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News & Case Notes

Certificate of Merit not needed in trespass claim against water authority
Claim is for simple negligence, not professional negligence. (9/10/2007)

Discovery rule barred in products liability case

New trial court decision setting aside household exclusion
Opinion from Allegheny County in GEICO v. Ayers of Aug. 23, 2007. (Posted 9/21/07)

New WDPA Sign Down Case
Attached is the Report and Recommendation of Magistrate Judge Lenihan of the Western District Court in McKnight v. State Farm.

Separated father of boy killed by motorist cannot get UIM benefits because son did not live with him

Employer can't recover overpaid workers' comp benefits because incorrect agreement to modify did not exist

Volunteer injured on job entitled to statewide weekly wage despite having been unemployed for decades

Plaintiff awarded wage-loss benefits for depression that resulted from work injury
Commonwealth Court reverses WCAB decision based on plaintiff’s psychologist’s testimony

time herald commentary

biz_journal_article

Lutz_letter

Tim Riley - PLW article

Superior Court upholds award in bad faith case involving strict liability

Superior Court reverses trial court verdict that had found no factual cause in auto accident

TV Review of new trial attorney drama
"Damages" (airing Wednesdays on FX) about an over-the-top trial attorney played by Glenn Close is an enjoyable break from reality.

New federal court opinion on subrogation

Court grants Motions for Summary Judgment in case involving UIM and umbrella coverage

Evidence of seatbelt non-use permitted in products liability case involving airbags
Common Pleas Court rules evidence pertains to decedent’s position during crash, not to contributory negligence. (7/16/2007)

New ruling in suit against Independence Blue Cross (Ciamaichelo v. IBC)

Two recent non-precedential opinions from the Superior Court
Now on PaTLA’s web site, the following memorandum opinions from the Superior Court involving the issues of medical malpractice and attorney-client privilege. (6/29/2007)

Man severely injured in car accident awarded $7.6 million by Delco jury
Award is one of the highest out of the county in years but injured man will only see $100,000 due to findings of liability. (6/28/2007)

Woman not required to file COM in sexual assault complaint against hospital staff
Superior Court rules COM not needed in corporate negligence suits (6/27/2007)

New bad faith ruling from Eastern District Court of Pennsylvania
Judge holds an insured is permitted to bring a bad faith action under a theory of breach of contract against an insurer that is separate and distinct from remedies afforded under §8371. (6/20/2007)

Podiatrist not qualified to testify under MCARE Act in orthopedic surgery case
Supreme Court rules podiatrist not competent to testify as to the standard of care for an orthopedic surgeon because does not possess an unrestricted physician license. (6/20/2007)

Superior Court affirms OSHA regulations preempt state law in products liability case
Forklift that struck worker while backing up not required to have advanced warning system. (6/11/2007)

Insurance company’s failure to offer partial payment on claim not bad faith
Superior Court reverses non-jury award in favor of insured of $75,000. (6/11/2007)

Third U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals holds that employers are free to modify health care benefits for Medicare-eligible retirees

Owner of uninsured vehicle injured in accident can recover medical bills in excess of 5K and all wage loss
Franklin County Court of Common Pleas cites Swords to find uninsured owner eligible for third party benefits. (5/30/2007)

Annual Auto Photo

Commonwealth’s motion for summary judgment on basis of sovereign immunity denied by Common Pleas Judge
Court rules real estate exception applies in case where dead tree fell on motorist. (5/22/2007)

Jury verdict favoring doctor in medical malpractice case reversed by Pa. Superior Court

Supreme Court reverses its own notable workers' comp ruling on termination petitions

Date of SOL on UIM claim not until four years after settlement obtained

Urologist permitted to opine on gynecological surgery in med mal case

Non-lawyers can represent employers at unemployment compensation hearings
Supreme Court overturns en banc Commonwealth Court decision (4/19/2007).

A rejection of stacking waiver required whenever vehicle added to existing policy
Supreme Court reverses Superior Court decision (4/18/2007).

