Pennsylvania Law Weekly News

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Collateral Order Appeals on the Rise in Pennsylvania

By Lizzy McLellan |

Five years after the U.S. Supreme Court took a marked step away from narrowing the window for collateral order appeals, Pennsylvania has continued to clear a path for addressing the orders, appellate lawyers have noticed.

gavel

Pa. Justices to Revisit Long-Running Defamation Case

By Lizzy McLellan |

In a 12-year-old defamation case that has twice been remanded to trial court, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court is set to consider whether the latest Superior Court ruling granting a third trial complies with the First Amendment.

Union Violated Law by Discouraging Volunteer Firefighters

By Lizzy McLellan |

A firefighters' union was in violation of labor law provisions when it told volunteer firefighters to refrain from responding to fires in the Chambersburg Borough, the Commonwealth Court has ruled.

Superior Court Waives Defective Complaint in Foreclosure Case

By Max Mitchell |

The state Superior Court has waived the appeal of a mortgage foreclosure action in which a bank's complaint was verified in possible violation of the rules of civil procedure.

Benefits Denied in Noose and 'N-Word' Case

By Max Mitchell |

The Commonwealth Court has found that expert reports were insufficient to warrant an award of workers' compensation benefits for the only black female worker at a Carlisle, Pa., foundry, despite reports of one co-worker using "the N-word," another making disparaging comments about women and a noose being hung in an office.

Pa. Law Weekly - People in the News - Dec. 16, 2014 - Monyok Joins Meyer, Unkovic & Scott

Michael Monyok joined Pittsburgh-based Meyer, Unkovic & Scott.

verdicts and settlements

Accord Reached In Apartment Fire Class Action

By P.J. D'Annunzio |

The parties in a class action composed of tenants whose possessions were destroyed during an apartment building fire and subsequent demolition have reached a $4.75 million settlement, attorneys in the case have said, pending approval from the court.

verdicts and settlements

Employer, Lineman Settle Over Shoulder Injury

By Lizzy McLellan |

A lineman trainee who was injured on the job reached a settlement with his employer, Amtrak, just after trial began in a Federal Employers' Liability Act case.

Executive, Legislative and Judiciary Action for Week of Dec. 8

By John L. Kennedy |

Following is a listing of executive, legislative and judiciary action for the week of Dec. 8. Members of the General Assembly are scheduled to return to Harrisburg for swearing in on Jan. 6, 2015.

Public Pensions Behind Fiscal Crisis in State Government

By John L. Kennedy |

Gov.-elect Tom Wolf is almost certain to ask state lawmakers for the establishment of an extraction tax on Marcellus Shale drillers when he delivers his first budget address in February or March. He campaigned on it and has recently re-emphasized the need for it.

State Police Say Violent Crime Is Down 5.8 percent

By John L. Kennedy |

Crimes reported to the Pennsylvania State Police through the Uniform Crime Reporting system decreased 4.2 percent in 2013, with violent crimes declining 5.8 percent, according to a statement from the State Police.

Sam Stretton

Alternative Litigation Financing Is Becoming More Common

By Samuel C. Stretton |

My client wants to utilize an alternative litigation financing organization while his case is pending. Although I have recommended against it, the client insists. What ethical issues are involved?

Blaine A. Lucas

Established Ordinance Interpretation and Special Exception Standards

By Blaine A. Lucas and Alyssa E. Golfieri |

With the rise of unconventional shale development in many portions of Pennsylvania, there has been a corresponding increase in litigation stemming from local government actions approving and disapproving of a wide variety of oil and gas facilities.

Robert J. Burnett and Nathan A. Kostelnik

Good News for Landowners Means Bad News for Trespassers

By Robert J. Burnett and Nathan A. Kostelnik |

In a recent decision, the Pennsylvania Superior Court gave diligent landowners powerful protection against unwanted subsurface activity.

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'Tincher' Should Simplify Products Liability Cases

By Clifford A. Rieders |

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court, with a commanding majority in Tincher v. Omega Flex, 2014 Pa. LEXIS 3031, split the proverbial products liability baby, and Chief Justice Ronald D. Castille may just be the new Solomon. Although Justice Thomas G. Saylor wrote a concurring and dissenting opinion that Justice J. Michael Eakin joined, their protests were hardly a peep.

Future Unclear for Investigation Over Supreme Ct. Emails

By Lizzy McLellan and Max Mitchell |

Observers are unsure whether the Judicial Conduct Board plans to continue investigating a collection of emails between Supreme Court justices and the Attorney General's Office, but some say it should.

Court Recording Devices Raise Concerns in Monroe County

By Max Mitchell |

Attorneys in Pennsylvania are once again concerned about the use of audio equipment in courtrooms possibly recording confidential conversations between attorneys and their clients.

Court Upholds Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus Test in DUI Cases

By Lizzy McLellan |

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court has affirmed a Superior Court ruling that a horizontal gaze nystagmus test provides sufficient evidence for probable cause and an arrest in DUI cases.

picture of man hands signing contract

Child Waiver Still Applies to Injured Adult Skater, Panel Rules

By Lizzy McLellan |

An adult patron of a carpet skate park is not able to sue the business after signing a waiver, even though it was intended for signature by a parent on behalf of a child, the state Superior Court has decided.

High Court to Consider Reasonable Suspicion for Sobriety Test

By Lizzy McLellan |

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court has agreed to hear arguments on reasonable suspicion to perform sobriety tests in a York County DUI case.

