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July 23rd, 2019 by Rieders Travis in In The News

Why You Should Test Your Residence For Radon

You may not know it, but your home could be dangerous to your health. Radon, a colorless, odorless, tasteless, radioactive gas produced during the natural decay of uranium in rock and soil, may be present in your home in an amount that can potentially lead to lung cancer.

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA), approximately 21,000 deaths each year are attributable to radon-induced lung cancer. It is the second leading cause of lung cancer in Pennsylvania, second only to smoking.

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), estimates that 40% of Pennsylvania homes contain unsafe levels of radon gas, which can move up into homes via cracks, drains, or any openings in the foundation. For this reason, it pays to test your residence for the presence of radon. If you or a loved one has suffered injury because you bought a home which was found to have high levels of radon and this was not disclosed to you by the seller or the seller’s realtor, you may be entitled to compensation.

The skilled and experienced Pennsylvania personal injury attorney Clifford A. Rieders of Rieders, Travis, Humphrey, Waters & Dohrmann has spent decades honing his skills and successfully representing Pennsylvania families who have suffered loss due to someone else’s negligence or deception, such as covering up high levels of radon. We offer personal attention and loyalty to every client, aggressively fighting for their right to compensation.

If you have suffered any harm due to radon, your next step should be to consult Cliff Rieders at Rieders, Travis, Humphrey, Waters & Dohrmann by calling 800-326-9259, or by using our online contact form. Based in Williamsport, we serve clients throughout the state of Pennsylvania, offering a free consultation on all personal injury matters.

Radon in Pennsylvania

The Environmental Protection Agency has established 4 picocuries per liter as the maximum amount of radon that should be present in a home. But Pennsylvania homes may have much higher levels.  In fact, Pennsylvania’s  DEP reports that a home in Lehigh County recently tested at a radon level of 3,715 picocuries per liter (pCi/L), over 900 times the maximum level. Other test results in the area have been well over 1000 pCi/L.

Radon Testing

Since you cannot see, taste or smell radon, testing is the only way of determining the radon levels in your home. Do-it-yourself radon test kits can be bought at home stores or from a certified radon mitigation service professional for $20-30. You should place your test kit in the basement, where levels are usually highest, or on the ground floor.

Radon Mitigation

Radon mitigation is the process to remove or reduce the radon gas concentration in occupied buildings and water supplies. Systems are comprised of suction pipes that enter the soil, a radon fan, and an exhaust pipe to vent the radon gas out into the atmosphere.

Radon tests should be repeated after mitigation, and the device should be monitored, and tests repeated, preferably during the heating season, every two years.

Legal Issues

  • Landlord responsibility — Landlords are required to keep their buildings fit and safe for tenants. If you are a tenant with a high test result, you should notify your landlord of it in writing and request remediation. Ask for the copies of any follow-up test results.
  • If the landlord does not fix the issue at hand, report this to the Pennsylvania DEP Protection radon division.  Provide notice with proof of delivery (such as Certified Mail), so that you have proof should you have to move out for health reasons or have to take legal action against the landlord.
  • Seller and Realtor Responsibility — Home sellers who are having their homes tested for radon should make sure this is done correctly, such as by closing doors and windows and not using attic fans. Sellers must disclose knowledge of prior tests and results, including tests by other potential buyers. Sellers and realtors who do not disclose high test results can be sued. Seller disclosure forms are supposed to provide information concerning radon testing. Make sure you check the form to assure that the testing has been done, and do not hesitate to ask for the actual results.

Achieving Results When it Counts

IF YOU OR A LOVED ONE WAS HARMED by radon, YOU SHOULD CONSULT AN EXPERIENCED PERSONAL INJURY LAWYER REGARDING YOUR LEGAL RIGHTS. You may be entitled to receive financial compensation to cover your medical and hospital expenses, lost wages, future lost wages, loss of life’s pleasures, pain and suffering, disfigurement and other compensation may be applicable as well, especially if a death is involved.  However, your case must be handled correctly and competently, or you may never collect the compensation you are entitled to.

Clifford A. Rieders of Rieders, Travis, Humphrey, Waters & Dohrmann knows the courts and the system and what you need to do to increase your chances of winning a good settlement. Our seasoned Pennsylvania personal injury attorneys have helped many people file successful lawsuits. With decades of experience with injuries and an excellent reputation in the legal community, we are well positioned to handle even the most difficult cases.

The skilled and experienced Pennsylvania RV accident attorney Clifford A. Rieders of Rieders, Travis, Humphrey, Waters & Dohrmann has spent decades honing his skills and successfully representing Pennsylvania families who have suffered an injury or loss due to someone else’s negligence. We offer personal attention and loyalty to every client, aggressively fighting for their right to compensation. Whether in settlement negotiations or pursuing a favorable trial verdict, we are thoroughly prepared and committed to achieving a just outcome. With our sizeable staff, we offer strength in numbers while providing top-notch personal service.

Cliff Rieders is a Past President of the Pennsylvania Association for Justice, formerly Pennsylvania Trial Lawyers Association. Rieders has won numerous awards and recognition from the Pennsylvania Association for Justice, and he received the Pennsylvania Patient Safety Authority recognition award.  In fact, Cliff Rieders was a founder of the Pennsylvania Patient Safety Authority.  Cliff has received the George F. Douglas Amicus Curiae Award, as well as the Milton D. Rosenberg Award from the Pennsylvania Trial Lawyers.  Rieders is on committees and organizations that write the law in many fields of practice, including the Mcare Act, which governs medical liability actions in Pennsylvania, and he wrote the book on Medical Malpractice that lawyers use in the state. Rieders is a Nationally Board Certified Trial Advocate, a cum laude graduate of New York University as well as Georgetown University Law Center.  Rieders is admitted in Pennsylvania, New York State, District of Columbia and numerous federal courts including the Supreme Court of the United States. Rieders is a life member of the American Law Institute which publishes recommended legal principles utilized throughout the United States.

If you or your loved one has suffered harm from radon, your next step should be to consult Cliff Rieders at Rieders, Travis, Humphrey, Waters & Dohrmann by calling 800-326-9259, or by using our online contact form. Based in Williamsport, we serve clients throughout the state of Pennsylvania, offering a free consultation on all personal injury matters. More than that, we offer you experience, knowledge, compassion, and a long history of results.

Is Pa. Still the Keystone State for Products Liability Litigation

Source: Is Pa. Still the Keystone State for Products Liability Litigation | The Legal Intelligencer

Deadly Crash Closes Section of Interstate 80 in Clinton County

MARION TOWNSHIP, CENTRE CO. — A deadly crash in Centre County closed a section of Interstate 80 for nearly 21 hours in Clinton County. Interstate 80 eastbound was closed near the Clinton County/Centre County line after the crash around 12:45 a.m. Wednesday.Two tractor-trailer drivers were killed in a chain-reaction crash involving six rigs.

Source: Deadly Crash Closes Section of Interstate 80 in Clinton County | WNEP.com

CLIFF RIEDERS PRESENTS ON MEDICAL MALPRACTICE LAW AT SEMINAR 11/3/16 IN PHILADELPHIA PRESENTED BY THE PENNSYLVANIA ASSOCIATION OF JUSTICE

The 2016 Philadelphia medical malpractice seminar is one of the highlights of the 2016 Pennsylvania Association of Justice seminar series.  The seminar featured the best known trial lawyers in Pennsylvania from both the patient and defense side, as well as an important official from the state’s Mcare Insurance Fund.

Cliff Rieders, the first speaker, covered the crucial topic of legal developments in the field.  Rieders’ popular series has been given throughout the Commonwealth.  Rieders is recognized as one of the leading authorities on medical and hospital malpractice law in Pennsylvania.  He is the author of Pennsylvania Medical Malpractice, a noted publication in the field.  Rieders also covers the area of pharmaceutical as well as vitamin and dietary supplement litigation.

Cliff Rieders is a Board Certified Trial Advocate and a member of many courts including the Supreme Court of the United States.  The attorney is an honors graduate from New York University and received his Juris Doctor from Georgetown University.

Some of the noteworthy topics covered by Rieders are the growing trend of arbitration and nursing home cases, informed consent, pharmaceutical litigation and the imposition of the statute of limitations in connection with when cases may be brought.

Cliff Rieders practices law in Pennsylvania and is also admitted in the State of New York and District of Columbia.

Rieders is the former law clerk of the Honorable Malcolm Muir and is a life member of the American Law Institute which publishes recommendations for courts and legislature throughout the nation.

Cliff Rieders Profiled in Fall 2016 ZOA Report

A lengthy and detailed profile of the life and work of Cliff Rieders was recently published by the Zionist Organization of America in its Fall 2016 edition. The article notes the work of Cliff Rieders as a trial lawyer, as well as a teacher and legal writer in connection with a number of practice areas. In particular, the article highlights Rieders’ background and work standing up for important causes. Most recently, Cliff Rieders has been active in writing and working on resolutions in legislation to blunt efforts aimed at boycotting, divesting and sanctioning the State of Israel.

Rieders is a Board Certified Trial Advocate, and a life member of the prestigious American Law Institute. Aside from community work, Cliff is also a National Board member of the Zionist Organization of America.

CLIFF RIEDERS ATTENDS BILL SIGNING IN HARRISBURG FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 4, 2016

bds-bill

Governor Tom Wolf, in a public ceremony, held on Friday, November 04, 2016, signed legislation introduced by Representative Matt Baker which will prohibit companies doing business with Pennsylvania from participating in the so-called BDS movement. BDS is an effort to boycott, divest and sanction Israel, among all nations in the world. The BDS movement has been linked to anti-Semitism and attacks on the State of Israel. The legislation followed Resolutions passed previously in Pennsylvania condemning the BDS movement. Governor Tom Wolf spoke at the ceremony followed by Matthew Baker. Representative Baker specifically thanked Cliff Rieders for the efforts made by Rieders to have this legislation passed and to structure the legislation so that it would pass constitutional scrutiny.

Rieders stated, “The BDS movement is nothing more than ancient hatred directed towards the Jewish people and Jewish economic interests.” As long ago as pre-William Penn times, there were efforts made to boycott Jewish merchants in the so-called Delaware territory. The Dutch East India Company prohibited those early attempts to boycott Jewish interests in the New World. Both Governor Wolf and Representative Baker know the important role played by Israel in the world economy, standing up for democracy in the Middle East as well as the friendship shared by our respective nations.

Rieders expressed great pride in the work of the Governor, Baker and others to pass this bipartisan legislation in a quick and efficient manner. Present with Cliff Rieders was his wife, Kimberly.

Photos & Videos are on http://www.flickr.com/photos/governortomwolf

Cliff Rieders speaks at Lycoming Law Association Seminar

By of Rieders, Travis, Humphrey, Waters & Dohrmann posted in In The News on Wednesday, March 30, 2016.

