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June 22nd, 2018 by Rieders Travis in Civil Rights

Joel Doe v. Boyertown Area School District, No. 17-3113 (3d Cir. June 18, 2018) McKee, C.J.  This appeal requires us to decide whether the District Court correctly refused to enjoin the defendant School District from allowing transgender students to use bathrooms and locker rooms that are consistent with the students’ gender identities as opposed to the sex they were determined to have at birth. The plaintiffs—a group of high school students who identify as being the same sex they were determined to have at birth (cisgender) —believe the policy violated their constitutional rights of bodily privacy, as well as Title IX, and Pennsylvania tort law. As we shall explain, we conclude that, under the circumstances here, the presence of transgender students in the locker and restrooms is no more offensive to constitutional or Pennsylvania-law privacy interests than the 4 presence of the other students who are not transgender. Nor does their presence infringe on the plaintiffs’ rights under Title IX. In an exceedingly thorough, thoughtful, and well-reasoned opinion, the District Court denied the requested injunction based upon its conclusion that the plaintiffs had not shown that they are likely to…


June 21st, 2018 by Rieders Travis in Evidence

Walsh v. BASF Corporation, 2018 Pa. Super. LEXIS 686 (June 20, 2018) Bowes, J.  Richard Thomas Walsh, Executor of the Estate of Thomas J. Walsh, Deceased, appeals from the October 14, 2016 order granting summary judgment in favor of Appellees, and challenges the propriety of the trial court’s order barring his experts from testifying pursuant to the standard enunciated in Frye v. United States, 293 F. 1013 (D.C. Cir. 1923). Since we conclude that the learned trial court erred in the manner in which it conducted the Frye inquiry herein, we reverse the grant of summary judgment, vacate the order precluding Mr. Walsh’s experts from testifying, and remand for further proceedings. Decedent, Thomas J. Walsh, was employed for almost forty years as a groundskeeper and golf course superintendent at several golf courses in the Pittsburgh area. During his employment, he frequently and regularly applied insecticides and fungicides on the golf courses. Mr. Walsh died on February 2, 2009. His treating oncologist, James Rossetti, D.O., later opined that Mr. Walsh’s extensive chemical exposure, together with “the high-risk karyotype and dyspoietic features associated with [AML] raise a high degree of suspicion that…

Distracted Driving Enforcement Increases in Pennsylvania; Distraction Continues to Be a Problem

June 18th, 2018 by Rieders Travis in Car Accidents, Negligence, Personal Injury

Distracted Driving Enforcement Increases in Pennsylvania; Distraction Continues to Be a Problem
Pennsylvania is cracking down on anyone caught driving while distracted, and the number of distracted driving citations is climbing.  Ticketed drivers pay a $50 fine plus $90 for court costs. According to the Administrative Office of Pennsylvania Courts, citations increased by 52 percent statewide in 2017 and 172 percent since 2013. The heightened emphasis on distracted driving is for good reason:  The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) reports 1,188 total deaths on Pennsylvania roads in 2016, with distracted driving a contributing factor in 61 of them. If you or a loved one was injured or if someone has died in a crash involving distracted driving, you may have a claim for compensation for your losses. This includes medical, hospital and rehabilitation bills that are not covered by first party personal injury protection, lost wages and future wage horizon and other economic expenses.  You may also have a claim for noneconomic damages such as loss of life’s pleasures, pain and suffering, and disfigurement. Pennsylvania auto laws are complex.  Pennsylvania is governed by the Financial Responsibility Law.  Cliff Rieders has a great deal of experience in this field of the law and…


June 11th, 2018 by Rieders Travis in Constitutional Law

Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission, 2018 U.S. LEXIS 3386 (June 4, 2018) Kennedy, J.  In 2012 a same-sex couple visited Masterpiece Cakeshop, a bakery in Colorado, to make inquiries about ordering a cake for their wedding reception. The shop’s owner told the couple that he would not create a cake for their wedding because of his religious opposition to same-sex marriages—marriages the State of Colorado itself did not recognize at that time. The couple filed a charge with the Colorado Civil Rights Commission alleging discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation in violation of the Colorado Anti-Discrimination Act. The Commission determined that the shop’s actions violated the Act and ruled in the couple’s favor. The Colorado state courts affirmed the ruling and its enforcement order, and this Court now must decide whether the Commission’s order violated the Constitution. Whatever the confluence of speech and free exercise principles might be in some cases, the Colorado Civil Rights Commission’s consideration of this case was inconsistent with the State’s obligation of religious neutrality. The reason and motive for the baker’s refusal were based on his sincere religious beliefs and convictions. The…


June 8th, 2018 by Rieders Travis in Medical Malpractice

Gintoff v. Thomas, et al., No. 16 CV 2155 (C.P. Lackawanna May 4, 2018) Nealon, J.  In this medical professional liability action alleging negligent prescription and monitoring of anticoagulation therapy that caused a right occipital hemorrhage which warranted an emergency craniotomy and resulted in permanent harm, the defendant-hospital has filed a motion for summary judgment seeking to dismiss plaintiffs’ claims for vicarious liability and corporate negligence on the ground that they are not supported by the requisite expert opinion establishing a triable issue of fact as to a deviation from the applicable standard of care and a causal connection between that deviation and the harm claimed.  The sole liability report produced by plaintiffs contains opinions from a hematology expert only as to the causal negligence of the co-defendant hematologist.  Plaintiffs’ hematology expert does not criticize the care provided by any hospital personnel, and plaintiffs previously stipulated that the co-defendant hematologist was not an actual or ostensible agent for whom the hospital could be found vicariously liable.  Nor does the hematologist’s expert report offer any opinion or evidentiary support for an institutional negligence claim against the hospital.  Even when the summary…