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Pa. Law Weekly - People in the News - Dec. 9, 2014 - McGrory Elected to Home Builders Association of Berks County Board

Joseph J. McGrory Jr., chairman of the municipal law department at Hamburg, Rubin, Mullin, Maxwell & Lupin, was elected to the board of directors of the Home Builders Association of Berks County.

verdicts and settlements

Jury Awards Damages To Injured Driver With UIM Coverage

By Lizzy McLellan |

A Centre County jury has awarded $400,000 to a man who was injured in a car accident outside of Nittany Mall.

verdicts and settlements

Latest Accord Brings Total to $5.7 Million In Bus Collision

By Max Mitchell |

More than a dozen people who were passengers on a bus that had a portion sheared off following a collision with a utility pole have settled their claims against multiple defendants for $4.3 million.

Executive Action for Week of Dec. 1

By John L. Kennedy |

Following is a listing of executive action for the week of Dec. 1. House and Senate members are scheduled to return to Harrisburg on Jan. 6 for swearing-in of the 2015-16 session.

Gov.-Elect, Lawmakers Spar Over Cure for Budget Shortfall

By John L. Kennedy |

Gov.-elect Tom Wolf, members of his transition team and Democratic lawmakers were quick and forceful in blaming the Corbett administration for a deficit of nearly $2 billion projected for the end of the current fiscal year June 30.

Wolf Team Vows to Dismantle Corbett’s Health Care Program

By John L. Kennedy |

Gov. Tom Corbett's health care initiative, Healthy PA, which is aimed at offering insurance coverage to 600,000 additional Pennsylvanians, is just getting started during the dying days of his administration. But it won't last long if Gov.-elect Tom Wolf makes good on a campaign promise to offer the coverage through an expansion of Medicaid.

New Wave of Legislative Leaders Stems From 2005 Vote

By John L. Kennedy |

The conservative-leaning state House of Representatives and state Senate Republican leaders elected by rank-and-file members after the Nov. 4 elections are a down-the-line result of the uproar over the 2005 legislative pay-raise vote, political analysts said. And the shift spells difficulty for Gov.-elect Tom Wolf, a Democrat.

Sam Stretton

The Proposed Recordkeeping Rule Changes are Overly Harsh

By Samuel C. Stretton |

What changes are proposed to the Rules of Professional Conduct concerning maintenance of financial records and other matters?

Sam Stretton

Judges Should Not Comment on Jury Verdicts

By Samuel C. Stretton |

Is it unethical for an appellate judge in an opinion to severely criticize a jury verdict, particularly suggesting the jury condoned misconduct?

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Assessing the State of Products Liability Law Post-'Tincher'

By Larry E. Coben, Sol H. Weiss and James R. Ronca |

In a sweeping, detailed opinion, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court altered the landscape of Pennsylvania products liability law, reaching back in time to embrace and then update legal principles governing a consumer's burden of proof in recovering for harm caused by a defectively designed product.

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In 2014, Pa. Supreme Court Splits, Vacancies Left Law Uncertain

By Daniel E. Cummins |

As another year of Pennsylvania jurisprudence comes to an end, a look back reveals a number of the same issues and trends that have dominated the headlines in recent years. The more things change, the more they remain the same.

A Seasonal Dram Shop Analysis

By Craig Robinson |

The holiday party season is in full swing, and along with a surplus of business for Pennsylvania bars and restaurants comes the fear of dram shop liability.

Are Attorney Fee Awards in E-Discovery Cases on the Rise?

By Leonard Deutchman |

In this month's column, I am not going to discuss this or that last esoteric digital search case. Rather, I am going to discuss something with which everyone reading this column should long be familiar: financial sanctions.

David G. Mandelbaum

Integrating Environmental Policy With Everything Else

By David G. Mandelbaum |

On Nov. 25, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to review the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's mercury standard for coal- and oil-fired electric power plants. The court limited review to the question "whether the Environmental Protection Agency unreasonably refused to consider costs in determining whether it is appropriate to regulate hazardous air pollutants emitted by electric utilities."

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Is Obamacare in Critical Condition?

By Scott A. Coffina |

Obamacare is on the docket again. On Nov. 7, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to review King v. Burwell, No. 14-1158 (4th Cir. July 22, 2014), a U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit decision upholding the legality of the payment of subsidies to individuals who purchase health insurance through federally established exchanges.

With Vacancies Looming, High Court Increases Productivity

By Lizzy McLellan and Max Mitchell |

The state Supreme Court, engulfed in turmoil much of the fall, has been cranking out decisions in recent weeks, and appellate attorneys have noticed. While they point to the planned retirement of Chief Justice Ronald D. Castille as a driving force, some say the changed dynamic between justices may have played a role as well.

gevel in a courtroom

Justices Rule Forfeiture Cases Should Follow Civil Rules

By Lizzy McLellan |

Pennsylvania's highest court has filled in the blanks on how to approach issues in forfeiture cases that are not addressed by the Controlled Substances Forfeiture Act.

Task Force Recommends Significant Orphans' Court Changes

By Lizzy McLellan |

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court's Elder Law Task Force has recommended significant changes to the way the state's Orphans' Courts operate.

gavel

Pa. Supreme Court Split on Use of Pre-Arrest Silence

By Max Mitchell |

The fine line prosecutors must walk when introducing evidence or making reference to a defendant's pre-arrest silence was on display in two plurality decisions issued by the state Supreme Court late last month.

City Can't Seek Offset From Injured Cop's Settlement

By Max Mitchell |

In clarifying a 2011 state Supreme Court decision, the Commonwealth Court has ruled that the city of Philadelphia will not be able to recoup funds from a third-party settlement reached by a police officer who received Heart and Lung Act benefits after his cruiser was rear-ended by a drunk driver.