Failure to file COM prevents med mal claim, Superior Court affirms
Trial court properly entered a judgment of non pros against plaintiffs. (4/11/2007)

Insurer has duty to defend and indemnify man guilty of voluntary manslaughter in shooting case, Delco. Judge rules
Court awards $6 million in punitive damages to “punish” homeowner’s carrier for acting in bad faith. A copy of this opinion is available free to PaTLA members. (4/3/2007)

Punitive damages can be awarded without a review of defendant’s wealth
Superior Court holds wealth only considered when determining amount of punitive damages. (3/26/2007)

Accidents that occurred in different counties but are alleged to be related do not allow for joinder of claims
Superior Court affirms preliminary objections to venue. (3/20/2007)

Third Circuit Unanimously Upholds Gross Negligence Finding against the Department of Veterans Affairs
VA mental patient killed his children and their friends; Victory for PaTLA members McHugh and Foley who won verdict for children’s mothers (3/16/2006)

Insured injured by dirt bike not entitled to UM benefits
Superior Court rules bike does not qualify as a motor vehicle despite being operated on public road at time of accident. (3/12/2007)

New WCAB decision in a pension offset case
Testimony of UMWA Health and Retirement Fund's enrolled actuary rejected. (3/8/2007)

Correction needed in newspaper article about Generette v. Donegal Mutual Insurance Co.

Amicus victory in Pennsylvania Superior Court
Court affirms individual’s reception of personal disability benefits and UM/UIM coverage does not constitute “double dipping” per the MVFRL. (3/6/2007)

New Bad Faith 'Exchange' to hold workshop featuring Gary Fye
Insurance expert Gary T. Fye to be featured at first workshop for newly created Bad Faith Insurance Litigation Exchange 'Claim Practices Workshop' set for April 21 in Philadelphia. (3/5/2007)

PA Supreme Court grants allocatur in waiver of stacking rights case
Superior Court had ruled UM/UIM stacking could be waived in Sept. 2005. (3/2/2007)

PaTLA's 2007 Winter Quarterly Meetings a Success
See photographs of our members and state legislators networking at PaTLA's Quarterly Meetings, January 2007

PaTLA Names New Executive Director
Veteran on Capitol Hill, Was VP at National Constitution Center. (3/1/2007)

A new Eastern District Court of Pennsylvania sign-down case
Written request for lower auto insurance applies to lower UM/UIM coverage as well despite no listing of coverage specifics on signed page. (2/28/2007)

Amicus victory in Pennsylvania Supreme Court
PPCIGA liable where insured is a joint tortfeasor with other, non-PPCIGA defendants. (2/22/2007)

Motorcyclist not entitled to UIM coverage because accident not a result of another vehicle’s ownership, maintenance or use
Western District Court rules road debris, not another vehicle, cause of man’s injuries. (2/15/2007)

An insurer must show prejudice when issuing a denial based on an insured’s lack of compliance with a notice provision
Superior court reverses trial court’s granting of insurer’s motion for summary judgment. (2/13/2007)

Bad faith claim can be brought against insurer whose agents gave commercial property a homeowner’s policy
Federal Judge rules coverage cannot be avoided when insured’s requests not heeded by agents. (2/8/2007)

Business partner involved in an accident while driving personal motorcycle entitled to UIM coverage from commercial policy
Superior Court rules man is “named insured” on commercial policy and motorcycle meets definition of a “covered vehicle” (2/6/2007)

Court’s allowance of punitive damages complaint in med-mal case harmless error
Superior Court rules defendant did not suffer any prejudice that affected jury’s verdict. (2/1/07)

Doctor granted new trial after jury fails to apportion liability among other defendants
Common Pleas Court finds when deciding liability, jury must also consider that of defendants who settled prior to trial. (1/31/2007)

Insurer must defend nightclub where patron died from bouncers’ intentional force
Superior Court reverses trial court’s order, finds nightclub negligent for improperly training staff. (1/25/2007)

Amicus Victory
Employer’s suspension petition denied for injured worker who moved out of state in good faith. (1/23/2007)

Stroke victim permitted new trial on pain and suffering damages
Common Pleas Court rules plaintiff suffered “compensable injury” deserving of additional monetary award. (1/22/2007)

Commonwealth Court has jurisdiction to review actions against the MCARE Fund
MCARE Fund’s objections asserting Insurance Dept. has original jurisdiction overruled. (1/18/2007)

Church Trustee who died of burns sustained on the property not entitled to workers’ comp benefits
Supreme Court reverses Commonwealth Court decision and rules man was outside scope of employee duties when fatal incident occurred. (1/16/2007)

Trial court erred in ordering production of defense medical expert’s tax forms
Superior Court vacates trial court’s order; rules a “significant pattern of compensation” not demonstrated. (1/11/2007)

Voir dire questioning on so-called med-mal crisis permitted
State Supreme Court denies petitioner hospital’s allowance of appeal in Capoferri v. Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. (1/10/2007)