Cliff Rieders, noted local attorney, Rieders, Travis, Humphrey, Waters & Dohrmann Law Firm, delivered his popular Annual Update of the Law to the Lycoming Law Association membership in Williamsport, Pennsylvania, on March 16, 2016. The program has been given statewide for more than 20 years. Rieders covers a potpourri of decisions from the various courts across the Commonwealth, in particular the Pennsylvania Supreme and Superior Courts. The topics cover not only torts, but also contracts and important developments in a number of other fields as well. Rieders is a noted speaker for the Pennsylvania Association for Justice and the Pennsylvania Bar Institute. He is the author of many texts including Medical Malpractice in Pennsylvania, the Financial Responsibility Law, Workers’ Rights in Pennsylvania, and others. The attorney is a Board Certified trial lawyer, whose most recent efforts include vitamin and dietary supplement litigation. Rieders is a graduate of New York University cum laude, and Georgetown University. He clerked for the Hon. Malcolm Muir and practices law in Pennsylvania, New York and the District of Columbia, as well as federal courts. In teaching the Annual Update Seminar, Rieders is able to draw upon many experiences such as helping to found the Pennsylvania Patient Safety Authority and having served as President of the Pennsylvania Association for Justice, formerly the Pennsylvania Trial Lawyers Association, as well as President of the Federal Bar Association, Central Pennsylvania Chapter. Rieders’ main office is in Williamsport, Pennsylvania, but also maintains an office presence in Haverford/Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania

Latest edition of Pennsylvania Medical Malpractice Law and Forms, by Cliff Rieders

The Pennsylvania Association for Justice, formerly the Pennsylvania Trial Lawyers Association, announced release and delivery of the 2015 Edition of Pennsylvania Medical Malpractice Law and Forms, authored by Clifford A. Rieders of the law firm of Rieders, Travis, Humphrey, Waters & Dohrmann.  Cliff Rieders has authored the text for over 15 years, since its inception.  Rieders literally “wrote the book” on medical, hospital, pharmaceutical and medical device litigation in Pennsylvania.  The encyclopedic work contains all of the important case law and statutory authority, as well as background with respect to the task of bringing medical, pharmaceutical and medical device claims within the Commonwealth. Rieders, an original and Founding Member of Pennsylvania’s Patient Safety Authority, has noted that there are approximately 330,000 reports to the Pennsylvania Patient Safety Authority and the Department of Health of serious events and incidents within the Commonwealth.  Of these, the Administrative Office of the Pennsylvania Courts recorded approximately 1,400 medical malpractice cases filed in the Commonwealth in the last year for which reporting is available.   Very few legitimate medical malpractice claims result in litigation.  “The subspecialty of medical malpractice is unique, requiring a great deal of knowledge and expertise in the field of medicine and in litigation generally,” says Rieders.  Rieders is Board Certified by the National Board of Trial Advocacy.  The Williamsport attorney is a Past President of the Pennsylvania Association for Justice, formerly the Pennsylvania Trial Lawyers Association, as well as the Federal Bar Association, for the Central Pennsylvania Chapter.  The attorney is  a graduate with Honors from New York University and received his juris doctorate from Georgetown University Law Center.  Rieders worked in the federal court system for the Honorable Malcolm Muir, one of the longest serving federal Judges in the nation at the time of the Judge’s death.  Rieders’ work also includes significant contributions to the American Law Institute, which authors Restatements and reformulations of the law relied upon by virtually every state in the union as well as the federal court system.  Cliff Rieders is admitted in state courts in New York, District of Columbia and Pennsylvania, and numerous federal courts, including the United States Supreme Court.  A number of Justices and Judges of the Pennsylvania court system have lauded the quality of the text, Pennsylvania Medical Malpractice Law and Forms.

Latest edition of Pennsylvania Medical Malpractice Law and Forms, by Cliff Rieders

The Pennsylvania Association for Justice, formerly the Pennsylvania Trial Lawyers Association, announced release and delivery of the 2015 Edition of Pennsylvania Medical Malpractice Law and Forms, authored by Clifford A. Rieders of the law firm of Rieders, Travis, Humphrey, Waters & Dohrmann.  Cliff Rieders has authored the text for over 15 years, since its inception.  Rieders literally “wrote the book” on medical, hospital, pharmaceutical and medical device litigation in Pennsylvania.  The encyclopedic work contains all of the important case law and statutory authority, as well as background with respect to the task of bringing medical, pharmaceutical and medical device claims within the Commonwealth. Rieders, an original and Founding Member of Pennsylvania’s Patient Safety Authority, has noted that there are approximately 330,000 reports to the Pennsylvania Patient Safety Authority and the Department of Health of serious events and incidents within the Commonwealth.  Of these, the Administrative Office of the Pennsylvania Courts recorded approximately 1,400 medical malpractice cases filed in the Commonwealth in the last year for which reporting is available.   Very few legitimate medical malpractice claims result in litigation.  “The subspecialty of medical malpractice is unique, requiring a great deal of knowledge and expertise in the field of medicine and in litigation generally,” says Rieders.  Rieders is Board Certified by the National Board of Trial Advocacy.  The Williamsport attorney is a Past President of the Pennsylvania Association for Justice, formerly the Pennsylvania Trial Lawyers Association, as well as the Federal Bar Association, for the Central Pennsylvania Chapter.  The attorney is  a graduate with Honors from New York University and received his juris doctorate from Georgetown University Law Center.  Rieders worked in the federal court system for the Honorable Malcolm Muir, one of the longest serving federal Judges in the nation at the time of the Judge’s death.  Rieders’ work also includes significant contributions to the American Law Institute, which authors Restatements and reformulations of the law relied upon by virtually every state in the union as well as the federal court system.  Cliff Rieders is admitted in state courts in New York, District of Columbia and Pennsylvania, and numerous federal courts, including the United States Supreme Court.  A number of Justices and Judges of the Pennsylvania court system have lauded the quality of the text, Pennsylvania Medical Malpractice Law and Forms.

Medical Malpractice and Beyond Seminar

Cliff Rieders, a partner in the law firm of Rieders, Travis, Humphrey, Waters & Dohrmann, presented his Annual Review of legal decisions pertinent to medical, hospital, medical device and pharmaceutical cases at the Top of the Tower in Philadelphia on Thursday, November 19, 2015.  The highly respected seminar was entitled “Medical Malpractice and Beyond.”  The Pennsylvania Association for Justice sponsored the event.  Rieders is a frequent lecturer for the Pennsylvania Association for Justice and a number of other legal organizations.  Rieders’ Annual Update of the Law is given throughout the Commonwealth on a yearly basis.  Cliff Rieders is a Board Certified Trial Advocate, admitted in Pennsylvania, New York, the District of Columbia, the United States Supreme Court, and numerous federal courts.  Rieders is an active trial lawyer in the field of medical, hospital, medical device, and pharmaceutical malpractice.  The attorney also handles litigation in the general personal injury field, including serious automobile and truck accident cases, products defects, aviation, commercial, and constitutional law.  Cliff Rieders is a Past President of the Pennsylvania Trial Lawyers Association (now Pennsylvania Association for Justice) and is a founding member of Pennsylvania’s Patient Safety Authority, on which he still serves as a board member.  The attorney has numerous legal textbooks in publication, is a frequent author, lecturer and presenter on a variety of legal topics.

Attorney’s Cliff Rieders and Jeff Dohrmann to Present at the PBI Section 1983 Seminar

The seminar will be held on 11-2-15 at noon in Philadelphia and on 11-24-15 in Pittsburgh.  Topics will include Section 1983 Litigation and Ethical Issues, Recovery from Attorney’s Fees, Prison Litigation and several others.  The program is approved for 3 hours of CLE credit in substantive land and 1 hour in ethics.  Check out PBI’s website for more information and to sign up.

PA Senate Passed Resolution No. 136 Condemning Boycotts of Israel

On Friday, September 18, 2015, the Pennsylvania Senate by vote of 49 to 0 passed Resolution No. 136 Session of 2015 Printer’s No. 979.  The Resolution condemned economic, social, cultural and other boycotts of Israel and growing incidents of anti-Semitism.  The House previously passed a similar Resolution.

House Resolution 370 Session of 2015 Printer’s No. 1697 was introduced by Matt Baker of Tioga County.  The Senate Resolution was introduced by Senator Stew Greenleaf of Montgomery and Bucks Counties.

The Resolutions note the historical fact that the first attempt to boycott Jewish interests in Pennsylvania in the Pennsylvania Colony occurred in 1662 and were rejected when Sir Robert Carr, in 1664, assumed command of the Delaware in the name of the English Crown.  Instructions to Carr were that “all people should enjoy the liberty of their conscience,” and the proposed boycott of Jewish merchants ceased.

The Resolutions further recognize a strong connection that American Jewry had in supporting the American Revolution.  A prime consideration of the Resolutions is The International Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Movement (BDS) which has been one of the main vehicles for spreading antisemitism and advocating the elimination of the Jewish State.   Activities promoting BDS against Israel have occurred in Pennsylvania, including on college campuses.  The BDS campaign has utilized animosity and intimidation against Jews, including Jewish students on campus.  It was clearly recognized by the Resolutions in the House and the Senate that the purpose of the BDS is to eliminate Israel as home of the Jewish people.

Group boycotts have a long history of condemnation in the United States on both the federal and state level.  The Pennsylvania legislature condemned the BDS movement and its agenda as “inherently antithetical and deeply damaging to the causes of peace, justice, equality, democracy and human rights for all peoples in the Middle East.”

The House and Senate reaffirmed its support for the State of Israel, recognizing that the Jewish people are indigenous to the land of Israel.  Both chambers condemned all attacks on the people of Israel, supporting Israel’s rights to engage in lawful acts of self-defense.  They opposed all attempts to deny the legitimacy of Israel as a sovereign state.  The Senate Resolution urged the Office of the Attorney General of the Commonwealth to explore whether the BDS movement in the Commonwealth violates any Commonwealth laws.  Both Resolutions have been transmitted to the President of the United States and the members of Congress, the Office of the Attorney General of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and Israeli Embassy in Washington, D.C.

Pennsylvania joins a small but growing chorus of states that have acted defiantly to take a stand against antisemitism and economic boycotts intended to destroy the ability of the State of Israel to function effectively.

U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of P.A. Has Certified a Class Action Concerning Employees of Farmers Insurance

Woody Tomkins v. Farmers Insurance Exchange

 

The court concluded ….

For the reasons given, Plaintiffs’ Motion for Order Authorizing Notice to Similarly Situated Persons Pursuant to 29 U.S.C. § 216(b) is granted in part and denied in part. Specifically, Plaintiffs’ Motion is granted to the extent that the Court will conditionally certify a collective action defined as including all persons whom Defendant employed as an APD Claims Representative, APD Claims Adjuster, or APD Claims Appraiser in any state except California during any workweek commencing on or after January 13, 2012. The Court denies Plaintiffs’ Motion to the extent that it seeks equitable tolling. The parties are directed to confer concerning the protocol for the production of contact information and in order to draft a court-facilitated notice and consent form consistent with this Opinion.6 An appropriate order follows.

