on representing technology startups and the venture capital entities that fund them.

People in the News - Sept. 24, 2014 - ABA to Honor Rep. Sims

The four-part Dean John J. Sciullo CLE Saturday Series is set to continue at the Duquesne University School of Law.

Stephanie Everett and Ryan Pumpian represented a woman who was sued multiple times over millions of dollars in unpaid loans that she said she never knew about or signed for.

Six-Year Fight Ends for Woman Sued Over Multiple Loans

By Greg Land |

Sharon Ivey, now Pounds' ex-wife, said she learned that she was holding the bag for millions of dollars in unpaid loans she knew nothing about. On Aug. 28, a Fulton County, Ga., jury put the nightmare to rest with a verdict clearing her of liability for loan guaranties that her attorney said were based on forged documents.

Martin J. Doyle and Igor Pleskov

Amendment to Pennsylvania Mechanics' Lien Law Enacted

By Martin J. Doyle and Igor Pleskov |

Effective Sept. 7, Pennsylvania's Mechanics' Lien Law was amended pursuant to Act 117, which was approved in July. The purposes of the act were twofold: to clarify and strengthen the provisions intended to subordinate mechanics' liens to open-end mortgages securing construction loans; and to provide residential property owners with certain additional protections against mechanics' liens that may be imposed by subcontractors.

When Information Governance and Data Privacy Collide

By Laura Kibbe and Tara Lawler |

The so-called "Big Data" problem has caused many organizations to breathe new life into their record-retention programs. A whole new discipline—information governance—has emerged as a framework to govern the creation, use, retention and disposition of information, as well as the technical platforms on which the information resides. While storage may still be cheap, with the ever-increasing data volumes, even traditional infrastructure organization is being challenged. As a result, more multinational corporations are moving to the cloud as a cost-savings mechanism for everything from email to database storage and document creation, such as Google Docs. In addition, while corporate IT may have been driven by a goal to decentralize over the past several years, the current trend toward centralization of company information to achieve cost savings carries the day today. This all sounds like a great first step in an organization's attempt to get its hand around its own Big Data issues. But what happens when what makes the most business sense might actually be putting the company at risk?

Law Schools Create Facilities Built With Eye on the Future

By Karen Sloan |

Legal education's slump hasn't stopped a small boom in construction on campus. Four northeastern U.S. law schools have opened multimillion-dollar facilities within the past month, and more are being planned or built elsewhere across the country.

Fake Dictionary, Dictionary definition of the word Evidence.

Limiting Evidence of Prior Bad Acts Under Rule 404(b)

By David M. Laigaie |

Everyone knows that bad people do bad things. For this reason, evidence of prior wrongdoing by a criminal defendant is extremely powerful and goes a long way toward conviction. Such evidence is especially damaging in white-collar cases, where the charged crime is typically not violent and the defendant is educated, successful and looks good in a suit.