Allowance of appeal denied in automobile policy cancellation case
Superior Court applies mailbox rule to deny insurer’s allowance of appeal. (1/8/2007)

Opinion column on Mcare Fund
PaTLA member Cliff Rieders of Williamsport writes why Loss of Mcare fund would be risky [attachment] (1/8/2007)

Object left in woman after surgery not substantial factor in bringing about death
Common Pleas Court affirms trial court’s ruling that no separate damages should be awarded for negligence in not removing object sooner. (1/5/2007)

Bus passengers can recover UM benefits from self-insured Commonwealth agency
Court reverses trial court’s judgment, finds prohibiting recovery of UM benefits due to agency’s sovereign immunity would be “absurd." (1/3/2007)

Omission of word in insurer’s 1731 form renders same invalid
Superior Court rules a phrase missing the word “all” makes form void. (12/28/2006)

An insured’s signed release for a UIM settlement only bars further claims against insurer
Commonwealth Court affirms common pleas court decision allowing insured to receive UIM benefits and also bring action against PennDOT. (12/26/2006)

Father’s generosity to adult daughter establishes pecuniary loss
Court rules the man’s constant gift-giving enables daughter to share in wrongful death proceeds. (12/21/2006)

Trial court opinion setting aside household exclusion
Estate of man killed in collision should be eligible for underinsured motorist benefits under stacked policy although motorcycle he was operating was an “uncovered” vehicle. (12/20/2006)

Written notice of personal injury claim not sufficient to toll statute of limitations
Superior Court affirms motion for summary judgment, holds plaintiff failed to properly file suit. (12/20/2006)

PPCIGA statutory liability limit doubled as plaintiff seen as two claimants in wrongful-death and survival action
Northampton Court rules insurer must pay two separate amounts for each distinct suit. (12/18/2006)

A child’s injuries caused by resident-relative’s negligence must be covered by homeowner’s policy
Court rules “factual place of abode” the determining factor of residency at time of accident. (12/15/2006)

Auto insurance companies must equally share cost of accident, Eastern District Court rules
Due to conflicting clauses in each company’s policy, both are struck and equal amounts are owed. (12/13/2006)

Judge denies company’s motion for summary judgment in work-related injury case
Company’s claim of being “self-insured” instead of “self-insured retention” leads to denial. (12/12/2006)

Medical expert precluded from testifying under MCARE Act
Superior Court affirms trial court’s ruling, holds doctor’s medical license is “restricted” due to probationary requirements. (12/11/2006)

Clear language of release bars injured motorcyclist’s negligence claim
Superior Court upholds summary judgment, also dismisses assumption of risk issue. (12/8/2006)

Meaningless Deaths
Longtime Board Member David Keeffe recalled.

Motor Vehicle rule correctly applied to uphold accident victim’s negligence
Lackawanna Court of Common Pleas holds application of “assured clear distance ahead” not solely dependent upon a vehicle’s speed. (12/5/2006)

New Supreme Court opinion on venue
Improper venue must be raised by preliminary objection under Pa.R.C.P. 1006(e). (12/4/2006)

Insurer can not complete Section 1734 sign down through its officers or agents
Middle District Court finds without sign down, UIM limits equal to BI limits. (12/1/2006)

Ski resort employee’s agreement with patron may supersede signed release form
Superior Court rules more facts need be determined; trial court erred in granting summary judgment. (11/30/2006)

New Supreme Ct. ruling on Occupied Crossing Rule
Court rejects plaintiff’s argument on appeal that OCR conflicts with Comparative Negligence Act. (11/27/2006)

Legislative Wrap
Senate Committee does not act on Auto Plain Language Legislation

Federal Appeals Court ruling in Wirth
Federal Appeals Court rules that insurer is exempt under HMO Act. (11/22/2006)

Slip-and-fall plaintiff who initiated complaint under the wrong name of store’s owner can amend despite the running of the statute of limitations
Superior Court reverses Common Pleas Court decision; holds initial designation of owner is enough to indicate what entity complaint was against. (11/20/2006)

Work-related hearing loss claim must be presented within three years of last exposure
Commonwealth Court of Pa. reverses WCJ and WCAB decision. (11/17/2006)

MCARE Act applied retroactively to disqualify plaintiff’s medical expert from testifying
Superior Court affirms trial court’s granting of defendant’s motion for summary judgment. (11/15/2006)