 

If you believe you might be in this class, you should get in contact with us immediately.

Attorney Sasha Coffiner Admitted to the PA Bar

Sasha was born in Williamsport, Pennsylvania, and graduated from Haverford College, Haverford, PA, with a B.S. in biology, and earned her Master’s degree on a full scholarship in molecular biology at Columbia University.  Sasha graduated cum laude from Yeshiva University’s Cardozo Law School where she served as Supervising Editor of The Cardozo Law Review.  During summers, Sasha interned at the National Cancer Institute and the Thomas Jefferson University.  Prior to joining the Rieders Travis firm, Sasha worked in New York City in the field of intellectual property, patent, and pharmaceutical law.  Sasha is a member of the New York Bar and has now become a member of the Pennsylvania Bar.

Sasha is working primarily in the field of pharmaceutical law, but will also bring her considerable skills to other endeavors, including the personal injury practice, matters related to the Financial Responsibility Law, and other litigation matters.

Attorney Cliff Rieders Named Super Lawyer

Rieders has been named Super Lawyer for the year 2015 in Pennsylvania. He has held this honor since the program began.  The attorneys are selected by a board of advisors composed of other lawyers who embody excellence in practice.  Rieders is listed in the practice areas of medical malpractice and personal injury for plaintiffs.

Law Firm Dedicates Conference Rooms to 3 Federal Judges

A dedication ceremony was held at the Rieders, Travis Law Firm on 4-30-15.  Three Federal Judges, county Senior Judge Clinton Smith, U.S. Middle District Senior Judge Malcolm Muir and county Judge Thomas Wood, were honored in memory by having three conference rooms at the law firm dedicated to them.

All three Judges had personal connections with the firm along with the legal community at large.

Attorney Cliff Rieders – Reappointed to PSA

In 2002, the Patient Safety Authority was created due to the Institute of Medicine after recognizing the large amount of preventable medical errors in U.S Hospitals resulting in death.

Cliff Rieders was an original member of the PSA and has continued to serve the organization he helped create.

UGI Penn Natural Gas Litigation

In the fall of 2014, the Rieders Travis law firm served as local counsel for UGI Penn Natural Gas, Inc. (“UGI”) in litigation involving the construction of a gas pipeline intended to supply natural gas to the Panda Patriot Electric-Generation Station (“Panda”) which is being constructed in Clinton Township, Lycoming County.  Rieders Travis, through Pamela L. Shipman, Esquire, and the paralegal staff, assisted UGI’s Attorney Kevin T. Fogerty in the review and filing of briefs and documents, attended court conferences, and advised regarding local rules and customs.

The case revolved around UGI’s use of the power of eminent domain granted by statute to condemn underground pipeline right of way easements and temporary construction easements along the route of the pipeline, including across the land of the property owners in this case, Mr. and Mrs. Curtis Lauchle.  The Lauchles objected to the condemnation primarily on the basis that the condemnation violated Pennsylvania’s Property Rights Protection Act (“PRPA”), 26 Pa. C. S. §204(a), because the pipeline will supply natural gas to a private business entity, Panda.  In general, the PRPA prohibits the exercise of eminent domain powers to “take private property in order to use it for private enterprise.”

After a hearing on the matter, Judge Gray held that because UGI is a public utility regulated by the Public Utility Commission, it falls within “the limited, defined class of condemnors”  exempted from the PRPA, relying upon the Pennsylvania Supreme Court’s construction of 26 Pa. C. S. §204(b)(2)(i) in Reading Area Water Authority v. Schuylkill River Greenway Ass’n  , 100 A. 3d 572 (Pa. 2014).  Judge Gray also noted that unlike the Reading case, where the property was turned over to a private developer to own and operate, UGI is the sole owner of the easements and operator of the pipeline,  and Panda will not control the property in any way. Furthermore, Panda will use the natural gas it receives through the pipeline to “generate enough energy to power approximately 1 million homes.”

The Lauchles have filed an appeal of Judge Gray’s ruling.

Polett v. Public Communications, Inc., 83 A.3d 205 (Pa. Super. 2013).

Plaintiff sued Zimmer manufacturer because she claimed that exercise bike injured the knee.  The company was false in its advertising that people could do exercise and so forth.  The court found that the plaintiff showed enough substantial factor and causation between the injury to the knee and the exercise bike.  Sufficient evidence was presented that riding the exercise bike was a substantial factor in causing the injuries.  The reasonable foreseeability test is satisfied that harm might result from a patient using an exercise bike one month after bilateral knee surgery.  The jury charge was wrong because it put the burden on Zimmer and PCI to present medical evidence that something other than the exercise bike caused the injury.  This was wrong.  This causes reversible error.  The plaintiff violated the Rules of Civil Procedure by not identifying their experts and PCI was prejudiced as a result.  Also, there should have been a motion in limine on the causation testimony.  The tolling agreement whereby plaintiff could put off suing the doctor is admissible in evidence.  Polett v. Public Communications, Inc., 83 A.3d 205 (Pa. Super. 2013).

Apologies for Terrorists

Cliff Rieders’ frequent op-eds deal with a variety of subjects, from political to legal.  In Rieders’ 1/25/15 op-ed published in the Williamsport Sun-Gazette, the lawyer and author noted that terrorism worldwide is not a question of a few crazy people but rather is a serious assault on Western civilization.  In prior conflicts, ethnic groups supported the United States in its wars on behalf of freedom.  German-Americans and all other American ethnic groups fought heroically on behalf of the United States.  Even African-Americans who are subject to discrimination, lynchings and the Jim Crow South, fought for America and helped to liberate German concentration camps.

 

Rieders calls for Muslims in the West and in their home countries to support decency and moderation against the terrorists who are soiling all of Islamic history.  The soldiers of Islam and its war against the West must be opposed by all people in the West, including Muslim citizens.  All people of decency must join the West in its effort to survive including Christians, Jews, Muslims, Atheists, Hindus, and anyone else.  “We should welcome to our side people who will fight and work for a better, safer world.  Likewise, we must be completely intolerant of political correctness, or mumbling fantasies about what is at stake and who is responsible for these attacks.”

 

The tyrants are at our doorstep, and we must get organized together with all people of goodwill.

Cliff Rieders’ Updated Resume

Cliff Rieders’ latest resume shows a life of commitment to the law.  Cliff graduated cum laude New York University and Georgetown University with a juris doctorate degree.  Rieders graduated Phi Beta Kappa.

Rieders is a certified civil trial advocate by the National Board of Trial Advocacy, and is a member of many federal courts.  Rieders is admitted to the highest court of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, State of New York and District of Columbia.

For years, Rieders has been named as a Super Lawyer.

Rieders has been very active in the American Law Institute, where he has served on many Consultative Groups.  The American Law Institute is instrumental in creating the legal framework adopted in many states as their organic law.

Rieders is a Past President of Citizens for Consumer Justice, the Pennsylvania Trial Lawyers Association (now called the Pennsylvania Association for Justice), and is a member of the American Trial Lawyers (now American Association for Justice).  Rieders is a Past President of the Central PA chapter of the Federal Bar Association.

Rieders’ new resume lists not only his commitment to the Bar, but also his work on Pennsylvania’s Patient Safety Authority, which he helped to create.  Cliff Rieders is an active teacher, educator, and writer.  Rieders has a number of textbooks and pamphlets in publication, as well as the fact that he is a frequent op-ed writer.

Many legal decisions have been authored based upon Rieders’ work, and he has taught dozens of continuing legal education courses.  Rieders has a popular one-hour radio show twice per month on WXPI, Williamsport public access radio, called “The Law Show.”  The Law Show has had some of the most intriguing and interesting guests heard on public radio.

Rieders’ complete resume lists many, but probably not all, of the written work and legal career of this well-known Pennsylvania trial lawyer.

The Law Show – Featuring Mark Hager

Cliff Rieders, the host and creator of “The Law Show,” aired twice monthly on WXPI public access radio, Williamsport, Pennsylvania, interviewed Professor Mark Hager.  Professor Hager is currently residing in Sri Lanka.

 

Hager, a graduate of Harvard Law School, has taught law for over 20 years prior to relocating.

 

One of Professor Hager’s interests has been the evolving law of products liability.  Products liability is the law which concerns the safety of products.  In products liability law, the emphasis is on the safety of the product rather than the negligence of the manufacturer or retailer.

 

Products liability has evolved ever since the dam burse cases from England.  In the famous case of McPherson v. Buick, the courts first addressed how to deal with an unsafe automobile.

 

Professor Hager talked about the difficult problem of preemption, whereby Congress will come along and usurp state laws.  When federal law applies and when state law applies can be a very confusing matter.

 

The American Law Institute, explained Professor Hager, developed an approach to product safety called 402A.  This law emphasized the safety of the product and the spreading of risks throughout society when a product is badly designed or malfunctions.  The insurance movement of the mid-1980s attempted to change the law and create a situation whereby consumers would have to prove the unprovable, that the state of mind of the manufacturer was bad or unreasonable.  Many products are made overseas and it is difficult enough to bring a case against a manufacturer, no less understand and be able to prove their “negligence.”

 

The Restatement (Third) attempted to change the rights of consumers and shift the paradigm so that it would favor manufacturers and retailers.  The Pennsylvania Supreme Court, in the recent case of Tincher v. Omega Flex, rejected the approach of those who would whittle away consumer rights.  The Pennsylvania Supreme Court, in its leading opinion, said that the Restatement (Second) would continue to control and that consumer expectations would be very important.  A manufacturer is the guarantor of the safety of their product and will remain so.

 

Attorney Rieders has been involved in the American Law Institute having first been elected, and later a life member.  Rieders has argued one of the most important products liability cases to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, and has served as amicus curiae, friend of the court, in a host of other cases.  In fact, Rieders was amicus curiae in the Tincher case.

 

Rieders is one of the leading authorities on the law of products liability, unsafe products, whether they be vehicles, airplanes, home appliances, pharmaceutical or medical devices.

Cliff Rieders Presented at the Pennsylvania Association for Justice Webinar

Cliff Rieders presented at the Pennsylvania Association for Justice webinar, New Face of Strict Liability Law in Pennsylvania, a news release said.

 

The seminar was created as a result of the blockbuster decision by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court in Tincher v. Omega Flex.  Rieders had written an amicus curiae brief for the Pennsylvania Association for Justice.

 

Rieders was introduced as one of the leading authorities on the development of strict liability law in Pennsylvania.  Rieders became a member of the American Law Institute in the 1980s and almost immediately was appointed to the Consultative Group for Products Liability created by the American Law Institute.  Rieders was instrumental in getting shelved the Enterprise Theory of Liability, which would have returned Pennsylvania from a strict liability state to utilizing principles of negligence in determining the safety of a product.  This would have made products liability cases almost impossible to bring.

The Law Show

Cliff Rieders is the host and creator of “The Law Show.”  “The Law Show” is aired twice monthly on WXPI public access radio, Williamsport, Pennsylvania.

