Pennsylvania Law Weekly News

penn state

Personnel Changes Won't Disrupt PSU Officials' Prosecutions

By Max Mitchell |

A few behind-the-scenes changes in the criminal cases against the three former Penn State administrators accused of covering up the crimes of convicted serial child molester Jerry Sandusky will not likely disrupt the prosecution or delay the cases, several court watchers told the Law Weekly.

insurance policy

Defendant Must Receive Reservation of Rights Notice

By Lizzy McLellan |

The adult daughter of two insureds was entitled to her own notice of the insurer's reservation of the right to disclaim liability, the Superior Court has ruled.

Judge Bifurcates Motor Vehicle, Residency Phases in UIM Case

By Max Mitchell |

A plaintiff's contested residency claims regarding an underinsured motorist coverage policy will be tried separately from the plaintiff's action regarding a motor vehicle collision, a court of common pleas judge has ruled.

Public Housing Admission Appeals Can Head to Court

By Max Mitchell |

The Commonwealth Court has ruled that applicants who are denied public housing have the right to have their appeals heard in court. In making its decision, the court overturned a nearly 30-year-old precedential opinion.

Panel Upholds Late-Diagnosis Award, Avoids Expert Issue

By Lizzy McLellan |

An oncologist's expert testimony in a medical malpractice case against a podiatrist did not compromise the validity of the plaintiff's verdict, the state Superior Court has ruled, upholding a $750,000 award.

Pa. Law Weekly - People in the News - April 28, 2015 - Obermayer Rebmann Maxwell & Hippel Adds Boyanowski to Family Law Group

Obermayer Rebmann Maxwell & Hippel added partner Cara A. Boyanowski to the firm's family law practice group.

verdicts and settlements

Investors Awarded For Adviser's Fiduciary Breaches

By Max Mitchell |

An arbitrator awarded two investors more than $48.4 million for the alleged misrepresentations of a registered investment adviser and investment firm that the claimants' counsel said bordered on a Ponzi scheme.

Stats Show Improvements in High Court Efficiency

By Lizzy McLellan |

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court seems to be making marginal improvements in productivity, a comparison of 2014 statistics on the court's rulings to the past several years shows.

verdicts and settlements

Delco Jury Awards Stroke Victim in Med Mal Case

By P.J. Dannunzio |

A man who claimed his stroke was the result of a doctor's failure to treat his high blood pressure has been awarded a verdict of roughly $7.4 million by a Delaware County jury.

Executive and Legislative Action for Week of April 20

By John L. Kennedy |

Following is a listing of executive and legislative action for the week of April 20. Members of the General Assembly are scheduled to return to session May 4.

Bills Would Make Government Negotiations More Public

By John L. Kennedy |

Negotiations between government and school district officials and public-sector unions would be open to the public and would face more scrutiny under three bills approved along party lines by the Senate State Government Committee.

House Approves Bill to Strike Harassment Carve-out

By John L. Kennedy |

The carve-out in the Crimes Code that allows stalking, harassment and even threats with weapons of mass destruction during labor disputes would be eliminated under legislation that has cleared the state House of Representatives.

Sam Stretton

Lawyers Should Adhere to Courtroom Customs and Rituals

By Samuel C. Stretton |

When should I stand in a courtroom?

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Protecting Your Trade Secret and Confidential Information

By Shannon McClure and Brooke Wallace |

In today's world of high-paced technology, companies face greater challenges than ever in protecting their confidential and proprietary information. Employees are more mobile than ever—and so is every employer's sensitive information.

Blaine A. Lucas

Pa. Supreme Court Continues to Clarify Property Right Protections

By Blaine A. Lucas and Alyssa E. Golfieri |

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court recently rendered a decision in Reading Area Water Authority v. Schuylkill River Greenway Association, 100 A.3d 572 (Pa. 2014), further narrowing the definition of what constitutes a "public purpose" for a taking by eminent domain in Pennsylvania.