Trial court failed to instruct jury on defendant’s negligence as a matter of law, Superior Court rules
Failure to yield to pedestrian plaintiff makes defendant negligent per se. (11/13/2006)

Governor signs new workers’ compensation bill into law

N.J. Tort Claims Act correctly applied to case involving Pennsylvania residents injured as a result of N.J. Transit train derailment
Superior Ct. affirms trial court's ruling that Pa. jurisdiction does not apply even though N.J. Transit does business in commonwealth. (11/9/2006)

Settlement offer from claims adjuster cannot be withdrawn when accepted by plaintiffs day after it was made, Allegheny judge rules
Court rules plaintiffs’ failure to file a writ of summons inconsequential; grants Motion to Enforce Settlement. (11/8/2006)

Amendments to med-mal complaint should have been permitted by trial court
Superior Court affirms in part and reverses in part trial court's denial of plaintiff's Petition for Rule to Amend Complaint. (11/2/2006)

WCJ has ability to compel claimant to provide psychological medical records
PA Commonwealth Court finds psychological health records fall within meaning of “physical examination” per Workers’ Compensation Act and should be provided if applicable. (10/31/2006)

New ruling on attorney fees
Garnishee has 30 days from date of trial court’s denial to file notice of appeal. (10/30/2006)

Court rules phrase in homeowner’s policy not ambiguous; breach of contract claim vacated
Plaintiff was not “in the care of” insured per out-of-state guidelines, Superior Court finds. (10/25/2006)

Workers' Comp Measure Heads to Governor's Desk
An omnibus worker's compensation bill was passed by the Senate on Oct. 18 and concurred in House yesterday. (10/23/2006)

PA Supreme Court issues opinion on 5/6 rule

Failure to file certificate of merit prevents plaintiff from bringing forward professional liability claim
PA Supreme Court reverses Superior Court’s ruling, finding plaintiff had no “reasonable excuse” under Pa. Rules of Civil Procedure for not filing COM. (10/20/2006)

PaTLA member Martin K. Brigham to receive award from workers’ rights organization
Lifetime achievement award honors Philadelphia attorney’s devotion to advocacy for injured workers. (10/19/2006)

Nurse expert witness allowed opinion regarding cause of plaintiff’s injuries
Superior Court rules trial court erred when it held expert witness unqualified to give a medical diagnosis. (10/19/2006)

State trial lawyers to honor Alan Feldman for Community Service
Alan M. Feldman, a prominent Center City trial lawyer, will be presented with the 2006 Pennsylvania Trial Lawyers Association’s (PaTLA) Community Service Award for his efforts in increasing support to legal services organizations in Philadelphia. (10/16/2006)

Common Pleas judge finds insurer acted in bad faith in denial of water claim
Award over $200,000 for insurer’s “cavalier-like” behavior. (10/12/2006)

Five-year statute of limitations applies when charges filed against employers without Workers’ Compensation Insurance
Two-year limitations would impair “Commonwealth’s ability to prosecute offenses,” Superior Court rules. (10/11/2006)

Superior Court establishes appellate mediation program for civil cases
The state Superior Court has established an appellate mediation program, the Administrative Office of the Courts announced Friday. (10/9/2006)

Deposition testimony of treating doctor is discoverable under PA Rule of Civil Procedure 4003.1
Common Pleas Court rules testimony’s admissibility can be determined when case goes to trial. (10/5/2006)

Allegheny Common Pleas Court rules on expert’s financial discovery per ruling in Cooper v. Schoffstall

Common Pleas Court rejects insurer’s appeal that its counsel’s recommended settlement amount was inaccurate
Five other grounds of appeal also rejected and determined to be without merit, Fayette judge rules. (10/2/2006)

Court grants summary judgment to insurer in stacking case
The insureds’ execution of stacking waivers and application of the household exclusion prevents additional UIM coverage, a federal court has ruled. (9/29/2006)

Dentures mask, rather than resolve, the harm to a plaintiff’s appearance
Commonwealth Court holds woman who lost teeth due to work-related injury deserves award for permanent disfigurement. (9/27/2006)

Owner of uninsured vehicle receives full tort coverage as specified on policy for actual vehicle involved in loss
Superior Court states holding insured to limited tort despite his selection otherwise “fails to fulfill purpose of” MVFRL. (9/25/06)

A request for reduced UM/UIM limits at policy’s inception is binding throughout unless otherwise specified in writing
Third Circuit Court affirms district court’s order granting summary judgment to insurer. (9/22/2006)

