Thursday, March 29, 2012

Tort Talk Expo 2012 Set for May 3, 2012


The TORT TALK EXPO 2012 CLE Seminar is set to take place on May 3, 2012 at the Mohegan Sun Casino in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. Seats are filling up quickly so please register now to save your spot if you plan to attend this event.

The Pennsylvania CLE Board has approved the seminar for 2 Substantive and 1 Ethics credit.

For more information, or to register, contact Dan Cummins at dancummins@comcast.net.

Here is a link to the lineup of presenters and sponsors:  http://www.torttalk.com/2012/03/tort-talk-expo-2012-cle-seminar-month.html

Thanks.

Judge Carmen D. Minora of Lackawanna County Addresses Personal Jurisidiction/Successor Liability Issues

In the case of Turpinat v. G.D.S. Group, 2010-Civil-1793 (C.P. Lacka. Co. March 9, 2012 Minora, J.), Judge Carmen D. Minora of the Lackawanna County Court of Common Pleas granted the Preliminary Objections filed by various foreign Defendants to the Plaintiff’s Complaint based upon jurisdictional issues implicating successor liability in Pennsylvania’s long arm statue.

In a detailed Opinion, the court addressed arguments by the Italian corporate Defendants that the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania could not exercise personal jurisdiction of those Defendants because some or all of the those Defendants may not have purposefully availed themselves to the jurisdiction of this court. The Italian corporate Defendants argued that the predecessor company did not have the requisite “minimum contact” with the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania to justify jurisdiction.

After reviewing the power of Pennsylvania courts to exert personal jurisdiction over foreign Defendants as well as the Commonwealth’s long-arm statute, Judge Minora ultimately ruled that Defendant’s Preliminary Objections asserting a lack of personal jurisdiction should be granted.

Anyone desiring a copy of this opinion, which offers a detailed description and analysis of the above law, may click this link.

I send thanks to Attorney Thomas J. Campenni and Attorney Howard Levinson of the Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania law offices of Rosenn Jenkins & Greenwald for forwarding this case to my attention.

Superior Court Affirms Regular Use Exclusion Decision by Judge Nealon of Lackawanna County

In its recent non-precedential decision in the case of Erie Insurance Company v. Soroka, No. 1086 M.D.A. 2011 (Pa. Super. March 8, 2012 Gantman, Allen, and Mundy, J.J.) (Memorandum by Mundy, J.), the Pennsylvania Superior Court affirmed the trial court decision of Judge Terrence R. Nealon of the Lackawanna County Court of Common Pleas granting summary judgment in favor of Erie Insurance Company and denying the Soroka’s Motion for Summary Judgment on Erie’s Complaint for declaratory judgment in a case involving the UIM coverage exclusion for non-owned, regularly used vehicles.

For more background on the underlying facts and issues in this case, please click here for a review of Judge Nealon’s trial court decision.

In its appellate decision, the Superior Court basically applied the same law pertaining to the proper construction of insurance contracts. The Superior Court affirmed the trial court’s decision that, under the facts of the case, the inventory vehicle driven by the injured party Claimant at the time of the accident qualified as a non-owned vehicle regularly used by him, thereby triggering the exclusion at issue. More specifically, in this case, a partner of a used car dealership partnership was injured while driving one of the dealership’s inventory vehicles.

Anyone desiring a copy of this Superior Court Opinion, or Judge Nealon’s trial court Opinion, may contact me at dancummins@comcast.net.

Judge Robert A. Mazzoni of Lackawanna County Upholds Bystander NIED Claim In Medical Malpractice Claim

In his recent Opinion of Reap v. Mercy Health Partners, No. 2011-CIV-2116 (C.P. Lack. Co. March 22, 2012, Mazzoni, J.), Judge Robert A. Mazzoni of the Lackawanna County Court of Common Pleas addressed a variety of Preliminary Objections in a medical malpractice case.

Of note is the court’s decision to deny the Preliminary Objections on claims of recklessness and punitive damages.  The court also denied the Preliminary Objections against the claims for negligent infliction of emotional distress (NIED) in the context of a medical malpractice case.

With regards to the negligent infliction of emotional distress claims, the Defendants asserted that the Plaintiff did not observe an identifiable, traumatic event that resulted in an injury to the Plaintiff’s well-being. More specifically, the Defendants asserted that the Plaintiff did not witness her daughter’s demise.

In denying the Preliminary Objections to the negligent infliction of emotional distress claims, the court relied on, in part, the case of Bloom v. DuBois Regional Medical Center, 597 A.2d 671 (Pa. Super. 1991).

Anyone desiring a copy of this decision may click here.

To view other Tort Talk posts on this NIED topic click here.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Post-Koken Decision in Favor of Consolidation Out of Washington County

Another post-Koken case in favor of consolidation of claims has been brought to my attention.  This one was handed down late last year in Washington County.

In the case of Koontz v. Mast, No. 2011-Civil-142 (C.P. Wash. Co. Nov. 21, 2011 Emery, J.), Judge Katherine B. Emery of the Washington County Court of Common Pleas denied a post-Koken Motion to Sever and Preliminary Objections seeking to divide the negligence claims against the tortfeasor from the UIM breach of contract claims against the UIM carrier.

In its Order, the Court noted that these motions were denied “at this stage of the proceedings, discovery….” Accordingly, it appears that the parties would be allowed to revisit the issue at the time of trial.

Anyone desiring a copy of this Washington County Opinion may contact me at dancummins@comcast.net.

Pennsylvania Superior Court Addresses Propriety of Limited Tort Election Forms

In its recent "non-precedential" decision in the case of Hockenberry v. Liberty Mutual, No. 1292 M.D.A. 2011 (Pa. Super. March 15, 2012 Panella, Ott and Platt, J.J.) (Memorandum Opinion by Ott, J.), the Pennsylvania Superior Court addressed a declaratory judgment action with regards to the issue of whether or not the injured party Plaintiffs were entitled to “full tort” status under the motor vehicle insurance policy based upon the tort election forms.

This matter arose out of a motor vehicle accident. After receiving $15,000.00 from the tortfeasor’s policy, the injured party turned to her own underinsured motorist coverage under the Liberty Mutual policy. The Liberty Mutual policy provided for the “limited tort” coverage. The injured party Plaintiffs filed a declaratory judgment action seeking a ruling that they were entitled to “full tort” coverage.

In this matter, there was a stipulation between the parties in which the UIM carrier admitted that it did not provide the injured party Plaintiff with a Tort Election Form. Instead, the injured party Plaintiff’s selection of the tort option was simply checked off on part of the application form. The Plaintiff further alleged that the UIM carrier did not explain the tort options to the Claimant at the time the Claimant applied for the policy or at anytime thereafter.

The Superior Court also noted that it was undisputed that the Claimants renewed the UIM policy on a yearly basis up to the date of the accident and that each policy renewal indicated that the policy provided “Limited Tort” coverage.