The Law Show has some of the most intriguing and interesting guests in our nation.  Recently, Cliff Rieders interviewed Joan Claybrook, former head of Public Citizen, and the right-hand person to Ralph Nader.  While Nader received the publicity, Joan Claybrook did most of the work in creating, from the ground up, the consumer movement in America.  She is a former head of the National Highway Transportation Board, and is known as Ms. Auto Safety.

This week, Cliff Rieders interviewed, in two (2) 28-minute segments, Rivka Ulmer, Department of Religious Studies, Bucknell University.  Professor Ulmer is one of the leading biblical scholars in the world.  She has lectured and written on a broad variety of subjects of interest to students, academics, and the average citizen.

Professor Ulmer spoke about her work, including Rabbinic Literature with an emphasis on Midrash, Medieval Hebrew manuscripts, and the intriguing mention of Cleopatra in the Talmud itself.  Professor Ulmer has been educated in Germany, Israel, and the United States, where she has been recognized for her incredible depth of knowledge.  She is a prolific writer, reviewer, editor and teacher, utilizing the resources of multiple language skills.  Professor Ulmer’s scope of interest is so broad that it almost defies easy appreciation.  She has written about women in the Bible, homosexuality as text related to the origin and development of Christianity.  An example of the current courses taught by Professor Ulmer show something about the broad spectrum.  She teaches about the Holocaust, Israel, Judaism in film, post-Biblical literature, the male body in Judaism, and numerous other topics.

Having Professor Rivka Ulmer as a guest on The Law Show is the continuing contribution of the importance of public radio in the community.

2014 LLA Fair Share Award

The 2014 Lycoming Law Association’s Fair Share Award was presented to Clifford A. Rieders, Esquire, in recognition of commitment to Equal Justice for the Poor by fair share participation in the Lycoming Law Association and North Penn Legal Services Pro Bono Referral Program.

A donation in Rieders’ honor has been made to the Son Light House, Muncy, P.A.

Estate of Lagano v. Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office

Claim is that the state agents are reported informant to state organized criminals and they killed the man.  The claim was brought based upon state-created danger in violation of due process rights.  Local government bodies and their officials are “persons” under Section 1983 and 1985 of 42 U.S. Code.  This is true where state agencies and their officials act in their official capacity.  If the agency is an arm of the state, the person must be sued in their official capacity.  Sovereign immunity may be extended by virtue of the 11th Amendment.  The proper framework for analyzing 11th Amendment sovereign immunity as it applies to county prosecutors is to determine whether the agency involved is entitled to 11th Amendment sovereign immunity in this particular case.  Qualified immunity may also apply.  The Doctrine of Qualified Immunity protects government officials from liability for civil damages insofar as their conduct does not violate clearly established statutory or constitutional rights of which a reasonable person would have known.  The state-created danger theory falls under a due process claim.  The decision lists the requirements for state-created danger theory.  Those requirements were as follows:

 

  1.    The harm was foreseeable and fairly direct;
  2.    State actor acted with a degree of culpability that shocks the conscience;
  3.    A relationship between state and the plaintiff existed such that plaintiff  was a foreseeable victim or a member of a discreet class of persons subject to potential harm; and
  4.   A state actor affirmatively used his or her authority in the way that created a danger to the citizen or created a vulnerability of that citizen’s to danger.

 

The state-created danger violates due process.  The court also discussed statute of limitations and noted that 1983 cases are based upon a similar state statute of limitation.

The case is remanded to the district court for further dealings.  Estate of Lagano v. Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office, 769 F.3d 850 (3d Cir. 2014).

Attorney Corey Mowrey Representing the YLD Angel Tree Toy Drive

YLD Angel Tree Toy Drive

Attorney Corey Mowrey of the Rieders, Travis Law Firm who is also the Lycoming Law Association-Young Lawyers Division Co-Chair and Executive Counsel Member, is seen here representing the Angel Tree Toy Drive sponsored by the YLD.  The Young Lawyers Division collects toys from various law firms in the area and donate to the Williamsport Salvation Army for distribution to families in need.

Cliff Rieders Presents on the New Face of Strict Liability Law in Pennsylvania for the Pennsylvania Association for Justice

Cliff Rieders presented at the Pennsylvania Association for Justice webinar, New Face of Strict Liability Law in Pennsylvania.

 

The seminar was created as a result of the blockbuster decision by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court in Ticher v. Omega Flex.  Cliff Rieders had written an amicus curiae brief for the Pennsylvania Association for Justice.

 

Cliff was introduced as one of the leading authorities on the development of strict liability law in Pennsylvania.  Rieders became a member of the American Law Institute in the 1980s and almost immediately was appointed to the Consultative Group for Products Liability created by the American Law Institute.  Rieders was instrumental in getting shelved the Enterprise Theory of Liability, which would have returned Pennsylvania from a strict liability state to utilizing principles of negligence in determining the safety of a product.  This would have made products liability cases almost impossible to bring.

 

When the American Law Institute appointed Professors Twersky and Henderson to write the Restatement Third, Rieders again was appointed to the Consultative Group.  Through long and arduous debate with the Reporters, as well as by virtue of written submissions, the American Law Institute eventually developed a commentary recognizing the importance of Pennsylvania law.

 

From the time the American Law Institute passed the Restatement (Third) Products Liability until Tincher v. Omega Flex, Pennsylvania and other states were embroiled in lengthy disputes as to whether products liability law should focus on the safety of the product or the negligence of the manufacturer and/or consumer.  Rieders was involved in arguing cases on the subject, including before the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, and authoring amicus briefs on the subject.  Rieders was introduced to the webinar as being the state’s leading authority both historically and currently on the subject of products liability law in Pennsylvania.

 

The seminar focused on how Tincher v. Omega Flex will change products liability law in Pennsylvania and elsewhere.  Federal courts applying Pennsylvania law will have to follow Pennsylvania standards.

 

The focus will remain on the safety of the product.  Cases brought may focus on the expectation of the consumer or the balancing of risk versus utilities of a product.  So fundamental is the progress of Pennsylvania law in the area of strict liability that seminars on the subject are being given by virtually every legal organization and entity.

 

The next step will be to write a jury charge on the subject of strict liability, and Rieders has already taken up that subject.  Cliff Rieders is a longstanding member of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court Standard Jury Instruction Committee.  Rieders therefore will make effort to write a charge for the jury acceptable to the Standard Jury Instruction Committee so that Judges will know how to apply the new law.

 

Cliff Rieders worked in the field of products liability and is typical of the work he has done in a number of other areas, including medical malpractice, hospital liability, commercial litigation, constitutional law, and even litigation involving the Employment Retirement Income Security Act.  Rieders has become one of the outstanding legal authorities in Pennsylvania, is a frequently published author, and is a Civil Trial Advocate, Board Certified by the National Board of Trial Advocacy.

Attorney Cliff Rieders wins $3 3 million settlement for victim of Rockview State Prison rape

This past Monday, the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections said that it has now agreed to pay a Rockview State Prison clerk $3.3 million to settle a federal lawsuit over her rape by an inmate who was already serving time for rape.

The settlement, which was signed last week by someone from the attorney general’s office, has other stipulations; one of which is that the victim can meet with the Pennsylvania state correction’s secretary to discuss her concerns for the protection of prison employees who work as clerks, typists, and serve in other administrative positions.

The lawsuit, filed against the Pennsylvania DoC and three Rockview prison officials, states that the inmate, one Omar Best, snuck up behind the woman while she emptied trash for him in July of 2013 and choked her until she was unconscious. He then raped her in her office, which was located near to several inmate cells.

According to the lawsuit, the woman blew and emergency whistle, but she wasn’t responded to until nearly thirty minutes after the attack. Once found, she was quickly taken for medical treatment. She had only worked at the prison for about one month at the time of the attack. Her primary duties included typing non-specific prison document, sorting office and inmate mail, and preparing parole packets for outgoing inmates.

The attacker, a 37-year-old man who was convicted of rape in 2012, was moved after the incident and is currently an inmate at Huntingdon State Prison in Huntingdon, PA. In proceedings earlier this past fall, Kathy Kane from the attorney general’s office alleged that the victim may have “contributed” to the attack. She later unofficially recanted those remarks. The victim’s lawyer, Attorney Cliff Rieders of Rieders, Travis, Humphrey, Harris, Waters & Dohrmann in Williamsport, PA, dismissed Kane’s assertions, telling The Associated Press: “They have no evidence of that…[it’s] insulting to women [in general] who face rape cases only to be told that it’s their fault.”

The woman said that she told prison administrators that she did not feel safe, but that her concerns went disregarded. She voiced particular concern about Omar Best because of the nature of his past crimes and his proximity to her office. According to the victim’s lawsuit, she suffered numbness in both her left arm and right hand, as well as visual issues that lasted at least a month and a half, and feelings of “fear, stress, anxiety, distress, trauma, confusion, and embarrassment.”

After she was raped, the lawsuit said that the PA DoC moved other clerical staff away from areas where cell blocks are located at Rockview. Employees were given emergency alert systems to be kept on their person at all times. And the Rockview superintendent was replaced.

Attorney Rieders did not make any initial remarks about the settlement on Monday. The victim is expected to be compensated by the end of next month.

Source: TribLive.com, “Raped prison clerk to receive $3.3M” 1 December 2014

Tincher v. Omega Flex, Inc.; Does it Contain Every Element Necessary to Make it Safe?

One of the widely asked questions in the wake of Tincher v. Omega Flex, Inc., ___ A.3d ____, 2014 WL 6474923 (Pa. Nov. 19, 2014) is whether a jury should still be told that a product must contain every element necessary to make it safe.  As a corollary to this, lawyers have asked whether a jury must be told that while a manufacturer is not an insurer of product, it is a guarantor of the product safety.

While the majority written authored by Mr. Chief Justice Castille appears on its face to be critical of Berkebile v. Brantley Helicopter Corp., 337 A.2d 893 (Pa. 1975), the court does not overrule Berkebile.  There is some question as to whether the court’s overruling Azzarello v. Black Brothers Company, 391 A.2d 1020 (Pa. 1978), which relied upon Berkebile, negates both the “every element” and the “guarantor” language.

In responding to those inquiries, it is necessary to read the opinion, for the umpteenth time, from back to front.  The key heading in Tincher is as follows:

5. Litigation Considerations Deriving from the

New Strict Liability Construct

a.  a.     Judge and Jury; Jury Instructions

The chief thrust of Tincher is to relocate the Azzarello “risk-utility” calculus from the judge to the jury.  In a broad sense, that is all Tincher is about, in addition to adding the very pro-plaintiff California consumer expectation alternative route for plaintiffs to utilize in reaching a jury verdict.

The Tincher court offers “additional guidance” to confirm its “departure from that aspect of Azzarello that assigned these roles to the judge and jury in a strict liability case.”  At Slip Opinion p. 129 (emphasis added).