June 5th, 2018 by Rieders Travis in Employment Rights

Epic System Corp. v. Lewis, No. 16-285, (S. Ct.  May 21, 2018), Gorsuch, J. JUSTICE GORSUCH delivered the opinion of the Court. Should employees and employers be allowed to agree that any disputes between them will be resolved through one-on-one arbitration? Or should employees always be permitted to bring their claims in class or collective actions, no matter what they agreed with their employers? As a matter of policy these questions are surely debatable. But as a matter of law the answer is clear. In the Federal Arbitration Act, Congress has instructed federal courts to enforce arbitration agreements according to their terms—including terms providing for individualized proceedings. Nor can we agree with the employees’ suggestion that the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) offers a conflicting command. It is this Court’s duty to interpret Congress’s statutes as a harmonious whole rather than at war with one another. And abiding that duty here leads to an unmistakable conclusion. The NLRA secures to employees rights to organize unions and bargain collectively, but it says nothing about how judges and arbitrators must try legal disputes that leave the workplace and enter the courtroom or…


June 4th, 2018 by Rieders Travis in Employment Rights

American Orthopedic & Sports Medicine v. Independence Blue Cross Blue Shield, No. 17-1663 (3d Cir. May 16, 2018) Krause, C.J.  With the evolution of managed healthcare and the advent of provider networks and other cost-control mechanisms, many insurers in recent years have incorporated into their health insurance plans clauses that purport to bar insureds from assigning their claims to any third party—even the healthcare provider that rendered the service. This appeal presents the question whether such “anti-assignment clauses” are enforceable, or whether, as argued by the healthcare provider in this case whose claim was dismissed for lack of standing, they are antithetical to the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (“ERISA”) and to public policy. For the reasons that follow, we conclude that anti-assignment clauses in ERISA-governed health insurance plans are enforceable, and we will therefore affirm the judgment of the District Court. In sum, anti-assignment clauses in ERISA-governed health insurance plans are generally enforceable, the Insurers did not waive their objections to Appellant’s standing, and Appellant, having waived its argument for a remand to perfect the power of attorney, concedes that the power of attorney in this record is invalid…


June 4th, 2018 by Rieders Travis in Miscellaneous

Krieger v. Bank of America, N.A., No. 17-1275 (3d Cir. May 16, 2018) Krause, C.J.  The same day Appellant William Krieger fell victim to a credit card scam and discovered a fraudulent $657 charge on his bill, he protested to his card issuer, Bank of America (BANA), 1 and was told both that the charge would be removed and that, pending “additional information,” BANA considered the matter resolved. And indeed, Krieger’s next bill reflected a $657 credit. But over a month later Krieger opened his mail to some particularly unwelcome additional information: BANA was rebilling him for the charge. He disputed it again, this time in writing, but after BANA replied that nothing would be done, he paid his monthly statement and then filed this action, alleging BANA violated two consumer protection laws: the Fair Credit Billing Act, which requires a creditor to take certain steps to correct billing errors, and the unauthorized-use provision of the Truth in Lending Act, which limits a credit cardholder’s liability for the unauthorized use of a credit card to $50. The District Court granted BANA’s motion to dismiss the operative complaint after determining Krieger…


June 4th, 2018 by Rieders Travis in Negligence

Straw v. Kirk A. Fair and Golon Masonry Restoration, Inc., et al., 2018 Pa. Super. 125 (May 11, 2018) Olson, J.  An appeal was taken from a judgment in favor of Jennifer M. Straw and Thomas P. Straw, individually and as administrators of the Estate of Elijah C. Straw, a deceased minor, and Rowan J. Straw, a minor, by and through his parents and natural guardians, Jennifer M. Straw and Thomas P. Straw, against appellants in the amount of $35,114,122.78.  The court vacated the judgment and remanded.  The basic facts are that Thomas Straw was driving his Pontiac Vibe automobile in Allegheny County.  Several of the Straws were passengers in the car.  As the Straws were driving down the highway, their vehicle experienced a mechanical malfunction that caused Thomas Straw to reduce his speed and bring the vehicle to a controlled stop in the middle of the highway.  Mr. Straw turned on his hazard flashers.  Kirk Fair was driving behind the Straws in a Ford F-250 truck that his employer provided to him.  Mr. Fair did not stop his truck in time and crashed into the Straws’ stationary vehicle traveling…


May 30th, 2018 by Rieders Travis in Constitutional Law

Murphy, Governor of New Jersey, et al v. National Collegiate Athletic Assn, et al., No. 16-476 (S. Ct.  May 14, 2018), Alito, J. JUSTICE ALITO delivered the opinion of the Court. The State of New Jersey wants to legalize sports gambling at casinos and horseracing tracks, but a federal law, the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act, generally makes it unlawful for a State to “authorize” sports gambling schemes. 28 U. S. C. §3702(1). We must decide whether this provision is compatible with the system of “dual sovereignty” embodied in the Constitution. The legislative powers granted to Congress are sizable, but they are not unlimited. The Constitution confers on Congress not plenary legislative power but only certain enumerated powers. Therefore, all other legislative power is reserved for the States, as the Tenth Amendment confirms. And conspicuously absent from the list of powers given to Congress is the power to issue direct orders to the governments of the States. The anti-commandeering doctrine simply represents the recognition of this limit on congressional authority.

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