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    WORKERS’ COMPENSATION-IMMUNITY-STATUTORY EMPLOYER

    February 3rd, 2023 by Rieders Travis in Workers' Compensation

    Yoder v. McCarthy Constr., Inc., 2023 Pa. Super. LEXIS 36 (January 31, 2023) (Bender, P.J.E.)  Appellant, McCarthy Construction, Inc. ("McCarthy"), appeals from the $5,590,650.69 judgment entered in favor of Appellee, Jason Yoder, and against McCarthy following a jury trial. In its appeal, McCarthy asks us to determine whether it qualifies as Mr. Yoder's statutory employer under the Workers' Compensation Act ("WCA"), such that it is immune from suit.  Pertinent to our review, under Section 302(b) of the WCA, 77 P.S. § 462, general contractors take on secondary liability for the payment of workers' compensation benefits to the injured employees of their subcontractors. See Patton v. Worthington Associates, Inc., 625 Pa. 1, 89 A.3d 643, 645 (Pa. 2014). Thus, if the subcontractor-employers default, these general contractors must pay workers' compensation benefits to the subcontractor-employees. As such, although they are not the actual employers of the subcontractor-employees, general contractors are considered "statutory employers" of the subcontractor-employees due to their treatment under the WCA. Our legislature's "purpose in imposing this status upon general contractors was remedial, as it wished to ensure payment of workers' compensation benefits in the event of defaults by primarily liable subcontractors." In exchange for assuming secondary liability for the…

    PRIVATE CRIMINAL COMPLAINT-DISTRICT ATTORNEY’S DISCRETION

    January 27th, 2023 by Rieders Travis in Criminal

     In re Private Complaint Filed by Luay Ajaj, 2023 Pa. LEXIS 56 (S. Ct. January 19, 2023) (Brobson, J.)   Pennsylvania Rule of Criminal Procedure 506 (Rule 506) authorizes private citizens to file criminal complaints against other persons before the appropriate issuing authority. Before doing so, however, the private criminal complaint must first be submitted to an attorney for the Commonwealth for approval or disapproval. If the attorney for the Commonwealth disapproves the filing of the private criminal complaint with the issuing authority, Rule 506 thereafter permits the private complainant to petition the court of common pleas to review the disapproval decision. In this discretionary appeal, we consider whether the Superior Court erred when it affirmed a decision by the Court of Common Pleas of Montgomery County, Criminal Division (trial court), which overturned the decision of the Montgomery County District Attorney (DA). The DA had disapproved the private criminal complaint. We hold that, when reviewing a prosecutor's decision disapproving a private criminal complaint under Rule 506, a court of common pleas may only overturn that decision if the private complainant demonstrates that the disapproval decision amounted to bad faith, occurred due to fraud, or was unconstitutional. In so holding, we denounce…

    INSURANCE-FINANCIAL RESPONSIBILITY LAW-UNDERINSURANCE-NAMED INSURANCE COMPANY

    January 27th, 2023 by Rieders Travis in Financial Responsibility Law

    Pasparage v. Progressive Specialty Ins. Co., 2023 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 7179 (W.D. Pa. January 13, 2023). Plaintiff Dennis Pasparage ("Plaintiff") was injured in a car accident caused by a negligent driver. The parties agree that the driver was at fault for the accident and agree that his insurer has tendered the full limits of his liability policy. Through this breach of contract action, Plaintiff seeks additional recovery under the underinsured motorist ("UIM") provisions of his insurance policy, issued by Defendant Progressive Specialty Insurance Company ("Progressive"). The parties dispute the extent of Plaintiffs injuries that were caused by the accident, and Progressive has denied Plaintiffs UIM claim. Progressive has filed a Motion in Limine seeking to preclude references at trial to Progressive as the named defendant. Progressive contends it would suffer unfair prejudice if a jury was aware of its relationship to this action. Thus, Progressive requests that the parties use the name of the non-party driver as the defendant. Progressive argues that the substitution is in accord with "the substantive law of the forum state — Pennsylvania," and the non-dipositive opinion issued by the Pennsylvania Superior Court in Stepanovich v. McGraw, 2013…