Christian Badali

Facebook's Role in the Service of Process for Divorce

By Christian Badali |

As practitioners of matrimonial and family law, we all have seen firsthand, especially within the last eight years, the impact of different forms of social media on divorce and our practices. Facebook posts can greatly impact custody, support and divorce matters, especially in litigation.

gavel

New Rules to Favor Release for Summary Offenses

By Max Mitchell |

State rules aimed at reducing the chances defendants will be incarcerated for failure to post collateral for minor offenses are set to go into effect this summer.

Cop Can't Sue Tavern Over Assault by Patron

By Lizzy McLellan |

A police officer who was allegedly assaulted by a patron while responding to a call at a drinking establishment may not sue the business for negligence and Dram Shop Act liability, the state Superior Court has ruled.

Eligibility for Benefits Trumps Social Security Offset

By Lizzy McLellan |

The employer of a workers' compensation claimant whose work injury occurred after he became eligible to receive Social Security benefits is not entitled to a credit or offset for those benefits, the Commonwealth Court has ruled.

Split Court Says Plaintiff Can Keep Arbitration Rights

By Lizzy McLellan |

A party that went to court to enforce an arbitration agreement did not waive its right to arbitration by bringing that claim, the Commonwealth Court has ruled.

Pa. Law Weekly - People in the News - April 21, 2015 - Pollock Honored by Washington County Bar Association

Family law attorney David S. Pollock was the recipient of the Years of Service Award, presented by the Washington County Bar Association.

verdicts and settlements

Bars Settle With Family of Man Beaten to Death

The estate of a 23-year-old man beaten to death after a night out in the Old City section of Philadelphia has settled for $7 million with the bars that served the man's attackers, according to lawyers in the case.

verdicts and settlements

Jury Returns Defense Verdict in Limited Tort Case

By Lizzy McLellan |

A Lackawanna County jury has decided in favor of the defendant in a 2009 motor vehicle case.

Legislative Action for Week of April 13

By John L. Kennedy |

Following is a listing of legislative action for the week of April 13. Members of the General Assembly were scheduled to return to session April 20.

Senate Approves DNA 'Modernization'

By John L. Kennedy |

Last week, the state Senate Judiciary Committee approved legislation that the bill's sponsor, state Sen. Dominic Pileggi, R-Delaware, said would "strengthen and modernize" the state's use of DNA technology to fight violent crime.

Senate Preempts Local Governments on Paid Time Off

By John L. Kennedy |
Sam Stretton

The Current Referral Fee System Benefits Everyone

By Samuel C. Stretton |

I have been reading articles about referral fees in Pennsylvania and how they should be abolished or severely restricted. Do you agree?

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Oral Modifications of Written Marital Settlement Agreements

By Scott J.G. Finger |

Can a written marital settlement agreement be modified orally? What if the agreement requires that all future modifications must be in writing?

David G. Mandelbaum

Tactical Issues When Multiple Parties Oppose Your Client

By David G. Mandelbaum |

Environmental matters typically involve adverse organizations—government agencies, business entities or NGOs—not just two individuals. Moreover, they quite typically involve more than one party on each "side," and sometimes have more than two sides. That situation poses some tactical issues for environmental lawyers.

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Make Time for Pro Bono Representation

By Craig Robinson |

In the fall of 2007, I met "Kacie" at the York County Prison, where she had been detained for illegally crossing the border into the United States. Kacie and I were from two vastly different walks of life.

gavel

Centre County Courts 'in Turmoil'

By Max Mitchell and Lizzy McLellan |

In Centre County, a spate of lawsuits involving jurists, attorneys and county officials has created a contentious atmosphere, after several controversial open records requests opened a can of worms.

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Trial Judge Rules Sentinel Event Report Not Confidential

By Lizzy McLellan |

In an apparent case of first impression in Pennsylvania, a Lackawanna County judge has decided that a sentinel event report prepared for a private accreditation commission is subject to discovery in a psychiatric malpractice action.

Superior Court Won't Bifurcate Wrongful-Death, Survival Actions

By Max Mitchell |

A plaintiff's wrongful-death and survival actions do not need to be bifurcated so that one claim can be arbitrated while the other goes to a jury trial, the state Superior Court has ruled.

Ex-Township Treasurer Has Standing to Appeal Audit

By Lizzy McLellan |

A former township treasurer has standing to appeal the township's annual audit and financial report for part of her term, even after leaving the treasurer position, the Commonwealth Court has ruled.