The court reminds the bench and bar that the plaintiff, generally, is the master of the claim in the first instance.  At 130.  The court will be the “gatekeeper” as it is in the other case with respect to summary judgment principles, but otherwise the balancing of factors in a risk-utility case will be performed by the jury consistent with preexisting Azzarello principles.

Therefore, this decision can be seen, on its most basic level, as nothing more than moving the court’s balancing function in Azzarello to the jury, adding another cause of action for plaintiffs and otherwise choosing a conservative route with respect to altering Pennsylvania strict liability law.  “Going forward, consistent with the decision, when a plaintiff proceeds on a theory that implicates a risk-utility calculus, proof of risks and utilities are part of the burden to prove that the harm suffered was due to the defective condition of the product.”  At 131.

With respect to the jury charge, the “crucial role of the trial court is to prepare a jury charge that explicates the meaning of ‘defective condition’ within the boundaries of the law, i.e., the alternative test standard, and the facts that pertain.”  At 132-133.  Finally, the court discusses the burden of proof, noting that the burden may be shifted to the defendant in a particular case involving risk-utility theory.  That certainly would be of great assistance to plaintiffs.

The question persists, though, as to what becomes of the “every element necessary” or “guarantor” language?  The court’s problem with that language seems to be its use in isolation, where the court retained the risk balancing component, rather than the use or the integrity of the underlying test encompassed within the Azzarello/Berkebile framework.  Justice Castille opined that the “every element” language in Berkebile was taken out of context by the majority in Azzarello “as the standard of proof in a strict liability action.”  The court never says that such language would be inappropriate, once the burden of weighing risk/utility is shifted to the jury.

In fact, there is some language in Justice Castille’s opinion to support continued use of the Berkebile/Azzarello language at 57.  Both Berkebile and Azzarello spoke to “broader considerations” which feature a warranty rationale.  That approach is not wrong, but simply, according to Tincher, did not give the jury sufficient guidance.

At Slip Opinion p. 59, Justice Castille mentioned the “guarantor” language and criticized it not at all.

Under subsection C, the court addressed the “continuing viability” of Azzarello and its progeny.  At Slip Opinion 75, the majority found that, “to the extent that the pronouncements in Azzarello are in tension with the principles articulated in this Opinion, the decision in Azzarello is overruled.”  What is overruled in Azzarello are “pronouncements” which by themselves the court has found to be inadequate or not serving the interests of justice.  See, i.e., Slip Opinion p. 74.  The inconsistent “pronouncements” wording is followed by an explanation that it is a mistake to direct questions relating to the risks and utilities of a product to the trial court as a matter of law and policy instead of to the jury.  Once again the court alluded to the “every element necessary” verbiage and was critical of decisional case law applying Azzarello broadly “to the point of directing that negligence concepts have no place in Pennsylvania strict liability doctrine; and, as we explain, those decisions essentially led to puzzling trial directives that the bench and bar understandably have had difficulty following in practice, including in the present matter.”  At 75.

Tincher struggled with where Azzarello came up with its negligence-strict liability “dichotomy.”  At 76.  The court blamed the fact that prior judiciary treated Section 402A of the Restatement as a legislative mandate rather than a statement of general principles.

It seems arguable that Tincher did not clearly, or even in a murky fashion, forbid the use of “every element” necessary language or “guarantor” wording except to the extent that it stood alone with the jury unable to balance risk-utility.  This position is further strengthened by the court’s conclusion that products liability will develop on a common law basis, case by case.  The court by no means was attempting to answer every question, except for the notion that risk-utility is an analysis to be performed by the jury, that plaintiffs may avail themselves in the proper case of consumer expectation and that the burden of proof in a risk-utility case may rest upon a defendant.  Whether “every element necessary” or “guarantor” language applies in a given case would depend on the facts of that case, utilizing the manner of analysis which we find in Tincher v. Omega Flex.

It seems perfectly reasonable, to argue, that in a highly toxic or dangerous product where the risk of harm is high and designing a safer product is doable, it would be perfectly proper to instruct the jury in connection with “every element” to make the product safe as well as the “guarantor” wording.

Cliff Rieders Cited in Doylestown Intelligencer Editorial

Cliff Rieders was quoted as saying, “Whenever you take away the right to vote, you jeopardize the ability of the public to have a say about their government.” The editorial, which supports so-called “merit” selection stated that it has “no argument with Rieders” however the editorial goes on to say that the election of judges “is something of a joke.” Of course that could be said of all elections by those who do not respect the electoral process.

The editorial argues that judges should be appointed rather than elected because people do not know enough about judges to make an informed decision. The complex legislation would have judges nominated by the Governor after review by a commission of lawyers and non-lawyers. The State Senate would then have to confirm the nominees. The nominees would have to sit for a short time before retention in a “non-partisan” election. It is hard to imagine anything much more political than the deal making that would obviously have to go on for a judge to be nominated and retained in an election.

The link is set forth below.
http://www.theintell.com/opinion/editorial/merit-selection-is-long-overdue/article_73278bec-370e-5219-a01f-7d7f41e3939d.html

Attorney Rieders Quoted in Timesonline.com State News Regarding Appointment as Opposed to Election of State Judges

Sponsors are being sought for a bill to be introduced into Pennsylvania state legislature eliminating election for appellate judges and instead substituting an appointment system. The idea has been pushed for many years and has never been successful.

There is a nonpartisan split as to those who believe the election system should be kept and those who want to substitute an appointment system. This is an issue that does not know Republicans as opposed to Democrats and in some cases liberal groups are in agreement with conservative groups to keep an elective system.

“Taxpayers would have less input while commission members get influenced by special interest behind the scenes,” argued Cliff Rieders. Cliff is a Williamsport based attorney and former President of the Pennsylvania Association for Justice also known as the Pennsylvania Trial Lawyers Association. “Whenever you take away the right to vote, you jeopardize the ability of the public to have a say about their government,” Rieders said.

Stryker Hip Recall Settlement Results in Payment of More than $1 Billion

An agreement has been reached to settle all Stryker Rejuvenate and ABG II hip lawsuits, which will result in the manufacturer of the recalled implant paying more than $1 billion to resolve claims brought by individuals who required revision surgery through the beginning on November 2014.

 

The lawsuits stem from a Stryker hip recall issued in July 2012, which impacted an estimated 20,000 modular implants that were found to carry a risk of fretting, corroding and ultimately failing within a few years after they were implanted.

Unlike traditional hip implants, which feature a single femoral component, the Stryker Rejuvenate and ABG II implants featured a modular neck-stem, with two pieces that fit inside of each other to allow the surgeon to customize the length of the femoral component based on the patient.

As the chromium-cobalt components rubbed against each other during normal daily activities, the implant design has been found to release microscopic metal debris, often leading to catastrophic failure of the hip replacement and the need for risky revision surgery.

There are more than 4,000 product liability lawsuits pending against Stryker concerning the recalled hip.  Approximately half of the cases are pending in state court in New Jersey, while the other half are pending in a multi-district litigation (MDL) in the District of Minnesota in federal court.  The presiding judges are Judge Brian Martinotti and Judge Donavan Frank, respectively.

 

A Claims Administrator and Special Masters were appointed to help implement certain parts of the settlement, and a stay on all discovery in the litigation has been ordered until September 2015.

The settlement is expected to result in a base payment of $300,000 for each Stryker Rejuvenate or ABG II plaintiff who underwent revision surgery on or before November 2, and otherwise qualifies for the settlement. There will be several factors that may reduce the base award, including the plaintiff’s age, prior hip revision surgeries and other related health conditions. In addition, individuals who suffered catastrophic injuries will be able to pursue additional compensation under the settlement if they meet several eligibility requirements for “enhancements.”

If you have been injured by a defective device or drug, contact Cliff Rieders, Esq. of the Rieders Travis Firm. 

INSURANCE-FINANCIAL RESPONSIBILITY LAW-UM/UIM COVERAGE-WAIVERS-AFTER ACQUIRED VEHICLE CLAUSE/ENDORSEMENT

Insured purchased a vehicle which she added to her policy.  This vehicle, unlike a prior one which the insured purchased, was not added by way of endorsement but rather was reflected by an amended declarations page.  After carefully examining the Sackett trilogy, the court determined that it was required to obtain a new waiver in order for stacking not to apply.  The court relied heavily upon the language of the policy.  Like Sackett, the vehicles were added to an existing policy; they were not added to replace a vehicle already covered under the policy.  In view of the fact that the additional cars were added pursuant to the policy’s endorsement provision immediately after being purchased and were placed on the policy’s declarations page, the after-acquired vehicle clause became irrelevant.  Significantly, the language of the policy defines “newly acquired auto” and includes those autos “for which no other insurance policy provides coverage.”  Even if the newly-acquired automobile clause did not apply, there would not be a different result.  The Peerless Policy’s newly-acquired automobile clause makes the distinction between coverage for vehicles that an insured adds to an existing policy and those that it acquires as a replacement for vehicles already insured under the policy.  In the latter case, an insured need not notify the insurer about the replacement vehicle; coverage is automatically applied to that automobile upon the insured gaining its ownership. In the former case, an insured must affirmatively notify the insurer with a set period in order for coverage to be extended to that additional vehicle.  Peerless therefore made a careful distinction between “add-on” and “replace.”  While the first one requires notice to the insurer, the replacement vehicle extends automatic coverage.  The Bumbargers added their third vehicle to the Peerless policy by way of endorsement, and that was the vehicle involved with the uninsured motorist.  The new vehicle was covered under the general terms of the Peerless policy and not its after-acquired vehicle clause.  Therefore a new waiver was required. Bumbarger v. Peerless Indemnity Insurance Company, 93 A.3d 872 (Pa. Super. 2014).

LEGAL MALPRACTICE-MEDICAL MALPRACTICE-VICARIOUS LIABILITY-CORPORATE CLAIM

Janice Sokolsky sued her attorney, Edward Eidelman, for malpractice.  One component of a legal malpractice case is that there was merit to the underlying claim.  The underlying claim here concerned a nursing home’s alleged failure to render proper care to a resident.  The court reexamined the general components for a medical malpractice case and laid forth those criteria accurately.  One might argue with the citation of authority that to pursue a claim for damages one must exhibit some “physical manifestation” of harm resulting from the injury.  At 863, citing Osborne v. Lewis, 59 A.3d 1109, 1114-1115 (Pa. Super. 2012), appeal denied 70 A.3d 812 (2013).  Certainly psychic injuries may be the basis for a claim.

 

Most importantly about the decision is the reiteration of the differences between direct and vicarious liability.  Preliminary objections are filed frequently in the Court of Common Pleas where plaintiff is said not to be explicit enough about who is negligent and why in the vicarious liability or corporate claim.  This opinion by Judge Mundy makes clear that the lower court erred as a matter of law when it ruled that Sokolsky could not establish her right to recovery on her vicarious liability claim solely because she did not base that claim on an individual staff member’s actions.