The Hockenberry court reviewed the law of Pennsylvania under 75 Pa. C.S. §1705 which required that each applicant be provided with a specific form for the applicant to make an affirmative choice for the “Limited Tort” option. The law also provided that, absent the affirmative election of “Limited Tort,” the applicant will be considered to have chosen the “Full Tort” option.

The Hockenberry court reviewed the Pennsylvania Supreme Court decision in the case of Donnelly v. Bauer, 720 A.2d 447 (Pa. 1998), in which it was held that the MVFRL provided no remedy for an applicant who was provided with a deficit Tort Election Form.

Here, however, the Hockenberry Court found that the Plaintiffs were not provided with a deficit form; rather, they were not provided with any form at all as required by 75 Pa. C.S. §1791.1.

The Superior Court rejected the UIM carrier’s argument that the language required in §1791.1, regarding tort options, was found in the application. 

The Hockenberry court found that the failure to provide the statutorily mandated form, with regards to the Limited Tort selection, was not rectified by the insured signing a policy application form. The Superior Court was also not swayed by the argument that the injured party Claimant repeatedly renewed the policy with the “Limited Tort” option being clearly identified in each renewal.

The court instead held that “[b]ecause the required §1705 Election Form was not used and there was no other affirmative election of “Limited Tort” the trial court’s holding that the Hockenberrys are bound by “Limited Tort” is in error and must be reversed.”

It is noted that Judge Platt gave a dissenting opinion.

Anyone desiring a copy of this case may contact me at dancummins@comcast.net.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Judge Terrence R. Nealon of Lackawanna County Addresses Prerequisites for Discovery on Defendant's Finances in Punitive Damages Case

In his recent March 9, 2012 detailed Ordered issued in the case of Genevich v. T.S.E., Inc. Utility & General Contracting, No. 09-Civil-5119 (C.P. March 9, 2012 Nealon, J.), Judge Terrence R. Nealon of the Lackawanna County Court of Common Pleas addressed the issues presented by a Plaintiff’s “Motion for Leave to Conduct Punitive Damages Discovery (Financial Work Discovery) of a Defendant in a Personal Injury Litigation.”

This matter arose out of an accident that occurred while the Plaintiff was working underneath a sidewalk area.  The Plaintiff alleged that one of the Defendants allegedly caused the sidewalk area to collapse down into the area where the Plaintiff was working, allegedly resulting in personal injuries. The Plaintiff sued various Defendants and asserted punitive damages claims.

In his detailed Order, Judge Nealon reviewed Pa. R.C.P. 4003.7 which governs the discovery of a Defendant’s wealth in connection with a claim for punitive damages. That Rule specifically states that a party may obtain information concerning the wealth of a Defendant in a claim for punitive damages only upon an Order of Court setting forth appropriate restrictions as to that type of discovery.

Judge Nealon referred to prior decisions out of the Lackawanna County Court of Common Pleas on which the Court had held that Rule 4003.7 retains a common law requirement that a Plaintiff must first demonstrate a prima facie right to recover punitive damages before such financial discovery would be ordered.

The court noted that the maintenance of the prima facie showing protects the privacy rights of a Defendant by ensuring that there is some factual basis for the Plaintiff’s punitive damages claim before a Defendant will be compelled to divulge confidential financial information to an opponent in a lawsuit.

Applying the law to the facts of this matter, the court noted that, while the Plaintiffs had alleged allegations of willful, wanton, and reckless conduct, the Plaintiff had not specifically demanded any punitive damages in the Complaint.

As such, Judge Nealon found that there was no existing punitive damages claim in the case before him to support an allowance of discovery of the Defendant’s finances. Accordingly, the court denied the Plaintiff’s request for financial work discovery without prejudice to the Plaintiff’s right to later seek out such discovery in the event the Plaintiff was granted leave of court to amend his Complaint to include a specific claim for punitive damages.

Anyone desiring a copy of this Opinion may contact me at dancummins@comcast.net.

Link to Piester v. Hickey Case Corrected

The link in yesterday's Tort Talk post for the cell phone punitive damages Federal Court District Magistrate decision in the case of Piester v. Hickey has been corrected.  I apologize for any inconvenience.

Here is the link to the opinion again for your convenience.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

TORT TALK EXPO 2012 CLE SEMINAR A MONTH AWAY

The TORT TALK EXPO 2012 CLE Seminar is only about a month away.  This 2 substantive, 1 ethics credit CLE seminar is set for May 3, 2012 at the Mohegan Sun Casino in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. Seats are filling up quickly so please register now to save your spot if you plan to attend this event.


TORT TALK EXPO 2012


Presented by

Daniel E. Cummins, Esquire

at the

MOHEGAN SUN CASINO at POCONO DOWNS

Thursday, May 3, 2012

12:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.

2 Substantive & 1 Ethics CLE Credits


Followed by Cocktail Hour (4:30 – 6:30 p.m.) at Breakers in the Mohegan Sun

12:30 – 1:00 pm Registration

 

1:00 – 1:30 pm: The Tort Talk Auto Law Update
Presenter: Daniel E. Cummins, Esq.


 

1:30 – 2:00 pm: The Tort Talk Civil Litigation Update
Presenter: Paul T. Oven, Esq.
 
2:00 – 2:15 pm BREAK
 
2:15 - 3:15 pm: Introductory Medical Conditions & Radiological Issues
in Auto Accident Injuries
Presenter: Dr. Michael L. Brooks, M.D., J.D., FCLM


3:15 – 3:30 pm BREAK


3:30 – 4:30 pm A View from the Bench: Ethical Issues in Legal Writing and Advocacy
Before the Court in an Electronic World

Moderator:
Hon. Joseph Van Jura (Ret.)

Presenters:

Pennsylvania Supreme Court Justice J. Michael Eakin

President Judge of Superior Court Correale F. Stevens

U.S. Third Circuit Court of Appeals
Judge Thomas I. Vanaskie

Luzerne County President Judge Thomas Burke, Jr.


COCKTAIL RECEPTION TO FOLLOW
AT BREAKERS

4:30p.m. - 6:30p.m.


In addition to Door Prizes and Raffle Prizes, there will also be a number of Table Vendors at the seminar displaying their services offered to civil litigators. To date, the following providers have agreed to sponsor and appear as Table Vendors at the event (in alphabetical order):


BMS Consultants, Inc.: www.bmsconsultants.com



CED Investigative Technologies: http://www.ced-aai.com/


Courtside Documents: http://www.courtsidedoc.com/










Minnesota Lawyers' Mutual: http://www.mlmins.com/



Northeastern Rehabilitation Associates: www.nerehab.com


Precise, Inc.: www.precise-law.com







Surveillance Professionals Investigations, LLC:






 
Costs below cover both CLE Seminar and Cocktail Reception:

Claims professionals/representatives
and risk managers

$25.00


Lawyers

$165.00


Please make checks payable to "Tort Talk."