Health care provider’s employee records do not meet criteria of the Peer Review Protection Act
Lackawanna County Court rules documents are related to “human resources” information, not peer review. (9/21/2006)

Jury awards wrestler injured in auto accident for loss of Olympic hope
Plaintiff claims no medical expenses or loss of wages, just the abandonment of his athletic dream. (9/20/2006)

School equipment not a fixture despite its ability to be bolted to floor, Commonwealth Court rules
Vertical belt sander can be moved for cleaning and other needs; does not qualify for exception to immunity. (9/18/2006)

Bad faith action can only exist when claim is actually denied, District Court rules
Under Pa. law, no cause of action against an insurer is recognized for delaying settlement. (9/14/2006)

Med Mal complaint wording not specific enough, stricken by court
Language “including but not limited to” denies defendants the ability to properly defend allegations, Lackawanna judge rules. (9/13/2006)

Supreme Court to hear med mal, waiver stacking, and workers' comp claims
Members of PaTLA’s Amicus Committee to participate in two of the cases. (9/12/2006)

Court rules written interrogatories a balanced approach for disclosure of medical expert’s financial information
Procedure is “less burdensome than the production of personal financial records." (9/11/2006)

ATLA: Merck Attempts to Escape Responsibility for Vioxx Deaths
The Association of Trial Lawyers of America announced yesterday that the self-financed study ignores facts showing the company marketed a drug it knew carried serious heart risks. (9/8/2006)

Parol evidence supporting auto coverage for non-resident insured allowed to stand
Court distinguishes “traditional contract” principles from “insurance transactions,” confirms jury did not err in granting benefits. (9/6/2006)

Remittitur pursuant to MCARE Act not applicable in auto accident case involving health care provider
Court rules Act applies to medical malpractice claims only and affirms trial court's $20 million verdict. (9/5/2006)

Insurer’s appeal against bad faith ruling dismissed by PA Supreme Court
Erie’s actions during litigation can and do constitute bad faith. (8/25/2006)

Arbitrators’ finding can be reviewed by courts; UM/UIM form pursuant to MVFRL
Superior Court draws from Webb v. USAA to reverse decision in favor of auto insurer. (8/31/06)

Burden of proof not improperly shifted to employer once additional injuries proven by employee
Commonwealth Court affirms WCJ ruling: multiple injuries not specific to one loss. (8/30/2006)

Court's dismissal based on forum non conveniens reversed
Superior Court rules unsubstantial "weighty reasons" made up trial court's decision. (8/28/2006)

Supreme Court: HMO exempt from anti-subrogation provision of MVFRL
The Supreme Court in Wirth v. Aetna U.S. Healthcare ruled Tuesday that a health maintenance organization is exempt from complying with the anti-subrogation provision found in section 1720 of the MVFRL. (8/24/2006)

Ambiguous exclusion provision leads to coverage for pizza delivery man
Supreme Court rules clause in insurer’s policy has multiple interpretations so must favor insured. (8/23/2006)

Jury verdict of $5 million rendered against hospital for negligent nursing care when patient injured after falling from bed
Woman was left upright and alone during recovery from surgery. (8/23/2006)

Student injured by fallen table at school can not recover due to Tort Claims Act
Commonwealth Court utilizes past case law to reverse trial court ruling, finds table not an “attachment to realty.” (8/21/2006)

Trial court erred in application of UIM guidelines, summary judgment reversed
Superior Court finds inaccurate perception of auto insurer’s policy language and the MVFRL led to erroneous judgment; insured can pursue UIM coverage. (8/18/2006)

Trial court erred in applying “collateral source rule,” but new trial not warranted
Superior Court acknowledges error but asserts omission of evidence not harmful to case. (8/17/2006)

Failure to observe surroundings not business’ fault when patron falls
An inattentive customer trips on a store’s warning sign, but store gave adequate notice, Monroe Court rules. (8/16/2006)

Accident victim can not draw from two different policies for coverage, Court rules
Lack of benefits on driver’s personal policy does not permit utilization of vehicle owner’s policy benefits. (8/14/2006)

Different names, same action: complaint dismissed based on lis pendens defense
Plaintiff cannot bring forward two cases based on same circumstances, Court rules. (8/9/2006)

Court rules psychiatric treatment must be fully covered by employer when proven related to physical injury
Decision reverses and modifies both WCJ and WCAB rulings. (8/4/2006)