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Pa. Law Weekly - People in the News - Dec. 2, 2014 - Traci S. Rea Received the "2014 Most Powerful and Influential Woman Award" from the Pennsylvania Diversity Council

Traci S. Rea, a partner in the Pittsburgh office of Reed Smith, received the "2014 Most Powerful and Influential Woman Award" from the Pennsylvania Diversity Council.

verdicts and settlements

U-Haul Settles With Deceased Employee's Family

By Lizzy McLellan |

A negligence case that brought a matter of first impression to a federal judge recently settled in the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas.

verdicts and settlements

Jury Sides With Suzuki in ATV Crash Case

By Max Mitchell |

Suzuki will not be held liable for an allegedly defective four-wheeled all-terrain vehicle that flipped onto and severely injured a 14-year-old driver, an Allegheny County jury has determined.

Executive, Judiciary and Legislative Action for Week of Nov. 24

By John L. Kennedy |

Following is a listing of executive, judiciary and legislative action for the week of Nov. 24. Members of the General Assembly are scheduled to return to Harrisburg for swearing-in to the 2015-16 legislative session on Jan. 6.

Substantive Lame-Duck Session Unlikely for Corbett

By John L. Kennedy |

The fact that the state constitution calls for state lawmakers to be sworn in on the first Tuesday in January and the governor on the third Tuesday usually makes little difference in legislative proceedings that start a two-year session.

Bill Would Ban Hazing at High Schools, Private Clubs

By John L. Kennedy |

The chairman of the state House of Representatives Judiciary Committee, Ron Marsico, R-Dauphin, wants the General Assembly to expand the scope of the state's anti-hazing laws.

Sam Stretton

Lawyers Can Be Paid for Criminal Representation from a Client's Personal Injury Settlement

By Samuel C. Stretton |

I am representing a client on a contingent fee personal injury case, which I believe will have a significant recovery. The client has been arrested in the interim in a criminal case. Can I agree to seek payment out of the recovery in the personal injury case for the criminal representation?

Samuel H. Pond and Andrew F. Ruder

Damages Far Exceed Lost Wages for Injured Workers

By Samuel H. Pond and Andrew F. Ruder |

Once Pennsylvania enacted its Workers' Compensation Act in 1915, its residents officially surrendered their constitutional right to sue their employers in civil court following a work injury.

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A School District's Liability for Teacher-Student Relationships

By Mark Clouser |

Title IX does not purport to establish the minimum age at which a minor is deemed to be capable of consenting to sexual activities with an older individual. Instead, Title IX prohibits certain forms of sex-based discrimination in the educational context.

Jeff Jubelirer

What's Keeping Your Clients Up at Night?

By Jeff Jubelirer |

Bill Cosby. The National Collegiate Athletic Association. The NFL. Adrian Peterson and Ray Rice. The Home Depot. Each of these well-known names and organizations has surfaced repeatedly in the news over the last several weeks or months. Unfortunately for them, it's not by choice.

High Court Considers Fate of Diverted Tobacco Funds

By Lizzy McLellan |

Lawyers from Pennsylvania's executive and legislative branches argued in front of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court last week over whether legislation redirecting more than $200 million in tobacco settlement funds was constitutionally enacted.

Justices Ponder Eligibility for Benefits During House Arrest

By Lizzy McLellan |

Following arguments last Tuesday in Harrisburg in Chamberlain v. UCBR, the state Supreme Court is tasked with deciding whether a person under house arrest can be eligible for unemployment compensation benefits.

Nonlawyer Work on Estate Planning Could Mean Disbarment

By Lizzy McLellan |

The state Supreme Court last Tuesday heard arguments from Barry O. Bohmueller and the Office of Disciplinary Counsel over the appropriate punishment for Bohmueller following his participation in an estate-planning company that had nonlawyers drafting trusts for the elderly.

Justices Hear Debate Over Scientific Basis of DUI Field Test

By lizzy mclellan |

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court heard arguments last week over whether horizontal gaze nystagmus test results may be admitted into evidence in DUI cases without accompanying expert testimony about its scientific validity.

Judge Allows Explanation of UIM in Jury Instructions

By Lizzy McLellan |

In an underinsured motorist case, a Lackawanna County judge has decided that a jury should be told the plaintiff had UIM coverage, but should not know the insurer has already paid first-party benefits.

Pa. Law Weekly - People in the News - Nov. 25, 2014 - June Swanson and Frank Kosir Elected to Allegheny County Bar Association Real Property Section's Executive Council

June Swanson and Frank Kosir of Meyer, Unkovic & Scott were elected to the Allegheny County Bar Association real property section's executive council.

verdicts and settlements

Imprisoned Woman Awarded in Phila. Dungeon Case

By P.J. D'Annunzio |

A mentally disabled woman who was imprisoned in Philadelphia basements for nearly a decade has won a $45 million verdict in the civil case against her captors.

verdicts and settlements

Truck Driver Wins Verdict After Serving Jail Time

By P.J. D'Annunzio |

A truck driver who was accused of stealing gasoline from his employers and sent to jail for three months has won his malicious prosecution case against the Philadelphia food bank he worked for.

Executive and Judiciary Action for Week of Nov. 17

By John L. Kennedy |

Following is a listing of executive and judiciary action for the week of Nov. 17. Members of the General Assembly are scheduled to return to Harrisburg on Jan. 6, 2015, for swearing in.

Corbett's Health Care Push Clashes With Wolf's Plan

By John L. Kennedy |

Despite losing his bid for re-election, Gov. Tom Corbett is showing his administration still has plenty of life.

Education Funding Commission Faces Hurdles

By John L. Kennedy |

A legislative commission looking into the funding formula for how Harrisburg appropriates money to the state's public schools has a lot more work cut out for it before it releases its report.

Sam Stretton

Pennsylvania Lawyers Should Be Cautious 
About Offering Legal Advice in Delaware

By Samuel C. Stretton |

Is it permissible for a Pennsylvania lawyer to represent people in Delaware if the lawyer has local counsel or an office with a Delaware lawyer in it?

