Pennsylvania Law Weekly News

Will Sylianteng

Identifying and Preventing Scorched-Earth Litigation

By Will Sylianteng |

As attorneys, we would like to believe that we are members of a civilized and high-brow profession. And why shouldn't we? Our clients bicker, fight and can't stand each other. Then, they hire us to civilly negotiate their claims in their stead, and authorize us to take the case to trial only if those negotiations fail.

pa map

Defendants May Now Have Easier Time Changing Venue in Pa.

By Max Mitchell |

The uphill battle defendants faced when trying to get their cases moved from a plaintiff's chosen venue has been leveled somewhat thanks to the state Supreme Court's decision last month in Bratic v. Rubendall, according to attorneys who spoke with the Law Weekly.

Justices Take Up Hospital's Liability for ER Doc's Acts

By Max Mitchell |

The state Supreme Court has agreed to hear argument on whether a plaintiff may state a claim for vicarious liability against a hospital for the alleged conduct of an emergency room doctor by pointing out that she was part of an emergency response team and had not previously treated the patient.

Justices Won't Hear Case on Rights for Online Impersonators

By Max Mitchell |

The state Supreme Court has declined to hear argument on whether online commenters have a constitutional right to falsely attribute nonsatirical postings to someone with direct connection to the subject matter.

Pa. Law Weekly - People in the News - Sept. 2, 2014 - Human Relations Appointment

Attorney Loren L. Speziale, a partner at Gross McGinley, was appointed to the Bethlehem Human Relations Commission.

Sam Stretton

Judges Must Report Misconduct to Uphold 
the Legal Profession's Integrity

By Samuel C. Stretton |

What are the responsibilities of a judicial officer to report another judge or lawyer for professional misconduct?

Jeff Jubelirer

For Communicators, It's Back-to-School Season, Too

By Jeff Jubelirer |

It's back-to-school season, but it doesn't just have to be a time of wonderment and curiosity for students; it can also be a time when you as an attorney with communications responsibilities for your firm or organization can get geared up to learn new things.

Leonard Deutchman

Courts Recognize the Importance of Cooperation in E-Discovery

By Leonard Deutchman |

In Boston Scientific v. Lee, No. 1:13-cv-13156-DJC (N.D. Cal. August 4, 2014), the court addressed two areas of e-discovery of particular interest: the need for cooperation in conducting e-discovery successfully, and the digital forensic investigative steps frequently taken when a high-level employee leaves a company to start or join a rival and is suspected of taking with him or her important intellectual property—what I refer to as "departing employee triage," or DET.

verdicts and settlements

Defense Contractor Settles Following Collision in Kuwait

By Max Mitchell |

According to court documents, on Nov. 19, 2009, Brian Mark Patton, a 37-year-old Pennsylvania resident who worked as a corrections officer but was serving a tour of duty as a reservist for the U.S. Navy, was driving an SUV along a two-lane road in Kuwait with David Morgan, who was also a corrections officer serving a tour of duty, as passenger.

verdicts and settlements

Jury Sides With Defense in Treatment Center Slip-and-Fall

According to a pretrial memorandum from the plaintiffs, on Aug. 31, 2010, Robert Smith was treated at the renal department of the Perelman Center for Advanced Medicine at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania.

Legislative, Judicial Action for Week of Aug. 25, 2014

By John L. Kennedy |

Following is a listing of legislative and judicial action for the week of Aug. 25. Members of the General Assembly are scheduled to return to session Sept. 15.

Pa. Municipal Pension Systems Strained, Auditor General Says

By John L. Kennedy |

Scranton's pension system is on a path to running out of funds in three to five years, according to an audit performed by the office of Auditor General Eugene DePasquale.

Report: Kane Issued Administrative Subpoenas on Shale Players

By John L. Kennedy |

Attorney General Kathleen Kane has issued administrative subpoenas throughout the shale industry in Pennsylvania, according to a story published on

Timothy J. Horstmann

MSRB Proposes Relaxed Duties for Municipal Advisers

By Timothy J. Horstmann |

On July 23, the Municipal Securities Rulemaking Board issued Regulatory Notice 2014-12, requesting comment on its proposed revisions to Draft Rule G-42, concerning the standards of conduct and duties of municipal advisers. The MSRB's changes to the rule incorporate many of the comments previously received from the public, the effect of which would be to substantially relax the duties owed by municipal advisers to their municipal entity clients.

Desert traverse

Auto Accident in Kuwait Leads to Jurisdictional Dispute

By Max Mitchell |

When Virginia resident Morgan Lee Hanks' Mitsubishi Pajero collided with the Dodge Durango driven by Pennsylvania native Brian Mark Patton, who died in the accident, the ensuing motor vehicle litigation was anything but ordinary.

