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Filing Fanatics is a running collection of the court filings and legal nuggets that we can’t stop thinking about, but just can’t seem to find space for in the paper.

Essentially, this is intended to be a safe space for fellow legal nerds to keep track of the interesting legal odds-and-ends across Pennsylvania.

And if you have a tip about any filings, or legal tidbits you think we would enjoy, please email us at mmitchell@alm.com and pdannunzio@alm.com. Because who knows? We might just be calling you next.

10/11/17

Antiques Company Gets Second Shot at Complaint in Insurance Dispute

An antiques company suing its insurer for coverage has had its complaint tossed by a federal judge, but not before being allowed to hone its allegations in a second one.

U.S. District Judge Robert F. Kelly of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania granted defendant Federal Insurance Company’s motion for judgment on the pleadings, but also allowed plaintiff Tristate Antiques’ motion to amend its complaint.

According to Kelly’s opinion, Tristate alleged that while the policy was in effect with Federal, it suffered a loss “of fine arts and dealers stock and trade” in the amount of $140,000.

10/6/17

Phila.’s Fight With Wells Fargo Sent to NFL Judge

The  lawsuit Philadelphia brought against Wells Fargo alleging the company damaged the city’s housing stock through discriminatory lending practices has been transferred to the judge overseeing the  NFL concussion litigation.
 
U.S. District  Judge Legrome Davis of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania had been  overseeing the dispute between Philadelphia and Wells Fargo, but, according to the docket, the case has been transferred to District Judge Anita Brody, also of the Eastern District. The move comes about a week after the court announced Davis would be taking senior status. 

10/4/17

No Revival of Hospital Administrator’s Wiretapping Title VII Claim

A federal judge has refused to reconsider his decision declining to exercise jurisdiction over a discriminatory firing claim involving allegations of illegal wiretapping.
 
Plaintiff Monique Pacheo sued Pocono Medical Center, claiming she was fired for discriminatory reasons. She also claimed that a doctor had secretly recorded a conversation he had with her with his ipad, in violation of Pennsylvania law.
 
U.S. District Judge A. Richard Caputo said the court had no jurisdiction over the state law claim, and that it was improperly lumped into the Title VII discrimination lawsuit.

 

10/2/17

Judge Not, When It is Within FERC’s Jurisdiction

Federal court is not the venue that should decide whether the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission violated the Religious Freedom Restoration Act by allowing a gas pipeline company to condemn a religious order’s property, a judge  has ruled .
 
U.S. District Judge Jeffrey Schmehl of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania determined Sept. 28 that the Adorers of the Blood of Christ,  a religious order of Roman Catholic women, failed to property challenge the condemnation before the regulatory body, and dismissed their case for lack of subject matter jurisdiction.
 
“Having failed to participate at all at FERC, or raise any objections at FERC, either initially or through a rehearing as did the other interested parties, plaintiffs cannot now argue that they have been deprived of the ability to assert their Religious Freedom Restoration Act claims in a judicial proceeding,” Schmehl said.
 

The proposed pipeline is part of the Atlantic Sunrise Pipeline, which consists of 199.5 miles connecting Pennsylvania natural gas fracking sites to North Carolina. The 42-inch pipe is set to be placed across property the order owns in Lancaster County.

The religious order appealed Schmehl’s decision Sept. 29.

9/28/17

Phila. to DOJ: You Can’t Take Our Grant Money

Philadelphia has asked a federal court to block the U.S. Department of Justice from pulling $1.6 million in criminal justice grants that have become central to a dispute over the city’s status as a so-called sanctuary city.

On Thursday, the city’s law department filed an injunction with the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania as part of the lawsuit it filed against the DOJ last month. We wrote about the lawsuit in this column when it was filed, but the city is claiming that the justice department has improperly tied federal grant money to newly imposed immigration requirements that go against the city’s local immigration policies

The city’s argument, according to the 66-page brief, is that U.S. Attorney General Jeff Session lacks the authority to wade into the city’s local policies.

“The Department of Justice has backed the city off Philadelphia into a corner: It is demanding that the city either abandon policies carefully developed over time to ensure the safety and well-being of all its residents–immigrants and non-immigrants alike–or forgo nearly $1.6 million in critical criminal justice funding,” the brief said.

The brief can be found here

A federal judge in Chicago granted a similar injunction earlier this month. 

 

9/27/17

Aramark Can’t Shake Age Discrimination Case

A federal judge has refused to throw out a discrimination case against Aramark, filed by a cafeteria worker who claimed she was fired because of her age.

U.S. District Judge Nora Barry Fischer of the Western District of Pennsylvania denied Aramark’s motion to dismiss on the basis that it raised an argument at an inappropriate state of the litigation.

“Defendant’s primary argument – that Plaintiff released her claims in the Complaint by executing a prior agreement with Defendant – is not appropriately raised at the pleading stage, under the circumstances,” Fischer said in her opinion.

9/18/17

Eye Doctor Pleads Guilty to Health Care Fraud

A Pittsburgh optometrist has admitted to filing false insurance claims for services that he never performed, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Pennsylvania announced Monday.

Dr. Vincent J. Gamuzza Jr. originally pleaded not guilty to the alleged crime, but reversed his prior plea on Monday before U.S. District Judge Cathy Bissoon.

Gamuzza is scheduled sentencing for January 23, 2018, and could face up to 10 years in prison.

9/15/17

The Women’s Law Project Doesn’t Want Philly’s Wage History Law Blocked

The Women’s Law Project filed a nearly 50-page amicus on behalf of 27 organizations not to block a Philadelphia ordinance that bars prospective employers from asking about an applicant’s wage history.

The filing comes after the Chamber of Commerce for Greater Philadelphia’s revamped its lawsuit suit against the city over the wage ordinance.

The amicus noted that women, and particularly women of color, are negatively affected by the gender wage gap, and said the ordinance is a “rational legislative policy decision” similar to similar bans on employment practices that perpetuate discrimination.

Terry Fromson of the Women’s Law Project filed the brief, which can be found here.

9/11/17

Talk of Borough Official’s Weed Killer Debacle Not Allowed in Discrimination Suit

A former Carlisle Borough official’s criminal citation for spraying weed killer at a neighbor will not be mentioned in his age discrimination case over his alleged retaliatory firing, a federal judge has ruled.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Martin C. Carlson of the Middle District of Pennsylvania granted Michael T. Keiser’s motion in limine to exclude testimony on the criminal citations.

“We believe that eliciting specific testimony relating to the harassment and disorderly conduct charges filed against Keiser as a result of a neighborhood dispute, charges which were later dismissed, would be unduly prejudicial and could lead to juror confusion and speculation on collateral matters,” Carlson wrote in his opinion.

9/8/17

Machine Company Escapes Sanctions for Not Returning Documents

A federal judge has declined to hold a machine company in contempt for failing to return electronic documents to the plaintiffs in a copyright infringement case.

In his opinion, Chief U.S. District Judge Christopher C. Conner of the Middle District of Pennsylvania, while declining to impose sanctions as requested by Advanced Fluid Systems, reiterated that the material in question had to be returned within a 20-day time frame.

9/5/17

Ex-NFL Players Don’t Want Expert Handling Atty Fee Petitions

Several former National Football League players have come out against a judge’s proposal to appoint an expert to handle the escalating dispute over how $112 million in attorneys fees should be divied up.

Last Month, Eastern District Judge Anita Brody gave parties involved in the $1 billion settlement until Aug. 31 to show cause why Harvard Professor William Rubenstein shouldn’t be appointed as an expert witness on attorneys fees. Attorneys from three law firms, representing 16 plaintiffs, filed their objection Aug. 31, arguing that the fee petition is still premature, discovery should be taken regarding the fee petitions, and Rubenstein might have conflicts when it comes to the case.

Read the filing here.

Apotex Wants Teva Suit Over Dating Execs Tossed

Apotex, a pharmaceutical company being sued by Teva over claims that a former Teva executive disclosed company secrets to an Aptoex CEO while the two were dating, has hit back at Teva, arguing that the lawsuit should be dismissed.
 
Apotex filed a motion to dismiss in the case Aug. 31, claiming that the complaint was too vague, and fails as a matter of law. 
 
Read the filing  here.
 

Former Allstate Agent Can’t Sue Employer for its Counterclaim

An ex-Allstate Insurance Company agent can’t sue the company for counterclaims it filed in his ERISA action.
 
U.S. District Judge Mark Kearney of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania granted Allstate’s motion for summary judgment on Gene Romero’s claims.
 
“Citizens petitioning the court for redress are immune from being sued for filing their claim unless it is objectively baseless,” Kearney wrote in his opinion. “This well-established expansive principle arising from two Supreme Court cases decided over fifty years ago allows citizens to file claims and protect their interests in good faith. When, as here, we have no evidence withdrawn counterclaims based on state law theories are objectively baseless, the defendants are immune from liability arising the filing of their counterclaim.”
 

8/31/17

Travelers Insurance Escape Indemnity Lawsuit

Travelers has dodged a lawsuit filed by a building company sued for by a residents’ association for faulty construction.
 
U.S. DIstrict Judge Mitchell S. Goldberg granted Travelers’ motion for summary judgment in Northridge Village and Hastings Investment’s case against it. 
 
Goldberg held that the terms of the policy precluded coverage for faulty workmanship.
 