Auto insurance carrier has right to present evidence supporting refusal of storage fees, Court rules
Nationwide is owner once title is received; case remanded to trial court. (8/8/2006)

Jury awards family $5 million for infant’s death as a result of Tylenol overdose
Unanimous decision prompted by insufficient warning labels on bottle. (8/3/2006)

Defendant’s doctor must produce records relating to income derived from personal injury litigation
Dauphin judge rules that plaintiffs are entitled to discovery information about physician’s history of involvement as a defense witness. (8/1/2006)

Court denies health care provider's subro rights
PA Motor Vehicle Code defines motorcycle as a “motor vehicle;” MVFRA anti-subrogation provision justly met. (7/27/2006)

Exculpatory disclaimer not valid unless actively understood by consumer
Court reverses trial court decision, finding disclaimer not “conspicuous” enough. (7/26/2006)

Mental injury does not qualify for first-party medical benefits, court rules
Plaintiff’s post-traumatic stress due to witnessing husband’s death not a “bodily injury." (7/25/2006)

Defense experts not required to release all plaintiff-requested financial information
Superior Court utilizes Whetzel to set boundaries for what information is accessible. (7/24/2006)

Institute of Medicine reports medication mistakes injure over 1.5 million Americans a year
IOM proposes ways to prevent problem; healthcare professionals react. (7/21/2006)

ATLA officially changes its name to American Association for Justice
Outgoing President Ken Suggs announced the change at ATLA's convention in Seattle. (7/20/2006)

Honik elected President of PaTLA
Ruben Honik, a founding shareholder in the Philadelphia law firm of Golomb & Honik, P.C., addressed more than 200 fellow trial lawyers, judges, and legislators as the newly elected president of the Pennsylvania Trial Lawyers Association on July 8.

New premises liability case
Doctrine of "hills and ridges" applies only to a "natural accumulation" of snow and ice, Superior Court rules. (7/18/2006)

New PPCIGA ruling from the Superior Court
PPCIGA owes separate $300,000 layer for each liable defendant and each policy. (7/17/200)

Burden of proof lies on accuser when signature is challenged as forgery
Court rules plaintiff did not provide enough evidence to support bad faith claim. (7/14/2006)

A BI limits increase does not necessitate an identical increase in UIM coverage
Court finds insured still bound to lower UIM limits despite requested raise in BI coverage. (7/12/2006)

Inability to examine actual device at crux of claim results in dismissal
Superior Court affirms trial courts summary judgment on the basis of spoilation. (7/7/2006)

Child born to woman with listeriosis receives multi-million dollar settlement
Two meat-manufacturing companies cited for the outbreak; divide $3 million between mother and child. (7/6/2006)

Court suggests video-conferencing for long distance depositions
Utilizing “new technology” lowers litigation costs, travel time, Judge states. (7/5/2006)

A trail deemed in connection with insured residence qualifies for coverage
Third Circuit upholds ruling that Allstate must defend and indemnify insured ATV-driver. (6/29/2006)

Workers' Comp bill approved by PA House of Representatives
Bill 2738 next moves to Senate. (6/27/2006)

Supreme Court confirms delay damages not applicable to contract actions
Trial and Superior Courts were correct: Rule 238 specific to property damage claims. (6/26/2006)

Merit Certificate permitted to support two types of claim
Direct negligence claim dismissed, but vicarious liability claim can proceed because it is sustained under the same certificate of merit, Superior Court panel rules. (6/23/2006)

State bar issues report on medical malpractice system
Pennsylvania Bar Association: Recent legal-system changes to med-mal are working; caps on damages can harm women, children, and the elderly. (6/20/2006)

Asbestos plaintiffs permitted to file new suits once diagnosed with lung cancer
Majority of Court confirms applying “two-disease” rule retroactively is justified. (6/20/2006)

New Personal Care Home regulations validated by Commonwealth Court
DPW did not err; personal care home administrators' petition dismissed. (6/15/2006)

Court rules charter schools entitled to governmental immunity
World Communication Charter School constitutes a "political subdivision." (6/13/2006)

Claim for UIM and liability on same policy contradicts MVFRL
Regarding coverage, trial judge rules plaintiff "should receive only what he paid for." (6/9/2006)

Inquirer: Diet-drug cases in Texas are settled
Wyeth will pay "several hundred million dollars" to resolve about 4,000 "fen-phen" lawsuits. (6/9/2006)

