Pennsylvania Law Weekly News

Phila. Jury Awards $133,000 for Rear-End Collision

According to court documents, plaintiff Gary Murray, 57, was rear-ended while driving along 7 Oaks Drive at its intersection with Cheltenham Avenue in Philadelphia. Murray claimed that the accident caused soft-tissue injuries of the back, neck and shoulder.

Court Rules Trust Can't Litigate Without Lawyer

By Max Mitchell |

A trust will follow the same rules as estates and corporations when it comes to determining whether an attorney is required to initiate or fight litigation, an Adams County Court of Common Pleas judge has ruled.

Company Has No Legal Mal Claim in Factory Fire Case

By Zack Needles |

The Pennsylvania Superior Court has ruled that a company whose factory burnt down in a fire caused by a furnace has no legal malpractice claim against a Bucks County attorney and his former firm for failing to assert a products liability claim against the furnace distributor.

Superior Court Sends Question of Biosolids Use to Jury

By Max Mitchell |

The question of whether or not spreading a fertilizer made from recycled sewage sludge, known as biosoilids, on a York County farm constitutes a "normal agricultural practice" should be left to a jury, the state Superior Court has ruled.

Federal Judge OKs 'Failure to Screen' Claim

By Zack Needles |

A federal judge has allowed the estate of a woman who died of hemopericardium in Lankenau Medical Center's emergency room to proceed with a claim against the hospital for failure to screen under the federal Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act, finding that the hospital could not adequately articulate its own screening procedure as a defense.

Extrajudicial Contractual Binding Arbitration Provisions

By Matthew Weisberg |

Over fierce opposition, U.S. and Pennsylvania courts have repeatedly held that there is a strong public policy favoring the enforcement of extrajudicial contractual binding arbitration provisions, generally involving the sale of goods and services (as statutorily codified).

How Should Regional Stormwater Systems Be Structured and Financed?

By David Unkovic and 
J. Adam Matlawski |

In the world of water and sewage, there are three general types of systems.

Attorney discipline should not be on a progressive scale.

By Samuel C. Stretton |

In attorney disciplinary matters, is there any set discipline for certain types of misconduct?

Corbett Signs Into Law Child-Protection Package

Gov. Tom Corbett signed a package of four child-protection bills.

General Assembly Leaders Restart Liquor Privatization Talks

Leaders of both houses of the General Assembly are actively discussing some level of liquor privatization as part of the enactment of a state spending plan for the fiscal year that begins July 1, according to several legislative sources.

Recent Action

Following is a listing of executive and legislative action for the week of April 14. Members of the General Assembly are set to return to session April 28.

PLW - People in the News - April 22, 2014

Michael C. Nines of Manko, Gold, Katcher & Fox was promoted to a senior technical consultant.

Attorney General Kathleen Kane

Public Scrutiny Leads to Questions About Informant Usage

By Max Mitchell |

Determining when a case is strong enough to prosecute and when a confidential informant might be too compromised to take the witness stand are decisions typically made behind closed doors.

Early Identification of Trade Secrets Is the Best Defense

By Kenneth Racowski |

Trade-secret litigation poses a problem distinct from other types of intellectual property litigation. In litigation over patents, copyrights and trademarks, the asserted intellectual property is publicly filed and its specific contours are clearly identified.

Legislation Would Hand Gaming Board Reins to Horse-Racing Industry

By Steven J. Silver |

More than three decades have passed since a thoroughbred named Affirmed captured the last Triple Crown in 1978. Nearly the same amount of time has gone by since Pennsylvania has made any significant changes to the 1981 Race Horse Industry Reform Act.

Application of Medical Records Act Argued in High Court

By Max Mitchell |

Arguments before the state Supreme Court in a case that is set to determine whether pharmacists have been overcharging attorneys for records focused on the 1998 amendments to the Medical Records Act, attorneys who attended the argument session said.