Blaine A. Lucas

Pa. Supreme Ct. Clarifies Unnecessary Hardship Standard for Use Variances

By By Blaine A. Lucas and Alyssa E. Golfieri |

On July 21, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court rendered a decision in Marshall v. City of Philadelphia, 2014 Pa. LEXIS 1785 (Pa. 2014), that clarified the unnecessary hardship standard applicable to the granting of a use variance.

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Will Liquidated Damages Be Awarded in Child Custody Cases?

By Daniel J. Clifford |

In a recent Superior Court decision, the payment by one parent to another of what are essentially liquidated damages was reviewed for its applicability in a child custody case.

James M. Beck

Preserving Futile Arguments for Appeal

By James M. Beck |

Preservation of key issues and its flip side—waiver—are major items on all appellate counsel's checklist. In Pennsylvania, ever since Dilliplaine v. Lehigh Valley Trust, 457 Pa. 255, 322 A.2d 114 (1974), abolished the "plain error" doctrine in civil litigation, appellate courts have increased the importance of waiver as an appellate issue.

gavel

Six-Justice Court to Eye Informed Consent, House Arrest

By Lizzy McLellan |

A Pennsylvania Supreme Court composed of just six justices is expected to hear arguments on a variety of issues this week in Harrisburg, including the use of informed consent evidence in a medical malpractice case, the definition of incarceration in relation to unemployment benefits and whether an administrative official with the Catholic Church can be convicted of endangering the welfare of children abused by other priests.

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Justices to Eye Phila. Asbestos Consolidation Procedure

By Lizzy McLellan |

When the state Supreme Court agreed to hear arguments in Rost v. Ford, it gave itself the opportunity to consider a unique rule that requires the consolidation of asbestos-related cases in the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas.

Court Eases Pleading in Worker's Retaliatory-Discharge Case

By Lizzy McLellan |

An ex-employee suing an employer for wrongful discharge in violation of the Workers' Compensation Act need not allege that a claim petition was ever filed with the Workers' Compensation Bureau, the Commonwealth Court has ruled.

Superior Court Denies New Trial Over Anti-Gay Email

By Max Mitchell |

A trial court's decision to exclude from evidence an email attachment containing anti-gay material that a defendant did not read or open was not a sufficient basis to grant a new trial for the plaintiff, the state Superior Court has said.

Woof

Benefits Granted for Dog Bite on Outdoor Work Premises

By Lizzy McLellan |

Injuries sustained from a dog bite that occurred on an employer's outdoor premises during a smoke break were compensable under the state Workers' Compensation Act, the Commonwealth Court has ruled.

Pa. Law Weekly - People in the News - Nov. 18, 2014 - Dan Clifford Honored with 2014 Pennsylvania Bar Association Pro Bono Award

Dan Clifford, managing partner of Weber Gallagher Simpson Stapleton Fires & Newby's Norristown, Pa., office, was honored with the 2014 Pennsylvania Bar Association Pro Bono Award.

verdicts and settlements

Decedent's Wife Awarded in Perry Co. Dram Shop Case

By P.J. D'Annunzio |

The wife of a man who was killed in a collision with a drunken driver has been awarded $2.5 million in her dram shop case by a Perry County jury.

verdicts and settlements

Group Home Settles With Brother of Deceased Resident

By Lizzy McLellan |

The brother of a deceased, mentally disabled man has reached a settlement with the owner and operator of the group home where the man was a resident.

Executive and Legislative Action for Week of Nov. 10

By John L. Kennedy |

Following is a listing of executive and legislative action for the week of Nov. 10. Members of the General Assembly are scheduled for swearing-in to the 2015-16 session on Jan. 6, 2015.

GOP Chooses More Conservative Leadership to Oppose Wolf

By John L. Kennedy |

Not only is Gov.-elect Tom Wolf not expected to get a honeymoon period with the General Assembly when he takes office in January, he's unlikely to even get a first date.

Gaming Control Board Set to Decide on Second Phila. Casino

By John L. Kennedy |

The five-member Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board is set to vote today on whether Philadelphia will get another Category 2, or standalone, casino.

Sam Stretton

Changes Allow Judicial Candidates to Personally Solicit Funds

By Samuel C. Stretton |

I am going to be running for judicial office in 2015. Can I call potential donors and ask them for a donation to my campaign committee?

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The Ethical Tensions in Lawyer-Judge Interactions

By Daniel J. Siegel |

The relationships between lawyers and judges and the dynamics of how they interact have always been fraught with issues.

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Title IX Actions Involving Teacher-Student Sexual Harassment

By Mark Clouser |

Of all the courts to be addressing a Title IX action for a teacher-student sexual harassment claim, it was the Commonwealth Court that laid down the law for this type of claim for future federal courts and school law lawyers to rely on in the future.

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The State of Compulsory Integration in Pennsylvania

By Michael P. Joy, Robert M. Jochen and Steven R. Chadwick |

On Aug. 29, Hilcorp Energy Co. withdrew its long-pending application for well spacing units from proceedings before the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection.

Pensions Seen as Bargaining Chip in High-Profile Cases

By Lizzy McLellan |

Pension benefits can be a major perquisite of working in the public sector, and for public employees under investigation or facing possible sanctions, they are a major consideration in choosing how to proceed.

Justices Grant Implied Waiver of Mental Health Records

By Max Mitchell |

Filing a complaint that could raise questions about the mental health of a plaintiff can be an implied waiver to the protections under the Mental Health Procedures Act, a divided state Supreme Court has ruled.

