Pennsylvania Law Weekly News

Capitol Report

By John L. Kennedy |

Following is a listing of executive, legislative and judiciary activity for the week of June 27. Members of the General Assembly were likely to return to session after the July 4 holiday, but no certain date was set.

Net Operating Cap Phase-Out Bill Moving Through Senate

By John L. Kennedy |

The Senate Finance Committee approved a measure that would ultimately eliminate the cap on the amount of losses corporations can write off against income in future years. The sponsor of the bill (SB 598), Sen. Bob Mensch, R-Berks, said he introduced it in anticipation of the Supreme Court's Nov. 23, 2015, decision in Nextel Communications of the Mid-Atlantic v. Commonwealth, which could result in the elimination or change in the cap.

Army Corps' Jurisdictional Determinations Are Immediately Appealable

By Hayley Easton |

On May 31, in a unanimous ruling, the eight-member U.S. Supreme Court held that a final determination by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Army Corps) as to whether a property contains "waters of the United States," subject to Clean Water Act regulations, is a final agency action subject to judicial review under the Administrative Procedure Act, as in U.S. Army Corps of Engineers v. Hawkes, 578 U.S. (2016).

What Constitutes a Zoning Map Change for Notice Requirements

By Blaine A. Lucas and Alyssa E. Golfieri |

On March 2, the Commonwealth Court rendered a decision in Embreeville Redevelopment v. Board. of Supervisors of West Bradford Township, 134 A.3d 1122 (Pa. Commw. Ct. 2016), which clarified when a zoning ordinance amendment, although solely textual on its face, constitutes a zoning map change and triggers the additional notice requirements under Section 609(b) of the Municipalities Planning Code, 53 P.S. Section 10609(b).

Time Clock

Final Rule Alters Salary Threshold for Overtime Pay

By Christopher M. Helms |

The Rolling Stones said it best: "Time is on my side, yes it is." This has never been more accurate after the publication of the much-anticipated final rule updating overtime regulations, as an estimated 4.2 million workers who were previously exempt from receiving overtime pay may be eligible for overtime starting Dec. 1, 2016.

In Today's Over-Regulated Climate, It's Not Wise For Judges to Charge for Weddings

By Samuel C. Stretton |

What is the status of judges being paid monies for weddings conducted in the evenings and weekends and not on judicial property? The issue of weddings and judges at times can be controversial as seen by issues raised one or two years ago after same-sex marriages were allowed in Pennsylvania.

© Valeriy-Fotolia

Justices Take Up Court's Ability to 'Diagnose' Mental Illness

By Max Mitchell |

Can a court determine that a woman who believes her own "unsubstantiated and wild claims" has an undiagnosed mental illness, despite an opinion from a court-appointed expert to the contrary?

Pa. Justices Deal Blow to NRA, Gun Groups

By Ben Seal |

As calls for more restrictive gun regulations grow in fervor and frequency around the country, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court has struck down an act that allowed organizations such as the National Rifle Association to challenge local gun-control laws in court.

Drilling Operations (North Dakota, July 2012)

Pa. High Court to Review Gas Drilling in Residential District

By Ben Seal |

Even with natural gas drilling in Pennsylvania steadily declining, the pipeline to the state's courts is still full of open issues of energy law. The latest question to be settled is whether an industrial shale gas well should be allowed in a township's residential district because of its similarity to permitted uses.

Justices Strike Down Mandatory Sentences for Child Sex Abuse

By Max Mitchell |

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court has struck down as unconstitutional the mandatory sentencing law for those convicted of crimes against children, in a decision that reaffirmed a ruling last year that many attorneys called a "game-changer."

Restriction on Housing for Drug Offenders Invalidated

By Ben Seal |

A Western Pennsylvania judge has struck down a borough ordinance that prevents landlords from renting to tenants with felony drug convictions on their records.

The Defend Trade Secrets Act and Its Impact on Trade Secret Litigation

By Edward T. Kang |

Businesses develop mechanisms and procedures to cut costs, increase efficiency and otherwise set themselves apart from their competition. Methods and inventions developed to achieve these goals are often considered to be trade secrets of the business, and many businesses remain vigilant to guard their assets against a possible threat—for example, a departing employee who takes the business's trade secrets and other confidential information and uses it to compete against the former employer.

In DOGA We Trust: Cashing In on Mineral Rights

By justin Moriconi |

If you have a client with Pennsylvania real property interests in the Marcellus Shale through heirship, there may be money ready and waiting to be distributed if their land was developed for subsurface mineral rights.

Sam Stretton

Lengthy Notice Requirements Could Be an Ethics Violation

By Samuel C. Stretton |

I am a partner in a law firm and I've decided to leave the firm and start my own law firm. In my partnership agreement, it is required that I give four months' notice before I leave. Is such a provision unethical or illegal?

Jeff Jubelirer

How to Make Sure Your Story Is Seen

By Jeff Jubelirer |

If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?

verdicts and settlements

Phila. Jury Awards $1.3 Million in Wrongful Death Case

A Philadelphia jury awarded $1.3 million to the estate of an infant who died following a heart transplant procedure.