Pennsylvania Law Weekly News

Court Had Power To Reopen Case Over Car's 'Black Box' Data

By Max Mitchell |

A divided state Supreme Court has ruled that a judge overseeing a nonjury homicide by vehicle case had the discretion to call for additional evidence about the vehicle's "events data recorder"—akin to an airplane's "black box"—even though closing arguments had already taken place and neither party initially sought to introduce the additional evidence.

Pa. Courts Sharpening Vehicle Exception to Gov't Immunity

By Ben Seal |

Government

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Health Department's Nursing Home Review Not Privileged

By Ben Seal |

Plaintiffs can access through discovery documents created during an investigation by the Pennsylvania Department of Health into a nursing home in violation of state or federal law, an Allegheny County judge has ruled in an apparent issue of first impression.

© Valeriy-Fotolia

New Trial Granted Over Failure to Diagnose Breast Cancer

By Ben Seal |

A woman alleging that her doctors failed to properly diagnose her stage IV breast cancer has been given a new trial by the Superior Court.

Is Retroactivity of 'Alleyne' Settled in Pa.?

By Max Mitchell |

In the past three weeks appellate courts in Pennsylvania have issued sharply opposing opinions on whether the U.S. Supreme Court decision that rendered numerous mandatory minimum sentencing schemes unconstitutional should be applied ­retroactively.

Capitol Report

By John L. Kennedy |

Following is a listing of executive and legislative activity for the week of July 25. Members of the General Assembly are scheduled to return to session Sept. 19; members of the Senate on Sept. 26.

Auditor General to Review Public Pension Systems

By John L. Kennedy |

The financially troubled state pensions systems, for state employees and public school employees, will undergo a review by Pennsylvania Auditor General Eugene DePasquale. DePasquale made the announcement last week saying it had been planned for a while and had nothing to do with the recent revelation of federal charges against ex-state Treasurer Barbara Hafer and Richard Ireland, whose firm marketed the services of some of pension systems' private investment managers.

Blue Lives Matter Legislation Introduced

By John L. Kennedy |

Attacks on police officers, firefighters, correctional officers and first responders could fall under the state's hate crimes statute, making the attacks liable for additional penalties, under two bills recently introduced in the statehouse. The so-called "Blue Lives Matter" legislation follows the final passage of similar legislation in Louisiana in May. The legislation has been introduced in several other state legislatures as well.

Old-Fashioned Courtesies Apply to the Human Side of Law

By Samuel C. Stretton |

As a young lawyer, I hear about old-fashioned courtesies between lawyers and judges. What are they and where would I find them?

The Certainties and Uncertainties of EPA's Civil Penalties Increases

By Kathleen M. Kline |

Recent legislation and an even more recent U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rulemaking will cause civil monetary penalties for violations of federal environmental laws to increase significantly, beginning Aug. 1; subsequently, penalties will increase annually to track inflation. President Obama signed the Federal Civil Penalties Inflation Adjustment Act Improvements Act of 2015 on Nov. 2, 2015, (Section 701 of Public Law 114-74).

What Falls Under 'Privileged' in Workers' Comp Cases

By Susan Nanes and Angela Lee |

Before Alexander Hamilton became famous as the breakout star of a hit Broadway musical celebrating his rise from a penniless immigrant to a player of wealth and influence during the Revolutionary War, he was largely reviled as a political figure whose philosophy and actions favored the wealthy and powerful at the expense of the majority of the new nation's population. This was crystallized in his proposal for the Bank of the United States, which was to be located in our own Philadelphia and supreme over state and local banks, including those in agrarian and newly developing southern and western regions.

Business handshake and business people

Newsflash to Business Litigators—It's Not About You

By Shannon McClure 
and Haley Torrey |

Have you ever lost a client after doing exactly what you had initially agreed upon; failed to land a new client, and you later realized that you had not understood what the client wanted? Or obtained what you thought was a good result for a client, only to have the client be disappointed or even angry? If so, continue reading.

insurance policy

Pa. Courts Disagree on Admissibility of UIM Policy Details

By Zack Needles |

In a ruling indicative of what attorneys said is a lack of uniformity across the state regarding UM and UIM evidence, the Eastern District of Pennsylvania has broken with the Middle District over the admissibility of a plaintiff's underinsured motorist policy limits and premium amounts in a jury trial on damages.

'Distinct Harm' Needed for Retaliation Against Prosecutor

By Ben Seal |

The Pennsylvania Superior Court has addressed multiple issues of first impression regarding criminal convictions for retaliating against a prosecutor or judicial officer. Any action taken against any individual in retaliation for the action of a prosecutor or judge is sufficient to sustain a retaliation conviction, the court held, but the infliction of "distinct harm" is a required element of the crime.

Bad-Faith Penalties for Delay in Gov't Payments Not Mandatory

By Max Mitchell |

A finding of bad faith against a government agency for failure to promptly pay contractors does not require a court to award a statutory penalty and attorney fees, the state Supreme Court has ruled.

Property Damage Settlement Won't Bar 'Loss of Contract' Claim

By Max Mitchell |

A company's decision to settle its property damage claims with a defendant in a multi-party motor vehicle case does not mean the economic loss doctrine will bar the company from later pursuing a loss of contract claim, the state Superior Court has ruled.

Pa. Trial Judge Clarifies Do's and Don'ts of Med Mal Discovery

By Zack Needles |

An Allegheny County trial judge has clarified his own 2009 decision on what is permissible in medical malpractice discovery, holding that it did not bar plaintiffs lawyers from utilizing materials like patient's slides and X-rays to jog a defendant doctor's memory regarding treatment, but it did place restrictions on questioning a treating doctor about the standard of care.

Save the Tricks, and Maintain Your Integrity

By Samuel C. Stretton |

I am a young lawyer and I want to make a name for myself in litigation. Can I or my investigator mislead who we are? The litigation involves a house this person lives in with supposed problems. I want either myself or the investigator to pose as a potential buyer, can I do that?

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Proposed Orders to Appoint Custody Evaluators

By Lynne Z. Gold-bikin |

In August 2010, the court approved Rule 1915.18 for what was called a "form of order directing expert examination and report." The rule is a general order and, while the rule requires certain things, it really is lax in what, respectfully, this article suggests.

Independent Contractor Misclassification: A Rising Tide

By Joseph E. Vaughan 
and Thomas R. Bond |

The U.S. Department of Labor has recognized the misclassification of employees as independent contractors as one of the most serious problems facing affected workers, employers and the entire economy.