Native American Wedding Deemed Legal for Benefits Claim

By Lizzy McLellan |

A couple who participated in a Native American wedding ceremony prior to the 2005 abolition of common-law marriage may be recognized as legally married for the purposes of a workers' compensation fatal claim, the Commonwealth Court has ruled.

Pa. Law Weekly - People in the News - April 14, 2015 - Deon Elected President of Bucks County Bar Association

Grace M. Deon of Eastburn and Gray was elected as the president elect of the Bucks County Bar Association.

verdicts and settlements

New Sales Strategy Deemed Breach of Contract

By Lizzy McLellan |

A federal judge has ruled in favor of a former employee of Virtual Officeware LLC, after a new sales strategy resulted in a breach of contract.

verdicts and settlements

Transport Company Settles After Car Collision

By Gina Passarella |

Plaintiff Michael Spadine claimed injuries from a Nov. 3, 2009, motor vehicle accident in which defendant Richard Kemmerer collided with Spadine's car and fled the scene.

Legislative and Executive Action for Week of April 6

By John L. Kennedy |

Following is a listing of legislative and executive action for the week of April 6. Members of the General Assembly were scheduled to return to session April 13.

House of Representatives Plans Pension Vote for May

By John L. Kennedy |

The state House of Representatives plans to take up a state pension reform bill in May, Republican Caucus sources said.

Pa. Handling of U.S. Housing Programs Set for State Audit

By John L. Kennedy |

Auditor General Eugene DePasquale announced that his department will conduct a comprehensive performance audit to evaluate the Department of Community and Economic Development's administration of federally funded homelessness prevention and rehousing programs.

Sam Stretton

Motions Are Now the Usual Way to Deal With Unprofessional Opposing Counsel

By Samuel C. Stretton |

I have a case where the opposing lawyer is acting unprofessionally. The lawyer does not pass on any settlement offers or resolutions to the client, filing incorrect pleadings and incorrectly citing cases. It appears he has also not been truthful. What can I do?

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The Use of Pseudonyms in Civil Suits Over Sexual Abuse

By Daniel F. Monahan |

Survivors of childhood sexual abuse often lead lives in silence, secrecy and shame. Not only do they suffer from the traumatic effects of sexual abuse, which often causes depression, post-traumatic stress and addiction issues, but the fear of exposing that secret creates its own hosts of problems.

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Mortgage Insecuritization: Pennsylvania Clerks Take on MERS

By Craig Roberts |

Two class action lawsuits are winding their way through the courts in Pennsylvania. Both involve county clerks as plaintiffs, and Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems Inc., or MERS, either as a defendant or a participant in allegedly fraudulent practices. They both point to larger problems within the residential mortgage sector.

Matthew B. Weisberg

Who Are the Proper Plaintiffs in a Legal Malpractice Action?

By Matthew Weisberg |

As is implicit in this ongoing column on attorney liability, the law of lawyering is nuanced. Indeed, dabblers may find themselves on the wrong side of the "v"—imperfectly pleading an action sounding in legal malpractice.

Kane's Future Uncertain After Supreme Court Loss

By Max Mitchell |

With the state Supreme Court approving the investigation into state Attorney General Kathleen Kane's alleged leak of grand jury secrets and the Montgomery County district attorney taking up the potential prosecution, the questions about what comes next for Kane are mounting.

Justices' Docket Features Admissibility of Court Opinions

By Lizzy McLellan |

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court is set to hear a short list of diverse cases at oral arguments in Pittsburgh beginning today, including an admissibility of evidence question arising from a news story published more than a decade ago.

gavel

Pa. Justices Rule Against Union in Dispute with Board

By Lizzy McLellan |

A local workforce investment board created under state and federal law was not required to bargain with a union when it sought bids for provision of services previously provided by union members, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court has ruled.

Allegheny Judge Defends Fee Award in Life Insurance Case

By Lizzy McLellan |

A common pleas judge who awarded $25,000 in attorney fees for a case with $10,000 in damages has said the amount was reasonable, despite opposite appeals from both parties to the Pennsylvania Superior Court.