8/30/17

Dispute Over Grant Related to Phila.’s Sanctuary City Status Heads to Court

Philadelphia has sued U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions over a grant program that has gotten tied up in the  looming dispute over Philadelphia’s status as a so-called Sanctuary City.
 
Last month,  Sessions announced what it will take to qualify for the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant, which Philadelphia regularly relies on to fund some of its public safety programs. Philadelphia sued Sessions Wednesday in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District claiming the condition Sessions added are unlawful and “purely political.”
 
The suit is the  latest development in the brewing struggle between Philadelphia officials and members of President Donald Trump’s administration over the city’s status as a so-called Sanctuary City. The funding, which averages about $2.2 million a year, has been a key component in that dispute.
 
According to the city, the newly added conditions prompting the lawsuit include providing U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents “with 48-hour-notice of the ‘scheduled release’ of prisoners of interest, and allow[ing] ICE unfettered access to interview inmates in Philadelphia’s prison system.’ 
 
Read a copy of the city’s complaint  here.
 
 

8/25/17

$100K Bad Faith Verdict Against New York Insurance Company Survives

A federal judge has upheld a $100,000 jury award for a plaintiff’s bad faith claims against his insurer
 
U.S. District Judge Malachy E. Mannion of the Middle District of Pennsylvania denied New York Central Mutual Fire Insurance Company’s motion for judgment as a matter of law in which it alleged Bernie Clemens did not provide enough evidence to support his claim at trial.  
 
“Whether the actions taken by the defendant during the relevant period of time constituted bad faith in light of all of the circumstances was a question of fact to be resolved by the jury,” Mannion said in  his opinion. “The jury was instructed as to what constitutes bad faith under Pennsylvania law and the burden which the plaintiff had to meet in order to establish his claim. Having considered all of the evidence presented, the jury unanimously decided that the defendant committed bad faith in the handling of the plaintiff’s claim. The jurors are the triers of fact.”
 

8/25/17

Minehart Wants Defamation Suit Back in Phila. Court

The Philadelphia  judge  suing authors he claims portrayed him as a corrupt  judgein their book about  the trial of infamous abortion doctor Kermit Gosnell is pushing to have his lawsuit remanded to state court.
 
Judge Jeffrey Minehart had initially filed his suit in  the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas, but  the defendants  removed  the suit to federal court last month. Minehart filed a motion Aug. 25 asking  the U.S. District Court for  the Eastern District to remand  the case, saying  the removal was frivolous.
 
In a footnote,  the  judge said  the defendants’ notice of removal was such a “clear misstatement” of Pennsylvania law  the court should award him  the cost of having to prepare and file  the motion for remand.
 
A copy of  the motion can be found  here.
 
 

8/24/17

Phila. Hits Back at Wells Fargo In Discriminatory Lending Suit

Philadelphia is pushing back against Wells Fargo’s attempts to dismiss  a suit the city filed earlier this year alleging the bank engaged in discriminatory lending practices that damaged the city’s housing stock.
 
Last month,  the lending giant blasted the city’s suit,  saying the suit attempted to unreasonably stretch the understanding of the Fair Housing Act. On Wednesday, the city issued its response saying Wells Fargo was avoiding the “overwhelming evidence of its racial and ethnic discrimination,” and was trying to “slice and dice” their arguments out of context.
 
You can read the latest filing  here.

Morgan Lewis Conflict Case Moved to Commerce Program

A former client’s lawsuit against Morgan Lewis & Bockius has been transferred to the commerce program within the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas.

Judge Patricia McInerney, supervising judge of the commerce court program, entered the order Wednesday, granting Morgan Lewis’ request.Towers Watson Delaware is suing Morgan, Lewis & Bockius for more than $30 million, based on its claims that the firm knowingly helped another client, Meriter Health Services, sue Towers.

The firm contended that attorney Jeremy Blumenfeld was wrongly named as a defendant, as he is a partner in the law firm. Towers had opposed, arguing the case should remain in the major jury program.

“While plaintiff may try to argue that its dispute is with an individual, rather than a law firm, that argument is unavailing,” Morgan Lewis’ notice of management program dispute said.

 

8/23/17

3rd Circuit: TSA Workers Can’t Be Sued for Retaliatory Prosecution During Screenings

A federal appeals court reversed a federal judge’s ruling keeping a denying a TSA worker’s claim for summary judgment in a lawsuit over a security screening.
 
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit reversed a district judge’s ruling denying Charles Kieser’s request to throw out Roger Vanderklok’s retaliatory prosecution claims.
 
According to the opinion written by Judge Kent A. Jordan, Vanderklok claimed Kieser was disrespectful and aggressive when he found a heart monitor in Vanderklok’s luggage, which he intended to use for a half marathon. Vanderklok said he would filed a complaint against Kieser, and said claims Kieser, in retaliation, called the Philadelphia police and falsely reported that Vanderklok had threatened to bring a bomb to the airport. Vanderklok was later arrested.
 

Judge Sides with School in Gifted Student’s ADA Case

A federal judge has upheld a ruling from a hearing officer finding that there was no basis for an intellectually gifted child’s parents’ suit against a school for lack of special education services afforded to their daughter.
 
The student, intellectually gifted in mathematics, has a reading disability, according to U.S. District Judge Mark Kearney of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania’s opinion in  G.D. v. West Chester Area School District. G.D.’s family filed suit under the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.
 
“G.D. and her parents have not shown a basis to disturb the hearing officer’s detailed findings under IDEA and Section 504 based on an extensive administrative record and after evaluating the credibility of several witnesses,” Kearney  said in his opinion. “The family disagrees with the hearing officer. This disagreement is not enough under the law. Under our summary judgment standard, we also cannot find a disputed genuine issue of material fact as to the district’s alleged deliberate indifference and must enter summary judgment for the district on the ADA claim. We grant the district’s motion for judgment on the administrative record and summary judgment in the accompanying order. 

8/22/17

Expedited Discovery Denied

A federal judge has denied Teva Pharmaceutical’s  request to speed up discovery in the lawsuit it brought against a former executive and its competitor Apotex over trade secrets the executive disclosed to an Apotex CEO while the two were dating.
 
Teva, which focuses on generic drugs, filed its lawsuit last month, and soon after it asked the court for expedited discovery in an effort to determine just how much information its former executive disclosed. Aptoex, however, balked saying the expedited schedule was unnecessary and would be an unnecessary burden.
 
Eastern District Judge Timothy Savage of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania issued a one-page order  denying the request  Thursday
 

Spanier Gets Date to Fend Off Judgment in Civil Suit

The state court judge overseeing the civil dispute between ex-Penn State President Graham Spanier and former FBI head Louis Freeh has set September 20 as the date the parties will argue whether Spanier’s case should be tossedout on the pleadings.

Spanier sued Freeh over statements he made outlining the findings of his investigation into serial child molester Jerry Sandusky. Freeh’s report laid much of a blame for allowing Sandusky, a former Penn State football coach, to abuse children on school administrators, including Spanier. Earlier this year, Spanier and two other school administrators were convicted on misdemeanor child endangerment charges.

Senior Judge Robert Eby entered the order Aug. 8, but it was made public online Aug. 16.

 

Stop in the Name of the Lord 

A religious order is asking a judge to halt, at least temporarily, the Transcontinental Gas Pipe Line Company from installing a pipeline on its property. 

The Adorers of the Blood of Christ, which is a religious order of Roman Catholic women, filed a motion with the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania seeking an injunction in the lawsuit it recently filed against the pipeline company. The suit argues that the company should be barred from accessing their land to install the pipeline, as it would, allegedly, violate the civil rights guaranteed under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. 

The proposed pipeline is part of the Atlantic Sunrise Pipeline, which consists of 199.5 miles connecting Pennsylvania natural gas fracking sites to North Carolina. The 42-inch pipe is set to be placed across property the order owns in Lancaster County.

As for the preliminary injunction, the order contends that the company hasn’t yet gotten the necessary permits, or regulatory approval to begin the work.

 

8/21/17

Cosby’s Hunt for a Lawyer Stretched Back to July

Bill Cosby has finally found new legal representation. But it turns out he had been looking for a new lawyer even longer than we previously thought.

According to a recent filing by the Montgomery County assistant district attorney M. Stewart Ryan, Cosby initially said he would find a new lawyer by July 27—which would have given him new representation before it became public that any of his lawyers were leaving the case.

It seems that he would have had to make that pledge soon after his first trial, which ended in a mistrial June 17.
 
But July 27 came and went, with no new lawyer on Cosby’s defense team. But on Aug. 1, defense attorney Brian McMonagle filed a motion towithdraw, and Cosby said he would find a new lawyer by the end of August.
 
Now, after his other lawyers filed motions to withdraw, Cosby asked the Montgomery County Court of Common Pleas to delay a hearing next week, and give him until Sept. 11 to find new counsel.
 
In the response, filed Tuesday, the prosecutors opposed Cosby’s plea for more time, saying it would “further delay the timely administration of justice in this matter.” Cosby’s retrial is scheduled to begin in November.
 
 

8/15/17

Judge Dismisses Truck Accident Wrongful Death Case

A federal judge dismissed a wrongful death suit filed by a the estate truck driver against his company over a late night accident that left him dead. 
 
“This case is a tragedy in search of a cause of action. plaintiff’s decedent, George “Bart” Garlick, died in the dark of night when the water truck he was driving missed a turn-off, travelled in the wrong direction for nearly three miles, failed to navigate a curve, and tumbled down a nearby embankment,” U.S. District Judge Matthew Brann of the Middle District of Pennsylvania  wrote in his opinion.
 