Court rules business-used vehicle bound to language of private vehicle policy
Plaintiff remains "limited tort" due to his selection of coverage. (6/7/2006)

Statutory employer guidelines should be considered with humanitarian overview
Prongs making up employer determination mandate liberal application. (6/7/2006)

Study of closed claims debunks assertions of 'frivolous' suits
Review of New England Journal of Medicine Article from May 11. (6/1/2006)

Court upholds WCAB and WCJ ruling regarding unpaid therapy bills
BWC stance permits U.S. Airways to avoid penalties. (5/31/2006)

Supreme Court to address UIM stacking issue
Case centers on whether policyholders must sign a UIM waiver with each added vehicle. (5/30/2006)

Hospital inquiry into two infections not protected by peer review
Non precedential opinion and order from the Superior Court in Forrest v. St. Luke’s Hospital on May 24 quashing an appeal taken by the hospital on a peer review matter. (5/30/2006)

Comp judge maintains ruling in favor of slain ice cream vendor's family
Judge determines deceased qualifies as "employee" of Jack & Jill. (5/25/2006)

Superior court reverses and remands UIM decision
Liberty Mutual payout to injured motorist to be determined. (5/26/2006)

Judge: Family of man who died due to delayed medical treatment entitled to damages
Punitive damages awarded to family of man who died while waiting for heart surgery due to lack of insurance, Dauphin judge rules. (5/24/2006)

New Work Comp Decision
Penalties could be awarded against employer for failure to pay benefits following denial of supersedeas, Cmwlth. Ct. rules. (5/23/2006)

Patriot-News: Malpractice system flawed, study finds
A story in Wednesday’s Patriot-News finds some agreement among doctors and lawyers that the present system is not doing enough to help injured victims or promote patient safety. (5/19/2006)

Supreme Court increases limit of recoverable damages to $25,000 in appeal of arbitration award
Under the rule change effective July 1, 2006, regarding admission of documentary evidence, a plaintiff may stipulate $25,000 as the maximum amount of damages recoverable upon the trial of an appeal from the award of arbitrators. (5/18/2006)

Court affirms use of jury charge noting defendant’s liability for plaintiff's injuries
Trial court did not err in permitting jury instruction related to plaintiff’s degenerative condition. (5/17/2006)

Judge: No spoliation in couple’s breach of contract, bad faith claim
Lawrence judge dismisses couple’s count of spoliation in bad faith case stemming from vehicle loss. (5/16/2006)

Turkey processing companies responsible for '02 Listeriosis outbreak
Federal judge rules that alternative liability theory applies in litigation against two turkey processing plants resulting from a deadly listeria outbreak in Northeast. (5/15/2006)

Atla chief: 'Study' of civil justice system more propaganda
The Association of Trial Lawyers of America has denounced a study maligning the nation's civil justice system. (5/12/2006)

Award of damages vacated in civil suit
Plaintiff did not present evidence of actual medical bills paid, Superior Ct. rules in memorandum opinion. (5/11/20)

CBS Sunday Morning segment on Misdiagnosis
While not rampant, misdiagnosis happens more often than it should, CBS News reports. (5/9/2006)

Federal Med Mal – Consumers, injured victims score victory
On Monday, the United States Senate easily defeated attempts by Republicans to invoke cloture on a motion to proceed with federal medical malpractice legislation. (5/9/2006)

Foster child involved in motor vehicle accident eligible for UIM benefits
Youth was legally a ward even though family had not obtained court order. (5/9/2006)

Superior Ct. ruling in bad faith case
Breach of contract claim barred by two-year statute of limitations. (5/4/2006)

Discovery opinion from Blair County - Production of medical records
Defendant may not obtain plaintiff’s medical and employment records directly from individuals having custody of those records. (5/3/2006)

Philadelphia Inquirer: Penn bans gifts from drug reps
Doctors' decisions should not be influenced, an official said. (5/3/2006)

Big gains for many Pa. hospitals, Inquirer reports
Pa. hospital profits show highs and lows; Record gains in 2005, but the uninsured strain those in poor areas. (4/28/2006)

Bad faith finding reversed
Superior Court’s ruling in Condio v. Erie. (4/27/2006)

High Court releases new med mal data
Latest medical malpractice data shows sustained decline in case filings, Pa. Supreme Court announces. (4/26/2006)

Insurance stacking issue ruled on by Supreme Court
Where insured rejected stacking on single car policy, they cannot stack onto second vehicle on separate policy. (4/25/2006)