Telephonic Testimony Barred in Reinstatement Hearing

By Lizzy McLellan |

Without guidance on allowing telephonic testimony, the State Board of Podiatry was correct in its decision to preclude telephonic testimony from character witnesses during a reinstatement hearing, the Commonwealth Court has ruled.

Pa. Law Weekly - People in the News - April 7, 2015 - Zacharias Joins McGuireWoods as Partner

Penny E. Zacharias joined McGuireWoods as a partner in Pittsburgh.

verdicts and settlements

Jury Awards Punitives for Kraft Factory Shooting

By Max Mitchell |

A Philadelphia jury awarded more than $38.5 million in punitive damages to the estates of two Kraft employees who were fatally gunned down by a disgruntled co-worker.

verdicts and settlements

Stroke Victim Gets Verdict for Allegedly Ignored Symptoms

By P.J. D'Annunzio |

A 76-year-old woman in Montgomery County alleging her doctor ignored the signs of an impending stroke was awarded $6.3 million in her medical malpractice case.

Executive and Legislative Action for Week of March 30

By John L. Kennedy |

Following is a listing of executive and legislative action for the week of March 30. Members of the General Assembly are scheduled to return to session April 13.

Legislation Would End Harassment Carve-out for Labor Disputes

By John L. Kennedy |

Legislation that would strike a provision in the Crimes Code permitting stalking, harassment and even threats regarding the use of weapons of mass destruction during labor disputes has been reintroduced in the state House of Representatives.

Payday Loan Issue May Be Mooted by Federal Law

By John L. Kennedy |
Sam Stretton

Judges Cannot Serve in Any Discriminatory Organization

By Samuel C. Stretton |

As a judicial officer, can I work as the leader for my son's Boy Scouts troop?

Will Sylianteng

Why Aren't We Videotaping More Depositions?

By Will Sylianteng |

Have you ever left a deposition and felt like you nailed it? Not because you asked every possible question (we all know that never happens, as there is always that one question everyone remembers only after adjournment), but because the look on the deponent's face after your thorough inquisition was priceless. You wished you had a video of it, right? But you don't. Why?

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How the Federalist Papers Relate to Data Breach Legislation

By J. Alexander Hershey |

Clamoring voices are contending for the right to protect your personally identifiable information.

Leonard Deutchman

A Predictive Coding Opinion That Predicts the Past?

By Leonard Deutchman |

In Rio Tinto PLC v. Vale S.A., 14 Civ. 3042 (S.D.N.Y. March 2, 2015), U.S. Magistrate Judge Andrew Peck of the Southern District of New York, one of brightest and most informed jurists writing about e-discovery, summarized how, in the past three years, "the case law has developed to the point that it is now black-letter law" that courts will permit producing parties in e-discovery matters to use technology-assisted review and, in particular, predictive coding to review documents for production.

gavel

Raising Pa. Supreme Court Output Easier Said Than Done?

By Lizzy McLellan |

Despite the wide field of candidates running for the state Supreme Court, some common themes have emerged, including wanting the court to hear more cases and issue more opinions, a campaign promise observers said could be hard to deliver.

Hand of businessman with a pen. Finance and accounting business background.

Small and Midsize Pa. Firms See No Litigation Lag

By Max Mitchell |

Although some large firms have reported a lag in litigation, and even some talk of layoffs, several midsize and smaller Pennsylvania firms are seeing an uptick.

Plaintiff's Lawyer Barred from Defense's Medical Exam

By Max Mitchell |

A plaintiff's attorney is not allowed to be present during neuropsychological testing of his or her client, a Lebanon County Court of Common Pleas judge has ruled.

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Arbitrator Exceeded Authority on Officer Pay Grievance

By Lizzy McLellan |

A grievance arbitrator acted outside his jurisdiction and authority when he crafted an award requiring higher pay for on-duty police officers working large-scale events, the Commonwealth Court has ruled.

Building Owner's Appeal May Continue Despite Abatement

By Lizzy McLellan |

Getting a tax exemption for property improvements under the Local Economic Revitalization Tax Assistance Act does not render moot any previous appeals to tax assessments of that property following those upgrades, the Commonwealth Court has ruled.