For reservations, please complete the requested information below and return it to the address noted below or e-mail it to dancummins@comcast.net.

 

Name(s)____________________________________


Firm/Company_______________________________
 
PLEASE MAIL REGISTRATION FORM AND PAYMENT TO:

TORT TALK
c/o Daniel E. Cummins, Esq.
Foley, Cognetti, Comerford, Cimini & Cummins
507 Linden Street
Suite 700
Scranton, PA 18503

 

For more information, contact Dan Cummins at 570-346-0745 or at dancummins@comcast.net.


HOPE TO SEE YOU THERE!


THANKS FOR YOUR SUPPORT
OF
TORTTALK.COM

Punitive Damages Based On Cell Phone Use in Auto Accident Case Dismissed (Again)

In a recent March 20, 2012 Federal Court Eastern District of Pennsylvania decision in the case of Piester v. Hickey, 2011-CIV-04720, United States Magistrate District Judge Lynne A. Sitarski issued a Memorandum Opinion and Order granted the Motion of the Defendants, John M. Hickey and Potamkin Hyundai, Inc., to Dismiss Plaintiff’s Punitive Damages Claim Pursuant to F. R.C. 12(b)(6). The Plaintiff’s punitive damages claims were based upon the fact that the Defendant driver was allegedly using a cell phone at the time of the accident. The Plaintiffs sued Hickey as the Defendant driver and Potamkin Hyundai, Inc. as the Defendant owner.

The Plaintiff more specifically alleged that the Defendant driver failed to operate his vehicle safely when he “looked at” or “used” his cell phone while driving. The Plaintiff further alleged that the Defendant owner was negligent in failing to train the Defendant driver how to drive safely and/or for allowing the Defendant driver to use his cell phone while driving the vehicle.

After reviewing the applicable law on punitive damages in detail, the court granted the Defendants’ Motion to Dismiss.

The court initially noted that the 12(b)(6) Motion to Dismiss was untimely. As such, the court reviewed the motion as a Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings under 12(c)(2).

The court noted that, even accepting as true all of the allegations in the Plaintiff’s Complaint, including the allegations that the Defendant driver “looked at” or “used” his cell phone immediately before the accident, such allegations in the absence of any other pertinent facts, “will not support a punitive damages claim under Pennsylvania law.” In so ruling, the court referred to the recent Lehigh County Court of Common Pleas case of Xander v. Kiss, No. Civ-2010-11945, 2012 W.L. 168326 (C.P. January 11, 2012), which case was recently highlighted here on Tort Talk.

Anyone desiring a copy of this decision may click this link.

I send thanks to Attorney Stephen Bruderle, Esquire of the Philadelphia office of Margolis Edelstein for forwarding this case to my attention.

Erie County Court of Common Pleas Again Rules in Favor of Severance of Post-Koken Claims

In the Erie County Court of Common Pleas post-Koken case of Crownover v. Orzano, Liberty Mutual Group, Inc., et.al., No. 14329-2011 (C.P. Erie Co. March 9, 2012 Garhart, J.), Judge John Garhart sustained a tortfeasor’s Preliminary Objections on the subject of improper joinder and ordered that the Plaintiff “shall try their liability claims against [the tortfeasor Defendant] separately from their contract/UIM claims against the other Defendants.”

In his short Order, Judge Garhart noted that Judge Connolly of the same Erie County Court of Common Pleas “made essentially the same decision to sever UIM claims from negligence claims in the case of Brown v. Hass, October 31, 2011, at Docket [No.] 11658-2011. Absent Appellate Court direction, consideration of judicial comity counsel that we do the same.”


Anyone desiring a copy of this case may contact me at dancummins@comcast.net.

I send thanks to Attorney William C. Wagner of the Erie, Pennsylvania law office of Marner, Mioduszewski, Bordonaro, Wagner & Sinnott, LLC for forwarding this case to my attention.

GUEST POST - Drug and Device Law Blog Re: Important Recent Products Liability Decision by Pennsylvania Supreme Court

The below is a guest post by permission from Attorney James Beck of the Philadelphia law office of Dechert LLP and the excellent Drug and Device Law Blog:


Drug and Device Law Blog

Pennsylvania Product Liability Law - The Muddle Continues
(March 23, 2011)


The Pennsylvania Supreme Court yesterday decided Beard v. Johnson & Johnson, Inc., No. 35 WAP 2010, slip op. (Pa. March 22, 2012), a decision that is good, bad, and ugly at the same time. We say "ugly" because the entire decision - a discussion of strict "malfunction theory" liability in the context of a medical device, is based on a fundamental error (at least we'd say so) that was never brought to the court's attention. That is, the Court in Hahn v. Richter, 543 Pa. 558, 673 A.2d 888 (1996), held that strict liability did not apply at all to any prescription drug, given the court's reading of Restatement §402A, comment k. Subsequently, the Pennsylvania Superior Court (in accordance with the massive majority of cases nationwide) held that comment k would be applied in the same fashion to medical devices. See Creazzo v. Medtronic, Inc., 903 A.2d 24 (Pa. Super. 2006). Thus, Creazzo followed Hahn and held that strict liability simply does not apply to prescription medical devices.

But this foundational issue - whether a strict liability theory was even appropriate in a case involving a prescription medical product - was neither raised nor discussed, apparently at any level in Beard. Why? We don't know.

Next, the good parts of Beard. The medical device in question, a really fancy stapler used for holding tissue together in complicated surgery where for one reason or another suturing is impossible or inappropriate, was designed for use in a variety of different surgical settings. The plaintiffs (who had not preserved the device in question) claimed that risk-utility balancing concerning the design of the device should be conducted with blinders on - that the analysis should be limited to the particular use to which the device was put in the plaintiff's surgery. The Court refused to limit the scope of risk-utility balancing in that fashion:

For better or worse, this Court’s decisions have relegated our trial courts in the unenviable position of “social philosopher” and “risk-utility economic analyst.” This having been done -- and as the present case does not provide an appropriate opportunity for reconsideration of such assignment – we decline to require the trial courts to put on blinders. It should be enough to say that a product’s utility obviously may be enhanced by multi-functionality, so that it would be imprudent to deny trial courts the ability to assign some weight to this factor in assessing product design. . . . [Plaintiff’s concessions of the net social utility calculus in the area of the [device’s] primary design [a different kind of surgery] are irreconcilably inconsistent with his claim of an inherent design defect. . . .

[T]here is much at stake in the condemnation of a product’s design, above and beyond any individual damages award or awards, including the impact on product costs and design innovation. On balance, we differ with Appellant’s position that the desire to streamline a particular facet of products litigation should be accorded priority over the wider-ranging assessment which was obviously intended from the outset, as manifested in the above characterizations of the trial court’s role, in the open-ended factors which have been accepted by Pennsylvania courts as the basis for risk-utility review, and otherwise.