Commonwealth Court Discounts Unlicensed Doctor's Assessment

By Lizzy McLellan |

A workers' compensation judge should not have allowed an impairment assessment from a psychologist without a license to practice medicine or a certification to evaluate impairment to trump that of a licensed, certified doctor, the Commonwealth Court has ruled.

Insurance Carrier Off the Hook for Teen's Suicide

By Max Mitchell |

An insurance carrier will not have to be financially responsible for the suicide of a 16-year-old living with her mother and her mother's gun-owning boyfriend, a common pleas judge has ruled.

gavel

Small Taking for Private College's Use Barred as Excessive

By Lizzy McLellan |

Richland Township's attempt to take a small piece of land on behalf of a private university was excessive and should not be permitted, the Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas has ruled.

Pa. Law Weekly - People in the News - Nov. 11, 2014 - John C. Conti Became American College of Trial Lawyers Fellow

John C. Conti of Dickie, McCamey & Chilcote became a fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers.

verdicts and settlements

Ex-Professor Must Pay Wife's Estate Over Her Killing

By Lizzy McLellan |

A Montgomery County jury awarded $124.3 million in a civil case against Rafael Robb, the former University of Pennsylvania economics professor who pleaded guilty to one count of voluntary manslaughter in the death of his estranged wife.

verdicts and settlements

State Not Liable for Muddy Steps in Park

On May 15, 2012, plaintiff Jennifer Enloe, in her mid-30s, was visiting Ridley Creek State Park, at 1023 Sycamore Mills Rd., in the borough of Media. Enloe alleged that she exited the park's visitor center, walked down a flight of stone steps, and as she reached the landing, slipped on mud, which caused her to roll her left ankle, fracturing it.

Executive and Legislative Action for Week of Nov. 2

By John L. Kennedy |

Following is a listing of executive and legislative action for the week of Nov. 2. Members of the General Assembly are scheduled to return to Harrisburg on Nov. 12.

Corbett Sued by Senate Leaders for Striking Spending Items

By John L. Kennedy |

On the same day Gov. Tom Corbett lost his re-election bid, he was sued by state Senate leaders for striking spending items from legislation that was part of the 2014-15 general fund budget approved in early July.

Corbett Eyes Bill to Allow Municipal Gun Ordinance Challenges

By John L. Kennedy |

Legislation that would allow any group or individual to challenge a local government gun ordinance stricter than state law, and recoup attorney fees, is before Gov. Tom Corbett.

Sam Stretton

Common Letterhead Should Only Be Used for Partnerships

By Samuel C. Stretton |

I am a young lawyer who has just formed a law firm with several other attorneys and the firm is incorporated. Does my letterhead have to reflect that the firm has been incorporated?

Lawyer/Jury

Crafting Arguments With Your Audience in Mind

By Jay Evans |

Although appellate work involves legal strategy and zealous advocacy like every other area of practice, it sometimes requires a different set of tools. When constructing appellate arguments, particularly the brief, there are discrete concepts to keep in mind.

David G. Mandelbaum

Does CERCLA Preempt Contribution Under the HSCA?

By David G. Mandelbaum |

The federal courts seem to hold that the contribution provisions of the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act preempt private claims under state law to reallocate cleanup costs. At least they have held that in the few cases that have considered CERCLA preemption.

Brandon Swartz

Litigating Lower Extremity Nerve Injuries

By Brandon Swartz |

Many personal injuries involve damage to one or more of the nerves in the lower extremity. There are many technical medical terms that will arise in litigating injuries to the lower extremity. In order to properly represent the plaintiff or defendant in such litigation, it is important that the attorney be able to navigate the medical terminology.

McCaffery's Seat Likely to Stay Empty Through 2014

By Max Mitchell and Lizzy McLellan |

The state Supreme Court seat left empty by former Justice Seamus P. McCaffery will likely remain vacant until next year's election, political and legal sources who spoke with the Law Weekly said.

gavel

Qui Tam Cases Driving Pa.'s Largest Results

By Lizzy McLellan |

Large settlements in qui tam cases are becoming more common in Pennsylvania, and the trend is likely to continue, according to practitioners.

Time Clock

Fluctuating Workweek Overtime Pay Violates Wage Law

By Max Mitchell |

Basing the calculation for overtime pay on the fluctuating total number of hours worked each week, as opposed to the 40-hour standard workweek, violates the Pennsylvania Minimum Wage Act, a judge has ruled.

Justices Agree to Eye Disclosure of Health Care Rate-Setting

By Lizzy McLellan |

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court has agreed to hear arguments in multiple cases dealing with the disclosure of health care rate-setting under public records law and its effect on competition in the health care industry.

gevel in a courtroom

Gender Requirement Trumps Seniority in Lackawanna County

By Lizzy McLellan |

Lackawanna County did not violate a collective bargaining agreement when choosing to hire a female detention officer over 12 senior males, the Commonwealth Court has ruled.

Pa. Law Weekly - People in the News - Nov. 4, 2014 - Daniel J. Sherry Inducted into International Academy of Trial Lawyers

Daniel J. Sherry, shareholder in the King of Prussia, Pa., office of Marshall Dennehey Warner Coleman & Goggin, was inducted into the International Academy of Trial Lawyers (IATL) at the organization's international meeting.

verdicts and settlements

Jury Finds High Curb Did Not Cause Fall, Death

On April 2, 2008, plaintiff's decedent Arthur Orlidge, 82, stepped up onto a sidewalk leading into a Giant Eagle grocery store, at 1606 N. Center Ave., in Somerset, Pa., when he fell backward and struck his head on the ground. Orlidge later died from his injuries, on March 24, 2009.

verdicts and settlements

Defendants Fail to Appeal in Case Over Undelivered Cars

By Lizzy McLellan |

A Brooklyn-based corporation that buys and sells automobiles has been ordered to pay $480,925 for failing to deliver two luxury vehicles.

