Blog

ARD Does Not Automatically Violate Child Protective Services Law, Says Court

March 22, 2019

In a recent case from the Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court, the appellate court found that the acceptance of ARD does not remove the need for a hearing on child neglect charges from the Department of Human Services. In the case of J.F. v. Department of Human Services,J.F. (the anonymous Mother) appealed an order of the Department of Human Services that dismissed her request for a hearing on two founded reports naming her as a perpetrator of abuse of her twin daughters.

Federal Appeals Court Upholds Finding of Fraudulent Transfer into Married Couples' Joint Account and Subjecting Spouse to Personal Liability

February 22, 2019

A recent case from the Third Circuit addressed whether the Pennsylvania fraudulent transfer laws in the context of a bankruptcy. The case involved a lawyer whose old firm dissolved and broke a commercial lease. When the firm broke the lease, attorney Paul Titus was liable, along with his other partners, for millions of dollars in unpaid commercial rent. The landlord tried to recover the rent...

PA Supreme Court Amends the Support Guidelines to Reflect New Tax Treatment of Alimony and APL

February 15, 2019

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court recently promulgated new rules for the calculation of spousal support, alimony, and APL (alimony pendente lite, i.e. alimony while litigation is pending). The federal tax laws that took effect on January 1, 2019 changed the way that alimony is treated for federal tax purposes. The federal law abolished the alimony deduction from a payor's gross income and the...

Supreme Court Strikes Down Part of the Pennsylvania's DUI Law – Could it help you?

February 8, 2019

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court recently decided the case of Commonwealth v. Monarch which addressed the Constitutionality of sentencing enhancements for refusal to submit to a blood test in a DUI case. Mr. Monarch was arrested for DUI and refused a blood test despite being warned that he could be subjected to additional penalties for refusing to submit to a blood test. He was tried for DUI...

Federal Appellate Court Rules that Lawyer's Death is Not Sufficient Justification to Reopen Civil Rights Case

February 1, 2019

The Third Circuit recently addressed a New Jersey man's attempt to reopen his federal civil rights claim against two New Jersey State Troopers after it had been dismissed and his lawyer passed away. In the case of Mitchell v. Fuentes, Mr. Mitchell alleged that the officers had fabricated claims about him speeding that resulted in him being convicted. Following the conviction, Mr. Mitchell...

Businesses can't cancel this registration: Registration of your business in Pennsylvania means you can be sued in Pennsylvania.

January 25, 2019

A recent case from the Eastern District of Pennsylvania found that registration to do business in Pennsylvania was sufficient to confer personal jurisdiction in a product liability litigation over talc. In the case of Youse v. Johnson & Johnson, et. al., Judge Michael Baylson refused to dismiss a Defendant for a lack of jurisdiction. Plaintiff in the case claimed that she "was exposed to...

Déjà vu! I Can't Be Charged with the Same Crime Twice, Can I? Yes…But Stay Tuned.

January 11, 2019

Imagine that you are charged with a crime by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, you receive your punishment and the, out of the blue, you are charged with the EXACT SAME CRIME by the Federal Government. That can't happen, right? That's double jeopardy, isn't it?!? Well, a new case before the highest court in the land may be giving us an updated answer to this troubling question. A recent...

Pennsylvania Supreme Court Finds That Ingestion of Drugs While Pregnant Does Not Constitute Child Abuse Under the Pennsylvania Child Protective Services Law

January 4, 2019

Pennsylvania Supreme Court Finds That Ingestion of Drugs While Pregnant Does Not Constitute Child Abuse Under the Pennsylvania Child Protective Services Law A recent Pennsylvania case interpreted the meaning of the Pennsylvania Child Protective Services law but has significance beyond simply a matter of statutory interpretation. The case of In the Interest of LJB the Pennsylvania...

Pennsylvania School District Found Liable for Failing to Address Bullying of Young Student

December 28, 2018

A recent trial court in Philadelphia found that the Philadelphia School District was liable for failing to adequately address bullying of a young student. In the case of Wible v. School District of Philadelphia, April Term 2015, No. 3169 (Phila. Com. Pl. Dec. 17, 2018), the Court found that the School District was liable under the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act ("PHRA"). The PA...

Pennsylvania Superior Court Vacates Divorce Due to Failure of the Trial Court to Explore Elderly Couple's Competency

December 21, 2018

The Pennsylvania Superior Court recently decided a case that contains a lesson for lawyers in Pennsylvania and especially so for those that practice family law. The case, Berry v. Berry, involved a couple that was in their 80's and 90's that was litigating a divorce action through their children acting through respective powers of attorney. The unusual nature of the case led to...

Raise it or waive it. The PA Supreme Court upholds damages award due to failure to timely object.

December 7, 2018

A recent Pennsylvania Supreme Court contains a harsh lesson for any trial occurring in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. The recent case of Stapas v. Giant Eagle involved a verdict in favor of a plaintiff, John Stapas, who was disabled after a shooting outside of a store owned by Defendant Giant Eagle. The case was a premises liability case but the underlying liability case was not at issue...

