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April 18th, 2017 by Rieders Travis in Products Liability

Renninger v. A&R Machine Shop, 2017 Pa. Super. LEXIS 241 (April 11, 2017) Stabile, J.  Appellants, Dennis A. Renninger and his wife, Patsy D. Renninger, appeal from the judgment of November 12, 2015. We affirm. On May 25, 2007, Appellant Dennis Renninger was at work in the Clarion, Pennsylvania plant of his employer, Commodore Homes (“Commodore”), a manufacturer of modular homes, when he sustained a serious injury to his foot. While under construction, each modular home moves along an assembly on wheeled casters attached to its underside. Mr. Renninger was injured when a caster ran over his foot. Appellants sued Appellees A&R Machine Shop (“A&R”)1 and Cass Hudson Company (“Cass Hudson”) as the designers, manufacturers and suppliers of the casters. Appellants alleged causes of action for strict products liability, negligence, breach of implied warranty, and loss of consortium causes of action, claiming the casters should have included toe guards. The case proceeded to a June 22-25, 2015 jury trial on Appellants’ strict products liability/design defect claim.2 The jury returned a defense verdict, finding Cass Hudson did not supply a defective product. Appellants filed timely post-trial motions on June 30, 2015.…


April 18th, 2017 by Rieders Travis in Miscellaneous

The District Court erred by granting summary judgment on the basis of qualified immunity. Accordingly, the case was reversed.  A misrepresentation in the police officer’s affidavit concerning the physical description of the alleged criminal, standing alone, would not be sufficient to prevent a fact-finder from concluding that the reconstructed affidavit still established probable cause.  The court considered whether the misrepresentation and reckless omissions concerning the context of the affidavit as a whole or material are necessary to the finding of probable cause.  The court goes through what makes an affidavit improper.  Andrews v. Scuilli, 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 6119 (3rd Cir. April 10, 2017) Nygaard, C.J.


April 17th, 2017 by Rieders Travis in Insurance

Michael v. Stock, 2017 Pa. Super. LEXIS 245 (April 11, 2017) Solano, J.  This case deals with bad faith in the unusual context of title insurance.  At issue is an amended third party complaint.  The descriptions of property in an insurance policy must be construed with reference to the insured’s reasonable expectations with respect to the coverage being purchased.  Most cases deal with fire and casualty policies, but the court was aware of no grounds upon which the results should differ for title insurance.  The court reversed the grant of summary judgment and sent the case back to trial on the bad faith claim of the Stock’s.

Class Action Lawsuits Face a Serious Threat

April 13th, 2017 by Rieders Travis in Personal Injury

PA Class Action Lawsuit
Class action lawsuits are one of the most fundamental tools for citizens to band together against large entities such as corporations and manufacturers. These lawsuits provide strength through numbers and may be brought on behalf of groups of people who have been injured by problems such as a consumer rip-off, pharmaceutical drug mistake, faulty product design, sex discrimination in the workplace, lead and asbestos poisoning, and others. The purpose of these lawsuits is to provide a fair means of evaluating similar claims and to allow groups of injured persons to receive a settlement without having to hire individual attorneys. However, class action lawsuits have their detractors. Those who oppose them claim that some class action lawsuits are overly broad. Class action lawsuits are guided by procedural rules. In a class action, one or more people bring a case on behalf of others. This is different than multi-district litigation, which we also become involved with. In a multi-district case, each person who files a lawsuit in fact has a separate case. In class actions, it is the representatives who bring the case on behalf of others. On March 10, 2017, a…

Dangerous Drug Combinations

April 10th, 2017 by Rieders Travis in Medical Malpractice, Pharmaceutical Drugs

PA Drug Injury Lawyer
What happens when you become extremely ill after taking medicine your doctor ordered? Patients have every expectation that the medications prescribed for them will be beneficial and help get them well; but all too often, drugs -- and their interactions with other medications the patients are taking -- wind up making them more sick. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), pharmaceutical drugs kill over 40,000 people each and every year. Studies highlighted by the CDC estimate that more than 50% of all the drugs marketed to the American consumer have side effects that injure people, in spite of testing and FDA regulation. Sometimes, it is a new drug that ultimately proves defective or dangerous, but also there are times doctors or pharmacies fail to recognize that drugs which may be safe when prescribed on their own can become dangerous or even deadly in combination with other medications. Consider what happened when a Chicago Tribune reporter walked into an Evanston CVS pharmacy with two prescriptions: one for clarithromycin, a common antibiotic, the other for simvastatin, an anti-cholesterol drug. Each drug is relatively safe when taken alone, but…