Beard, slip op. at 24-24 (footnotes omitted).

After Beard, it is settled that, with respect to design defect claims in Pennsylvania, defendants will be able to defend by relying on the benefits of their designs in other uses of the product. This should apply both to the Pennsylvania-peculiar judicial balancing of risks and benefits required under existing law (see Beard, slip op. at 25), and to the presentation of a risk/utility defense to the jury at trial. See Phatak v. United Chair Co., 756 A.2d 690 (Pa. Super. 2000) (evidence bearing on same risk utility factors may be submitted to the jury in design defect cases).

This aspect of Beard can only help defendants by allowing them to compare their design to the plaintiff's alternative design across the entire spectrum of a product's intended uses. Since the plaintiff's alternative design is usually tailormade to address only the accident in a given case, the alternative's adverse consequences to many other people who use the product will put before the jury the same broad perspective of product design that manufacturers necessarily employ in the real world.

The bad aspects of Beard are hinted at in the language we quoted above: "the present case does not provide an appropriate opportunity for reconsideration of such assignment." Yet again, the defense community has missed an opportunity to have the wide-open existential question that hovers over all Pennsylvania product liability law - the negligence-based Restatement Third theory, versus Pennslvania's idiosyncratic form of strict liability expressed by Azzarello v. Black Brothers Co., 480 Pa. 547, 391 A.2d 1020 (1978) - decided.

Justice Saylor, who wrote Beard, is (as he stated in the opinion, slip op. at 23) one of "several justices" on record as supporting a shift away from Azzarello's extreme separation of "strict liability" from "negligence." But as yet "a majority consensus has not yet been attained in any case." Slip op. at 23. The three justices who first advocated the change, "Saylor, J., joined by Castille, J. and Eakin, J.," id., aren't getting any younger. Since Justice Saylor wrote Beard, he was careful to avoid anything that would undercut the Third Circuit's prediction (which we discussed here) that the Court would eventually move to the Third Restatement. See slip op. at 23 (mentioning Third Circuit prediction in Covell v. Bell Sports, Inc., 651 F.3d 357 (3d Cir. 2011), and "[r]ecogniz[ing] the continuing state of disrepair in the arena of Pennsylvania strict-liability design defect law"). The Beard opinion also mentions the Third Restatement favorably in a footnote. Id. at 26 n.18.

A three-justice concurrence (Baer, McCafferty, Todd, JJ.) dissaociates itself with footnote 18, also pointing out the unfortunate truth that, “[defendants] failed to raise this [Third Restatement] issue in their Pa .R.A.P. 1925(b) statement of errors complained of on appeal.” Id. at 2. These three justices steadfastly “express no opinion on the merits of the adoption of the Restatement Third.” Id. Significantly, however, none of these justices comments adversely on the Third Circuit's continuing prediction in Covell of an eventual change.

However, another chance to get rid of Pennsylvania's archaic and extremely pro-plaintiff strict liability has gone by the boards. While reading tea leaves is never easy, the fact that only three justices chose to disassociate themselves from Justice Saylor's pro-Third Restatement comments in Beard suggests that there could well be a four-justice majority on the current court to jettison Azzarello in a case where this issue is preserved. Every defendant adversely affected by Azzarello should take care to preserve this issue from the outset. Express preservation at the trial court level is required. See Schmidt v. Boardman, 608 Pa. 327, 353, 11 A.3d 924, 940 (2011).

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Notable E-Discovery Costs Decision by Third Circuit Court of Appeals (Judge Vanaskie)

In a March 16, 2012 Opinion written by Judge Thomas I. Vanaskie, the Third Circuit Court of Appeals addressed a Defendant's request submitted to a Plaintiff for the payment of costs associated with e-discovery in the case of Race Tires America, Inc. v. Hoosier Racing Tire Corp., No. 11-2316 (3d. Cir. March 16, 2012 Sloviter, Vanaskie, Stengel, JJ.)(Opinion by Vanaskie, J.).

In this case, the Court addressed the novel issue of what costs associated with the collection, processing, and production of electronically stored information (ESI) was taxable against a losing party in a civil litigation matter.  Ih this matter, the defense was requesting the Plaintiffs to pay in the range of $365,000 for such costs apparently originating from the utilization of a vendor to collect and disseminate the ESI.

In the end, the Court ruled that the costs claimed in this matter should be drastically slashed.  Judge Vanaskie wrote that essentially only scanning and file format conversions were the type of activities (amounting to only $30,000 of the stated amount) were recoverable.

Anyone wishing to review this important e-discovery Opinion written by Judge Vanaskie for the Race Tires America, Inc. case, which provides detailed guidance on the issue, can click here.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

SAVE YOUR SPOT - REGISTER NOW FOR THE TORT TALK EXPO 2012

The TORT TALK EXPO 2012 CLE Seminar is set to take place on May 3, 2012 at the Mohegan Sun Casino in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania.  Seats are filling up quickly so please register now to save your spot if you plan to attend this event.

The Pennsylvania CLE Board has approved the seminar for 2 Substantive and 1 Ethics credit.

TORT TALK EXPO 2012

Presented by

Daniel E. Cummins, Esquire


at the

MOHEGAN SUN CASINO at POCONO DOWNS

Thursday, May 3, 2012

12:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.

2 Substantive & 1 Ethics CLE Credits

Followed by Cocktail Hour (4:30 – 6:30 p.m.) at Breakers in the Mohegan Sun

12:30 – 1:00 pm Registration

1:00 – 1:30 pm: The Tort Talk Auto Law Update
Presenter: Daniel E. Cummins, Esq.

1:00 – 1:30 pm: The Tort Talk Civil Litigation Update
Presenter: Paul T. Oven, Esq.

2:00 – 2:15 pm BREAK

2:15 - 3:15 pm: Introductory Medical Conditions & Radiological Issues
in Auto Accident Injuries
Presenter: Dr. Michael L. Brooks, M.D., J.D., FCLM

3:15 – 3:30 pm BREAK


3:30 – 4:30 pm A View from the Bench: Ethical Issues in Legal Writing and Advocacy
Before the Court in an Electronic World

Moderator:
Hon. Joseph Van Jura (Ret.)


Presenters:
Pennsylvania Supreme Court Justice Michael Eakin

President Judge of Superior Court Correale Stevens

U.S. Third Circuit Court of Appeals
Judge Thomas I. Vanaskie

Luzerne County President Judge Thomas Burke, Jr.

COCKTAIL RECEPTION TO FOLLOW
AT BREAKERS

4:30p.m. - 6:30p.m.


Costs below cover both CLE Seminar and Cocktail Reception:

Claims professionals/representatives
and risk managers

$25.00


Lawyers

$165.00

Please make checks payable to "Tort Talk."

For reservations, please complete the requested information below and return it to the address noted below or e-mail it to dancummins@comcast.net.