Employers Need to Review Severance Agreements

By David J. Walton and Jason A. Cabrera |

Severance and separation agreements between employers and departing employees are a standard device in labor and employment law, providing companies with some certainty against future legal claims and former employees with extra salary or benefits or both. But over the last few years, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has taken aggressive action against severance agreements that may restrict the rights of former employees to file charges of discrimination with the agency.

Executive and Legislative Action for the Week of April 7, 2014

By John L. Kennedy |

Following is a listing of executive and legislative action for the week of April 7. Members of the General Assembly are set to return to session April 28.

Senate OKs Measure to Ban Cash Gifts to Public Officials

By John L. Kennedy |

Two measures that would ban cash gifts to lawmakers and other public officials cleared the Senate.

House GOP Balks at Senate Change to Labor Anti-Intimidation Bill

By John L. Kennedy |

A bill that would eliminate a carve-out in the Crimes Code that some say creates a loophole for intimidating activity during labor strife has been amended by the state Senate in a way that alters its original intent, according to a spokesman for the Republican caucus of the state House of Representatives.

Jury Finds Loose Lug Nuts and Near-Crash Caused Injuries

According to the plaintiffs' pretrial memorandum, on Dec. 14, 2011, Perseberanda Espinal Santos brought her 2002 Ford Explorer to an Aamco Transmission Center in Easton, Pa., that is owned by defendant Zrams Inc.

Jury Sides With Doctor in Newspaper Defamation Suit

A Montgomery County jury has awarded an orthopedic surgeon $2 million, including $1 million in punitive damages, in a defamation suit against a local newspaper's former parent company and one of the paper's former reporters.

County Can't Cut Row Offices Without Government Study

By Max Mitchell |

A home rule charter county cannot seek to abolish elected offices and move them to appointed positions without first electing a government study commission to examine the proposed changes, the state Supreme Court has ruled.

Recusal in Med Mal Case Denied as Attempt to 'Judge Shop'

By Max Mitchell |

A Columbia County Court of Common Pleas judge won't recuse himself from overseeing a medical malpractice suit that involves a man whom the judge had prosecuted in his former role as district attorney.

Billboard Regulation: Proceed With Caution

By Blaine A. Lucas and Krista-Ann M. Staley |

Over the past several decades, as they have become increasingly common and conspicuous, billboards also have become a source of land use litigation in both state and federal courts. The legal issues implicated by their regulation are broad, and include First Amendment and exclusionary zoning claims. As a result, local governments seeking to control the location and style of billboards must be sure to navigate carefully when weighing a landowner's or an advertising company's interests against those of the general public.

A Line Must Be Drawn Regarding Trial Tactics

By Samuel C. Stretton |

Is it ethical to be very nasty to a witness or victim at a preliminary hearing for the purpose of having the victim overreact to the lawyer at trial when the lawyer is not treating him or her in the same mean way?

PLW - People in the News - April 15, 2014

The Conference of County Bar Leaders (CCBL) of the Pennsylvania Bar Association honored immediate past chancellor of the Philadelphia Bar Association Kathleen D. Wilkinson with its 2014 Gilbert Nurick Award.

With Fina in Spotlight, Kane in 'Sticky Situation'

By Max Mitchell |

While state Attorney General Kathleen Kane has been locked in high-profile litigation with the lawyers for ex-Penn State president Graham Spanier for more than a year, it now appears that both sides have at least one thing in common: They have both recently called into question the work of former Chief Deputy Attorney General Frank Fina.

Lawyers Say Court Didn't Tip Its Hand on Act 13 Ruling

By Zack Needles |

The Commonwealth Court has yet to decide whether the remaining Act 13 amendments of 2009 to the Pennsylvania Oil and Gas Act can stand following the state Supreme Court's ruling invalidating several provisions as unconstitutional, but that hasn't stopped it from issuing a separate ruling interpreting its original jurisdiction under Act 13 in the meantime.