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Pennsylvania Law Weekly News

Drivers' Phone Use Doesn't Support Punitives, Rulings Say

By Max Mitchell |

Attorneys seeking punitive damages against drivers who were talking on their cellphones at the time of an accident need to show a little more than just cellphone use, attorneys who spoke with the Law Weekly said.

will

Register of Wills Liable Despite Governmental Immunity

By Max Mitchell |

The state Supreme Court has held that governmental immunity protections do not extend to a register of wills for alleged violations of bonding requirements.

Samuel H. Pond and Andrew F. Ruder

Supplementing Workers' Comp With Social Security Disability

By Samuel H. Pond and Andrew F. Ruder |

Devastating work injuries are impossible to predict, leaving disabled employees anxiously searching for affordable medical care and financial assistance during the time they are out of work.

Michael Joy, Robert Jochen and Steven Chadwick

Section 34.1 and the Rule of Apportionment

By Michael Joy, Robert Jochen & Steven Chadwick |

Section 34.1 of the Pennsylvania Oil and Gas Lease Act was enacted July 9, 2013, and has received heavy scrutiny since its enactment based on the misperception that it permits unfettered, "forced pooling" by oil and gas developers.

Samuel Stretton

Judges are limited when writing letters of recommendation

By Samuel C. Stretton |

Can judges provide letters of reference for clerks under the new Code of Conduct?

Matthew B. Weisberg

Does Ongoing Representation Toll the Legal Mal Statute of Limitations?

By Matthew Weisberg |

Calculations of the statute of limitations for causes of action arising from attorney neglect are in flux.

house arrest

Justices Take Up Unemployment Case for Man on House Arrest

By Max Mitchell |

The state Supreme Court has agreed to hear argument on whether a man under house arrest is eligible for unemployment benefits.

No New Drilling Leases Until Court Decision Rendered

The Corbett administration has agreed not to sign any new natural gas leases for drilling on state land until a ruling on the use of the funds raised through the leases is rendered by the Commonwealth Court.

Public Pensions Become Political Battleground

Moody's Investors Service lowered Pennsylvania's credit rating last week, and the news became instant fodder for both Democrats and Republicans in a gubernatorial election year.

Recent Action

Following is a listing of executive and legislative action for the week of July 21. Members of the state House of Representatives are set to return Aug. 4; state Senate members are set to return Sept. 15.

verdicts and settlements

Arbitrator Awards Plaintiffs for UIM, Bad Faith and Fees

According to the plaintiff's complaint, on Nov. 16, 2010, plaintiff Elsie Carraghan was driving a sedan south along Kings Highway in Lehigh County when her vehicle was struck head-on by a vehicle being driven by Kim Coleen Ruppert.

Signing a contract

Quantum Meruit Claim Not Defeated by Defect in Contract

By Max Mitchell |

Despite a contract that fails to comply with a consumer protection law, a contractor will still be able to pursue a claim under the quasi-contract theories of quantum meruit, the state Supreme Court has ruled.

verdicts and settlements

Parties Settle Truck-Stop Pay Card Dispute

A Pennsylvania federal judge granted final approval of a $130 million settlement in an antitrust suit between independent truck-stop owners on one side and trucker fleet payment card company Comdata Inc. and three national truck-stop chains on the other.

PLW- People in the News - July 29, 2014

Christina D. Frangiosa was appointed vice chair of the trademarks and unfair competition division of the American Bar Association's section of intellectual property law (ABA-IPL) for the upcoming 2014-15 membership year.

insurance policy

Liquidation Ends Insurance Coverage Regardless of Policy Terms

By Max Mitchell |

An insurance company in liquidation does not need to continue paying out on a policy that was terminated before liquidation proceedings commenced but had provided for ongoing coverage, the state Supreme Court has ruled.

Three children in silhouette

Victim Interviewer's Notes Might Be Discoverable, Court Rules

By Gina Passarella |

The state Superior Court has ordered a more thorough review by the trial court of whether a center that interviewed child sex-abuse victims could be shielded from having to turn over related documents in the criminal trial of the alleged abuser.

Woof

Biteless Prior Incident Enough for Punitives Claim in Dog-Bite Case

By Max Mitchell |

A common pleas court judge will allow a plaintiff in a dog-bite case to pursue punitive damages based on alleged notice of vicious propensity, even though the dogs had not bitten anyone before the incident.

Samuel Stretton

The proposed judicial conduct rules would impact judges’ ability to serve as executor

By Samuel C. Stretton |

I am a district judge who also has a law practice. Can I still continue to serve as an executor?

Kenneth L. Racowski

A Primer on Pennsylvania Annuity Case Law

By Kenneth L. Racowsk |

Annuities have historically been a popular retirement investment option. In particular, variable annuities, which combine an insurance policy and mutual funds, can provide tax-deferred retirement savings, upside growth with downside protection and guaranteed income throughout the holder's lifetime.

empty pockets

Deep Pockets Gone With Joint and Several Liability Repeal

By Max Mitchell |

Attorney John W. Zotter of Zimmer Kunz in Pittsburgh represented two trucking companies that were involved in separate multivehicle accidents in the summer of 2011.

Scott A. Coffina

President's Recess Appointments Struck Down in Noel Canning

By Scott A. Coffina |

Last month's decision by the U.S. Supreme Court rejecting President Obama's January 2012 recess appointments to the National Labor Relations Board came at a delicate time, with a debate raging between the president and Congress over the limits of the president's executive authority.

zoning

Justices Take Up Deadline for Post-Enactment Appeals

By Max Mitchell |

The state Supreme Court has agreed to hear argument on whether a defective notice of enactment of a zoning and land development ordinance triggered a 30-day window for filing appeals regarding defects that occurred when the ordinances were initially passed by the zoning board.

verdicts and settlements

Soccer Prospect Awarded for Botched Bowel Procedure

A college soccer star once weeks away from going to Colombia on a contract to play professionally was awarded $3.34 million for injuries he suffered after a botched groin surgery that put an end to his athletic career

J. Alexander Hershey

Supreme Court Diminishes the Role of Prudential Standing

By J. Alexander Hershey |

The U.S. Supreme Court's unanimous decision in Lexmark International v. Static Control Components, 134 S. Ct. 1377 (March 25, 2014), is noteworthy for resolving a split among the circuit courts.

Legislators Consider Possible Response to Funding Cuts

Legislative leaders are mulling their options after Gov. Tom Corbett wiped $65 million from programs and other spending earmarked for use by the General Assembly when he signed the state budget.

Corbett Ramps Up Re-election Efforts

Gov. Tom Corbett began a statewide tour and with it his re-election campaign, immediately after signing the state budget July 10.

Recent Action

Following is a listing of executive, legislative and judiciary action for the week of July 14. The state House of Representatives is set to return to session Aug. 4; the state Senate is set to return Sept. 15.

verdicts and settlements

Jury Awards Plaintiff In Admitted Rear-End Collision

According to the plaintiff's pretrial memorandum, Michael B. Clark, who was 66 at the time and had formerly worked as a lineman at PPL, was driving east along Blakeslee Boulevard when he stopped to make a left turn onto Mall Lane in Mahoning Township, Pa.

PLW - People in the News - July 22, 2014

Hill Wallack partner Denise M. Bowman was named chair of the Lower Bucks County Chamber of Commerce's board of directors for the 2014-15 term.

Ex-Solicitor Must Repay Arbitrator Fee to County

By Max Mitchell |

Money a county paid its solicitor for acting as interest arbitrator in a labor dispute will have to be repaid to the county, despite a resolution the county adopted agreeing to pay the attorney for the work, the Commonwealth Court has ruled.