Name(s)____________________________________


Firm/Company_______________________________


PLEASE MAIL REGISTRATION FORM AND PAYMENT TO:

TORT TALK
c/o Daniel E. Cummins, Esq.
Foley, Cognetti, Comerford, Cimini & Cummins
507 Linden Street
Suite 700
Scranton, PA 18503

For more information, contact Dan Cummins at 570-346-0745 or at dancummins@comcast.net.

HOPE TO SEE YOU THERE!

Recent Venue Cases Out of Superior Court

In Kappe v. Lentz, Cantor, Massey, Ltd, No. 614 EDA 2011, 2012 PA Super 48 (Pa. Super. 2/28/2012), the Pennsylvania Superior Court reversed the trial court's transfer of a matter from Philadelphia County to Chester County, even though the incident and the majority of the parties involved were from Chester County.

The Superior Court panel appeared to based their decision, in part, on the fact that the defendant conducted 1.7% of their business in Philadelphia County.

In another recent venue decision out of the Superior Court in the case of Wimble v. Parx Casino, NO. 941 EDA 2011, 2012 PA SUPER 62 (Pa. Super.  3/9/2012, Lazarus, J.), the court addressed a case involving a corporation that which had its principal office located in Bucks County which was also where the underlying incident in this litigation occurred.

A question arose as to whether separate subsidiaries of the Defendant also involved in gambling and located in Philadelphia County constituted that Defendant conducting business within Philadelphia County. The Court cited to the case of Purcell v. Bryn Mawr Hospital, 579 A.2d 1282 (Pa. 1990), for the test of whether a corporation “regularly conducts business” in a county for venue purposes.  That test involved the application of the “quality and quantity” analysis of business contacts.

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court in Purcell case outlined the quality/quantity venue test, as follows: “Quality of acts means those directly furthering, or essential to, corporate objects; they do not include incidental acts. Quantity means those acts which are so continuous and sufficient to be general or habitual. The acts of the corporation must be distinguished: those in aid of a main purpose are collateral and incidental, while those necessary to its existence to its existence are direct.”



In Wimble, the Superior Court affirmed the trial court’s change of venue from Philadelphia to Bucks County on the basis that the other subsidiaries, even if operating in Philadelphia County, were to be considered as separate and distinct corporations for the purpose of establishing proper venue.

The Kappe decision can be viewed here.

Wimble can be viewed here
I send thanks to Attorney Walt McClatchy of McClatchy and Associates out of Philadelphia for bringing these venue cases to my attention.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

A New Twist in Facebook Discovery Decisions



Showing that the road to Facebook discovery is a two way street, Judge William R. Carpenter of the Montgomery County Court of Common Pleas granted a Plaintiff's Motion to Compel a Defendant  to produce his user name and password for the Defendant's Facebook page in the case of Gallagher v. Urbanovich, No. 2010 - 33418 (C.P. Mont. Co. Feb. 27, 2012 Carpenter, J.).

The Judge's page long Order does not provide the background on the case leading up to this Motion and Order, or why such discovery was pursued by the Plaintiff.

While the Court did grant the Plaintiff access to the Defendant's Facebook page and ordered the Defendant not to delete any info from the Facebook profile, the Defendant was granted permission to change his login name and password after seven (7) days following his compliance with the Court's Order.

Anyone desiring a copy of this Order may click here.

This case has been added to the Tort Talk Facebook Discovery Scorecard, which can be viewed here.

I send thanks to Attorney Timothy Knowles of the Blue Bell, PA law firm of Warren & McGraw, LLC for bringing this case to my attention.

Dauphin County Trial Court Refuses to Transfer Venue of Post-Koken Case Based On Forum Selection Clause

In the Dauphin County post-Koken case of Werner v. Jamison and Erie Ins.,  2011 CV-3221 (March 7, 2012 Evans, J.), Judge Scott Arthur Evans denied preliminary objections filed by Erie Insurance asserting improper venue.

It was reported that, in this matter, the plaintiffs resided in Elk County and were injured in an accident that occurred in Dauphin County. The tortfeasor defendant resided in Dauphin County.

Erie filed a Motion to Sever and transfer the UIM case to Elk County based on the Forum Selection provision in the Erie Insurance policy. Judge Evan’s one line Order denied Erie’s preliminary objection alleging improper venue.

Anyone desiring a copy of this Order may contact me at dancummins@comcast.net.

I send thanks to Attorney Scott Cooper of the Harrisburg, PA law firm of Schmidt Kramer and Attorney Paul Oven of the Moosic, PA law office of Dougherty, Leventhal & Price for advising me of this new decision.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Severance Denied in Washington County Post-Koken Case

On February 15, 2011, Judge John F. DiSale, of the Washington County Court of Common Pleas issued a two sentence Order in the case of Hoffman v. Ellis and State Farm, No. 2011-8417 (C.P. Wash. Co. Feb. 15, 2011 DiSale, J.,) overruling a Defendant’s Preliminary Objections and Motion to Sever a post-Koken automobile accident litigation. The Court did state in its Order that it would “reconsider the issue of Severence prior to trial.”

The information I have is that the Preliminary Objections and the Motion to Sever were filed by counsel for the tortfeasor Defendant.

It is also noted that this ruling differs from a prior Washington County Decision by Judge Loughran, a visiting judge from Westmoreland County, who granted severance in the case of Barcus v. Mannino and Allstate Insurance Company, 2009-Civil-10171 (C.P. Wash. Co. June 15, 2010, Loughran, S.J.). The Tort Talk post on the Barcus case be viewed here.

I tip my hat to Attorney Kassie Segmiller of the Pittsburgh law firm of Segmiller & Mendicino for bringing this case to my attention.

Anyone desiring a copy of this decision by the Washington County Court of Common Pleas in the case of Hoffman v. Ellis and State Farm may contact me at dancummins@comcast.net.

Any Recent Post-Koken Motion to Bifurcate Decisions Out There?

I currently have a Motion to Bifurcate a post-Koken matter for trial pending before Judge Robert A. Mazzoni of the Lackawanna County Court of Common Pleas.  This case is at the trial stage as opposed to a motion to sever by way of Preliminary Objections.

To date, the only decision I have seen on a Post-Koken Motion to Bifurcate is the Purta decision out of Lehigh County.  See this Tort Talk post on that case:  http://www.torttalk.com/2011/11/lehigh-county-court-of-common-pleas.html

Is anyone aware of any more recent decisions on a Motion to Bifurcate a Post-Koken matter into two separate trials.  If so, can you please send me a copy at dancummins@comcast.net.

Thanks.

Any Recent Facebook Discovery Decisions Out There?

Has anyone come across any recent Facebook/Social Media Discovery decisions recently.  I'd be interested to hear about them and secure copies of any Orders or Opinions from around the Commonwealth to publicize them here in an effort to assist in the creation of a consistent common law on the topic.