    CIVIL RIGHTS-TITLE VII-RELIGION-REASONABLE ACCOMMODATION

    January 27th, 2023 by Rieders Travis in Civil Rights

    Groff v. DeJoy, 35 F.4th 162, 164; 2022 U.S. App. LEXIS 14195 (3d Cir. May 25, 2022) (Shwartz, C.J.)  Plaintiff Gerald Groff is a Sunday Sabbath observer whose religious beliefs dictate that Sunday is meant for worship and rest. As a result, Groff informed his employer, the United States Postal Service ("USPS"), that he was unable to work on Sundays. USPS offered to find employees to swap shifts with him, but on more than twenty Sundays, no co-worker would swap, and Groff did not work. Groff was disciplined and ultimately left USPS. Groff sued USPS for violating Title VII by failing to reasonably accommodate his religion. Because the shift swaps USPS offered to Groff did not eliminate the conflict between his religious practice and his work obligations, USPS did not provide Groff a reasonable accommodation. The accommodation Groff sought (exemption from Sunday work), however, would cause an undue hardship on USPS, and so we will affirm the District Court's order granting summary judgment in USPS's favor. We must first determine what constitutes a "reasonable accommodation." The plain language of the statute directs employers to "reasonably accommodate" religious practices, so "Title VII requires otherwise-neutral policies…

    CONTRACT-COVID-19 TESTING-LITTLE LEAGUE

    January 18th, 2023 by Rieders Travis in Contracts

    Needville Little League v. Little League Baseball, Inc., Pa. No. 21-00801 (C.P. Lycoming December 28, 2022) (Linhardt, J.)  The Court finds that Plaintiffs have sufficiently pied their claim for breach of contract to survive demurrer. Plaintiffs pointed out specific language in rules , regulations and procedures promulgated by Defendant that states that in the event of a positive COVI D-19 test, Defendant would "work efficiently to communicate with the appropriate family members, team contacts, and state health officials, to initiate all appropriate quarantine, isolation, and contact tracing procedures," removing teams if they "cannot field nine players .... " Plaintiffs aver that they spent money and altered their behavior in reliance on this representation, and that had they known it would be changed hours before their arrival at the regional tournament to a policy of blanket disqualification they would not have acted as they did. Plaintiffs also averred that based on materials Defendant issued, they relied on Defendant to prevent regional and local officials from imposing non-uniform standards across the various regional tournaments, but that Defendant allowed exactly that sort of variation to Plaintiffs' detriment. It is clear that Defendant retained…

    INSURANCE-FINANCIAL RESPONSIBILITY LAW-STACKING-INTER-COMPANY STACKING

    January 11th, 2023 by Rieders Travis in Insurance

    Erie Ins. Exch. v. Backmeier, 2022 Pa. Super. LEXIS 514 (December 28, 2022) (Olson, J.)  Appellant, Elizabeth Backmeier, individually and in her capacity as the executrix of the Estate of Andrew J. Backmeier, appeals from a March 7, 2022 declaratory judgment entered in the Court of Common Pleas of Erie County. The judgment awarded $100,000.00 in favor of Appellant, and against Erie Insurance Exchange (“Erie Insurance”), after the trial court granted Erie Insurance’s motion for judgment on the pleadings and denied Appellant’s cross-motion for judgment on the pleadings. We affirm. On September 25, 2020, [Appellant’s son,] Andrew Backmeier, was riding his bicycle when he was struck[ and killed] by the [underinsured motorist’s] vehicle. [Appellant] sought recovery through her insurance carrier[, Erie Insurance,] for underinsured motorist [(“UIM”)] coverage [] provided by her two insurance policies[.] The two [insurance] policies each provided $100,000[.00] in UIM benefits per [person], $300,000[.00] per occurrence, unstacked. [Appellant] executed stacking waivers on both policies. Both [insurance] policies contained a "Limit of Protection" provision which capped total recovery under all household policies at the highest limit available under any single policy. [Erie Insurance] tendered a total of $100,000[.00]…