 

Simply because employees are unnamed within a complaint or referred to as a unit, i.e., the staff, does not preclude one’s claim against their employer under vicarious liability if the employees acted negligently during the course and within the scope of their employment.  At 866.

 

 

The vicarious liability claim attaches to defendant Manor Care and Lehigh Valley regardless of Sokolsky’s attack of an individual member of either entity’s nursing staff.  Sokolsky adduced sufficient evidence to establish a prima facie case of medical malpractice against the entities based upon their staff’s treatment of her.  Further, Sokolsky did identify a number of individual health care providers who she believed breached the duty of care.

 

With respect to the corporate claim, the court relied upon well-known prior case law to conclude that the trial court erred as a matter of law when dismissing Sokolsky’s corporate negligence claim.  As the Supreme Court concluded in Scampone v. Highland Park Care Center, LLC, 57 A.3d 582 (2012), the trial court must apply Section 323 of the Restatement (Second) of Torts or the factors set forth in Althaus v. Cohen, 756 A.2d 1166 (2000) in order to determine if a duty of care exists.  It is up to the trial court to determine if Manor Care owed Sokolsky any legal duties or obligations under those standards.

 

In terms of punitive damages, since the case will be reinstated, the trial court will have to determine whether punitive damages could stand.

 

As such, the decision to grant summary judgment in the underlying medical malpractice case was reversed. Sokolsky v. Eidelman, 93 A.3d 858 (Pa. Super. 2014).

INSURANCE-HOMEOWNERS-INTENTIONAL ACT-OCCURRENCE-DANCING

In this case there was a party, somebody got hit in the groin during a dance contest, and the question is whether homeowners covers that or whether it was an intentional act.  Summary judgment grant was not in error.  The fact that the one guest intentionally struck somebody else in the testicles is not an accident and is an intentional act not covered by the policy.  There does seem to be some question about how the act happened.  The guest snuck up behind the other guest while his back was turned and hit him in the groin with his forearm.  He only meant to cause momentary discomfort; however the policy excludes coverage of bodily injuries resulting from intentional acts even if the actual injury or damage is different than expected or intended.  American National Property & Casualty v. Hearn, 93 A.3d 880 (Pa. Super. 2014).

STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS-PENNSYLVANIA STORAGE TANK AND SPILL PREVENTION ACT-DISCOVERY RULE-OBJECTIVE STANDARD-REASONABLE DILIGENCE

The standard of reasonable diligence is objective, not subjective.  It is not a standard of reasonable diligence unique to a particular plaintiff but instead a standard of reasonable diligence as applied to a reasonable person.  A person must exercise reasonable diligence to ascertain that he has been injured and by what cause.  This usually involves a factual determination.  In this case, the courts have addressed the limitations period for private STSPA claims and usually there is a two-year statute of limitations saying it is inapplicable.  There apparently are other statutes of limitations that apply, and this court does not say what they might be, either a six or perhaps a 20-year statute of limitations period.  Morgan v. Petroleum Products Equipment Company, 92 A.3d 823 (Pa. Super. 2014).

Important United States Supreme Court Whistleblowing Decision

WRONGFUL DISCHARGE-SARBANES-OXLEY ACT-WHISTLEBLOWING- The whistleblowing protection shelters employees of private contractors and subcontractors, just as it shelters employees of the public company served by the contractors and subcontractors. The plaintiffs are former employees of private companies that contract to advise or manage mutual funds. The mutual funds themselves are public companies that have no employees. Hence, if the whistle is to be blown on fraud detrimental to mutual fund investors, the whistleblowing employee must be on another company’s payroll, most likely, the payroll of the mutual fund’s investment advisor or manager. Lawson v. FMR, LLC, 134 S.Ct. 1158 (2014).

Prison Inmate Wins Federal Court Verdict

attorneyWe are pleased to announce the verdict obtained by Attorney Corey Mowrey in the case of Balter v. United States and MDI. Mr. Balter was an inmate at the Allenwood Penitentiary. His visual problems were ignored and, as a result, he went blind in one eye, already being blind in the other as the result of a disease process. The Honorable Robert Mariani, United States. District Court of the Middle District of Pennsylvania issued a verdict in the amount of $125,000 against MDI, a government contractor responsible for making medical appointments for inmates, $125,000 against the federal government, and a separate $400,000 award against the government for failing to arrange for Mr. Balter to be seen by one of two optometrists who visited Allenwood in November 2007, and by removing him from the automatic call-out list. The total verdict was therefore $650,000.

This enormous victory, for a man with no other champion, will go down as one of the most important verdicts we have seen in the Middle District of Pennsylvania. Congratulations to Corey Mowrey!

Dottie Sandusky Blaming Victims

Dottie Sandusky has gone to the press, blaming the victims for what occurred to them. Cliff Rieders represented one of the victims and, importantly, was involved in the marshaling of Second Mile assets. Rieders was in the lead with respect to non-monetary compensation being attained and safeguarding the interests of the victims through proper releases after the settlement.

Rieders’ efforts resulted in one of the larger settlements paid out by Penn State University.

In response to Dottie Sandusky’s assault upon the victims, Rieders stated that Ms. Sandusky offered no serious facts to support her claims and obviously is waging a war to try to influence her husband’s appeal.

Rieders’ efforts on behalf of the victims of the Sandusky abuse has been significant not only to the victims themselves, but also to the betterment of Penn State University and a safer environment.

2014 LLA Annual Meeting

The 2014 Annual Meeting of the Lycoming Law Association took place as scheduled on January 13. Julie Steinbacher concluded her term as president and turned the gavel over to Tom Waffenschmidt, for 2014.

The members received and heard committee and officer reports. The reports have been committed to writing and are available to the membership on theircomputer or telephone

waffenschmidtOther business completed by the membership was the election of the officers of the Association, including president Waffenschmidt. Julie Steinbacher will now serve in the position of Past-President. Robert Cronin was named President Elect. Ryan M. Tira was named Treasurer and Tammy Avery Weber, Secretary; Jennifer L Heverly and Christian Frey will continue to serve as Executive Committee members at large. Newly selected to the Executive Committee were Clifford A. Rieders and Angela Campana Lovecchio.

LLA Officers Attend Bar Leaders Conference

The Pennsylvania Bar Association’s annual Conference of County Bar Leaders took place Feb. 27 – March 1, at The Nittany Lion Inn, State College. The event is a “must” for current and incoming leadership of any county bar association.

ccblThis year, LLA President Tom Waffenschmidt, President Elect Bob Cronin and Executive Director Jessica Engel attended the session. Despite the fact that they appear (in the photo on the left) to be only having fun, the conference is actually an intense combination of practical seminars, networking opportunities and presentations that fill almost 2 days.

Jessica started with a Pennsylvania Association of Bar Executives meeting on Thursday evening. That was followed by the Pennsylvania Legal Aid Network Reception, which Bob, Tom and Jessica all attended at the Law School. The final event of the evening was the Welcome Social at the Nittany Lion Inn, where all had the opportunity to socialize with other county and PBA leaders.

The Friday morning sessions attended were as follows: Tom – Leadership Kick-off, Avoidance of Legal Malpractice, and Recruiting Cheerleaders for Civic Education; Bob – Leadership Kick-off, Most Likely to Succeed (Your Bar Foundation), and History of Your Bar Association; Jessica – Most Likely to Succeed (Your Bar Foundation) and Recruiting Cheerleaders for Civic Education. Corey Mowrey drove down to attend the YLD Business Meeting held that morning.

All three attended the Friday Luncheon, which featured speaker was Ken Gormley, Dean of Duquesne Law School, who spoke on his book, Archibald Cox: Conscience of a Nation, about the Nixon/Watergate era. According to Jessica, “It was mesmerizing.”

The afternoon sessions attended were as follows: Tom – LCL: Hope and Help for the Distressed Attorney; Will You Be My Friend? The Do’s and Don’ts of Social Media, and Hot Topics, Cold Drinks; Bob – LCL: Hope and Help for the Distressed Attorney; Your Year(s) in Bar Leadership/on the Homecoming Court, and Hot Topics, Cold Drinks; Jessica – LCL: Hope and Help for the Distressed Attorney; Will You Be My Friend? The Do’s and Don’ts of Social Media.

Friday concluded with a formal dinner and social later in the evening.

On Saturday, everyone attended both sessions: Protect Your Board and Yourself: Fraud and Embezzlement Avoidance, and Are You Covered: Nonprofit Insurance Options.

As always, the CCBL was a stimulating and enlightening event, guaranteed to improve the operation of the Lycoming Law Association and its support for its members.

Supreme Court Affirms Superior Court in Favorable Decision in Passarello Case

In a recent decision of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court in Passarello v. Grumbine, 2014 WL 502490 (Pa. Feb. 7, 2014), the Court affirmed the Superior Court’s holding that an “error in judgment” jury charge should not be given in a medical malpractice case because “error in judgment instructions pose palpable and substantial risks of confusing juries with respect to the standard of care.”

In Passarello, the parents of a deceased two-month old child brought a medical malpractice action against the child’s treating physician and her employer.

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court held that the Superior Court’s decision in Pringle v. Rapaport, 980 A.2d 159 (Pa. Super 2009), holding that the “error in judgment” jury instructions should not be given in medical malpractice cases applied retroactively. Therefore, the court required a new trial.

The Court also rejected the two waiver arguments advanced by defendants. First, the defendants argued that plaintiffs failed to preserve this argument by only objecting during the charging conference to the physician’s proposed point for charge and not the hospital’s, the latter being the version given by the trial court. The Court noted that the hospital was sued only in an agency capacity, so only one objection was necessary to put the trial court on notice of possible defects in such a charge. Secondly, the Court also rejected defendant’s argument that plaintiffs had waived any right to argue such a charge should never be given, because they had only made the narrower objection at trial that the instruction was not proper in this case. The Court held that the plaintiffs had preserved the objection by arguing that the trial court should only give the medical malpractice charge in the Pa. Suggested Standard Jury Instructions, which specifically rejects the error in judgment charge.

In the case, following the charging conference, the trial judge instructed the jury on the standard of negligence for a physician and told the jury that it was not to rely on “hindsight” and to consider a “disastrous result” to be “proof of negligence” The Judge then read Defendants’ proposed error in judgment jury charge stating that ”

[u]nder the law, physicians are permitted a broad range of judgment in their professional duties and physicians are not liable for errors of judgment unless it is proven that an error in judgment was the result of negligence.”

The opinion which grants Plaintiff a new trial, was authored by Justice McCaffery. This opinion was joined by Justices Baer, Todd and Stevens. Justice Saylor filed a concurring and dissenting opinion, while Justices Castille and Eakin filed dissenting opinions. Justice Saylor, concurring and dissenting, agreed with “the majority in establishing a bright-line rule proscribing the errors-in-judgment instruction in medical malpractice cases,” but would have done so “only prospectively, prohibiting the trial courts from using the phraseology in jury instructions in medical malpractice cases.”