Executive Action for Week of Oct. 27

By John L. Kennedy |

Following is a listing of executive action for the week of Oct. 27. Members of the General Assembly are scheduled to return to session Nov. 12.

Lobbying Fee Increase Drawing Criticism in Harrisburg

By John L. Kennedy |

An increase in the lobbying registration fee in Harrisburg has some lobbyists again questioning the clarity and fairness in the law, the Lobbying Disclosure Act, approved in 2006.

Workers' Comp Law Closes Prescription Drug Loophole

By John L. Kennedy |

Legislation signed last week by Gov. Tom Corbett will close what business lobbyists are calling a loophole covering the cost of prescription drugs under the workers' compensation law.

Sam Stretton

Lawyers Can Respond to Blog Inquiries About Representation

By Samuel C. Stretton |

I am a young, computer-literate lawyer. I am starting a blog where people can interact with me. If an individual responds to something I say in my blog and it is clear he or she needs legal representation, can I communicate and interact with him or her on the Internet regarding potential representation?

Will Sylianteng

Adapting Pleading Practice in the 24-Hour News Age

By Will Sylianteng |

Last month, both traditional and social media were ablaze with quotes from comedian Tracy Morgan in response to Wal-Mart's filed answer in the case Morgan v. Wal-Mart Stores, (2014 DNJ Civil Action No. 14-cv-04388), a case currently pending in the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey.

Steven Silver

States Could Soon Lean on Casinos for Overdue Child Support

By Steve Silver |

Since Pennsylvania's first casino opened its doors in 2006 at the Mohegan Sun in Wilkes-Barre, the state has relied on casinos for property tax relief, job creation and subsidies for the horse-racing industry.

Authenticating ESI—Yours, Theirs and a Third Party's

By Leonard Deutchman |

So much attention is paid to gathering, processing, searching, reviewing and producing electronically stored information that the issue of how to get it admitted into evidence is often overlooked. In this month's column, we'll discuss authenticating ESI.

Modern Workplaces Add Complexity to Workers' Comp Cases

By Lizzy McLellan |

A day at work isn't always just a day at the office. Attorneys in workers' compensation practice know that all too well. And as technological advances allow more workers to telecommute and correspond on work matters from outside of the office, the conditions surrounding compensable incidents are increasingly complicated.

For Wrongful-Birth Cases, Appeals May Be Just Beginning

By Lizzy McLellan |

When the state Supreme Court hears arguments in Sernovitz v. Dershaw, it will primarily address a procedural issue, but the court's decision will shape the fate of wrongful-birth and wrongful-life lawsuits in Pennsylvania.

construction

Subcontractor Could Be on Hook for Construction Death

By Lizzy McLellan |

After waiving its immunity under the Workers' Compensation Act, a masonry subcontractor may have to reimburse the general contractor for a $3.1 million settlement owed after the death of the subcontractor's own employee at the construction site, now that the state Superior Court has decided that parts of an indemnification contract are valid as clear agreements.

Unemployment Board to Eye Job Search Registration Excuses

By Max Mitchell |

The Commonwealth Court has left it up to the Unemployment Compensation Board of Review to determine what circumstances can excuse claimants from the requirement to register for an employment search service offered by the state.

Superior Court Kicks Auto Case to Centre County

By Max Mitchell |

The state Superior Court is using the recent ruling in Bratic v. Rubendall to allow defendants to transfer a motor vehicle case from Philadelphia to the Centre County Court of Common Pleas.

Pa. Law Weekly - People in the News - Oct. 28, 2014 - Erich J. Schock Named President of Board of Directors of The Arc of Lehigh and Northampton Counties

Erich J. Schock of Fitzpatrick Lentz & Bubba was named president of the board of directors of The Arc of Lehigh and Northampton Counties in Bethlehem, Pa.

verdicts and settlements

State Settles MCARE Row Over Hundreds Of Millions in Funds

By Gina Passarella |

The state has settled five years of litigation with several health-care provider groups over a $100 million transfer of funds from MCARE to the general fund as well as the state's calculation of the annual assessments it charges doctors.

verdicts and settlements

Employer Did Not Discriminate in Firing Ex-Military Employee

By Lizzy McLellan |

A federal judge has decided that Gemalto Inc. does not have to pay more than $600,000 to a former employee who asserted claims that he was terminated because of his military service under the Uniform Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act and the Pennsylvania Military Leave of Absence Act.

Executive and Legislative Action for Week of Oct. 20

By John L. Kennedy |

Following is a listing of executive and legislative action for the week of Oct. 20. Members of the General Assembly are scheduled to return to session Nov. 12.

ACLU May Challenge Speech Restrictions on Criminal Offenders

By John L. Kennedy |

Andy Hoover, legislative director for the American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania, said the group is looking into a possible challenge to SB 508, signed last week by Gov. Tom Corbett, which allows crime victims or prosecutors to prevent certain conduct, including speech, by offenders.

Senate Wants Economic Development Projects in Panel's Control

By John L. Kennedy |

The state Senate Appropriations Committee amended HB 2420, a debt ceiling reduction bill covering capital projects, to place final say over what projects are chosen with the Commonwealth Financing Authority.

Sam Stretton

Disqualification Rules for District Judges Have Changed

By Samuel C. Stretton |

Have the new district judge standards of conduct changed the disqualification requirements for district judges?

Daniel J. Siegel

PBA Ethics Committee Issues Social Media Guidance

By Daniel J. Siegel |

A man received an $80,000 confidential settlement for his age-discrimination claim against his former employer. However, he forfeited that settlement after his daughter posted on her Facebook page that "Mama and Papa Snay won the case against Gulliver. Gulliver is now officially paying for my vacation to Europe this summer. SUCK IT."