    FIDUCIARY DUTY-ATTORNEYS

    January 11th, 2023 by Rieders Travis in Miscellaneous

    A lawyer whose client relationship ends can take on matters adverse to her former client, as long as she does not have an occasion to use the former client's confidential information in a matter that is related to the work she did for the former client, against that former client. Avco Corporation fails to appreciate this distinction in this case. It claims that its former lawyer, Veronica Saltz Turner, violated her fiduciary duty to Avco when she took on a limited assignment in a case in which Avco had been (and could again have been) a defendant. Avco's entire case rests on its assumption that Ms. Turner must have used its confidential information. Yet, it offers no evidence about what Ms. Turner did in the course of her assignment, about how the work she did related to the work she had done for Avco, or about any confidential information on which Ms. Turner could have relied when she took on that representation. When the Parties moved for summary judgment, it was time for Avco to "put up or shut up"[1] by offering evidence to establish those elements. Because it didn't…

    INSURANCE-FINANCIAL RESPONSIBILITY LAW-CHOICE OF LAW-UNDERINSURANCE-GAP INSURANCE

    January 11th, 2023 by Rieders Travis in Insurance

    Watts v. Pekin Ins., 2022 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 225463 (M.D. Pa. December 14, 2022) (Brann, D.J.)  Motion of State Farm for summary judgment granted as to claim for underinsurance.  The insurance policy in this case was delivered in Indiana, and the declarations page listed the policyholder’s address in Columbus, Indiana.  At the time the policy was executed, the insureds resided in Indiana and the car was located in Indiana.  The policy defined underinsurance as gap insurance.  What that means is that underinsurance is a vehicle for which the sum of the limits under all bodily injury liability bonds or policies applicable at the time of the accident is either (1) less than the limit of liability for this coverage, or (2) reduced by payments to persons, other than insureds injured in the accident to less than the limit of liability for the coverage. Subsequently, the Watts moved to Pennsylvania.  They did not register the car in Pennsylvania.  They apparently moved to Pennsylvania for a job.  They were rear-ended in Williamsport by Richard Piger.  Plaintiffs filed a claim for underinsurance, but the claim was denied because the coverage limits of Piger’s…

    January 11th, 2023 by Rieders Travis in Medical Malpractice

    Lahr v. Young, Pa. No. 2021-C-0010 (C.P. Lehigh June 21, 2022) (Caffrey, J.)  There are three event reports regarding events on the Labor and Delivery Unit involving Hannah Lahr and/or her infant. Two of the event reports are dated August 14, 2019. One event report is dated August 15, 2019. The Patient Safety Office investigated the events described in the event reports, and during the course of this investigation, Meg Snyder, a Patient Safety Officer, led a committee consisting of frontline staff and leadership personnel that conducted a root cause analysis. At the conclusion of its investigation, the Patient Safety Office classified two of the three event reports as “incidents” and one event report as a “non-event,” and in accordance with the provided taxonomy, reported the two events classified as “incidents” to the Pennsylvania Patient Safety Authority. Young received the three event reports in electronic form and, upon evaluation, determined that the events described in the event reports should be submitted to peer review. Although Young typically uploads summaries of event reports into the electronic peer review file, she does not know whether she uploaded summaries of the event reports…

    PROCEDURE-VENUE-FORUM NON CONVENIENS

    January 11th, 2023 by Rieders Travis in Procedure

    Est. of Quigley v. Pottstown Hosp., LLC, 2022 Pa. Super. LEXIS 473 (December 1, 2022) (Lazarus, J.) The Estate of Rita Quigley (Decedent), by its representative Edward Clemson, Executor (Plaintiff), appeals from the order of the Court of Common Pleas Philadelphia County sustaining the preliminary objections of Pottstown Hospital, LLC, Tower Health, and John Does 1-10 (collectively, Defendants) to Plaintiff's first amended complaint and transferring venue of the matter to Montgomery County. Because Defendant Tower Health's acts are more than sufficient to establish venue in Philadelphia County, we reverse and remand.  Decedent was a resident of Chestnut Knoll, an assisted living facility located in Boyertown, Berks County, Pennsylvania. Decedent suffered from dementia and cognitive impairment. On October 28, 2020, Decedent was admitted to Pottstown Hospital. Pottstown Hospital is located in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, and is owned by Tower Health. Tower Health's registered office and principal place of business are located in West Reading, Berks County, Pennsylvania. On November 1, 2020, the Decedent was discharged and transported from Pottstown Hospital to PowerBack Rehabilitation Center, which is located in the Phoenixville area. Upon the Decedent's arrival at PowerBack, PowerBack's medical staff conducted a…

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