April 6th, 2017 by Rieders Travis in Miscellaneous

Home inspection agreement contained an arbitration clause.  The lower court found it was not enforceable, but the Superior Court reversed and sent it back to the trial court with instructions.  A PECO power pole fell over and started a fire, and a homeowner was burned.  They filed a lawsuit against the inspection company, saying that the pole was rotted and no information about the rotting was given to the homeowners when they purchased the home.  The parties entered into a valid agreement to arbitrate.  The unconscionability argument rests on the assertion that the agreement was inconspicuous and difficult to read.  However, the agreement contained a conspicuous statement on the top in bold letters advising the consumer to read the agreement carefully.  The damage limitation may be stricken by the agreement or ignored by the mediator if it is improper.  Bodily injury claims are within the scope of the agreement.  The tort claims arise from the duties that the homeowners claim they were owned pursuant to the inspection agreement.  The facts that support a tort action also support a breach of contract action.  Therefore, the tort claims are subject to the…


April 6th, 2017 by Rieders Travis in Attorney's Fees

Grimm v. Universal Medical Services, Inc., et al., No. 591 WDA 2016, 2017 PA Super 53 (March 1, 2017) Bender, P.J.E.  Appellants, Universal Medical Services, Inc. and Roderick K. Reeder, CFO, appeal from the trial court’s March 24, 2016 order granting Appellee’s Jeffrey P. Grimm, request for attorney’s fees.  In this appeal raising an issue of first impression, we must consider the interplay between the Pennsylvania Wage Payment and Collection Law (referred to herein as “WPCL”) and Pennsylvania Rule of Civil Procedure 1311.1, which allows a plaintiff to limit the maximum amount of damages recoverable to $25,000.00 in exchange for relaxed requirements in admitting certain documentary evidence at a de novo trial following compulsory arbitration.  After close review, we affirm. Given the arguments advanced by counsel here and the facts of this specific case, we hold that attorneys’ fees under the WPCL were properly awarded, even though they caused the total amount recovered by Appellee to exceed the limit set forth in Rule 1311.1. Order affirmed.


April 6th, 2017 by Rieders Travis in Constitutional Law

Expressions Hair Design v. Schneiderman, 2017 U.S. LEXIS 2186, No. 15-1391 (S. Ct. March 29, 2017) Roberts, C.J.  Each time a customer pays for an item with a credit card, the merchant selling that item must pay a transaction fee to the credit card issuer.  Some merchants balk at paying the fees and want to discourage the use of credit cards, or at least pass on the fees to customers who use them.  One method of achieving those ends is through differential pricing – charging credit card users more than customers using cash.  Merchants who wish to employ differential pricing may do so in two ways relevant here:  Impose a surcharge for the use of a credit card, or offer a discount for the use of cash.  In N. Y. Gen. Bus. Law § 518, New York has banned the former practice.  The question presented is whether § 518 regulates merchants’ speech and – if so – whether the statute violates the First Amendment.  We conclude that § 518 does regulate speech and remand for the Court of Appeals to determine in the first instance whether that regulation is unconstitutional.


April 6th, 2017 by Rieders Travis in Miscellaneous

The question is whether appellees intended to be bound by the terms of use contained on a website even though they never visited it.  The lower court properly held that appellees did not agree to arbitrate and the Third Circuit affirmed.  The court cited Par-Knit Mills, Inc. v. Stockbridge Fabrics Co., 636 F.2d 51, 54 (3rd Cir. 1980).  Obviously, Par-Knit is still good law.  James v. Global Tellink Corp., 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 5448 (3rd Cir. March 29, 2017) Hardiman, C.J.


April 6th, 2017 by Rieders Travis in Miscellaneous

The trial court misconstrued the law.  Therefore the judgment below was vacated and the matter remanded for proceedings.  The case involved whether a mortgage was viable.  Unfortunately, the two people who knew most about it were deceased.  The trial court should not have voided the deed in question.  The note or mortgage that secured the note were valid and binding.  The mortgage contained language that said it was intending to be legally binding and therefore it was.  The court should reconsider on remand whether the will was inconsistent with the intent to be legally bound to the mortgage.  The court also erred in relying upon parol evidence to determine that the note and mortgage were unenforceable because the parties did not have a “meeting of the minds.”  The obligation under the mortgage document is clear.  A person cannot assert that he did not understand what he was signing.  Whether the contract is ambiguous as a matter of law.  The court had no license to invalidate a mortgage by finding it ambiguous.  The terms were exacting enough to be binding.  There was no essential term missing.  The ambiguity regarding the mortgage…