Medical benefits must be picked up by employer even after disability benefits have ceased
Workers' Comp Act sets no time limit on employer’s liability for medical benefits, Cmwlth. Ct. rules. (4/21/2006)

Vioxx-case judge won't lift cap on jury award
The Associated Press reports that a state judge in Texas yesterday refused a plaintiff's motion to lift a Texas cap on jury awards for punitive damages in a lawsuit over Merck & Co. Inc.'s once-popular pain-reliever Vioxx. (4/20/2006)

Mailbox rule applies in case of overdue premium payment
Superior Ct. rules that trial court erred as to timeliness issue with respect to mailbox rule and significance of payment notice language. (4/19/2006)

Trial court erred in granting plaintiff a new trial in motor vehicle accident case
Memorandum opinion from the Superior Ct: Defendant conceded his own negligence, but did not concede that plaintiff suffered any injury as a result of the accident. (4/18/2006)

Santorum touts tort reform; High Court to allow citing of unpublished opinions
U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum yesterday told members of a physicians’ lobby that he and fellow conservatives "are going to war in Washington, D.C., in about a month" in support of legislation aimed at creating a cap on damages, the Legal Intelligencer reports today.

Change of venue to Allegheny Co. in med mal case was proper, Common Pleas judge rules
"Nominal" connection with Clearfield Co. due to telephone call from defendant’s branch clinic. (4/12/2006)

Apology note in med mal case where jury returns a defense verdict
Legal Intelligencer: Defense win in ‘apology note’ med mal case. (4/11/2006)

Court: Bath to a nursing home patient constitutes furnishing of medical services
Link to Strine v. Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. (4/10/2006)

Ex-CEO of Merck testifies in Vioxx trial, Inquirer reports
The Philadelphia Inquirer reports today that Ex-CEO of Merck, Raymond V. Gilmartin, gave testimony that he never knowingly hid safety data. (4/7/2006)

Exculpatory clause in lease invalidates plaintiff’s negligence claim against landlord
Memorandum opinion from the Superior Court affirming summary judgment in favor of defendant landlord in personal injury claim. (4/7/2006)

Injured motorist's injuries represent serious impairment
The Pennsylvania Superior Court, on Thursday, affirmed a Philadelphia trial court's finding that that a laborer sustained a "serious injury" to overcome the limited tort threshold. (3/31/2006)

Judge affirms bad faith verdict against med mal insurer
$6.25M punitive damage award not excessive as jury found bad faith against insurer for failure to settle and appointing single lawyer with conflict of interest. (3/30/2006)

Today's Inquirer: Hospital infections' costs get attention | New SS disability rules
From this morning’s Philadelphia Inquirer. (3/29/2006)

Trial court erred in granting summary judgment to defendants in abuse of process case
Superior Ct. remands case where plaintiff questions insurance company's tactics during settlement negotiations involving a minor child's a med-mal verdict. (3/28/2006)

Gov. vetoes SB 435
Gov. Rendell today vetoed SB 435 PN 1357 Comaprative Negligence Bill. His Letter to the Senate is attached.

Legislative Alert: March 24, 2006
Gov. Rendell Vetoes SB 435

Inquirer Editorial: Jury-Awars Legislation
Op-Ed from this morning's Philadelphia Inquirer. (3/24/2006)

Fair Share Act Legislation
Link to Bill (PN 1357) on General Assembly's Web site. (3/23/2006)

Pennsylvania makes strides in attorney discipline
A national consumer legal reform group has listed Pennsylvania as the "most improved" state for lawyer discipline. (3/22/2006)

ADA opinion from the Third Circuit
Employee not estopped from pursuing claim by reason of SSDI and long-term disability claim. (3/21/2006)

DOT immune from negligence suit brought by pizza delivery driver
Plaintiff failed to show that there was any defect in the road that cause the accident, Cmwlth. Ct. affirms. (3/20/2006)

Auto case from Lackawanna County
Regular use exclusion does not bar claim for underinsured benefits of state trooper who was seriously injured in motor vehicle crash. (5/2/2006)

Court ruling on venue in accident case
Motor vehicle accident case moved to Philadelphia where registered address of corporation is located. (3/16/2006)

House passes bill abolishing joint liability
After the bill is signed in the Senate, it will go to Gov. Rendell. (3/15/2006)

Joint Liability Vote
Voting record of Pa. House members on abrogation of joint liability. (3/15/2006)

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