Pa. Law Weekly - People in the News, Aug. 26, 2014 - PUC Approves Appointment

Stevens & Lee shareholder Linda R. Evers' appointment to serve on the board of directors of the Sustainable Energy Fund was approved by the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission.

Implied Warranty Doesn't Extend to Subsequent Home Buyers

By Max Mitchell |

Subsequent home buyers may not sue for breach of an implied warranty of habitability, the state Supreme Court has ruled.


Justices to Eye Estoppel by Deed in Oil and Gas Cases

By Max Mitchell |

The state Supreme Court has agreed to hear arguments on whether a lease entitles an oil and gas company to a 62-acre property, despite the fact that the lease was entered into when the landowners only had title to half the property and payment only covered 31 acres.

Sam Stretton

Is There Anything Unethical About Electronic Closings?

By Samuel C. Stretton |

In an electronic closing, the standard jury trial is flashed before the jurors exactly as the judge charges. All exhibits, particularly photos or videos, are displayed to the jury. The lawyer's comments are written and published to the jury. The lawyer speaks them, but many times is looking at a computer when doing so.


Complaints Are Separate From Liens, Superior Court Rules

By Saranac Hale Spencer |

Actions to compel judgment on mechanic's liens must be filed separately from the liens themselves, the Pennsylvania Superior Court has ruled, affirming both case law on the issue and the trial court's opinion.


Judicial Estoppel Won't Apply to Employment Arguments

By Max Mitchell |

A health care company was not barred from arguing in a workers' compensation action that a former employee was acting outside the course of his employment, even though the company had admitted in a previous civil action that the former employee had been acting in the course of his employment, the Commonwealth Court has ruled.

verdicts and settlements

Plaintiff Claimed Railing Unhinged, Caused Fall

On March 31, 2011, plaintiff Joseph Ragan, 31, an independent salesperson for third-party energy suppliers, was accessing his basement at 10031 Westbourne Place in Northeast Philadelphia. Ragan leased the property from Kathleen Dragoni and Thomas Garofolo III. Ragan alleged that as he descended the basement stairway, he grasped the wooden railing and in doing so it unhinged, which caused him to fall down the stairs, approximately 12 steps. Ragan claimed that he suffered a spine injury.

verdicts and settlements

Plaintiff Claimed Police Struck Him With Gun

On Dec. 1, 2010, plaintiff Anthony Kenney, a self-employed car detailer in his late 30s, was driving on Federal Street in the North Side of Pittsburgh, when he turned onto Lafayette Avenue and was pulled over by an unmarked police car.

Blaine A. Lucas

Government Interest in Railroad Rights-of-Way

By Blaine A. Lucas and Alyssa E. Golfieri |

On March 10, the U.S. Supreme Court rendered a decision in Brandt Revocable Trust v. United States, 134 S. Ct. 1257 (2013), addressing whether the federal government retains any interest in railroad rights-of-way that were created by the General Railroad Right-of-Way Act of 1875, 43 U.S.C. § 934 et seq.

Harrisburg Capitol Building

Executive and Legislative Action for Week of Aug. 18

By John L. Kennedy |

Following is a listing of executive and legislative action for the week of Aug. 18. Members of the General Assembly are scheduled to return to session Sept. 15.

Harrisburg Capitol Building

Health Department Updates Fracking Complaint Process

By John L. Kennedy |

The state Department of Health announced that it has updated its handling of complaints related to fracking in the Marcellus Shale region.

Harrisburg Capitol Building

PUC Appeals Decision Stripping Its Review Authority

By John L. Kennedy |

The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission appealed a Commonwealth Court ruling that stripped it of its authority to review local government ordinances under the oil and gas law, Act 13 of 2012.

James R. Nixon Jr.

Are We on the Path to Custody Rights for Step-Parents?

By James R. Nixon Jr. |

Consider the following hypothetical scenario: Tom and Ann get married in their early twenties and have a child, Ben. Unfortunately, shortly after Ben is born, Tom and Ann get divorced and they agree to have a week on/week off shared physical custody schedule of Ben. Tom remarries Diane, who serves as an involved step-parent to Ben on the weeks when Ben is living in their household.

Retiring or Moving on Isn't Always Easy Under the Rules

By Daniel J. Siegel |

Do you want to retire and sell your firm? Do you want to slow down and let another attorney take over all the headaches associated with running your firm? Are you a partner in a megafirm who has decided that it's time to spend more time with the grandkids?