He continued, “As unfortunate as that is, however, plaintiff’s retrospective efforts to wind the clock back and discern the true cause of the driver’s accident have proven fruitless, even after five years of litigation. Without question, I have come to realize that the facts of this case are as steeped in misfortune as they are shrouded in mystery.”
 

8/14/17

Egg Producers Again Fail to Crack Judge’s Certification Order

A federal judge has once again denied egg producers’ bid to decertify a group of direct purchases in the price fixing antitrust ligation. 
 
U.S. District Judge Gene E.K. Pratter of the Eastern District  issued her ruling Monday afternoon.
 
The plaintiffs in the litigation claim the nation’s major egg producers were involved in a conspiracy to control and limit the supply of eggs in an effort to increase prices—allegedly through short-term production restriction, such as slaughtering hens early, a pretextual animal welfare program, and a “calculated” series of exports of eggs at below-market prices.
 

8/14/17

Bernstein Stays on Arbitration Panel In Haviland, Kline & Specter Dispute

Attorney Donald Haviland was unsuccessful in his bid to kick former Philadelphia Judge Mark Bernstein from the panel set to arbitrate the lawyer’s dispute with his former employer, Kline & Specter.

Philadelphia Judge Patricia McInerney last month ruled that Bernstein can serve as a neutral on the three-person arbitration panel overseeing the case  Haviland v. Kline & Specter.
 
McInerney’s decision, issued  July 14, rejected Haviland’s arguments that  Bernstein should not be allowed to serve on the panel since he is an adjunct professor at the  Thomas R. Kline School of Law at Drexel University, and he is allegedly supervised by the wife of an attorney who works at Kline & Specter.
 
McInerney, however, said the courses Bernstein teaches are the same as they were before the school was renamed for Kline, that Kline had nothing to do with Bernstein’s position at the school, and there is no evidence Bernstein and has any contact with the woman Haviland characterized as Bernstein’s supervisor.
 
“A reasonable person would not question Bernstein’s ability to be impartial especially in light o the fact he recently retired from the bench,” McInerney said.
 

8/11/17

Expulsion Lawsuit Against Milton Hershey School Tossed

A lawsuit alleging the Milton Hershey School violated federal law by expelling children with emotional issues has been thrown out by a federal judge.
 
Chief U.S. District Judge Christopher C. Conner of the Middle District of Pennsylvania dismissed Adam Dobson’s case against the school for failure to state a claim.
 
Dobson alleged that the Hershey school adhered to a “shadow policy” of expelling emotionally vulnerable students in the school’s care upon a second mental health hospitalization.

8/10/17

Ex-Prosecutors’ Retaliation Suit Against Kane Revived

A federal appeals court has revived a free speech retaliation lawsuit filed against former Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane.

In the lawsuit, filed in Philadelphia federal court in November, former OAG employees Frank Fina, E. Marc Costanzo, Randy Feathers and Richard A. Sheetz, along with former Pennsylvania State Police Commissioner Frank Noonan, claimed Kane released grand jury testimony and emails relating to them in retaliation for their speaking out against her.

OAG investigator Michael Miletto was also named as a defendant in the suit. The case was ultimately thrown out for failure to show retaliation, with U.S. District Judge Harvey Bartle III of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania granting Kane’s motion to dismiss, and the five men appealed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit.

“No doubt facts found in discovery will make or break plaintiffs’ case,” Third Circuit Judge Thomas L. Ambro said in the court’s opinion. “But at the motion-to-dismiss stage they have alleged a colorable claim of retaliation in violation of their First Amendment rights. Whether that retaliation would deter a person of ordinary firmness from exercising those rights is a question to be decided by the factfinder and not discarded so early.”

8/2/17

CEO’s Discrimination Case Can Move Forward

A federal judge has declined to dispense with claims that the former CEO of an elder care company was terminated because of age and disability discrimination.

U.S. District Judge Timothy J. Savage of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania denied summary judgment in DeWayne McMullin’s lawsuit against Wesley Enhanced Living, which he alleges fired him after a year on the job because of his age and heart condition.

“Because a jury could infer that McMullin was not fired for performance issues but for discriminatory reasons, we shall deny Wesley’s motion for summary judgment on McMullin’s discrimination claims,” Baylson said.

 

Supervisors Can Be ‘Comparators’ in Discrimination Cases

A federal judge has ruled that supervisors and managers lodging workplace discrimination suits against their employers can use their subordinates as “comparators.”

U.S. District Judge Michael Baylson of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania’s ruling came in the form of a denial for reconsideration of Swarthmore College’s motion to dismiss Shelton O. Sneed’s complaint, a former public safety sergeant at the college who alleged racial discrimination.

Baylson examined a 2004 Third Circuit case, Monaco v. American General Assurance, which Swarthmore claimed excluded supervisors can use subordinates as comparators–employees to which plaintiffs compare their own job situations to attempt to make out discrimination claims.https://ssl.gstatic.com/ui/v1/icons/mail/images/cleardot.gif

“Contrary to the college’s arguments, Monaco does not hold that, as a matter of law, a supervisor can never be similarly situated to his subordinates,” Baylson said. “Rather, it emphasizes the importance of engaging in a fact-intensive inquiry regarding the actual job duties and responsibilities of the plaintiff and the alleged comparators.”

8/1/17

Man Wants $200K for Punch to the Head; Judge KO’s Case

A man claiming he was punched in the back of the head by someone—exactly who, he’s not sure—had his lawsuit seeking $200,000 knocked out by a skeptical judge.

Lamont Kareem Seaford filed a pro se lawsuit against Friends Hospital alleging someone he believed might have been a hospital staff member struck his head in the hospital cafeteria.

But U.S. District Judge Joel Slomsky of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania said the case was so deficient in facts that it couldn’t stand up to preliminary scrutiny.

Court Strikes Anti-Obama, Pro-Chick-fil-A References in Discrimination Suit

A man suing his former employer over age discrimination can’t reference his former boss’ anti-Barack Obama and pro-Chick-fil-A activities in his lawsuit.

U.S. District Judge Thomas O’Neill tossed the references from the complaint that plaintiff Thomas Giuliani included in the lawsuit he filed in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. 

Along with allegations that the defendant company set him up to fail in an effort to get him fired, Giuliani alleged his boss stopped doing business with an insurance sales agent because that agent supported then-President Barack Obama. He also said the boss routinely gave business to Chick-fil-A because of its anti-gay stances.

O’Neill, however, ruling July 31, agreed with the defendant that the references should be tossed because they dealt with protected classes that Giuliani was not a part of. The age discrimination claims were allowed to proceed.

Chambers Come Out Against Phila.’s Wage Ordinance

The African-American Chamber of Commerce of Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware and the Latino Coalition are throwing their support behind efforts to block a Philadelphia ordinance that bars prospective employers from asking about an applicant’s wage history.

The groups filed an amicus brief recently supporting the Chamber of Commerce for Greater Philadelphia’s revamped lawsuit suit against the city over the wage ordinance. The law, which is the first of its kind in the country, is currently on hold.

The amicus was filed by Dechert’s Michael Kichline, and said that, “To be sue, ameliorating wage discrimination is a worthy goal,” but the law will “fail to achieve its stated goal and, at the same time, wreak havoc on the employers it regulates.”

Sandusky Accuser’s Lawsuit Accusing Attorney Ends

The lawsuit filed last month claiming that an attorney representing an alleged victim of Jerry Sandusky got the victim drunk to coerce him into signing a low settlement has come to an end.

According to the docket in Milbourne v. Torrence, the plaintiff’s attorney filed a praecipe to “settle discontinue end” the case. The motion came about two weeks after Margolis Edelstein attorney Elit R. Felix signed on to represent the defendant and filed notice he would seek to discontinue the case for non pros unless a certificate of merit was filed.

The lawsuit had raised some eyebrows in the legal community, and many attorneys said they saw significant hurdles for the lawsuit.

7/31/17

Amtrak MDL Judge Pats Lawyers on the Back

U.S. District Judge Legrome Davis of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, who presided over the multidistrict litigation stemming from the May 2015 train derailment in Philadelphia, had some kind words for the lawyers and those involved in handling the case.

In a memorandum issued Monday detailing the complete history of the case, Davis gushed congratulatory sentiments to counsel for the plaintiffs, Amtrak, and others who brought the case to a quick resolution.

“It was rewarding to work with Amtrak and the plaintiffs’ management committee. Mark Landman for Amtrak and Tom Kline and Chip Becker of the PMC,” Davis wrote. “Their leadership was exceptional. Their labors, vision, and spirit of acting in the best interests of the passengers and their families largely made this MDL a success.”

He continued:

“At all times, Amtrak and the PMC minimized costs, and worked together toward realizing shared goals and objectives as quickly as practicable. They listened, critically evaluated matters, and compromised when needed. They were persuaded by reason, and they were not bound or blinded by an institutional litigation perspective of counsel for plaintiff or for counsel for defendant. By adhering to basic case management truths, the parties enhanced the overall quality of the litigation process, and hopefully thereby enhanced public confidence in the court as an institution. They truly helped the court reach the goal of delivering the greatest measure of justice possible under the circumstances, which was my objective from the inception of this MDL. And that was done by all participants in the MDL in a timely manner. My opportunity to contribute to the resolution of the MDL has been a unique, exceptionally rewarding professional privilege. My thanks to all.”

