Pennsylvania Law Weekly News

Justices to Review Civil Forfeiture 'Nexus' Questions

By Ben Seal |

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court has agreed to hear argument in a case that could further narrow the scope of civil asset forfeiture by limiting its application based on evidence that already is part of the record.

High Court Begins Remands After 'Taylor' Nursing Home Ruling

By Zack Needles |

A Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruling from late September that found the Federal Arbitration Act pre-empts in nursing home wrongful death and survival actions is already having a ripple effect.

Citibank is the consumer division of financial services multinational Citigroup.

Court: Citicorp’s Failure to Notify In-House Counsel of Suit No Excuse for Delay

By Max Mitchell |

Citicorp's claim that it did not receive notice of a lawsuit because its in-house legal department in Texas did not timely receive the complaint would create an exception to process requirements that would aid only the largest companies, the state Superior Court said as part of a ruling denying the financial giant's efforts to overturn a default judgment against it.

insurance policy

Court: Policy Reinstatement Without Lapse Means Insurer Owes Coverage

By Zack Needles |

An insurer must cover a woman who struck and allegedly killed a pedestrian during a period when her policy had been canceled for nonpayment of a premium because the policy was later reinstated without lapse, the Pennsylvania Superior Court ruled.

sun panels and blue sky

Courts, Not PUC, Can Hear Alternative Energy Act Claims

By Zack Needles |

A divided en banc Commonwealth Court has ruled that state courts have jurisdiction over disputes arising under the Alternative Energy Portfolio Standards Act.

Samuel Stretton

It's Not in the Rules, But a Wise Lawyer Would Keep a Client's Files for Six Years

By Samuel C. Stretton |

I am having a dispute with my law partner about how long to maintain a client's file. He said the Rules of Professional Conduct require five years. Do you have the answer?


Commonwealth Court Reiterates Standards When Interpreting Zoning Ordinances

By Krista-Ann M. Staley 
and Alyssa E. Golfieri |

In Pennsylvania, municipal governing bodies and zoning hearing boards are entitled to considerable deference when interpreting and applying their own zoning ordinances. This deference is based largely on the premise that municipal bodies and boards charged with drafting and administering zoning ordinances possess an unparalleled knowledge of and expertise in their own ordinances, as in In re Thompson, 896 A.2d 659, 669 (Pa. Commw. Ct. 2006).

Edward T. Kang

Accountants Have No Duty of Care Toward Third-Party Investors, or Do They?

By Edward T. Kang |

In 2001, Anderson was one of the "Big Five" public accounting firms. Founded by Arthur Anderson, whose motto was "think straight, talk straight." The Anderson firm was one of the most respected accounting firms in the world. A year later, Anderson was found guilty of obstructing justice for destroying Enron's financial documents. Anderson shut its doors in the United States that same year and surrendered its licenses to practice certified public accounting. A few years later, Anderson settled with various Enron investors who brought claims against Anderson for its role in the Enron fraud. Since the Enron/Anderson scandal, the law relating to an accountant's duty to nonclients has changed.

Curbing Motor Carrier Companies' Use of OT Exemptions

By Shanon J. Carson and Silvia Ibrahim |

In Mazzarella and McMaster, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit recently took on the challenging task of distinguishing the Motor Carrier Exemption and its memorable small vehicle exception. In Mazzarella, the court struck down trucking companies' use of overtime exemptions to its drivers after finding that the defendants failed to demonstrate continuous movement of an unaltered item across state lines in Mazzarella v. FAST Rig Support, 823 F.3d 786 (3d Cir. 2016). In McMaster v. Eastern Armored Services, 780 F.3d 167 (3d Cir. 2015), the court ruled that drivers and passenger guards for an armored vehicle weighing less than 10,000 pounds were covered employees entitled to overtime. The two decisions within little more than a year of each other demonstrate the Third Circuit's reluctance to approve any exemptions except under the narrowest of circumstances. Of course, this is consistent with the rule under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) that exemptions are to be narrowly construed in favor of employees.

PLW People in the News—Oct. 25, 2016—Blank Rome

Blank Rome lawyers Jayme L. Butcher and Amy Joseph Coles are scheduled to host an Alley to the Valley summit on Nov. 2 in the firm's Pittsburgh office, with the mission of gathering a group of powerful women in Pittsburgh who are committed to helping each other succeed by creating a "getting it done" network in the local community and beyond.

verdicts and settlements

Unsolicited Calls Earn Remodeling Company $5.2 Million Penalty

By P.J. D'Annunzio |

A home remodeling company will pay $5.2 million to settle a class action lawsuit for making numerous unsolicited phone calls to over 1 million people.

verdicts and settlements

Jury Sides With Woman Who Lost Leg in Bus Accident

On June 6, 2014, plaintiff Joan Grove, 59, an accountant, was struck by a bus while walking across Montour Way at Sixth Avenue, in Pittsburgh.

Capitol Report

Following is a listing of executive and legislative activity for the week of Oct. 17. Members of the General Assembly were scheduled to return to session on Monday.

Lawmakers Revive Bill to Let NRA Challenge Local Gun Laws

By Ben Seal |

The General Assembly is attempting to restore a controversial law that would allow the National Rifle Association and other membership organizations to sue municipalities in Pennsylvania over local gun ordinances.

Police Body Camera Legislation Clears Senate

By Ben Seal |

The Pennsylvania Senate has moved legislation that would amend the Wiretap Act to allow police to wear body cameras, an issue that has taken center stage in the national conversation sparked by incidents in which police encounters have led to civilian deaths.