The decisions gathered to date here on Tort Talk can be viewed on the Facebook Discovery Scorecard here:

http://www.torttalk.com/2012/01/facebook-discovery-scorecard.html


Please let me know at dancummins@comcast.net.  Thanks.

Superior Court Affirms Coordination of Post-Koken Actions Filed in Separate Counties

In its recent Decision in the case of Orsulak v. Penn National Mutual Cas. Ins. Co., No. 957 M.D.A. 2011 (Pa. Super. Feb. 23, 2012 Gantman, Alan and Mundy, JJ., (Memorandum Opinion by Mundy, J.), the Court affirmed the Luzerne County Court of Common Pleas Decision by Judge Joseph Van Jura (Ret.) to transfer venue of this post-Koken matter from Luzerne County to Monroe County.

In so ruling, the Superior Court found no abuse of any trial court discretion in the lower court's decision directing a coordination of actions in different counties.

The appellate court upheld the trial court’s reliance on Pa. R.C.P. 213.1 pertaining to the Court “Coordination of Actions in Different Counties.” The Superior Court upheld the trial court’s decision in this regard given that the actions involved common questions of law or fact which arose from the same transaction or occurrence and given the issue of the convenience of the parties.  A Tort Talk post detailing the trial court’s opinion can be viewed here.

By way of background, the Plaintiff’s claims in this matter arose out of a motor vehicle accident that occurred in Monroe County. The Plaintiffs file a Writ of Summons in Monroe County against the tortfeasors only.

The case in Monroe County then sat dormant with a Writ only filed while the Plaintiff’s attempted to resolve their claims with a worker’s compensation carrier with Penn National as the UIM carrier.

When those separate claims could not be resolved, the Plaintiffs filed a separate Complaint against Penn National as the UIM carrier alleging causes of action for breach of contract and bad faith in Luzerne County.

Thereafter, the UIM carrier filed the Motion for Coordination/Petition to Transfer at issue. After applying the six (6) factors under Rule 213.1(c), along with guidance from the Explanatory Comment under that rule, Judge Van Jura ruled that the Motion for Coordination would be granted and that venue in the Luzerne County case should be transferred to Monroe County.

Anyone desiring a copy of the Pennsylvania Superior Court’s affirming, non-precedential decision in Orsulak may contact me at dancummins@comcast.net.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Free Luncheon Being Put on by CLM For Claims Professionals - Same Day and Place as Tort Talk Expo

I have learned, as noted in greater detail below, that, on Thursday, May 3, 2012 at the Mohegan Sun Casino in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, i.e., the same date and place for my Tort Talk Expo 2012 CLE Seminar, the Claims & Litigation Management Alliance (CLM) will be separately holding a free luncheon for claims professionals only at the Mohegan Sun Casino in Wilkes-Barre, PA. The luncheon will be from 11:30 am to 12:30 pm. The Tort Talk Expo 2012 starts at 12:30 pm just down the hall from the luncheon. The CLM event is sponsored by Digital Legal.

To the extent you may be interested in attending these events, please be reminded that the Tort Talk Expo 2012 CLE seminar is set to take place on May 3, 2012 at the Mohegan Sun Casino in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania from 12:30 pm to 4:30 pm followed by a Cocktail Reception for all of the attendees.

Here is a link to the Agenda and Registration Form for the Tort Talk Expo 2012 event: http://www.torttalk.com/2012/03/tort-talk-expo-2012-two-months-away.html.

The Tort Talk Expo 2012 will be a half day event that will cover a Civil Litigation Update, an Auto Law Update, a presentation on Diagnostic Studies (x-rays, MRIs, CT scans, etc.) by expert radiologist Dr. Michael Brooks, along with a judicial panel that will include U.S. Third District Court of Appeals Judge Thomas I. Vanaskie, Pennsylvania Supreme Court Justice Michael Eakin, Pennsylvania Superior Court President Judge Correale Stevens, and Luzerne County President Judge Thomas Burke, Jr.—quite a list of appellate judges who routinely decide important civil litigation issues. The Tort Talk Expo 2012 CLE Seminar offers 2 substantive and 1 ethics CLE credits.

The separate Claims & Litigation Management Alliance luncheon, which I have been advised is only open to claims professionals, will primarily be designed to provide information regarding the benefits of membership in the CLM. Membership in the CLM is free for claims professionals. I note that I am a member of the CLM as paid memberships for attorneys are also available with that group.

The Claims and Litigation Management Alliance (CLM) is an inclusive, collaborative organization that promotes and furthers the highest standards of claims and litigation management and brings together the thought leaders in both industries. CLM’s Members and Fellows include risk and litigation managers, insurance and claims professionals, corporate counsel, outside counsel and third party vendors. The CLM sponsors educational programs, provides resources and fosters communication among all in the industry. For more information, you can visit the CLM’s website at http://www.theclm.org/Default.aspx.

The CLM’s separate, free luncheon will be held in the Racetrack Clubhouse at the Mohegan Sun Casino just down the hall from the Seasons Ballroom where the Tort Talk Expo 2012 will be held. Here is a link with driving instructions to the casino: http://poconodowns.com/getting-here/.

Any claims professional who plans to attend the free CLM luncheon is invited to also consider attending the Tort Talk Expo 2012 which will start with registration immediately after the CLM luncheon is over. Cost for claims professionals to attend the Tort Talk Expo 2012 is only $25.

Both events should be great networking opportunities as well as a chance to reconnect with your friends in the insurance and legal professions.
If you plan to attend the CLM’s luncheon please let me know by emailing me at dancummins@comcast.net so I can pass your name on to Matt Keris, Esquire of the Moosic, Pennsylvania office of Marshall, Dennehey, Warner, Coleman & Goggin. Attorney Keris is helping to run that separate CLM event and needs to provide a head count for the luncheon.

Please also let me know if you plan to make a day of it and attend the Tort Talk Expo 2012 as well.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Summary Judgment Denied Under Hills and Ridges Doctrine

In the recent Lawrence County Court of Common Pleas case of Greenawalt v. Shenango Presbyterian Seniorcare, PICS Case No. 12-0351 (C.P. Lawrence Feb. 10, 2012 Piccione, J.), the Lawrence County Court of Common Pleas utilized the Hills and Ridges Doctrine to deny a Defendant’s Motion for Summary Judgment in an ice and/or snow slip and fall case.

In this case, the Plaintiff slipped and fell on an icy area of the Defendant’s premises and allegedly sustained personal injuries. The Plaintiff sued the landowner and a snow removal contractor.

The Defendants eventually moved for summary judgment arguing that they did not owe a duty of care to the Plaintiff to prevent the slip and fall under the Hills and Ridges Doctrine.

In denying the Defendants’ motion, the Court noted that the doctrine did not apply where the Plaintiff’s testimony indicated that the property had been plowed on the day of her fall and that she fell on black ice. Accordingly, the Court found that issues of fact existed on whether the Plaintiff’s slip and fall may have been the result of human intervention as opposed to an entirely natural accumulation of ice or snow following a recent snowfall.