“Judge Davis in his opinion describes an extraordinary achievement in MDL history, which will serve as the standard for the management of MDL and mass disaster litigation in the future by marshalling under his brilliant leadership all of the necessary components (including the tireless efforts by himself, and Masters Bill Manfredi and Diane Welsh) which resulted in an equitable distribution of a limited fund–obtaining the most justice possible for the many who were so terribly injured and families who lost love ones,” Thomas R. Kline and Charles “Chip” Becker of Kline & Specter said in a statement.

“In addition to the extraordinary leadership of Judge Davis, the plaintiffs management committee, led by Tom Kline and Chip Becker, steadfastly and resiliently forged a consensus among themselves and the plaintiffs bar, working with the court to establish a structure for of fair and equitable resolution which could not have been accomplished without a large reservoir of experience and dedication to the cause of justice–all done for  the common good with no common benefit compensation,” Robert Mongeluzzi of Saltz Mongeluzzi Barrett & Bendesky said in an emailed statement.

“Amtrak and our firm appreciate Judge Davis’ extraordinary leadership, dedication and availability in guiding the parties to a resolution of this litigation in the aftermath of this tragic accident,” Mark S. Landman of Landman Corsi Ballaine & Ford said in an emailed statement.

7/24/17

Convict Wants His Prosecution Held Against Williams in Sentencing

A transit worker convicted on an assault charges wants federal Judge Paul Diamond to consider his case when he sentences former Philadelphia District Attorney R. Seth Williams in the fall.
 
Former transit worker Joseph Bryant filed a letter to the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania claiming that Williams’ only prosecuted him as a favor to the transit workers’ union, which he alleges contributed to Williams’ campaign. Bryant said he had opposed the union. According to his letter, Bryant is 16 months into a 23-month sentence. 
 
The six-page entry on the docket can be seen here.
 
This is neither the first time letters to the court have been released on the docket, nor the first time Williams’ opponents have sought to use his prior prosecutions against him. 
 
 

Race Discrimination Case Against Merrill Lynch Tossed

 
A federal judge has thrown out a former Merrill Lynch financial advisor’s claims that he faced discrimination from co-workers because of his Chinese heritage.
 
U.S. District Chief Judge Petrese Tucker of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania dismissed Raymond Zong’s complaint on July 24.
 
“In short, the Court concludes that Plaintiff Raymond Zong’s present suit is barred by the doctrine of res judicata because Zong’s prior suit was dismissed with prejudice upon the entry of a final judgment on the merits, Zong’s prior suit was filed against the same defendant as the defendant in the present case, and the present Complaint alleges the same cause of action that was adjudicated in Zong’s prior suit,” Tucker said in her opinion.
 

7/12/17

Counterclaims Washed Away in Case of Groundwater Pollution

A federal judge has dismissed breach-of-contract counterclaims filed in a case involving two materials companies disputing who was liable for polluting the other’s groundwater.

U.S. District Judge Lawrence F. Stengel of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania dismissed Apollo Metals Ltd.’s counterclaims against Atlantic Holdings Ltd.

The case stems from pollution of groundwater, which Atlantic alleged came from Apollo’s steel plant and seeped into property owned by Atlantic.

 

 

7/11/17

PSU Taps Rob Byer for McQueary Appeal

Penn State has brought in a heavy-hitting appellate attorney to help it overturn two verdicts worth a total of $12 million that were awarded last year to Mike McQueary.

Duane Morris attorney Rob Byer entered his appearance in McQueary v. The Pennsylvania State University on Tuesday

Last year, McQueary, who was a star witness for the prosecution against convicted serial child molester Jerry Sandusky, won a $7.3 million verdict on defamation claims and a $5 million award on whistleblower claims. The appeal so far has been contentious.

Chair of Duane Morris’s appellate division, Byer is a regular litigator in Pennsylvania’s appellate courts, and is currently handling the appeal of another high-profile whistleblower action.

Spanier Loses Bid for New Trial

The judge who oversaw Graham Spanier’s trial has denied the former Penn State president’s post-trial motion for acquittal or a new trial.

Spanier was convicted in March on a single misdemeanor count of child endangerment, and was sentenced last month to spend four to 12 months in jail, with at least two being spent in prison. Judge John Boccabella issued his denial of Spanier’s post-trial motion last Wednesday.

Also on Wednesday, Boccabella granted work release for Spanier’s two co-defendants, former athletic director Tim Curley and Gary Schultz, ex-senior vice president for business and finance, who had each pleaded guilty to a child endangerment charge. 

Mesh Defendant Wants Jurisdiction Re-Examined

We told you the defense bar would be pointing to the recent U.S. Supreme Court decision in Bristol-Myers Squibb v. Superior Court of California as a way to get their cases kicked out of state court in Philadelphia, and less than a month after the decision, at least one request has already come in.

On July 7, Boston Scientific, one of the defendants in the pelvic mesh mass tort program in Philadelphia, asked the court to reconsider a motion it filed in the spring that asked the court to stay the actions against it pending Bristol-Myers Squibb. The latest motion asks the court to dismiss 94 cases pending against it.

Seth Williams Sentencing Date Set

U.S. District Judge Paul S. Diamond of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania has officially set an Oct. 24 sentencing date for former Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams. 

Williams is currently being held in the Philadelphia Federal Detention Center. In an unexpected move, Diamond ordered him to be taken into custody after his guilty plea to corruption charges.

Last month, Williams admitted to taking bribes, stealing his mother’s nursing home care money, misspending campaign money, and using government vehicles off the clock.

7/10/17

‘Get-Er-Done Drilling’ Can’t Get It Done in Contract Case

A drilling company that has no apparent association with comedian Larry the Cable Guy isn’t laughing now that its breach of contract complaint has been dismissed.

Months after U.S. Magistrate Judge Lisa Pupo Lenihan of the Western District of Pennsylvania denied defendant U.S. Crossing Ltd.’s motion to dismiss an unjust enrichment claim against it by Get-Er-Done Drilling stemming from breach of verbal contracts over equipment rentals, the judge has now tossed the bulk of the 20-odd-count complaint.

However, Get-Er-Done will have the chance to file a second amended complaint.

6/16/17

Judge Sinks Motion to Dismiss in Seafood Company Breach Case

A federal judge declined to dismiss allegations that a former seafood company salesman was up to something fishy when he allegedly used his old employer’s private data when creating his own company.
 
U.S. District Judge Curtis Joyner denied defendants Elio and Cheryl Olizi and Pure Fish Seafood’s motion to dismiss E. Frank Hopkins Seafood Co.’s breach of contract case against them.
 
Hopkins alleged that Olizi used its secret list of customers and suppliers, order histories for these parties, and pricing strategies for his own use when he and his wife formed Pure Fish.

6/16/17

BINGO!

The Commonwealth Court  on Wednesday ruled that a Carbon County Legion Post did not have to have a gaming license when it offered Bonanza Bingo two nights a week. The three-judge panel issued its ruling in a precedential decision, meaning it’s good news for fans of “Bonanza Bingo” statewide.
Click here for the decision.
 

6/13/17

Gov’t Wants to Exclude Williams’ Campaign Finance Expert

Federal prosecutors in Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams’ corruption case are seeking to exclude testimony from Williams’ campaign finance expert. 
 
Williams, accused of spending money from his PAC on birthday dinners and health club outings, put forth ethics attorney Scott A. Caulfield to testify that Williams did not violate campaign finance law. 
 
Prosecutors claimed in  court papers that Williams is “seeking to have an expert act as a mouthpiece for the defendant regarding the defendant’s intent. In the only specific reference to the expenditures at issue here, Caulfield writes that certain expenditures, apparently for massages and the like, were appropriate as ‘controlling the hypertension/blood pressure and/or general health and well-being of Mr. Williams brought about and/or intensified by his political standing and activities.’”
 

Spanier Seeks to Toss Conviction

Former Penn State President Graham Spanier is challenging his recent child endangerment conviction.
 
Spanier, who was convicted on a single misdemeanor count of child endangerment in March and recently sentenced to two months in jail, filed a post-trial motion seeking either an acquittal or new trial. 
 
In the brief, which can be read here, Spanier raises statute of limitations issues, argues that there was insufficient evidence and says that the judge erred in instructing the jury.
 
 

6/9/17

Justices Won’t Hear Ex-Officer’s Defamation Claims Against SEPTA

The state Supreme Court recently decided against  taking up the appeal of an ex-transit police officer, who had had been fired after he got into a fight with a woman at a Dunkin Donuts on Christmas Day. 
 
The former officer had sued his former employer over a bulletin that allegedly said he had impersonated a police officer and pointed a loaded gun at a pedestrian. The trial court, however,  tossed the case in 2015, and the Commonwealth Court last year  decided against reviving the claims.
 

City Council to Vote on Request for Delay of Big Pharmacy Merger

Philadelphia City Council is set to vote on whether a request should be made to the Federal Trade Commission to delay the merger of Rite Aid and Walgreens.
 
On Thursday, the council put  resolution 170247 on final passage. The resolution’s author, Councilwoman-at-large Blondell Reynolds Brown, wants the merger to be delayed until it becomes clear how many Rite Aid stores would close.
 
“In the City of Philadelphia where the poverty rate is highest among other big cities across the nation at 28.4%, the closing of community pharmacies translates into less patient access, lower quality health services, vulnerability among lower class families, and potential increase in poverty,” the resolution reads.
 