David Unkovic and Donna Kreiser

Anatomy of a Bond Issue: The Participants and the Steps

By Donna L. Kreiser and David Unkovic |

In recent years, the securities and tax regulations governing municipal bonds have grown increasingly complex. More so than ever before, it is important for the issuer to understand what it is getting into and what its responsibilities are when it undertakes a bond issue.

Robert J. Burnett and Nathan A. Kostelnik

PUC Decision Suggests Pipeline Operator Has Public Utility Status

By Robert J. Burnett and Nathan A. Kostelnik |

Landowners should be wary of the Oct. 24 decision by the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission strengthening Sunoco Pipeline LP's claim as a public utility and possibly paving the way for other pipeline operators to perhaps invoke similar status.

Federal-State Split Forming Over MERS's Authority

By Max Mitchell |

A split between state and federal courts has begun to emerge over the authority of the mortgage registry company MERS, according to several attorneys who work in the field.

pa map

Harrisburg and Lancaster Firms Looking Up, Heading South

By Lizzy McLellan and Max Mitchell |

Business for law firms in Harrisburg and Lancaster has been improving at a steady pace, but an additional opportunity has presented itself for those willing to venture south.

Passenger Can Benefit From Driver's Full Tort Coverage

By Lizzy McLellan |

Thanks to a novel detail in state law, a passenger injured in a car accident is allowed to use the driver's full tort coverage, despite being an insured of her husband's limited tort policy.

gavel

Partition Case Reinstated Due to Immunity Question

By Max Mitchell |

The Commonwealth Court has reinstated a personal injury suit against a school because the record lacked sufficient information about how an accordian-style partition was secured to school property to justify the application of governmental immunity.

Justices Take Up Whether Juries Should Determine Biosolids Use

By Max Mitchell |

The state Supreme Court has agreed to hear arguments on whether juries should be able to determine if spreading a fertilizer made from recycled sewage sludge, known as biosolids, constitutes a "normal agricultural practice."

Pa. Law Weekly - People in the News - Oct. 21, 2014 - Stacey Willits McConnell Appointed to Board of Directors of Main Line Animal Rescue

Stacey Willits McConnell, partner at Lamb McErlane and chair of its trusts and estates department, was appointed to the board of directors of Main Line Animal Rescue (MLAR).

verdicts and settlements

Nursing Home Chain Settles False Claims Case

By Saranac Hale Spencer |

A nursing and rehabilitation facility chain is paying $38 million to settle claims that it defrauded Medicare and Medicaid programs by billing for substandard care in what the U.S. Department of Justice is calling the largest failure-of-care settlement with a chain of this type yet.

verdicts and settlements

Jail Failed to Treat Prisoner's Decaying Tooth

By Max Mitchell |

According to the pretrial memorandum of plaintiff Joseph W. Consonery Jr., he was incarcerated on Feb. 6, 2009, at the Washington County Correctional Facility. On that day, he told a nurse he had an infected tooth and he needed to see a dentist, the memo said. Days later, Consonery's tooth "snapped," which led to ongoing bleeding, the memo said.

Executive and Legislative Action for Week of Oct. 13

By John L. Kennedy |

Following is a listing of executive and legislative action for the week of Oct. 13. Members of the state House of Representatives were scheduled to return to session Oct. 20. Members of the state Senate are scheduled to return to session Nov. 12.

Corbett Eyes Bill to Close DUI Loophole

By John L. Kennedy |

Legislation that would require a conviction for a first DUI offense before conviction and sentencing for a second offense is before Gov. Tom Corbett. The state House of Representatives attached the language to SB 1239.

Waterfront Buffer Changes Sent to Governor

By John L. Kennedy |

HB 1565, which would eliminate a mandatory 150-foot development buffer from streams and other waterways the Department of Environment Protection classifies as "high quality," is before Gov. Tom Corbett.

Sam Stretton

The Judicial Discipline System Should Be Reconsidered

By Samuel C. Stretton |

After the Bruno decision, where does professional judicial discipline stand in Pennsylvania?

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The Case That Could Disrupt a Century of Settled Law

By Steven Chadwick, Michael Joy and Robert Jochen |

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court will hear the appeal of the Superior Court decision in Shedden v. Anadarko E&P, 88 A.3d 228 (Pa. Super. Ct. 2014), and its decision will have far-reaching implications for the constantly evolving relationship between landowners and producers in the state.

David G. Mandelbaum

Can Natural Resource Damages Make Sense?

By David G. Mandelbaum |

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court's fractured decision in Robinson Township v. Public Utility Commission, 83 A.3d 901 (Pa. 2013), has refocused attention on the Environmental Rights Amendment, Article I, Section 27 of the Pennsylvania Constitution.

Courts Weigh in on the Protection of Software Code

By J. Alexander Hershey |

Two substantial decisions rendered in 2014 have provided additional context to the protection of computer software under existing intellectual property law. It is a common complaint that existing intellectual property principles apply poorly to new technologies like software. In fact, the degree of protection available for software code and the ideas underlying its nature or function remains somewhat unresolved.

gavel

$80M Indemnification Case Argued Before Pa. Justices

By Max Mitchell |

Two insurance companies' failure to consider negotiating a settlement in the face of a potential billion-dollar loss on behalf of an insured should be sufficient justification for the insured to settle its claims for $80 million without the consent of the carriers, an attorney representing Babcock & Wilcox argued last week before the state Supreme Court.