Finding that the case presented questions of material fact, the Court denied the summary judgment motions and allowed the case to proceed to trial.

I do not have a copy of this case. If someone can send it to me, I can share it here on Tort Talk. In the meantime, if you desire a copy of this case, it can be secured from the Pennsylvania Law Weekly Instant Case Service by calling 1-800-276-7427 and given the above-referenced PICS Case No.

Source: Pennsylvania Law Weekly Case Digest (February 28, 2012).

No Bad Faith Found For Change In Auto Policy Terms Prior to Accident

In the recent Lawrence County Court of Common Pleas case of Oesterling v. Allstate Insurance Company¸ PICS Case No. 12-0348 (C.P. Lawrence Co. Feb. 9, 2012 Motto, P.J.), President Judge Dominick Motto found that a carrier’s notice to the injured party Plaintiff of a change in his policy more than one year before the Plaintiff’s accident occurred was sufficient, proper, and did not amount to bad faith conduct.

The change to the policy was the addition of a “household exclusion” which served to prevent the injured party Claimant’s claim for underinsured motorist benefits. The Court granted the carrier’s Motion for Partial Summary Judgment on the statutory bad faith claim presented.

According to the Opinion, after being injured as a result of a motor vehicle accident, the Plaintiff settled the liability limits against the tortfeasor and also obtained the policy limits from the UIM carrier that covered the vehicle he was operating at the time.

The Plaintiff then made a claim for UIM benefits against Defendant Allstate Insurance Company, who insured two other vehicles owned by the Plaintiff at the time of the accident. Allstate denied coverage due to the household exclusion.

The Plaintiff filed suit and asserted that the original policy purchased from Allstate did not contain a household exclusion. Allstate countered that the Plaintiff had received adequate notice of the change in the policy terms approximately 15 months prior to the subject accident.

The Plaintiff was attempting to pursue a claim that Allstate acted in bad faith by denying UIM benefits based upon a household exclusion that was found in a policy amendment that had been mailed to the Plaintiff more than one year before the accident ever occurred. The Plaintiff essentially contended that, when Allstate went to make such a substantial change in the policy terms, more than a mass mailing was required in terms of proper notice of the change to its insureds.

The Lawrence County Court of Common Pleas noted that Allstate had mailed a letter to the Plaintiff that included an “Important Notice” in large bold print, which document indicated the changes made to the policy. In that document, the Plaintiff was also advised to contact his Allstate Insurance agent with any questions.

Judge Motto ruled that Allstate’s reliance on the household exclusion found in the policy change that was sent to the Plaintiff more than a year before the accident did not constitute bad faith. The Court found that Allstate’s notice to the Plaintiff was “at least arguably sufficient and proper.” The Court also emphasized that, once Allstate determined that the Plaintiff was not entitled to UIM coverage, the carrier promptly sent a letter at that point to inform the Plaintiff of its position.

As such, the court stated, “[w]ithout finally deciding whether the household exclusion will ultimately be found to be valid, the Court here finds that Allstate had a right to assert it.”

I do not have a copy of this case. If someone can send it to me, I can share it here on Tort Talk. In the meantime, if you desire a copy of this case, it can be secured from the Pennsylvania Law Weekly Instant Case Service by calling 1-800-276-7427 and given the above-referenced PICS Case No.

Source: Pennsylvania Law Weekly Case Digest (February 21, 2012).

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

SAVE YOUR SPOT - REGISTRATION NOW OPEN FOR AUGUST 30 CLE AT CITIZENS BANK PARK


I have been advised that Registration has been opened by the PBI for the "CLE with the Phillies" seminar that I will be presented on Thursday, August 30, 2012 at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia before the Phillies vs. Mets game.

I have been told that these CLE seminars, which allow up to about 95 attendees, "sell out" quickly and this one is expected to as well (not because of me, of course--because it's a day out of the office and at the ballpark for a nice way to pick up a CLE credit).

I will be providing a Civil Litigation Update as well as presenting my article, "Take Me Out to the Ballgame: Little League Tips for Big League Lawyers".  Like your old high school gym teacher trying to teach Health, I will be showing video clips in an effort to kill the CLE hour in an interesting and hopefully entertaining fashion so that we can all get to the business of enjoying the game.

To register for this August 30, 2012 CLE at Citizens Bank Park. visit http://www.pbi.org/ and type 7376 in the "Search Our Entire Catalog" box and hit enter--then follow instructions on the page you are taken to in order to complete the registration.  Note that parking is not included and coupons may not be used for these Ballpark CLE seminars.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Pennsylvania Texting While Driving Ban Goes Into Effect Thursday (3/8/2012)



Beginning this Thursday, March 8, 2012, Pennsylvania's new law banning texting while driving will go into effect.  Under the new law, no reading or sending of emails while driving will be permitted either. 

However, drivers will be still allowed to talk on their handheld phones even after the new law is passed.  According to a Philadelphia Inquirer article (see Source below), this statewide law supercedes local ordinances that may ban the use of handheld phones in any capacity while driving.

In terms of the banned practices of texting and using email while driving, the law makes such practices a primary offense, meaning a police officer may pull a driver over for engaging in these acts alone.

Under the law, the offending party may be fined $50 but will not incur any points against their license.


Source:  Article: "Texting ban to start for drivers in Pa." by Amy Worden for The Philadelphia Inquirer (March 4, 2012).

Another UIM Rejection Form Decision

Last week I summarized the recent Pennsylvania Superior Court decision in the case of Jones v. Unitrin in which the court faulted a UIM carrier for adding language to a UIM rejection form and thereby voided that form.  That post can be viewed here.

In a more recent Pennsylvania Eastern District Federal Court decision, Federal Senior Judge Edmund V. Ludwig relied upon Jones v. Unitrin in ruling against Travelers Indemnity Co. of America with regards to the propriety of a UIM rejection form in the case of Robinson v. Travelers Indemnity Co. of America, 2012 WL 677007 (E.D. Pa. Feb. 29, 2012).

Judge Ludwig ruled that, based upon the Jones v. Unitrin decision, requiring exact compliance with the form language for rejection forms found in 75 Pa.C.S. 1731, the addition of a single word in an underinsured motorist coverage rejection form violated the specific mandates of the MVFRL and, as such, rendered the rejection void.

In Robinson, Travelers had changed the waiver by adding the word "motorists" into the phrase "underinsured coverage" in the mandated language.

I have posted the Westlaw citation for the case above, but anyone desiring a copy of this decision may contact me at dancummins@comcast.net.

I send thanks to Attorney Walter A McClatchy, Jr. of the McClatchy  & Associates Law Office in Philadelphia for bringing this decision to my attention.