Cliff Rieders and Pam Shipman of Rieders, Travis, as well as Donald Feinberg represented the plaintiffs. Rosalind Kaplan filed an amicus brief on behalf of the Pa. Association for Justice.

Plaintiffs Attys Group Wants Rehearing In Pa. Tort Law Case

Law360, New York (December 02, 2013, 7:44 PM ET) — In an unprecedented twist Wednesday, a plaintiffs attorney group urged the Pennsylvania Supreme Court to hold a second hearing on whether the state should adopt revised tort law, arguing that the position taken by the Cozen O’Connor PC attorney counseling the plaintiffs does not represent the interests of most injured consumers.

Cozen’s Mark Utke represents a couple, the Tinchers, who claim defective steel tubing made by Omega Flex Inc. contributed to a house fire. Using the case, the court is examining whether it should continue to allow manufacturers to be found strictly liable solely because a product was defective when used as intended, as outlined in the American Law Institute’s Restatement of Torts, Second, or to give weight to factors such as the foreseeability of the product’s risks, as outlined in the Restatement Third.

According to a filing from the Pennsylvania Association for Justice’s Clifford Rieders, Utke told Rieders that he would argue in favor of the Restatement Second and a related ruling, Azzarello v. Black Brothers Co. Inc. Under that decision, judges, not juries, address social policy questions in product liability cases, such as whether a product’s utility outweighs its risks.

At oral argument in the case in October, however, Utke said that Azzarello should be overruled, which is “certainly not the position of consumer-oriented lawyers,” Rieders told Law360. Allowing judges to tackle social policy issues in products cases results in a more consistent application of the law, he said.

“The position urged at argument by counsel for the Tinchers represents a dramatic shift in the position of any plaintiff suing for damages in a products liability case,” the PAJ said in its filing.

Though no Pennsylvania court has allowed an amicus curiae such as the PAJ to reargue a case after oral argument was held, “the situation itself is unprecedented,” according to the group. If Utke had told Rieders before the hearing that he would not back Azzarello, he would have asked to participate in the first oral argument, it said.

The case is unusual because the firm representing the plaintiffs, Cozen, is known mostly for its corporate defense work. Cozen is actually representing the Tinchers’ insurance company, USAA, on behalf of the couple, according to the PAJ’s filing.

“The impact of a court decision reversing Azzarello … should not be determined based upon a subrogation case essentially ‘owned’ by an insurance company and argued by one who is not committed to consumer protection policies,” the group said.

Utke and an attorney for Omega Flex, Christopher Landau of Kirkland & Ellis LLP, could not be immediately reached for comment on the request for another hearing.

Omega Flex has told the Supreme Court that under Azzarello, a plaintiff need only allege facts that would allow a court to conclude that a jury could find a product unreasonably dangerous. However, the case law never holds a plaintiff responsible for later proving its allegation, it said.

Under the Restatement Third, plaintiffs would not simply be able to assert that a different design would have eliminated the alleged defect but would have to show such a design was viable when the product was manufactured, the company said. Most jurisdictions in the country have adopted the Restatement Third.

According to the PAJ’s filing, Utke ultimately argued for the overturning of Azzarello because he believed it was necessary to preserve the lower court’s verdict against Omega Flex. Before the hearing, he had admitted to Rieders that Cozen’s support of the Restatement Second and Azzarello in the case was a “delicate issue,” the filing said.

The Tinchers are represented by Mark Utke of Cozen O’Connor.

Omega Flex is represented by Christopher Landau of Kirkland & Ellis LLP and William Conroy and Katherine Wang of Campbell Campbell Edwards & Conroy PC.

The PAJ is represented by Clifford Rieders of Rieders Travis Humphrey Harris Water & Dohrmann.

The case is Tincher et al. v. Omega Flex Inc., case number 17 MAP 2013, in the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.

–Additional reporting by Matt Fair. Editing by Stephen Berg.

Tom Waffenschmidt Quoted In The Law360 Article Regarding Malpractice

Duane Morris Deal Leaves Pa. Malpractice Rule Unclear

Law360, Philadelphia (November 07, 2013, 8:16 PM ET) — Although attorneys say that Duane Morris LLP’s deal ending a recent malpractice suit before it was heard by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court left unsettled questions over damages available to plaintiffs bringing contract-based professional liability claims, at least two pending cases could tee the issue up again for the justices.

Malpractice cases pending in both the state’s Superior Court and before a Montgomery County judge against Pietragallo Gordon Alfano Bosick & Raspanti LLP and Reed Smith LLP, respectively, could give the state’s highest court another opportunity to clarify whether contract-based professional liability claims can yield consequential damages, or if plaintiffs are only allowed to recover fees paid to their attorneys.

The settlement agreement Duane Morris struck in September ending a malpractice suit with plaintiffs Eric and Linda Coleman over allegations that faulty legal counsel had left them on the hook for some $2 million in outstanding taxes prevented the justices from addressing a dispute over whether the Supreme Court’s 1993 decision in Clarence Bailey v. Robert Tucker — which limited damages arising from contract-based professional liability claims to legal fees plus interest — applied only to criminal cases or also to civil matters.

Although the Superior Court’s precedential decision in the Coleman case last November limited Bailey’s scope to malpractice suits arising from criminal representation, attorneys told Law360 that the settlement of the dispute before a hearing in the Supreme Court leaves the issue open to interpretation.

“I think in general it is an unsettled question,” said Josh Byrne, a partner in Swartz Campbell LLC’s professional liability group. “Certainly you can argue that the reading in Coleman is incorrect. The fact that the Supreme Court granted allocatur indicates they believed there was a conflict in the ruling.”

The Superior Court in Coleman concluded that the decision in the Bailey case — which stemmed from a malpractice claim leveled against a criminal defense attorney — put criminal litigators in a class by themselves when it came to the threat of professional liability claims and that the limitation on damages could not extend to claims stemming from civil representation.

The Superior Court said that the Bailey decision “indicated there were ‘substantial differences’ between a criminal and a civil attorney malpractice proceeding … ‘which warrant distinct treatment of’ the criminal cause of action” in both negligence- and contract-based professional liability claims.

Initially marked as nonprecedential, the court later granted a motion asking that the ruling be published.

The decision drew the ire of the Pennsylvania Bar Association, which filed an amicus brief when the case was pending before the Supreme Court, warning that the ruling would increase attorneys’ risk of exposure to liability claims and irreparably harm the profession.

“If the Superior Court’s decision is upheld, civil attorneys will be more fearful that every decision and judgment will be the basis of a subsequent malpractice action for breach of contract with unlimited damages,” the group’s brief said. “If the Superior Court’s decision is not reversed, fearless, independent representation will be replaced with defensive, malpractice-minded lawyering.”

Kenneth Zoldan, an attorney with Zoldan Associates LLC who represented the Colemans, told Law360 that he viewed the trial court’s decision in the case denying consequential damages on the contract claim as an outlier in malpractice jurisprudence.

“I thought that the trial court decision in Coleman was somewhat of an aberration,” he said. “That’s not what trial courts in this part of Pennsylvania had been doing. They typically have allowed consequential damages in contract claims in malpractice suits.”

An attorney for Duane Morris declined to comment on the case when reached on Wednesday.

Thomas Waffenschmidt, a partner at Rieders Travis Humphrey Harris Waters & Dohrmann, told Law360 that he believed it would be a manifest injustice to limit a plaintiff’s recovery strictly to fees paid, given the substantial sums often at play in civil litigation.

“Imagine if we were to say that a loved one suffered medical malpractice at the hands of a doctor and you sued and you could only recover the cost of the medical bills,” he said. “I don’t think anybody would argue that that would be a fair result.”

Byrne said he believed the Supreme Court would likely try to address the issue again if given a chance.

“I think there’s likely to be additional litigation on this issue until the Supreme Court declares decisively one way or another whether the Bailey holding can extend to civil cases,” he said.

Unclear, however, is how soon the Supreme Court could be afforded such an opportunity.

In an appeal currently pending before the Superior Court, Pietragallo is arguing that a former client, Robert Lewis, should be barred from receiving consequential damages based on claims that the firm botched a cohabitation agreement an attorney drafted on the plaintiff’s behalf in 1995, which allegedly left him on the hook for annual payments to his girlfriend in perpetuity after their separation.

Although a jury awarded Lewis $525,000 in damages, an Allegheny County trial judge granted Pietragallo’s post-trial motion and issued a directed verdict, finding that the plaintiff’s failure to read critical correspondence from his attorney before signing the agreement effectively prevented his lawyer from protecting his interests and amounted to a breach of the contract with the firm.

As part of the appeal, the firm has argued that Lewis should be barred from receiving consequential damages given that his claim was based in contract.

“Every court directly addressing the issue of damages, prior to Coleman v. Duane Morris, has found that … the damages in a legal malpractice claim sounding in contract, whether civil or criminal, are limited to the recovery of the fees that were paid for the services rendered by the lawyer,” the firm argued in a brief before the Superior Court. “Were it to be otherwise, the claims of legal malpractice in tort and assumpsit would be identical.”

James Schadel, an attorney with Weinheimer Schadel & Haber PC representing Pietragallo, said he hoped that the court would have an opportunity to address the distinction again.

“The confused state of Pennsylvania law on the distinction between tort and contract in attorney client relationships has long been a troubling matter,” he said. “Many at the bar were encouraged that the court granted allowance in the Coleman case and were disappointed that the matter ended with out any clarification. Hopefully, the court will take up a future opportunity to clarify this important area.”

The Pietragallo case has been fully briefed and argued and a decision is pending.

In an amicus brief filed with the Supreme Court shortly before the Coleman case settled, Pietragallo argued that the Superior Court’s decision in Coleman improperly blurred the line between tort- and contract-based malpractice claims, in violation of Bailey.

“Breach of contract and negligence claims are different and should be treated as such as they seek to remedy different breaches of duty,” the brief said. “Without delineated differences in those claims, plaintiffs claiming legal malpractice in contract have an enhanced claim against lawyers, rewarding plaintiffs who fail to file their negligence claims within the two-year statute of limitations by allowing them full negligence-type damages in recovery and then possibly avoiding the bar of their own negligence.”

In a separate case pending in the Montgomery County Court of Common Pleas, a group of car dealerships led by Brandow Chrysler Jeep Co. are pursuing a contract-based claim against Reed Smith over allegations that the firm botched a release it drafted with PNC Bank NA as part of a financing deal, which unintentionally allowed a third-party auditor to skirt liability for failing to detect a massive fraud scheme by a former dealership CFO. The plaintiffs in the suit allege they suffered more than $15 million in damages after being left unable to sue the auditor.

In an amicus brief filed in the Coleman case when it was pending before the Superior Court, the Brandow plaintiffs argued that successful contract-based malpractice claims required evidence of an actual loss and said it would be nonsensical to then prevent a plaintiff from recouping that loss.