Pa. Law Weekly - People in the News - March 31, 2015 - Sargent Appointed to CCHS Board of Trustees

James Sargent of Lamb McErlane was appointed to the Chester County Historical Society's (CCHS) board of trustees.

verdicts and settlements

Janssen Prevails in Second Phila. Risperdal Trial

By P.J. D'Annunzio |

The jury in the second Risperdal mass-tort case in Philadelphia, while finding that Janssen Pharmaceuticals failed to warn about the risk of male breast growth from the drug, determined that the drug did not cause the plaintiff's gynecomastia.

verdicts and settlements

Carpenter Secures Settlement in Forklift Incident

By Lizzy McLellan |

A union carpenter who was injured on the job reached settlement with the heating and air conditioning subcontractor whose employee allegedly struck the plaintiff with a forklift.

Executive and Legislative Action for Week of March 23

By John L. Kennedy |

Following is a listing of executive and legislative action for the week of March 23. Members of the state House of Representatives were set to return to session March 30; Senate members are set to return April 13.

Wolf's State Police Commissioner Nominee Encounters Controversy

By John L. Kennedy |

Marcus Brown, Gov. Tom Wolf's nominee for Pennsylvania State Police commissioner, might wish by now he had stayed in Maryland. The latest in Brown's controversial nomination is a letter he reportedly received that read: "No [racial epithet] lover will wear my uniform."

State Lawmakers Buried in Public Pension Crisis

By John L. Kennedy |

The city of York's accumulated $10 million pension payments, added on to this year's obligation, would take a 25 percent bite out of the city's entire budget, according to Pennsylvania Auditor General Eugene DePasquale.

Sam Stretton

Taking Shares in a Client's Business Is Ill Advised

By Samuel C. Stretton |

Is it ethical for a lawyer to take a share of stock in a corporation he is forming for his client, in lieu of a fee, if the client is cash poor, assuming the lawyer gives proper warning to the client to get independent counsel?

Kenneth Racowski

No Consensus on Application of 'Comcast v. Behrend'

By Kenneth L. Racowski |

It has been two years this month since the U.S. Supreme Court issued its decision in Comcast v. Behrend, 133 S. Ct. 1426 (2013), reversing the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit's class certification of antitrust claims brought by more than 2 million cable subscribers.

fracking

The Budget, New Regulations and the Fear of Fracking

By David G. Mandelbaum |

The first 10 days of March were interesting for those who attempt to divine regulatory priorities or enforcement strategies from environmental policy pronouncements.

The Social Security Disability Program Is Senselessly Under Attack

By Thomas J. Giordano Jr. |

What if I told you that you have a disability fund you have been paying for since the day you started working and paying taxes?

Gov. Tom Wolf speaks after he took the oath of office to become the 47th governor of Pennsylvania, Tuesday, Jan. 20, 2015, at the state Capitol in Harrisburg, Pa. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

Wolf's Early Days Spotlight Powers, Authority of Office

By Lizzy McLellan |

In his first two months as Pennsylvania's chief executive, Gov. Tom Wolf has seemed unafraid to make waves, and the resulting legal battles may dramatically affect the power of the governor's office.

Justices Mull Uniformity in Mechanic's Lien Procedure

By Max Mitchell |

Not allowing mechanic's liens and actions to compel judgment on those liens to be filed under the same case caption and number is a trap for the unwary, an attorney representing a demolition company argued before the state Supreme Court.

Parent in Wrongful-Death Case Barred From Nonmoney Damages

By Lizzy McLellan |

A parent bringing a wrongful-death and survival action over a child's death may not recover nonpecuniary damages because of the Sovereign Immunity Act, the Commonwealth Court has ruled.

gavel

Justices Agree to Consider Amendment of Case Caption

By Lizzy McLellan |

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court has agreed to take up an issue of first impression over the amendment of a case caption, substituting a bankruptcy trustee as the plaintiff in an action brought by the entity in bankruptcy.

Pa. Supreme Court Denies Allocatur in Rollover Case

By Max Mitchell |

After an allocatur denial by the state Supreme Court, a suit against a car dealership involving a vehicle rollover will be reinstated.