Law of Civil Contempt Addressed by Judge Nealon of Lackawanna County

In his recent decision in the case of Santo v. Engle, No. 2011-Civil-6597 (C.P. Lacka. Co. Feb. 14, 2012 Nealon, J.), Judge Terrence R. Nealon outlined the law of civil contempt of a prior trial court order.

According to the Opinion, this case involved a Defendant car owner who was apparently upset with how a local car dealership dealt with his allegedly repeated mechanical problems with a car he had purchased from the dealership. 

The Defendant car owner was eventually brought to court by the car dealership who asserted that the Defendant car owner violated a prior court order prohibiting the car owner publicly expressing his displeasure in a unique fashion near the dealership. 

Judge Nealon’s Opinion provides an interesting, even entertaining, read on the application of the civil contempt law to the facts presented. Anyone wishing to review this opinion may click this link.

Update on White v. Behlke

The Supreme Court of Pennsylvania recently issued an Order in the medical malpractice case of White v. Behlke which was tried before Judge Terrence R. Nealon in the Lackawanna County Court of Common Pleas and in which the jury awarded $20.5 million dollars to the Plaintiffs.

On June 17, 2009, Judge Nealon had filed an Opinion (2009 WL 1904102) denying the defendants' post-trial motions and molding the verdict to $27,352,195.21 to reflect recoverable pre-judgment interest. The Defendants appealed and on October 12, 2010, the Superior Court of Pennsylvania affirmed that decision and upheld the verdict (15 A.3d 523). The Defendants then filed a petition for allowance of appeal with the Supreme Court which was denied on March 1, 2012 (2012 WL 661788 (Pa. March 1, 2012)).

Other Tort Talk posts outlining the issues presented in this case can be viewed here and here.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

TORT TALK EXPO 2012 TWO MONTHS AWAY - REGISTER NOW TO SAVE YOUR SPOT

The TORT TALK EXPO 2012 CLE Seminar is set to take place on May 3, 2012 at the Mohegan Sun Casino in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania.

The Pennsylvania CLE Board has approved the seminar for 2 Substantive and 1 Ethics credit.

Here are some reasons to consider attending:

-Secure update on important and recurring general civil litigation issues

-Secure update on important and recurring auto law issues

-Excellent presentation planned from Dr. Michael Brooks on diagnostic studies

-Hear from stellar judicial panel of appellate court judges on variety of issues including Supreme Court Justice J. Michael Eakin, Superior Court President Judge Correale F. Stevens, and Third Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Thomas I. Vanaskie

-Hear from Luzerne County President Judge on status of civil trial docket in Luzerne County

-Network with colleagues, claims professionals, and members of the judiciary

-Network with a variety of vendors who provide services to those in the legal and insurance industries

-Enjoy door prizes and chances to win raffle prizes

-Enjoy a cocktail reception following the event

-Enjoy the Mohegan Sun Casino following the event

-Last but not least, it's a half day out of the office at a nice event!


In addition to my presentation of an Auto Law Update, the other presenters will include Attorney Paul Oven of the Moosic, PA law firm of Dougherty, Leventhal & Price on a Civil Litigation Update, as well as noted expert radiologist (and attorney) Dr. Michael Brooks presenting on diagnostic studies in personal injury matters, with an emphasis on auto accident matters.

The Judicial panel for the "View from the Bench" portion of the program will consist of Pennsylvania Supreme Court Justice Michael Eakin, President Judge of the Superior Court Correale Stevens, and U.S. Third Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Thomas Vanaskie.

President Judge Thomas F. Burke, Jr. will also provide a "State of the Luzerne County Bench" presentation, reporting on which new judge will be handling which types of cases along with an update on the current status of the Luzerne County civil trial backlog.

The View from the Bench portion will be presided over by former Luzerne County Judge Joseph Van Jura, who recently completed his appointment and has returned to private practice where he is also offering his services for Mediations and Arbitrations.

In addition to Door Prizes and Raffle Prizes, there will also be a number of Table Vendors at the seminar displaying their services offered to civil litigators. To date, the following providers have agreed to sponsor and appear as Table Vendors at the event (in alphabetical order):

Courtside Documents: http://www.courtsidedoc.com/






Minnesota Lawyers' Mutual: http://www.mlmins.com/





Surveillance Professionals Investigations, LLC:



The TORT TALK EXPO 2011 is designed to be a CLE Program that will be as entertaining and informative as the posts regularly sent out from the Tort Talk blog.

The seminar will be immediately followed by a cocktail reception at which attendees can continue to network with fellow lawyers, insurance professionals, and members of the federal and state judiciary from around Northeastern Pennsylvania.

Also, a portion of the proceeds from this event will be donated to a local charity to be determined.


The CLE Program will include the following topics and presenters:


TORT TALK EXPO 2012

Presented by


Daniel E. Cummins, Esquire

at the

MOHEGAN SUN CASINO at POCONO DOWNS

Thursday, May 3, 2012

12:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.



2 Substantive & 1 Ethics CLE Credits


Followed by Cocktail Hour (4:30 – 6:30 p.m.) at Breakers in the Mohegan Sun


 
12:30 – 1:00 pm Registration


1:00 – 1:30 pm: The Tort Talk Auto Law Update

Presenter: Daniel E. Cummins, Esq.



1:00 – 1:30 pm: The Tort Talk Civil Litigation Update

Presenter: Paul T. Oven, Esq.


2:00 – 2:15 pm BREAK


2:15 - 3:15 pm: Introductory Medical Conditions & Radiological Issues
in Auto Accident Injuries

Presenter: Dr. Michael L. Brooks, M.D., J.D., FCLM


3:15 – 3:30 pm BREAK


3:30 – 4:30 pm A View from the Bench: Ethical Issues in Legal Writing and Advocacy
Before the Court in an Electronic World

Moderator:
Hon. Joseph Van Jura (Ret.)

Presenters:
Pennsylvania Supreme Court Justice Michael Eakin
President Judge of Superior Court Correale Stevens

U.S. Third Circuit Court of Appeals
Judge Thomas I. Vanaskie

Luzerne County President Judge Thomas Burke, Jr.


COCKTAIL RECEPTION TO FOLLOW
AT BREAKERS

4:30p.m. - 6:30p.m.


Costs below cover both CLE Seminar and Cocktail Reception:

Claims professionals/representatives
and risk managers

$25.00


Lawyers
$165.00


Please make checks payable to "Tort Talk."

For reservations, please complete the requested information below and return it to the address noted below or e-mail it to dancummins@comcast.net.


Name(s)____________________________________



Firm/Company_______________________________



PLEASE MAIL REGISTRATION FORM AND PAYMENT TO:

TORT TALK
c/o Daniel E. Cummins, Esq.
Foley, Cognetti, Comerford, Cimini & Cummins
507 Linden Street
Suite 700
Scranton, PA 18503


For more information, contact Dan Cummins at 570-346-0745 or at dancummins@comcast.net.


HOPE TO SEE YOU THERE!