6/6/17

Cab Companies’ Suit Against PPA Cleared

A federal judge has allowed a lawsuit against the Philadelphia Parking Authority filed by the city’s taxi companies over the PPA’s alleged failure to regulate competitors Uber and Lyft to move forward.
 
U.S. District Judge Michael Baylson of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania denied the PPA’s motion to dismiss cab companies’ claims.
 
This ruling is the latest chapter in a myriad of litigation both in Philadelphia and around the country involving cab companies suing over ride sharing companies.
 

Counts Trimmed in Suit Over Inmate’s Death After Police Shooting

A federal judge has cut claims from a mother’s lawsuit alleging her son who was shot by police and who later died while incarcerated did not receive proper medical care.
 
U.S. District Judge C. Darnell Jones II of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania granted motions to dismiss from several of the defendants in Gwendolyn Porter’s case against Crozer Chester Hospital, its doctors, and the jail and correctional staff.
 
Most of the counts were dismissed for failure to state a claim. The case centers on the police shooting of Jamere Porter, who was shot seven times by police but was stabilized at Crozer Chester. He was released into the custody of the prison system, but later died in jail after complaining of not being able to breathe.
 

6/2/17

TCPA Case Against Technical School Tossed Over Lawyer’s Flub 

A Telephone Consumer Protection Act filed against Colorado Technical University was thrown out because of the unusual misstep of the plaintiff’s lawyer not responding to a request for an admission.
 
U.S. District Judge Gerald McHugh of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania  ordered summary judgment in favor of CTU on account of plaintiff Charles Coleman’s lawyer not filing a response.
 
Coleman claimed CTU called him constantly on his cell phone. Originally, he consented to the calls, but then he claims he asked them to stop. The school claims he never did, and requested an admission as to whether he ever did.
 
“Ordinarily, where the key issue is framed in such starkly opposing terms, summary judgment is unwarranted. Here, however, the stalemate is broken by the fact that CTU’s request for admission as to whether Coleman ever revoked was never answered,” McHugh said in his opinion.
 
“Because I conclude that this request was properly served,” he continued, “the lack of response is, under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 36(a)(3), deemed an admission that Coleman never revoked. Although in most circumstances I would be reluctant to allow counsel’s oversight to be the decisive factor on a dispositive motion, any hesitation is overcome by the record here. CTU’s motion for summary judgment will accordingly be granted.”
 

Toxic Mold Case Against Select Comfort Proceeds

A federal judge has allowed a lawsuit against the makers of the Sleep number bed to move forward with claims that a man was injured as a result of toxic mold in the mattress.
 
U.S. District Judge Curtis Joyner of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania denied summary judgment on Alan Prushan’s claims against Select Comfort Retail Corporation with the exception of a single fraud claim.
 
Prushan claimed to have suffered severe permanent injuries as a result of the mold, “These allegations, though sparse, are nonetheless sufficient to state a claim upon which relief may be granted. This is not a complaint where a plaintiff merely asserts the presence of some unknown and amorphous injury; plaintiffs have alleged physical injuries to Mr. Prushan’s person that were caused by toxic mold,” Joyner wrote in his opinion.
 

5/30/17

Photographer Can Sue Scholastic for Infringement 

A federal judge has greenlighted a photographer’s copyright infringement lawsuit against childrens’ book publisher Scholastic over misuse of his pictures. 
 
U.S. District Judge Cynthia Rufe of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania denied Scholastic’s motion to dismiss Bob Krist’s lawsuit. 
 
Rufe said Krist had made sufficient allegations to advance the case to the next phase. 
 
“Defendant … argues that plaintiff fails to plead adequately the time period of infringement,” Rufe said  in her opinion. “But plaintiff alleges infringement occurred ‘shortly after’ defendant licensed plaintiffs works, which other courts have found sufficient at the pleading stage. That makes sense in copyright cases such as this, where the Plaintiff alleges that specific facts regarding infringement are uniquely within defendant’s control and cannot be pleaded with specificity prior to discovery.”
 
 

Deadline Set for Government’s Reply to Williams’ Motion to Dismiss

U.S. District Judge Paul S. Diamond has set a June 2 deadline for the government to reply to Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams’ motion to dismiss the newest charges against him.
 
The deadline came in a short order issued May 26. In a series of motions filed May 19, Williams asked the court to toss charges from a superseding indictment against him alleging he misused campaign money and government vehicles.
 
Williams pointed to the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in the case of former Virginia Gov. Robert McDonnell, in which the justices narrowed the definition of an “official act” done for a bribe and made it more difficult for prosecutors to bring bribery charges against public officials, in his bid to chip away some of the newest fraud charges against him.
 
 

No Do-Over for Unhappy Client in Case Against Her Lawyer, Ex-Employer

A former employee of The Vanguard Group investment firm unhappy with the loss of her discrimination case against the company won’t be able to sue the company again, along with her former lawyer.
 
U.S. District Judge Mark Kearney of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania granted lawyer David M. Koller’s motion to dismiss Joan P. Preston’s claims against him. Kearney also denied Preston’s motion for appointment of counsel.
 
“Ms. Preston’s current complaint seeks to re-litigate her employment claims against Vanguard. Her letter appended to her pro se complaint details alleged harassment experienced while working at Vanguard because of her race, age, and religion,” Kearney said. “The nature of Ms. Preston’s claims against Mr. Koller are unclear, but whatever her claims against Mr. Koller, they are not based on discrimination and appear to revolve around her dissatisfaction with his representation in the earlier action.”
 
 

5/25/17

Builders to Provide Purchase Info in Drywall Antitrust Case

A federal judge has ruled that the home builder plaintiffs in the domestic drywall anti-trust litigation must hand over complete purchasing records of drywall they used.
 
“In part because of the large amount of damages which are potentially recoverable in this case, the Court has stated from the very beginning that both parties will be required to do significant discovery searches, and provide detailed information to the opposing party. If the identity of the manufacturer was known, or can subsequently be discovered, this information may be very useful in allocating damages among different Defendants, whether for settlement purposes or trial,” U.S. District judge Michael Baylson of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania said in his opinion.
 
The plaintiffs claimed harm from violations of antitrust law when defendants allegedly conspired to hike prices, restrict supply, and eliminate the traditional pricing practice of providing customers with job quotes.
 
 

NFL Plaintiffs Want to Move Forward With Helmet Litigation

The retired professional football players involved in the concussion-litigation against the National Football League have asked the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District if they can file a second amended long-form complaint against the helmet-maker Riddell. 
The motion, which was filed Wednesday, noted that many plaintiffs bringing claims against Riddell have agreed to the 2015 settlement against the NFL, but their claims against Riddell remain unresolved. On May 9, the court held an organizational meeting regarding the litigation, and the court issued an order May 18 allowing the plaintiffs to seek the court’s permission to file an amended complaint against Riddell.
 

5/24/17

Glass Company’s Bid to Boot Opposing Counsel Shattered

A glass company sued by The Hartford was unsuccessful in its attempt to get the insurance giant’s lawyer kicked out of the case for conflict of interests.

U.S. District Judge David Stewart Cercone of the Western District of Pennsylvania had stern words for International Glass Products’ move to disqualify opposing counsel.

“The motion presents as little more than a thinly veiled attempt to use the Rules of Professional Conduct to gain a tactical advantage in the litigation. This is clear because the motion fails for at least three reasons,” Cercone said.

Read the full decision here.

5/23/17

Plaintiffs: Reject Honda’s Reargument Bid in $55M Crashworthiness Case

Although Honda would like the state Superior Court to reconsider its decision denying the automaker’s bid to overturn a $55 million crashworthiness verdict, the plaintiffs rather the Superior Court stick with its earlier decision.

The plaintiffs in Martinez v. Honda filed a brief last week asking the Superior Court to deny re-argument in the case.  The brief notes that the Superior Court’s recent pronouncement in the case was issued in a unanimous, unpublished and non-precedential decision.

The plaintiff’s brief can he read here.

5/18/17

Man Charged With Buying Bald Eagle Parts 

Federal prosecutors in Harrisburg have clipped the wings of an alleged buyer of illegal bald eagle parts. 

On Thursday, Daniel E. Strachan, 60, of Depew, New York, was charged in a one-count criminal information with illegal possession of wildlife.

Prosecutors allege Strachan bought various eagle parts, including a bald eagle carcass in violation of the Lacey Act, which prohibits the buying and selling of birds protected by the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act.

In its announcement Thursday, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Pennsylvania said Strachan intends to plead guilty to the charges as part of a plea agreement with the government.

Judge Greenlights Audi’s Subpoenas in Case Against Dealership 

A federal judge has denied a request to quash third-party subpoenas sought by Audi in its breach of contract case against a Northeastern Pennsylvania dealership.

The automaker brought the lawsuit alleging that defendant Bronsberg & Hughes Pontiac, Inc., doing business as Wyoming Valley Audi breached certain terms of an Audi Dealer Agreement into which the parties entered in 1997 when it entered into an asset and real estate purchasing agreement with the Napleton Group.

The Napleton Group claimed the subpoenas were harassing and went beyond the scope of civil discovery, however, U.S. Magistrate Judge Martin C. Carlson of the Middle District of Pennsylvania disagreed.

“As a party-intervenor in this lawsuit, Napleton generally has no standing to object to third-party subpoenas like those issued here by Audi,” Carlson said in his opinion.

5/16/17

Williams’ Lawyer Asks Feds for Evidence Notice

The week after Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams pleaded not guilty to additional corruption charges in federal court, his lawyer has filed a request asking the government to highlight any additional evidence it intends to admit. 
 
