Pennsylvania Law Weekly News

Businessman texting

Texting a Distracted Driver Could Now Bring Liability

By Ben Seal |

As drivers encounter an increasing number of distractions behind the wheel, Pennsylvania law is adjusting to consider how civil damages should be meted out in motor vehicle accidents. If a recent opinion from a Lawrence County judge is any indication, anyone sending a text message might now be found liable for accidents on Pennsylvania's roads if they knowingly divert a driver's attention.

Judicial Retirement Age Ballot Question in Limbo

By Ben Seal |

The question over judicial retirement was put to voters, whether it was official or not. But whether the question—and the answers—will count is an issue for Pennsylvania's courts to decide.

Employer Not Liable For Worker's Injury Rushing From Jobsite

By Gina Passarella |

A man who injured his knee as he rushed to his car in his employer's parking lot responding to a family emergency is not entitled to workers' compensation benefits, the Commonwealth Court has ruled, finding the man wasn't acting within the scope of his employment.

High Court to Review Sex-Offender Registry Requirements

By Ben Seal |

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court has agreed to hear arguments over the constitutionality of a retroactive increase to an individual's time spent on the state's sex-offender registry following the 2012 enactment of new guidelines.

Beaver County Woman Secures Jury Verdict in UIM Case

A Beaver County jury awarded nearly $1.2 million to a woman injured in a car accident in her lawsuit against an insurance company.

Acquitted Man Wins $1M for Malicious Prosecution Claims

A man acquitted of vehicular homicide charges after he struck a police officer with his car was awarded more than $1 million for claims that he was the victim of a malicious prosecution stemming from the fatal incident.

Adequate Statewide Funding for All Criminal 
Indigent Defense is Necessary.

By Samuel C. Stretton |

I am a criminal defendant who filed a pro se post-conviction hearing petition. The Court of Common Pleas has promised to appoint me a lawyer, but it's been months and there's no lawyer appointed. What is happening?

Leonard Deutchman

A Party Can Lose Under New Rule 37(e), but Prevail Under Rule 37(a)

By Leonard Deutchman |

In Friedman v. Philadelphia Parking Authority, Civ. No. 14-6071 (E.D.PA, March 10, 2016), U.S. District Judge Mark A. Kearney of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, in an unpublished findings of fact and conclusions of law, carefully parsed through the efforts of the Philadelphia Parking Authority—or, more accurately, the lack thereof—to preserve and produce discovery and found that, despite large and inexplicable errors by the parking authority, there was insufficient evidence to conclude, under the recently amended Rule 37(e) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, that it had intentionally destroyed or withheld discovery, and so refused to grant the plaintiffs' motion for an adverse inference instruction.

Industrial plant at night

Taking Another Look at the Environmental Indemnity

By Grant E. Nichols |

For at least the past 30 years, parties involved in the purchase or sale of properties that contain environmental exposure have had to negotiate environmental indemnity agreements, either to protect assets, transfer liability, or to simply get a deal across the finish line.

Workplace Implications of Resolution on Muslim Holidays

By Denise M. Maher |

Following the Philadelphia City Council's Jan. 21 passage of a nonbinding resolution urging the city of Philadelphia to recognize the Muslim holidays of Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha as city and school district holidays, many employers have fielded questions about making these dates company holidays.

Capitol Report

By John L. Kennedy |

Following is a listing of executive and legislative activity for the week of April 25. Members of the General Assembly were scheduled to return to session May 2; and members of the Senate on May 9.

Lawmakers Anxious for On-Time Budget

By John L. Kennedy |

With the primary elections over, state lawmakers will be anxious to get back to Harrisburg and send a budget to Gov. Tom Wolf before the July 1 deadline and start of the 2016-17 fiscal year.

Resolution Overturning Oil and Gas Regs Proposed

By John L. Kennedy |

The chairman of the Senate Environmental Resources & Energy Committee called for a legislative resolution overturning oil and gas regulations, which recently received final approval from the Independent Regulatory Review Commission (IRRC).

People in the News—Pa. Law Weekly May 3, 2016—Austin Law Firm

Sara A. Austin, a partner in the Austin Law Firm, is set to become president of the Pennsylvania Bar Association at the end of its annual meeting, scheduled for May 13 in Hershey.