“It simply does not follow that a plaintiff must establish actual loss — the full scope of the harm resulting from a breach — only to have a court deny recovery of those damages due to an artificial ceiling on damages that the trial court applied in this matter based on Bailey v. Tucker,” they argued. “The more logical approach is to allow the damages recoverable in an assumpsit action upon breach of contract and permit recovery of the entire loss, because the cause of action already requires such proof.”

The Brandow case is in discovery and is expected to go to trial sometime in 2014.

Penn State pays close to $60 million to Sandusky victims

Earlier this week, Penn State released information that it was paying $59.7 million to 26 different young men who were sexually abused by former Penn State defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky. Just less than two years since Sandusky was initially charged with these heinous crimes, the school claims that, to date, twenty-three settlements have been made and that there are three still in principle. As expected, none of the names of the young men have been released.

Penn State still faces six other possible charges, but the university says those cases have little if any merit and will likely produce little to no settlement. Penn State’s new president, Rodney Erickson, said at a press conference, after the figures were announced, that finally getting these compensatory payment out of the way is a huge step forward for the school and, more importantly, the victims. Although the settlements have been coming to fruition since August, and some lawyers of the victims decided to disclose those numbers to the press as they happened, the university decided to wait until every deal was done before making one, final announcement.

In addition to the near $60 million Penn State paid to the victims of the sex scandal, the university has also spent an estimated $50 million on other lawsuit-related costs such as lawyers’ fees and public relations expenditures, as well as seminars and training for the adoption of new policies and procedures in relation to any sexual abuse complaints.

While Penn State’s insurance company is expected to pay most, if not all, of the its legal defense fees, it is being reported that they will not and are not required to pay a dime to any of the victims–those expenses will be paid entirely by the university. There is likely more debate to arise with the school’s administration as to from where that money will come.

Attorney Clifford Rieders, a Williamsport lawyer for one of the victims, has said the average payout is similar to other cases involving child abuse in educational or religious settings, but would not divulge the exact amount his client received.

Mr. Rieders was involved not only in drafting the template settlement documents, but also in rounding up the Second Mile assets, assuring that there would be changes in the supervision of young children at the campus, that there would be an in-person explanation to the victims of what occurred, and other nonmonetary matters to be addressed. The settlement with Mr. Rieders’s client was one of the largest.

Attorney Rieders said the cases raised the threat of embarrassing admissions had the school attempted to take any of the victims to trial instead of settling. In addition, had the claims gone to trial, Rieders said that the university would have to consider the effects on the victims, the school’s reputation for being so callous, and the possibility of eventually having to pay much more than the $60 million they set aside for settlements. “There are many considerations whenever you resolve a high-profile case involving serious misconduct, and I’m sure all of those and more came into play here,” said Rieders.

Source: Times Leader, “Penn State: 26 people get $59.7M over Sandusky” October 28, 2013

Penn State continues to settle with Sandusky victims

Penn State University is continuing to come to settlements with young men who were sexually molested by former football defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky. Thus far, nearly 20 men have come to settlement with the university, according the Associated Press.

However, the number of settlements is in dispute. One of the university’s attorneys claims that the amount of settlement is really closer to thirty and that there are only five left that need to be handled. He also says that of those five, at least three will be dropped due to a lack of credible evidence.

To date, Penn State has spent an estimated $50 million over the Sandusky case. This does not, however, include payments made to people who were sexually abused. The school has reportedly set aside over $60 million for victim payouts.

Attorney Cliff Rieders, from Williamsport, PA, has told reporters that his respective client has settled with Penn State, but he refused to name his client. “It’s time for my client to continue to get counseling and to put back together his life,” said Rieders in a statement made shortly after the settlement.

Attorney Rieders was heavily involved in drafting the template settlement documents and rounding up Second Mile assets. Attorney Rieders also assured there would be changes in the supervision of young children at Second Mile and that victims would receive a personal explanation as to what happened to them, as well as other nonmonetary matters. The settlement with Mr. Rieders’s client was one of the largest.

Sandusky is currently serving a 30 to 60 year federal prison sentence for 45 counts of sexual molestation to minors.

Source: The Daily Collegian, “Penn State continues to reach settlements with men abused by Sandusky” 9 October 2013

More Sandusky victims settle, some still coming forward

As of October 8, 2013, at least 19 of the young men who were sexually molested for Penn State football coach Jerry Sandusky, have come to settlement with the university. Most of the men have received checks in undisclosed amounts as the school has reportedly already begun dipping into the $60 million it set aside to pay the claims.

Respected Williamsport attorney, Clifford Rieders, agreed with other lawyers that although the money cannot ever change what happened to them in the past, it will help them along in the future. Rieders had this to say of his client: “He is a very responsible, thoughtful, intelligent man. His reaction is that his was a terrible tragedy and he’d like to move on with his life and get the help he needs for a meaningful life.” Rieders and his client came to an agreement on their settlement at the end of September.

Mr. Rieders was involved in not only drafting the template for the settlement documents, but also in negotiating the Second Mile assets, assuring that there will be changes in the supervision of young children at its campus, that there would be an in-person explanation to the victims of what occurred, as well as other nonmonetary matters that must be addressed. The settlement with Mr. Rieders’s client was one of the largest.

Although Penn State spokespeople have declined to make any relevant comments, the university has said that it plans to publicly announce the number of victims and the amount that it will pay out to each victim, but will of course not divulge any clients’ name. Penn State attorneys say that there have been at least thirty one young me to come forward alleging they were molested by Sandusky, but it remains unclear who they are and if they have proper representation.

Source: The Guardian, “Penn State reaches settlement with 19 men over Jerry Sandusky abuse claims” 8 October 2013

Sandusky litigation slows as legal process takes its toll

Penn State is currently fighting with their general liability insurer over coverage for Sandusky settlements and payouts. Some say that the insurance company fears the amount they will have to pay on behalf of the school will skyrocket if and when Penn State publicly announces that they will begin seeking victims.

Says Attorney Cliff Rieders, one of the Sandusky victim’s lawyers: “I don’t have any problem with discussing a system of evaluation of claims, so long as there is a right to go to court, said the Williamsport attorney. Rieders recently filed a writ in Philadelphia initiating a lawsuit without filing a complaint that fully outlines the extent of all the allegations made. Rieders went on to say that he is “…not generally in favor of giving up those rights unless there’s some adequate quid pro quo.”

Attorney Rieders was involved in drafting the template settlement documents and in rounding up Second Mile assets. Rieders is assuring that there will be changes in the supervision of young children at the Second Mile campus and those who were abused will get personal explanations as to why it was allowed to happen. The settlement with Mr. Rieders’s client was one of the largest.

Attorney Rieder’s client, who was not one of the ten victims in Sandusky’s criminal case, was sexually abused by Sandusky over what he described as “several different summer seasons.”

Penn State and their insurer, the Blue Bell, PA-based Pennsylvania Manufacturers’ Association Insurance Company, have sued each other over what is and is not cover for the different Sandusky-related claims. A judge’s decision to relegate all Sandusky-related litigation to Philadelphia is currently being appealed by Penn State; and the insurance dispute, along with pending charges against Penn State administrative officers, has considerably slowed the litigation process.

One expert in the field, a University of Pennsylvania professor of law and expert in the relationship between liability and insurance, claims that Penn State obviously does not want any of these cases to go to trial, but may be compelled to do so if the plaintiffs and their attorneys are “unreasonable” in the settlements for which they are asking.

Source: ESPN, “Claimants: Penn St. slow to settle” 15 September 2013

Sandusky victims nearing settlement

As the legal battle between Jerry Sandusky’s sex abuse victims, Penn State, and all involved lawyers, victims’ attorneys are all essentially agreeing that enough is enough and settlements need be paid out immediately.

One victim’s attorney, Clifford Rieders of Williamsport, says that after meeting will all parties involved, a deal is ready to be made. “As far as I am concerned,” said Rieders, “it is resolved.” Rieders recently sent the terms of his client, which are already signed, sealed, delivered, and ready to be agreed upon and signed by one of Penn State’s lawyers. Penn State lawyers anticipate a great number of settlement agreements to be made available to trustee approval within the next few weeks. To date, at least half of the 30 victims involved have deals waiting to be set into motion.

Rieders’s client, an unidentified 23-year-old man from central PA, remains under psychological counseling, and although he is not one of the ten victims named in the alleged charges wherein Sandusky was convicted, he admits to being sexually abused on Penn State’s campus and in other places through outings related to Sandusky’s Second Mile charity.

The specifics of the case have not yet been determined, but a Penn State attorney did tell reporters that whatever agreement is made, a confidentiality clause is certainly to follow. The confidentiality clause will forego victims’ right to sue anyone else anyone else who could possibly be held in contempt, such as the university, The Second Mile, and any whistleblowers who should have come forward years before.

Attorney Rieders’s agreements, in part with other drafted agreement, will not prevent Penn State from suing The Second Mile, but would prevent Penn State from suing his client for possible defamation down the road.

As of now, all settlements included, Penn State will be paying more than $100 million, including $60 million to be paid to the NCAA over the next five years. Penn State administrators are banking on insurance coverage to pay the majority of the any and all settlement monies; however, Penn State’s insurance company, PA Manufacturers Association Insurance Company has publicly state that they are well within their legal rights to refuse to pay for any of the Sandusky-involved sex crimes.

Sandusky is currently serving a minimum 30-year state prison term after being convicted last year of sexually molesting 10 boys over a 15 year period between 1994 and 2008. He continues to appeal his conviction.

Source: Penn Live, “Penn State attorney says settlements near with a number of Sandusky victims” 16 July 2013

Attorney Cliff Rieders to release Sandusky victim documentary if conditions are not met

In the words of Cliff Rieders, in regards to the ongoing Penn State sex scandal, “We have a big stick and we’re willing to use it” against the university and the state. Rieders, a long time Williamsport lawyer, has said that some incentive must be generated in order for the Penn State and its lawyers to move along with these negotiations.

Says Rieders: “All the lawsuits against Penn State and Sandusky are currently stayed, pending a decision by the Attorney General, as to whether she is going to prosecute on behalf of other victims. The good thing…is that Jerry Sandusky has a very long prison term and he’ll never get out. On the other hand, there are other victims.”

In regards to the victim Rieders in representing, the attorney said that “I think we are the only ones who have created…a documentary that details what happened at Penn State. It also shows the specific way it has impacted our client along with a very sophisticated power point analysis. We have not released that to the public. We intend to meet with Penn State and see what position they are going to take.”

In regards to Rieders, his client, and Penn State, Rieders said, “Let’s just say we’re talking. We haven’t given up yet. We are meeting with them shortly. I think after this next meeting, we will have a very good idea. I’m tolerant to a point.” He then spoke even further on the matter: “If after the next meeting, it is not very clear to me that they want to discuss changing the system to make sure there are protections afforded to these kids, and if they are not willing to step up to the plate financially, then we will go full bore and seek relief from the state and release the film.”

Source: WKOK, “Sandusky victim attorney holds documentary” 24 January 2013