Thomas Burke, Williams’ lawyer, made the request on Monday in a federal court filing. It came days after Williams declared his innocence of new federal charges accusing him of misusing campaign money and government vehicles. 
 
“Since his arraignment on these charges, the government has provided almost 190,000 documents of discovery spanning seven years. In addition to discovery that is directly pertinent to the charges handed down by the grand jury, the discovery also contains a plethora of information not charged in the indictment,” court papers said. 
 
Burke continued, “ … Because of the largesse of the discovery in this case, it is requested that the government provide notice, if any, of any evidence sought to be admitted under the Federal Rule of Evidence 404.”
 

Xarelto Mass Tort Gets Trial Dates

As the first wave of federal cases over the blood thinner Xarelto are beginning to hit the trial phase in Louisiana, the judge overseeing the Philadelphia wing of the litigation has set dates for the first six state court cases.
 
Philadelphia Judge Arnold New issued an order Tuesday saying trial for the first case should begin Nov. 3, with additional cases occurring about every two weeks until Jan. 26, 2018.  New’s order can be viewed here.
 
The decision comes as a new discovery dispute has arisen in the state court litigation, stemming from a letter Janssen allegedly sent to a pharmacist about the medication. You can read their briefs here and here.
 

Junkyard Officer on the Hook for $16M Verdict Must Post Bond

A corporate officer of a now-defunct Bucks County junkyard must post a $13 million bond as a stay of execution on judgment is argued on the $16 million verdict against him and other defendants.
 
U.S. District Judge Michael J. Baylson of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania ordered Ashok Kumar Khosla, formerly of A-1 Specialized Services, in the alternative post the assets of A-1 as security. In March, Kumar along with several officers and shareholders of A-1 lost a jury trial in a case brought against them Impala Platinum Holdings.
 
“Kumar shall either agree to the security suggested by Impala, or post a supersedeas bond in the amount of $13 million,” Baylson wrote in  his opinion. “The court finds this amount is necessary and reasonable in the view of the verdict, and in the event the court agrees with Impala’s legal contentions on allocation, and pretrial and post-judgment interest. Notwithstanding Kumar’s post-verdict arguments, as the verdict winner, Impala is entitled to protection and its contentions are entitled to respect at this stage.”
 
Impala, a South African platinum refinery, sued A-1 for failing to pay back loans as it neared insolvency.
 

 

5/15/17

Filings Fly in Spanier, McQueary and Sandusky Cases

Friday as a big day for those following Penn State-related litigation.

Both Penn State and Louis Freeh filed responses to lawsuits that former Penn State president Graham Spanier lodged against them. The lawsuits stem from alleged defamatory statements the school and Freeh made in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky sex abuse scandal. Freeh had investigated the school’s handling of reports of sex abuse by Sandusky, who was later convicted on numerous counts related to child sex abuse. Spanier had raised numerous claims against both Penn State and Freeh, but those claims have been pared down.

Here is Freeh’s filing and here is Penn State’s filing.

Penn State also filed a 154-page brief outlining its arguments for overturning verdicts totaling $12 million for Mike McQueary last year over whistleblower, misrepresentation and defamation claims also connected with the Sandusky scandal. The filing comes months after Penn State outlined additional post-trial arguments specifically about the misrepresentation and defamation award.

Here is a link to the brief in the McQueary case.

The judge overseeing Sandusky’s appeal also post a transcript from a March evidentiary hearing.

Here is a link to that transcript.

 

‘Get-Er-Done’ Drilling Gets it Done in Contract Case

Though not associated with comedian Larry the Cable Guy (we think), Get-Er-Done Drilling Inc. got the last laugh regarding the survival of an unjust enrichment claim it filed. 
 
U.S. Magistrate Judge Lisa Pupo Lenihan of the Western District of Pennsylvania U.S denied defendant U.S. Crossing Limited’s motion to dismiss the unjust enrichment claim against it by Get-Er-Done stemming from breach of verbal contracts over equipment rentals. 
 
“Essentially, when US Crossings needed to have a bore drilled at one of its projects, it would contact plaintiff regarding the scope of the job and the parties would verbally agree on the cost,” Lenihan wrote in her opinion. “Once plaintiff completed its work, it submitted its invoice to US Crossings for the agreed cost. US Crossings allegedly made partial or no payment on the submitted invoices, thus necessitating in [sic] this litigation.”
 

Plaintiffs Fight to Keep Most of Reversed $27.6M Verdict

Plaintiffs who won had their $27.6 million award over a failed knee implant tossed as excessive last year are fighting to keep a substantial part of that award.
 
On May 4, the plaintiffs in Polett v. Public Communications filed a brief with the Superior Court, asking it to affirm the lower court’s decision to reduce the verdict from $27.6 million to $21.5 million. The trial court had remitted the verdict by $6.9 million after the Superior Court last year ruled that the full $27.6 million was excessive.
 
The Superior Court’s ruling marked the third reversal in a case that was tossed in 2013, before the state Supreme Court revived it in 2015
 
Here’s a copy of the plaintiffs’ latest brief.
 

Ex-IBM Employee Can’t Sue for Severance

A man who worked for a technology company whose management division was outsourced to IBM can’t collect severance based on his nearly 30 years at the technology company after IBM laid him off.
 
Phillip Kriley, who worked at Allegheny Technologies Inc. from 1990 to 2009—the last two years as an IBM management employee—claimed IBM ignored his prior service to ATI when offering him a 5-week salary severance package for his two-and-a-half years of employment at IBM. Kriley claimed he was entitled to 26 weeks’ pay.
 
However, Chief U.S. Magistrate Judge Maureen P. Kelly of the Western District of Pennsylvania denied his claim, citing the statute of limitations had run.
 
 

5/10/17

No Crying Over Spilled Dog Food in Wal-Mart Case Venue Dispute

A man who slipped and fell on spilled dog food in a Wal-Mart has won his bid to get his injury lawsuit transferred from federal court to Pike County.
 
U.S. District Judge James M. Munley of the Middle District of Pennsylvania wrote in his opinion that Wal-Mart filed its notice of removal to federal court too late in the litigation, “its notice of removal is untimely, and therefore, procedurally defective.”
 
The slip and fall occurred on Sept. 19, 2014 in the Milford Wal-Mart store.   
 

5/5/17

Mental Health Companies’ Contract Dispute to Stay in Pa.

A federal judge has refused to move a contract payment dispute from Pennsylvania to federal court in California. 
 
The $236,000 dispute between mental health consultancy Open Minds and Mental Health Systems Inc., a company that provides mental and drug rehabilitation to patients in in California, will be litigated in U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania, by order of Chief U.S. District Judge Christopher C. Connor.
 
“After balancing the relevant private and public interest factors and considering the arguments posited by the parties, the court concludes that transfer to the Southern District of California would promote neither ‘the convenience of the parties and witnesses’ nor ‘the interests of justice,’” Connor wrote in his opinion
 

Shingles Litigation Breaks Out In Venue Disputes

Numerous cases in the litigation over Merck’s shingles vaccine, Zostavax, are now tied up in venue disputes.

Plaintiffs in at least seven of the 12 Zostavax cases pending in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District have filed motions seeking to remand the cases back to state court. Several of the remand motions were filed in April, and Merck has replied in some of the cases, asking the federal court to keep jurisdiction. 

Honda Seeks Reargument Over $55M Verdict

Honda, which recently lost a bid to overturn a $55 million crashworthiness verdict against it, is seeking further appellate review of the case.

Last month, a three-judge state Superior Court panel affirmed the multi-million dollar verdict against the car-making giant, but on Wednesday Honda filed an application seeking reargument en banc.

Among other things, the reargument motion said the decision “exacerbates existing conflicts and widespread confusion” over the game-changing products liability case Tincher v. Omega Flex. Although the three-judge panel’s opinion had weighed into the topic, the ruling was not precedential.

Honda’s brief (which includes a fantastic breakdown of Tincher-related cases so far) can be found here.

Last Pretrial Hearing Set in Seth Williams’ Corruption Case

The final pretrial conference between the prosecution and Seth Williams’ lawyers is to take place a week before the embattled district attorney is set to stand trial.

U.S. District Judge Paul S. Diamond of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania scheduled the conference for May 25. The trial is scheduled to begin May 31.

As per Diamond’s guidance, the case has been moving at break-neck speed. While similar corruption cases have taken up to a year from indictment to get to trial, Diamond said the public’s interest in a speedy trial for the sitting D.A. is the highest priority.

Click here for the order.

Day School Owner in Philadelphia Held in Civil Contempt

A federal judge has issued a contempt order against a Philadelphia day school owner for failing to comply with a subpoena. 
 
The order was issued against N & B Lundy Corporation doing business as Pitter Patter Day School, which was under investigation by the U.S. Department of Labor for alleged ERISA violations. 
 
U.S. District Judge Matthew W. Brann said the defendant failed to respond to the subpoena seeking financial documents and attend hearings related to it. 
 
“Based on respondent’s history of flouting court orders, I will therefore set a twenty-one day timeline in which Respondent and principal Bobbi Jo Lundy will have to produce the documents and in which a coercive fine will be accruing,” Brann said.
 
“If respondent fails to comply within that timeframe,” Brann said, “Ms. Lundy shall be ordered to appear immediately before this court to present evidence of why she cannot comply with this order. Failure to do so appear before the court or to present such evidence will result in the immediate arrest and imprisonment of Bobbi Jo Lundy for civil contempt.”
 