Pa. Law Weekly - People in the News - March 24, 2015 - Clifford Appointed to Pa. Supreme Court Domestic Relations Procedural Rules Committee

Weber Gallagher Simpson Stapleton Fires & Newby attorney Dan Clifford was appointed to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court Domestic Relations Procedural Rules Committee.

verdicts and settlements

Lawyer Ordered to Repay Millions for Diverting Assets

By Gina Passarella |

A federal judge ordered a suspended Bridgeport attorney and his law firm to pay $18.4 million in restitution for his alleged misuse of millions of dollars in funds from several employee-benefit plans.

verdicts and settlements

Philadelphia Jury Awards Paralyzed Heroin Addict

By Max Mitchell |

A Philadelphia jury has awarded more than $6 million to a heroin addict who was paralyzed from the chest down due to alleged negligent medical treatment.

Executive, Legislative and Judiciary Action for Week of March 16

By John L. Kennedy |

Following is a listing of executive, legislative and judiciary action for the week of March 16. Members of the state House of Representatives are scheduled to return to voting session March 30; Senate members are scheduled to return April 13.

Wolf, Republicans Battle Over School Funding Letter

By John L. Kennedy |

Republican lawmakers called Gov. Tom Wolf out on a letter from his acting secretary of Education, sent to the state's school districts, asking how they would spend money they haven't yet received.

Legislation Would Change Approach to Teacher Layoffs

By John L. Kennedy |

Legislation introduced simultaneously in the state House of Representatives and Senate would end the practice of teacher layoffs based on seniority.

Sam Stretton

Cooperation Is the Best Approach Before the Judicial Conduct Board

By Samuel C. Stretton |

What are some tips for representing judges before the Judicial Conduct Board?

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Family Law and the Pennsylvania Supreme Court

By James R. Nixon Jr. |

In a perfect world, divorce, custody and support proceedings would wrap up at the trial court level, and the parties involved could move on to the next chapter of their lives.

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Financially Distressed Municipalities Obtain New Taxing Powers

By Timothy J. Horstmann |

On Oct. 31, 2014, then-Gov. Tom Corbett signed HB 1773 into law, as Act 199. Act 199 represents the most significant reform in decades of Pennsylvania's financial recovery program, commonly known as the Act 47 program.

Jeff Jubelirer

Bypassing the Media's Filter to Relay Your Message

By Jeff Jubelirer |

Just over two decades ago, if you wanted to raise awareness of your firm or organization, you would have to either pay for an ad or pitch your story to a journalist at a newspaper, radio or television station and hope they would cover it.

Justices Hear Debate on MCARE Limits on Ostensible Agency

By Lizzy McLellan |

In a medical malpractice case before the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, appellate counsel argued over the circumstances necessary for a reasonable patient to think the treating doctor is an agent of a hospital under the Medical Care Availability and Reduction of Error Act, as well as that law's limits on nonphysician testimony.

gavel

Program Aims to Help Pro Se Litigants in High Court

By Lizzy McLellan |

With a new pro bono appointment system in place, the Pennsylvania courts are working to lower the number of pro se litigants at the high court level.

Court Denies Benefits for Man Fired Over Personal Emails

By Max Mitchell |

A county employee fired for emailing his wife while at work will not be able to recover unemployment benefits, the Commonwealth Court has ruled.

Use of Public Funds in Union Election Debated Before Justices

By Lizzy McLellan |

In arguing before the Pennsylvania Supreme Court how a nonprofit corporation can use money provided by the government, both sides offered the question, "Where does it stop?"

Evidence Argued in Tossed Turnpike Whistleblower Case

By Max Mitchell |

The judge who tossed a whistleblower suit against the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission for insufficient evidence failed to consider a grand jury presentment and a key affidavit, the attorney representing the plaintiff argued before the state Supreme Court last week in Philadelphia.

verdicts and settlements

Fallen Shelf Caused Head Injury, Plaintiff Claims

According to the plaintiff's mediation memorandum, on Oct. 5, 2011, plaintiff Jessica M. Ng, a scientific researcher, was standing in an aisle and talking to a co-worker at the Colket Translational Research Center in Children's Hospital of Pennsylvania, when a 32-pound wood panel fell from a tech desk and struck her on the head.

verdicts and settlements

Sewer Fees Not Required at Widow's Unoccupied House

A judge in Lackawanna County has decided in favor of the defense in a case involving sewer fees for an uninhabited house.