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court Finds that Employers Have a Duty to Safeguard Their Employees' Sensitive Data

November 30, 2018

A recent decision from the Pennsylvania Supreme Court came out the day before Thanksgiving this year and it could be an early holiday present for Pennsylvania plaintiffs. In the case of Dittman v. University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled that an employer does have a duty to protect electronically stored confidential information of its employees and that a...

The Arbitration Clause is Coming to Town… And you Better Check it Twice!

November 16, 2018

One extremely common provision in many commercial agreements is an agreement to arbitrate disputes. Arbitration is litigation-like process whereby disputes are handled outside of traditional court proceedings. The conventional wisdom is that arbitration is less cumbersome and expensive than traditional litigation and therefore preferred. Whether or not that conventional wisdom is actually...

Can Your Employer Keep You From Working for Someone Else? Maybe…

November 9, 2018

A recent case in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania exemplified how enforcing restrictions on a person's right to earn a living can be tricky. Courts are often reluctant to deprive someone of the right to work, while also recognizing that companies have legitimate interests in protecting their business and trade secrets. The case of Freedom Medical, Inc. v. Whitman involved a company that...

A Bad Business Break-Up Can Cost You Big Bucks!

November 4, 2019

A case that recently came from the Pennsylvania Superior Court had several lessons for persons that are business owners with partners. The recent case of Saltzer v. Rolka involved an LLC that was owned by three persons. The LLC was a firm that provides consulting services to state public utility commissions and the federal government. The plaintiff Saltzer was a co-owner with two other...

Pennsylvania Supreme Court Clarifies Limits on Consent Searches by Police Officer

October 26, 2018

One of the most fundamental and often litigated rights citizens possess is the right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures by police officers. Where the line is between what is reasonable and unreasonable can often be very fact dependent. Police officers will often seek consent for a search because if someone willingly relinquishes their rights, the officer often cannot be said...

The Pennsylvania Superior Court Sheds Light on When Grandparents May Pursue Custody of a Child

October 20, 2018

In custody litigation, it is often the case that grandparents wish to be heard because they have a vested interest in seeing that their grandchildren are properly cared for. However, the actual rights that grandparents have in custody litigation is often not nearly as great as the emotional attachment that the grandparents have. The rights of the parents, in most situations, will be superior...

How Much Can a Court Restrict Internet Use of a Convicted Criminal? Third Circuit Rules That a Complete Ban on Internet Usage Was Too Restrictive.

October 12, 2018

Use of the internet for most of us has become a daily ritual that is as habitual as our morning routine. That use can be severely restricted for someone who has used the technology for nefarious purposes, but one recent case discussed how much it can be restricted. The recent case of United States of America v. Holena discussed the constitutional implications of restrictions on internet use...

Should Ice Cube be Worried? Pennsylvania Supreme Court Upholds Convictions for Terroristic Threats and Witness Intimidation Based on Rap Song

October 5, 2018

The internet is a wonderful thing, it allows us to connect with family and friends that live across the globe, it allows us to do our holiday shopping without leaving the comfort of our homes and has launched the careers of countless of musicians. However, two recent aspiring musicians, found themselves arrested for violent lyrics aimed at two Pittsburgh Police Officers. The Pennsylvania...

Can a Faulty Mental Health System Hijack Your Ability to Own a Gun? The Pennsylvania Supreme Court is Set to Decide.

September 28, 2019

Imagine this: your child is a student in college and dealing with depression and anxiety. One difficult evening they end up in the hospital on account of those issues. A Court appointed attorney asks your child if they would like to stay and get a little help; they say yes. Do you know that your child was just involuntarily committed? Do you now know that your child will NEVER be able to...

Round 2 – Pennsylvania Supreme Court Brings Big Changes to Custody By Giving An Old Program A Second Chance

September 21, 2018

In 2013, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, the highest court in Pennsylvania, eliminated parenting coordination procedures from the rules governing domestic matters. However, in an about face, the Court recently decided to give the procedure another shot. The new rules governing parenting coordination will take effect in March of 2019. Parent coordination's purpose, according to the new rule...

Be Careful What You Post – You Could Find Yourself in a Courtroom Far, Far Away…

September 14, 2018

A recent case from the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas shows that despite the fact that the internet has been with us for some time, the laws of the Commonwealth that were formed in an analog world have not always caught up. In the recent Philadelphia case of Fox v. Smith, et. al., Feb. Term 2018, No. 1438, the Trial Court found that defendants being sued for defamation were properly sued...

Know Your Rights in Land Use and Zoning Matters

September 7, 2018

Land use and zoning matters can often become quite contentious because of how protective people are about what goes on their neighborhoods or with their own property. A prime example of this is a recent case from the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania. The Commonwealth Court is a Pennsylvania court that hears appeals involving governmental entities. The case of Friends of Lackawanna v....