5/2/17

Atheists’ Have a Prayer in Challenge to House’s Opening Invocation Practice

The state House of Representatives begins legislative sessions with an opening invocation by either a House member or a guest chaplain, but a challenge to the religious restrictions placed on who can give that invocation recently cleared a legal hurdle.
 
The plaintiffs, a group of “atheist, agnostic, Secular Humanist, and freethinking individuals,” are seeking an injunction that would allow them to give the invocation, despite a decision by Speaker of the House to exclude “non-adherents” and “nonbelievers.”
 
On Friday, U.S. District Court Judge Christopher Conner of the Middle District of Pennsylvania rejected attempts to toss out their case entirely.
 
Although Conner decided that the claims could not proceed under the Free Speech, Free Exercise, and Equal Protection clauses, he said the claims could proceed on the Establishment clause of the First Amendment.
 
Here’s a link to the opinion.
 

4/27/17

 

The Long Bench Slap

U.S. District Judge Matthew Brann of the Middle District of Pennsylvania tossed out a lawsuit against a mid-state school, concluding that the case “has wasted the court’s – and by extension, the public’s- time and resources.”

The suit was over an injury a student suffered when he bashed his head on a door while attempting to evade a teacher who had been looking to send him to the principal’s office.

Brann admonished the plaintiff’s counsel to think “long and hard” before bringing similar claims, and cited a Third Circuit Court judge’s words that “in devoting time and effort to litigation of this nature, federal courts deprive parties with cases raising federal questions of the attention they deserve.”

In a somewhat ironic twist, though, Judge Brann, issued the ruling in a 125-page opinion.

Click here for the ruling.

Spanier Sentencing Date Set

Former Penn State president Graham Spanier is set to be sentenced June 2, the judge overseeing his trial has ruled. Judge John A. Boccabella issued an order Wednesday outlining the time and place for the proceedings.

Boccabella’s order can be read here

Spanier was convicted in March on a single count of child endangerment. The misdemeanor is punishable by a maximum of five years in prison and a $10,000 fine. 

 

New Invokana Complaint Filed

A new complaint in the consolidated litigation over the diabetes drug Invokana has been filed in the U.S. District Court of New Jersey, in part to address a “scrivener’s error.”

Here’s a link to the complaint.

The “scrivener’s error” at issue was made by the plaintiffs in a petition they filed when the cases were pending in state court.  The alleged error had said that the plaintiffs wanted to consolidate cases for trial in state court, but, according to a federal judge in Pennsylvania who had presided over a wing of the litigation that had originated in Pennsylvania state court, the reference gave the federal court jurisdiction over the cases under the Class Action Fairness Act. 

 

By the Numbers: The Phila. Bar’s Judicial Commission

People are often surprised to learn that the Philadelphia Bar Association’s Judicial Commission spends more than 2,000 hours vetting candidates seeking judgeships in the city’s courts, but the bar is looking to help voters get a better sense of the bipartisan process for investigating the candidates.

The bar recently released a new infographic aimed at giving voters a quick, by-the-numbers rundown of all the key elements in the process.

Click here for the graphic.

 

Judge Won’t Reconsider Class Status Denial in Pharma Benefits Antitrust Cases

A federal judge has denied a group of pharmacies’ request to have their motion for class status reconsidered in their case against pharmaceutical benefits managers.

U.S. District Judge C. Darnell Jones of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania’s ruling came in the case of Brady Enterprises v. Medco Health Solutions, in which the plaintiffs alleged the benefits managers conspired to fix prices in order to lower reimbursements to pharmacies.

 

4/25/17

Teacher Implicated in Cheating Scandal Reinstated

A Philadelphia teacher, fired after being implicated in a cheating probe, has been reinstated by the Commonwealth Court.

The decision, which was issued in a precedential decision April 25, hinged on the findings of the arbitrator that the former principal had only negligently supervised those she was in charge of, rather than actively participated in cheating on the standardized state tests. The arbitrator had initially reinstated the woman, but a trial court reversed that.

 

The Commonwealth Court said that, although cheating is “abhorrent and such conduct must be rooted out,” it was “constrained” to reverse the trial court’s ruling.

 

4/20/17

Superior Court Blocks Appeal in Spat Over Firm Breakup

The situation is unusual (Attorney A is fighting the enforcement of a 2014 settlement agreement over the dissolution of his former firm, and at the same time he sought to disqualify the opposing counsel, since that attorney had represented both Attorney A and his former partner during an initial settlement with another former partner), but the Pa. Superior Court came out with a nuts-and-bolt opinion Wednesday quashing the disqualification matter and denying the other issues on appeal.

Here’s our previous reporting on the case, which involves Thomas Fieger, David Cherry, and Dion Rassias of The Beasley Firm, as the attorney Feiger sought to disqualify.

The three-judge panel’s unanimous ruling largely followed the suggestions of the Philadelphia trial court judge who handled the case. 

4/19/17

New Lawsuit Claims Medical Device Caused Infection

Saltz Mongeluzzi Barrett & Bendeski has filed a lawsuit in Philadelphia trial court alleging that a heater-cooler device, which is used during open heart surgery to regulate a patient’s body temperature, caused its client to contract a potentially lethal bacterial infection. In 2015 and 2016, according to the suit, the FDA issued nationwide warnings about the devices’ potential to cause infection. Read the complaint here.

Meanwhile, Google shows that Saltz Mongeluzzi isn’t the only plaintiffs firm targeting the device’s manufacturers in the wake of the FDA’s warnings.

4/18/17

Commonwealth Court’s Luzerne Roadtrip

The Commonwealth Court will hold a special session this Thursday (April 20) at the Luzerne County Courthouse in Wilkes-Barre. The session will begin at 9 a.m. with a joint ceremonial gathering of the Commonwealth Court and the Luzerne County Court of Common Pleas, after which Commonwealth Court President Judge Mary Hannah Leavitt, Judge Joseph M. Cosgrove and Senior Judge James Gardner  Colins will hear oral arguments in several cases of local interest.

4/17/17

Panella Recognized With National Award

State Superior Court Judge Jack A. Panella has been named one of the 32 recipients of The National Sexual Violence Resource Center’s 2017 Visionary Voice Awards. Panella was nominated by the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape and recognized because he “advocates for a trauma-informed judicial system and provides training for judges and attorneys throughout the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania,” according to a press release. 

 

4/13/17

PMC Wants More Open Judicial Discipline

It’s no secret that the courts in Pennsylvania have had their share of problems. On Thursday, Pennsylvanians for Modern Courts, a court-watcher organization advocating for judicial selection, has issued a report and list of recommendations on how Pennsylvania can help combat future judicial troubles.

The recommendations include amending the disciplinary rules to identify more financial penalties and having the state Supreme Court limit its intervention into interim judicial conduct matters, but on the top of that list is a request for “greater openness in the selection of members of the [Judicial Conduct Board and the Court of Judicial Discipline].”

The 70-page report also has an in-depth overview of some of the more high-profile judicial scandals that Pennsylvania has seen in the past five years.

You can review the report here.

 

Angino’s Case Against Bank Tossed

A lawsuit that prominent mid-state attorney Richard Angino brought against bank BB&T alleging breach of contract and civil conspiracy in connection with a $1.25 million line of credit has been dismissed

U.S. District Judge Christopher Conner of the Middle District of Pennsylvania issued an order Thursday dismissing Angino’s second amended complaint with prejudice, finding that the bank had no fiduciary obligation regarding a corporate account central to the dispute and that the claim of misappropriation was barred by the gist of the action doctrine.

On an interesting side note, Conner’s 5-page opinion is one continuous sentence. 

4/12/17

Illegal Restitution in Bonusgate Case

It’s not often that prosecutors ask a court to vacate the sentence of a high-profile defendant, especially on a last-chance appeal under the Post-Conviction Relief Act.

But that is exactly what the state Attorney General’s office has requested in the case of Commonwealth v. DeWeese. The case involves H. William DeWeese, a former Speaker of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives who was later convicted in the so-called Bonusgate scandal.

DeWeese was convicted in 2012 on conflict of interest charges, and sentenced to serve 30 to 60 months’ incarceration and to pay more than $116,000 in restitution. In August 2013, the Superior Court affirmed DeWeese’s sentence, and the state Supreme Court denied his petition for allocatur in November.

Now prosecutors are conceding that the restitution DeWeese had been ordered to pay was unconstitutional.

“The commonwealth is constrained to concede that the restitution imposed at sentencing was unlawful and this court has jurisdiction to vacate that restitution,” a brief prosecutors filed in the U.S. District Court of the Middle District of Pennsylvania said.

The brief focuses specifically on the state Supreme Court’s 2016 decision vacating the sentence of another Bonusgate defendant Mike Veon, who was a former state representative.

DeWeese is being represented by Pietragallo Gordon Alfano Bosick & Raspanti.

You can read the opinion here.

 

Post-Tincher Consumer Expectation Question Raised To Supreme Court

A concrete supply company asked the state Supreme Court to review a Superior Court decision from earlier this year that said a trial judge had improperly determined whether wet concrete is a dangerous product.

The question could be one of the first opportunities for the justices to take a close look at the newly minted separations between judge and juries in product liability cases following the landmark 2014 decision in Tincher v. Omega Flex. (Here’s a decent breakdown of the significance and effects of that decision. 