Executive and Legislative Action for Week of March 9, 2015

By John L. Kennedy |

Following is a listing of executive and legislative action for the week of March 9. Members of the state House of Representatives are scheduled to return to voting session on March 30; Senate members are scheduled to return April 13.

Disagreement Over Budget Deficit Fuels Growing Tensions

By John L. Kennedy |

The Wolf administration and the Independent Fiscal Office differ in their estimates of the looming budget deficit by at least half a billion dollars.

Samuel Stretton

Lawyers Cannot Bring Up Evidence the Rules Prohibit

By Samuel C. Stretton |

I am doing a prisoner's excessive force case. From an ethics standpoint, how much can a defense lawyer bring in about a police officer's background? Is it unethical for a defense lawyer to question a plaintiff in a civil rights case about the details of a prior conviction?

'Moran' Decision Has Big Implications for Municipal Officials

By Joseph J. McGrory Jr. and John F. Walko |

On Nov. 20, 2014, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court issued its decision in Commonwealth v. Moran, 2014 Pa.LEXIS 3044 (Pa. 2014), affirming Haverford Township Commissioner Fred Moran's bribery conviction in connection with a sale of township-owned real estate. This case is of importance and interest to municipal officials who negotiate with developers over conditions of approval for land developments or when considering zoning amendments.

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Addressing Patient Safety in Pennsylvania

By Clifford A. Rieders |

The Pennsylvania Patient Safety Authority is in the process of preparing its 2014 annual report to the legislature, as required by law. The PSA was created when Gov. Mark Schweiker signed HB 1802, regarding medical malpractice reform, on March 20, 2002.

Stephanie Burt

An Update on Oil and Gas Lease Extension Litigation

By Stefanie L. Burt |

A common oil and gas lease dispute in the Appalachian region involves challenges by lessors to a lessee's extension of the primary term of oil and gas leases pursuant to an express extension provision in the leases.

Pa. Law Weekly - People in the News - March 17, 2015 - New Partner Named

Adam L. Fernandez was elected a partner with Wisler Pearlstine.

Attorney General Kathleen Kane

AG Kane's Case Highlights Justices' March Arguments

By Lizzy McLellan |

Ethical issues in the public sector are set to take the stage this week as the Pennsylvania Supreme Court is scheduled to hear several cases dealing with state officials—including an important one for Attorney General Kathleen Kane—as well as government agencies and funds.

En Banc Panel Split Over Deputy Constable Standards

By Lizzy McLellan |

Constables no longer have to demonstrate an unusual necessity when appointing deputy constables, the Commonwealth Court has ruled in an en banc decision. But the panel was divided on whether district attorneys should be involved at all in those appointments.

Northampton Judge Challenges Ban on Judges in Business

By Lizzy McLellan |

A court of common pleas judge has said a judicial conduct rule that requires him to resign from two financial boards in June violates his constitutional rights, and the state Supreme Court, while rejecting his initial application for relief, has not entirely disposed of the challenge.

Defendants Lack Cause for Additional PTSD Testing

By Max Mitchell |

The plaintiff in a motor vehicle accident will not need to undergo additional medical testing that the defendants' expert claimed is necessary to render a more accurate examination of the plaintiff's claimed post-traumatic stress disorder, a Lackawanna County judge has ruled.

gavel

Court Overrules State Board in ATV Dealers' Dispute

By Lizzy McLellan |

A state agency cannot prevent the designation of a new franchisee because of the possibility that competition with an existing dealer would cause one or both to close, the Commonwealth Court has ruled.

