This Week's Cases

Lomas v. Kravitz, PICS Case No. 17-1554 (Pa. Sept. 28, 2017) Baer, J.; Saylor, C.J., dissenting. (34 pages).

Recusal motion untimely when filed six weeks after party admitted learning of facts that could support their motion. Order of the superior court affirmed.

Commonwealth v. Jacoby, PICS Case No. 17-1557 (Pa. Sept. 28, 2017) Wecht, J.; Donohue, J., concurring and dissenting; Saylor, C.J., dissenting. (64 pages).

Residential search warrant lacked probable cause where it was unsupported by tailored, individualized facts regarding the subject of the search indicating that evidence relating to the crime would be found at the residence, but such error was harmless where other evidence overwhelmingly established guilt. Judgment of sentence affirmed.

William Penn Sch. Dist. v. Dep't of Educ., PICS Case No. 17-1568 (Pa. Sept. 28, 2017) Wecht, J., Dougherty, J. (concurring), Saylor, C.J. (dissenting) (140 pages).

The Commonwealth Court erred in holding that appellants' claim that the general assembly failed to provide the resources called for in the constitution's education clause and their equal protection claims based on disparities in school district funding were nonjusticiable political questions because it was feasible for a court to give meaning and force to the language of a constitutional mandate without trammeling the legislature in derogation of the separation of powers. Reversed.

Office of Disciplinary Counsel v. Helzlsouer, PICS Case No. 17-1567 (Pa. Sept. 27, 2017) per curiam, (13 pages).

Respondent was suspended for a period of three months because he violated RPC 1.1 and RPC 1.3 by failing to take action in his clients' civil case to enjoin a nonjudicial eviction for breach of contract by neglecting to file an amended complaint, failing to reply to defendant's new matter or counterclaim, failing to respond to defendant's request for admissions, failing to file a pretrial statement or to file a response to defendant's motion in limine.

Banks v. Cooper et al, PICS Case No. 17-1927 (Pa. Super. Sept. 26, 2017) Solano, J. (11 pages).

The trial court abused its discretion in denying plaintiffs' petition to open a judgment of non-pros without considering lesser sanctions, the potential prejudice to defendants' and, inter alia, whether counsel's mistake in failing to appear was part of a pattern of misconduct. The court vacated a trial court order denying plaintiffs' petition to open a judgment of non-pros and remanded.

Commonwealth v. Powell, PICS Case No. 17-1558 (Pa. Super. Sept. 25, 2017) Bowes, J. (40 pages).

Suppression of wiretap evidence not warranted where police adopted reasonable intercept minimization plan requiring monitors to switch off and spot check. Judgment of sentence affirmed.

Commonwealth v. Izurieta, PICS Case No. 17-1555 (Pa. Super. Sept. 27, 2017) Moulton, J. (11 pages).

Testimonial evidence of sexual penetration of a victim under 16 years old sufficient to support conviction for indecent assault. Judgment of sentence affirmed.

Commonwealth v. Machicote, PICS Case No. 17-1556 (Pa. Super. Sept. 26, 2017) Strassburger, J. (16 pages).

Trial court did not err in sentencing juvenile defendant to a life sentence while also imposing a minimum term-of-years sentence, because it would grant the juvenile the possibility of parole following completion of the minimum sentence. Judgement of sentence affirmed.

Breslin v. Mountain View Nursing Home, Inc., PICS Case No. 17-1552 (Pa. Super. Sept. 28, 2017) Musmanno, J. (21 pages).

Plaintiff's amended complaint sufficiently pled a claim of corporate negligence against the defendant nursing home where the five factors set forth 'Althaus v. Cohen', as applied here, including the home's special relationship with its patient, weighed in favor of imposing upon the home a nondelegable duty of care. The court reversed in part an order sustaining defendant's preliminary objections.

Mark Hershey Farms, Inc. v. Robinson, PICS Case No. 17-1566 (Pa. Super. Sept. 27, 2017) Dubow, J. (15 pages).

Trial court erred in finding appellant beneficiary and executor of estate personally liable for bill for animal feed delivered to farm business owned by estate because there was no legal theory to justify extending piercing the corporate veil to hold an estate beneficiary responsible for estate debts and appellant was not liable under a theory of unjust enrichment because there was no evidence to show that he directly benefited from the feed. Reversed.

Rana v. Workers' Compensation Appeal Bd., PICS Case No. 17-1561 (Pa. Commw. Sept. 29, 2017) Cosgrove, J. (12 pages).

Workers' compensation board erred in reversing the WCJ's findings that decedent was on a special assignment for employer when he was killed in an automobile accident because decedent was a traveling employee and on special assignment at the time of the accident but the case had to be remanded for the board to address issues regarding the calculation of decedent's compensation, the reciprocity between the United States and India and subrogation issues. Reversed and remanded.

Ewing v. Dep't of Transp., PICS Case No. 17-1563 (Pa. Commw. Sept. 27, 2017) Leavitt, P.J. (18 pages).

Trial court erred in overruling DOT's preliminary objections to the claims of decedent's mother and children for loss of future services and financial support because the sovereign immunity act barred a parent or child from recovering damages for the loss of decedent's future services and financial support in a wrongful death action. Reversed in part and affirmed in part.

Commonwealth v. DeSciscio, PICS Case No. 17-1482 (C.P. Lycoming Aug. 2017) Lovecchio, J. (10 pages).

Defendant waived the right to challenge his consent to a blood test that led to charges of driving under the influence by failing to file his motion to suppress in a timely fashion in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court's decision 'Birchfield v. North Dakota'. The court denied defendant's motion to suppress without holding a hearing.

Citibank, N.A. v. Harris, PICS Case No. 17-1507 (C.P. Lawrence Sep. 14, 2017) Hodge, J. (9 pages).

In this action to collect on a credit card account, the court granted defendant's motions to dismiss because plaintiff failed to allege sufficient facts to show it was the real party in interest, and the complaint and exhibit did not adequately set forth the credit agreement and the history of the charges.

Commonwealth v. Washington, PICS Case No. 17-1512 (C.P. Lycoming Sep. 14, 2017) Butts, P.J. (29 pages).

The trial court's rulings in a criminal case regarding eyewitness identification, demonstrative evidence and expert testimony were not in error, and defendant was not entitled to relief from the sentence imposed.

Charlesworth v. Galacci, PICS Case No. 17-1477 (C.P. Lackawanna Sept. 19, 2017) Nealon, J. (8 pages).

Plaintiffs were entitled to net worth discovery to support punitive damages in this dog bite case where they offered a prima facie case that defendants acted in a reckless manner and demonstrated willful and wanton disregard for the safety of others by disregarding their dog's vicious propensity for biting humans. The court granted plaintiffs' motion to compel net worth discovery.

Guenot v. Motis Energy, LLC, PICS Case No. 17-1483 (C.P. Lycoming Aug. 29, 2017) Gray, J. (4 pages).

A former employee failed to state sufficient facts to support a claim for fraud in the inducement where there was no evidence of a false statement or an intent to mislead.