Insurance Carrier Argues for Broad Leeway to Subrogate

By Max Mitchell |

An insurance carrier should not be left unable to pursue litigation against a third-party tortfeasor if an injured party does not want to file suit, an attorney argued last Wednesday before the state Supreme Court in Pittsburgh.

insurance policy

Parties Argue Over Court's Discretion to Interpret Policy Terms

By Max Mitchell |

Counsel for two restaurant owners told the state Supreme Court in Pittsburgh last week that a nearly 50-year-old case dealing with the definition of an insured in anomnibusinsurance policy's employer liability exemption is being applied too broadly, and the courts should have the discretion to interpret the precise language of the insurance policy at issue.

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Asbestos Lawsuit Tossed for Lack of Causation Evidence

By P.J. D'Annunzio |

Although evidence suggested that a woman's husband may have been exposed to asbestos, it did not prove that the possible exposure was the cause of her mesothelioma, the state Superior Court has ruled.

Court OKs Horizontal Drilling for Oil, Gas Under Game Land

By Max Mitchell |

A 1920s land deed reserving oil and gas rights on state game lands by using "ordinary means now in use" will not bar an energy company from accessing those resources by horizontal drilling from an adjacent property, the Commonwealth Court has ruled.

Pa. Law Weekly - People in the News - Oct. 14, 2014 - Julie A. Uebler Elected Chair of Board of Directors of Women's Way

Employment law attorney Julie A. Uebler of Uebler Law LLC was elected chair of the board of directors of Women's Way for the 2014-15 fiscal year.

verdicts and settlements

Family Dispute Leads to Attack With Broken Glass

On March 8, 2012, plaintiff Daniel Contreras IV, 20, was contacted by his sister, Veronica DeJesus, regarding a family dispute outside their grandmother's beauty salon, located in the 3300 block of north Front Street in North Philadelphia.

verdicts and settlements

Intersection Collision Leads to Shoulder Injury

On April 20, 2012, plaintiff Harriet Greenberg, 66, was driving a 2003 BMW sedan through an intersection at a shopping center at 1657 The Fairway, in Jenkintown, Pa. As she proceeded through the intersection, the front driver's side of her car was struck by the front of a Nissan Maxima driven by Katherine Stoever. Greenberg claimed that she suffered an injury to her left shoulder.

Legislative Action for Week of Oct. 6

By John L. Kennedy |

Following is a listing of legislative action for the week of Oct. 6. Members of the General Assembly are set to return to session Oct. 14.

Drug Database Wouldn't Have Search Warrant Provision

By John L. Kennedy |

The state House of Representatives is poised to approve SB 1180—which would establish a pharmaceutical database to prevent "doctor shopping"—without language supported by the American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania, and some members on both sides of the aisle, that would require a search warrant to gain access to the database.

Gubernatorial Candidates Get Feisty in Second Debate

By Marc Levy |

A lively second debate between Republican Gov. Tom Corbett and Democratic challenger Tom Wolf became tense Wednesday as Wolf sought to assign blame to Corbett for budget deficits and struggling schools while Corbett tried to frame Wolf as the candidate who will favor labor unions over taxpayers.

Sam Stretton

Sting Operations to Catch Judicial Misconduct Raise Concerns

By Samuel C. Stretton |

As a lawyer who practices in Philadelphia, I am concerned about the recent resignation of a Municipal Court judge and transfer of assignment of others. Was this done ethically?

Craig Robinson

Repairing Our Imperfect Tort System

By Craig Robinson |

In the summer of 2004, while studying abroad in Sevilla, Spain, I received a puzzled look from my host padre, Joaquin, when I inquired about the tort system in Spain. After having interned at a personal injury law firm in Philadelphia the previous summer, I was curious about how the Spanish tort system operated.

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Collateral Estoppel Doctrine Precludes Additional UIM Recovery

By Daniel E. Cummins |

Spurred by a number of state and federal court decisions over the past year, the issue of whether a previous award secured by an injured plaintiff can serve to preclude the plaintiff from seeking additional coverage from an underinsured motorist carrier on the same claims has become a hot topic in post-Koken auto accident litigation.

Using Documents to Prepare a Rule 30(b)(6) Witness

By Shannon McClure and Regina Nelson |

When representing a corporation or other organizational entity in federal court, it is not uncommon to be presented with a Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 30(b)(6) deposition request. There are many issues to consider when presented with this type of deposition notice.

Multimillion-Dollar Insurance Cases Top Justices' Docket

By Max Mitchell |

Two multimillion-dollar insurance cases are expected to highlight the state Supreme Court's oral argument session set to kick off Tuesday in Pittsburgh.

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Retroactive Tax Exemption Violates Separation of Powers

By Max Mitchell |

Reaffirming that the General Assembly cannot make laws explicitly to overturn court rulings, the state Supreme Court has determined that a portion of a law granting retroactive tax exemptions to charter schools that appealed their prior tax assessments violated the separation of powers doctrine.

gavel

Putative Class Claims Against Oil and Gas Lease Broker Rejected

By Gina Passarella |

A proposed class of landowners who sued an oil and gas lease pooling company could not show how a transaction fee the company charged was improper, how the company engaged in the unauthorized practice of law or how the assignment of lease rights was a regulated security, the state Superior Court ruled in upholding the dismissal of the case.

State Law Bars Eminent Domain for Private Enterprise

By Max Mitchell |

State law aimed at curbing eminent domain abuse prevents a water authority from condemning land for the purpose of building a water and sewer facility that would be used by a private developer for a residential subdivision, the state Supreme Court has ruled.

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DEP May Interpret Definition of 'Accident' in Mine Safety Act

By Max Mitchell |

The state Department of Environmental Protection has the authority to interpret the definition of "accident" under the Bituminous Coal Mine Safety Act and to issue violations if those accidents are not properly reported, the state Supreme Court has ruled.