Pa. Law Weekly - People in the News - Mar. 10, 2015 - Moore Elected to Pittsburgh Airport Area Chamber of Commerce Board

Gretchen E. Moore of Strassburger McKenna Gutnick & Gefsky was elected to the board of directors of the Pittsburgh Airport Area Chamber of Commerce.

verdicts and settlements

Phila. Jury Awards Families of Slain Factory Workers

By Max Mitchell |

The family members of two Kraft factory workers who were fatally gunned down by a disgruntled employee have received an award of more than $8 million from a Philadelphia jury.

verdicts and settlements

Family of Woman Killed in Head-on Collision Awarded

By Max Mitchell |

The family of a woman killed in a multiple-vehicle collision has received an award of nearly $1.5 million from a Monroe County jury.

Executive and Legislative Action for Week of March 2

By John L. Kennedy |

Following is a listing of executive and legislative action for the week of March 2. Members of the state House of Representatives are set to return to voting session March 30; members of the state Senate are set to return April 13.

Wolf, Lawmakers Far Apart Entering Budget Process

By John L. Kennedy |

Gov. Tom Wolf delivered his first budget address on March 3, and the Republicans controlling the state House of Representatives and Senate quickly dismissed nearly his entire plan.

Pensions to Take Big Chunk Out of Next Year's Budget

By John L. Kennedy |

The state's two largest public pensions systems, the State Employees' Retirement System, covering state workers, and the Public School Employees' Retirement System, covering public school teachers, will cost the general fund $2.4 billion next year, according to the Independent Fiscal Office.

Sam Stretton

Young Lawyers Must Be Prepared for the Practical Aspects of the Profession

By Samuel C. Stretton |

I am a young lawyer and want to open my own office. What are some of the most important aspects of beginning a law practice?

Daniel J. Siegel

Policy Change Would Limit Confidential Information in Filings

By Daniel J. Siegel |

Most people have no idea how to hack a website in order to locate confidential information such as Social Security numbers, bank account numbers and birth dates. But when it comes to court websites, in many cases you don't need to be a geek or a hacker to access this information.

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Death-Penalty Dispute Misses the Mark

By Matthew T. Mangino |

The battle in Pennsylvania over the death penalty, although well intended on both sides of the issue, is misguided and will do nothing to advance the fundamental question: Is the death penalty an appropriate punishment in 21st century Pennsylvania?

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A Closer Look at Pennsylvania's Medical Marijuana Bill

By Peter S. Murphy |

There is a good chance the General Assembly will pass legislation legalizing medical marijuana in 2015.

Judges Hint at Broader Rule on Workplace Violence

By Lizzy McLellan |

A store manager who experienced an armed robbery may be able to receive workers' compensation for her mental injuries, an en banc Commonwealth Court panel has ruled, but a portion of the panel raised the question of whether such events at work could ever be considered normal.

Increased Oil and Gas Regulations Expected Under Wolf

By Max Mitchell |

With Gov. Tom Wolf proposing and implementing changes for the oil and natural gas industry in Pennsylvania, several legal industry insiders are predicting increased regulations for oil and natural gas development over the next few years.

vote sign

Justices: Paperless Voting Machines Satisfy Election Code

By Lizzy McLellan |

Direct-recording electronic voting systems that do not produce a contemporaneous paper record of each vote cast comply with state requirements and do not violate citizens' right to vote, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court has ruled.

Despite Plaintiff's Reckless Driving, Truck Suit Revived

By Max Mitchell |

Even though a sedan containing several plaintiffs recklessly attempted to pass a tractor-trailer from a right-turn-only lane, the case against the truck driver involved in the collision will be allowed to proceed, the state Superior Court has ruled.

Missing Housekeeping Record Creates Issue of Fact

By Lizzy McLellan |

The absence of some monitoring records and potential for spoliation of evidence by defendants should have precluded summary judgment in a slip-and-fall case against the Lehigh Valley Mall, the Superior Court has ruled.

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Pa. Law Weekly - People in the News - Mar. 3, 2015 - McGowan Elected to Lenape Valley Foundation board

Kellie A. McGowan, a shareholder at Eastburn and Gray, was elected to serve as a member of the board of directors for the Lenape Valley Foundation.

verdicts and settlements

Plaintiff Awarded in First Philadelphia Risperdal Trial

By P.J. D'Annunzio |

A Philadelphia jury awarded $2.5 million to the plaintiff in the first of roughly 1,250 Risperdal mass-tort cases in the city's courts.