The specific Tincher-related question raised in Pennsy Supply v. High is whether the Superior Court erroneously interpreted the consumer expectation test, which is one of two theories on which plaintiffs can pursue product liability claims.

Essentially, the argument on that point is that the Superior Court should have affirmed the trial court’s decision that wet concrete is not unreasonably dangerous, since any “ordinary consumer, with even a modicum of investigation, would find that concrete contains lime, that lime is caustic, and that caustic substances can cause burns.” The Superior Court had said that, given Tincher, a jury and not a judge, should make that determination, but Pennsy Supply’s brief, filed late last month by Thomas, Thomas & Hafer attorney John F. Yaninek, said that decision was made “nearly devoid of analysis,” and went against the consumer expectation considerations outlined in Tincher.

Click here for a copy of the brief.

So far, the court has not been shy about punting on post-Tincher issues, but the Filing Fanatic will be keeping a close on whether the high court decides to take up the case. 

 

D-Board Gets New Leadership

New leadership has been appointed to the state’s lead attorney ethics board.
 
The Pennsylvania Supreme Court’s Disciplinary Board announced Friday that David Schwager of Luzerne County will be taking over as chair of the board and Douglas W. Leonard will take on the position of vice-chair. Both have been on the board for several years–Schwager has served since 2012 and Leonard was initially appointed in 2008.
 
According to a press release, Schwager has been an attorney for nearly 30 years, while Leonard is not an attorney. Leonard was initially appointed to fill one of the two-non attorney member positions, but his background is tied in with the legal community as he spent six years as the executive administrator of the Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas and served as president of the Pennsylvania Association of Court Management for a year.
 
 

 

 

4/20/17

Superior Court Blocks Appeal in Spat Over Firm Breakup

The situation is unusual (Attorney A is fighting the enforcement of a 2014 settlement agreement over the dissolution of his former firm, and at the same time he sought to disqualify the opposing counsel, since that attorney had represented both Attorney A and his former partner during an initial settlement with another former partner), but the Pa. Superior Court came out with a nuts-and-bolt opinion Wednesday quashing the disqualification matter and denying the other issues on appeal.

Here’s our previous reporting on the case, which involves Thomas Fieger, David Cherry, and Dion Rassias of The Beasley Firm, as the attorney Feiger sought to disqualify.

The three-judge panel’s unanimous ruling largely followed the suggestions of the Philadelphia trial court judge who handled the case. 

A glass company sued by The Hartford was unsuccessful in its attempt to get the insurance giant’s lawyer kicked out of the case for conflict of interests.

U.S. District Judge David Stewart Cercone of the Western District of Pennsylvania had stern words for International Glass Products’ move to disqualify opposing counsel.

“The motion presents as little more than a thinly veiled attempt to use the Rules of Professional Conduct to gain a tactical advantage in the litigation. This is clear because the motion fails for at least three reasons,” Cercone said.

Read the full decision here: https://ecf.pawd.uscourts.gov/doc1/15715712738

 

Convict Wants His Prosecution Held Against Williams in Sentencing
 
A transit worker convicted on an assault charges wants federal Judge Paul Diamond to consider his case when he sentences former Philadelphia District Attorney R. Seth Williams in the fall.
 
Former transit worker Joseph Bryant filed a letter to the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania claiming that Williams’ only prosecuted him as a favor to the transit workers’ union, which he alleges contributed to Williams’ campaign. Bryant said he had opposed the union. According to his letter, Bryant is 16 months into a 23-month sentence. 
 
The six-page entry on the docket can be seen  here.
 
This is neither the first time letters to the court have been  released on the docket, nor the first time Williams’ opponents have sought to use his  prior prosecutions against him. 
 

8/10/17

Ex-Prosecutors’ Retaliation Suit Against Kane Revived

A federal appeals court has revived a free speech retaliation lawsuit filed against former Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane.

In the lawsuit, filed in Philadelphia federal court in November, former OAG employees Frank Fina, E. Marc Costanzo, Randy Feathers and Richard A. Sheetz, along with former Pennsylvania State Police Commissioner Frank Noonan, claimed Kane released grand jury testimony and emails relating to them in retaliation for their speaking out against her.

OAG investigator Michael Miletto was also named as a defendant in the suit. The case was ultimately thrown out for failure to show retaliation, with U.S. District Judge Harvey Bartle III of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania granting Kane’s motion to dismiss, and the five men appealed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit.

“No doubt facts found in discovery will make or break plaintiffs’ case,” Third Circuit Judge Thomas L. Ambro said in the court’s opinion. “But at the motion-to-dismiss stage they have alleged a colorable claim of retaliation in violation of their First Amendment rights. Whether that retaliation would deter a person of ordinary firmness from exercising those rights is a question to be decided by the factfinder and not discarded so early.”

 

Attorney Donald Haviland was unsuccessful in his bid to kick former Philadelphia Judge Mark Bernstein from the panel set to arbitrate the lawyer’s dispute with his former employer, Kline & Specter.

Philadelphia Judge Patricia McInerney last month ruled that Bernstein can serve as a neutral on the three-person arbitration panel overseeing the case  Haviland v. Kline & Specter.
McInerney’s decision, issued  July 14, rejected Haviland’s arguments that  Bernstein should not be allowed to serve on the panel since he is an adjunct professor at the  Thomas R. Kline School of Law at Drexel University, and he is allegedly supervised by the wife of an attorney who works at Kline & Specter.
McInerney, however, said the courses Bernstein teaches are the same as they were before the school was renamed for Kline, that Kline had nothing to do with Bernstein’s position at the school, and there is no evidence Bernstein and has any contact with the woman Haviland characterized as Bernstein’s supervisor.
“A reasonable person would not question Bernstein’s ability to be impartial especially in light o the fact he recently retired from the bench,” McInerney said.
 
 

 

Attorney Donald Haviland was unsuccessful in his bid to kick former Philadelphia Judge Mark Bernstein from the panel set to arbitrate the lawyer’s dispute with his former employer, Kline & Specter.

Philadelphia Judge Patricia McInerney last month ruled that Bernstein can serve as a neutral on the three-person arbitration panel overseeing the case  Haviland v. Kline & Specter.
McInerney’s decision, issued  July 14, rejected Haviland’s arguments that  Bernstein should not be allowed to serve on the panel since he is an adjunct professor at the  Thomas R. Kline School of Law at Drexel University, and he is allegedly supervised by the wife of an attorney who works at Kline & Specter.
McInerney, however, said the courses Bernstein teaches are the same as they were before the school was renamed for Kline, that Kline had nothing to do with Bernstein’s position at the school, and there is no evidence Bernstein and has any contact with the woman Haviland characterized as Bernstein’s supervisor.
“A reasonable person would not question Bernstein’s ability to be impartial especially in light o the fact he recently retired from the bench,” McInerney said.
 
 

 

Attorney Donald Haviland was unsuccessful in his bid to kick former Philadelphia Judge Mark Bernstein from the panel set to arbitrate the lawyer’s dispute with his former employer, Kline & Specter.

Philadelphia Judge Patricia McInerney last month ruled that Bernstein can serve as a neutral on the three-person arbitration panel overseeing the case  Haviland v. Kline & Specter.
McInerney’s decision, issued  July 14, rejected Haviland’s arguments that  Bernstein should not be allowed to serve on the panel since he is an adjunct professor at the  Thomas R. Kline School of Law at Drexel University, and he is allegedly supervised by the wife of an attorney who works at Kline & Specter.
McInerney, however, said the courses Bernstein teaches are the same as they were before the school was renamed for Kline, that Kline had nothing to do with Bernstein’s position at the school, and there is no evidence Bernstein and has any contact with the woman Haviland characterized as Bernstein’s supervisor.
“A reasonable person would not question Bernstein’s ability to be impartial especially in light o the fact he recently retired from the bench,” McInerney said.
 
 

 

Spanier Gets Date to Fend Off Judgment in Civil SuitSpanier Gets Date to Fend Off Judgment in Civil Suit

8/24/17

Phila. Hits Back at Wells Fargo In Discriminatory Lending Suit

Philadelphia is pushing back against Wells Fargo’s attempts to dismiss  a suit the city filed earlier this year alleging the bank engaged in discriminatory lending practices that damaged the city’s housing stock.
 
Last month,  the lending giant blasted the city’s suit,  saying the suit attempted to unreasonably stretch the understanding of the Fair Housing Act. On Wednesday, the city issued its response saying Wells Fargo was avoiding the “overwhelming evidence of its racial and ethnic discrimination,” and was trying to “slice and dice” their arguments out of context.
 
You can read the latest filing  here.

 

$100K Bad Faith Verdict Against New York Insurance Company Survives

A federal judge has upheld a $100,000 jury award for a plaintiff’s bad faith claims against his insurer
 
U.S. District Judge Malachy E. Mannion of the Middle District of Pennsylvania denied New York Central Mutual Fire Insurance Company’s motion for judgment as a matter of law in which it alleged Bernie Clemens did not provide enough evidence to support his claim at trial.  
 
“Whether the actions taken by the defendant during the relevant period of time constituted bad faith in light of all of the circumstances was a question of fact to be resolved by the jury,” Mannion said in  his opinion. “The jury was instructed as to what constitutes bad faith under Pennsylvania law and the burden which the plaintiff had to meet in order to establish his claim. Having considered all of the evidence presented, the jury unanimously decided that the defendant committed bad faith in the handling of the plaintiff’s claim. The jurors are the triers of fact.”