Noelle Connor joined Connor, Weber & Oberlies this year, and works out of the Moorestown, NJ office. Noelle focuses her practice in the areas of insurance defense, general negligence, school law, personal injury, and premises liability. Noelle is licensed to practice in the State of New Jersey, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, and the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.
Recent decisions in Pennsylvania appear to be eroding the Regular Use Exclusion in Pennsylvania. Most automobile insurance policies in Pennsylvania contain a “regular use” exclusion to insurance coverage whenever an injured individual was in a vehicle that was regularly available for that individual’s use but was not covered by the insurance policy at issue. The rationale for this exclusion is to prevent an insurance carrier from providing coverage to an injured party where, unbeknownst to the carrier, the injured party regularly used another vehicle which was not covered under the carrier’s policy because the carrier has not been paid a premium by the injured party to cover that risk.
Historically, this exclusion to coverage has survived challenges to its validity in Pennsylvania courts and recently has continued to do so. (See Williams v. Geico Government Employees Insurance, 32 A.3d 1195 (Pa. 2011); and more recently in two unpublished Pennsylvania Superior Court cases: Rawl v. Geico, No. 1086 WDA 2019, 237 A.3d 1042 (Pa. Super. 2020)(unpublished) and Eckert v. Unitrin Auto Home Insurance, No. 1013 EDA 2019 (Pa. Super. 2020)(published)).
This seemingly secure footing for the “regular use” exclusion, came under attack by the recent case of Rush v. Erie Insurance Exchange which is currently making its way to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.Continue reading
Paul J. Smyth joined Connor, Weber & Oberlies in 2021 and works out of the Moorestown, New Jersey office. Paul focuses his practice in the areas of general liability, premises liability and personal injury. Paul also has vast experience in mass tort defense in New Jersey and Pennsylvania.
Jason G. Bates joined Connor, Weber & Oberlies in 2021 and works out of the Paoli, Pennsylvania office.
Jason brings his extensive experience in handling various litigation matters at all levels of the State and Federal Court systems, including general defense litigation, municipal law, civil rights litigation, premises liability and automobile negligence litigation. He has state and federal jury trial experience and has experience trying cases at the arbitration level. Mr. Bates has been a presenter in several continuing legal education seminars and paralegal seminars. He also has authored articles on subrogation and social host liability issues.
Carrie A.S. Kennedy of Connor, Weber & Oberlies recently argued successfully in the area of guardianship and COVID-19 Vaccination, as the Chester County Judge concluded that he agreed with the opinion of an expert witness in the case, “The science is clear … ‘this is not a difficult call. Vaccination against COVID-19 saves lives.’”
This legal case involved a disagreement between a mother and father over the vaccination of their adult daughter, with Down syndrome, who lives in a local group home. Her parents are long-divorced and are court appointed as co-guardians of their daughter. After making no progress in resolving the issue, the father petitioned for vaccination of his daughter.Continue reading
Robert E. Lavoie III joined Connor, Weber & Oberlies in 2020 and works out of the Paoli, Pennsylvania office. Robert focuses his practice in the areas of general liability, products liability, and professional liability litigation. Robert is licensed to practice in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, the State of New Jersey, and the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.
The Pennsylvania Supreme Court recently issued an opinion on an insurer’s duty to defend in the case of Erie Insurance Exchange v. Tracy L. Moore, Harold E. McCutcheon, III, individually and as administrators of the Estate of Harold Eugene McCutcheon, Jr. and Richard A. Carly, No. 20 WAP 2018, 2020 WL 1932642 (Pa. April 22, 2020). The court found that there was a duty to defend an insured where the acts complained of by the plaintiff were deemed potentially unintended, despite the insured’s several prior and subsequent acts of intentional violence.
The facts of the case arose from the murder of Terry McCutcheon by her ex-husband Harold E. McCutcheon, Jr. and his subsequent suicide. Prior to these events, McCutcheon had left a note to his adult children explaining his intention to murder his ex-wife and commit suicide. In accordance with his stated plan, McCutcheon intentionally shot and killed his ex-wife at her home. Before he could shoot himself, however, he was interrupted by the arrival of his ex-wife’s current boyfriend, Richard A. Carly. Carly began knocking on the door and eventually tried to enter when there was no answer. At this point, McCutcheon suddenly opened the door and pulled Carly inside. Continue reading
Recently, each house of the legislature of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania has introduced proposed legislation addressing the possibility of compelling insurance carriers to provide coverage due to the COVID-19 virus, regardless as to whether the insurance policy identifies such coverage as contained within the policy provisions.
House Bill 2372 provides in relevant part:
Notwithstanding any other law, rule or regulation, an insurance policy that insures against loss or damage to property, which includes the loss of use and occupancy and business interruption, in force in this Commonwealth on March 6, 2020, which is the date of the Proclamation of Disaster Emergency concerning the coronavirus pandemic, shall be construed to include among the covered perils under the insurance policy coverage for business interruption due to global virus transmission or pandemic.
The Bill continues:
The coverage required by this section shall indemnify the insured of an insurance policy, subject to the broadest or greatest limit and lowest deductible afforded to business interruption coverage under the insurance policy, for any loss of business or business interruption for the duration of the declaration of disaster emergency described in subsection (a).
Carrie A. S. Kennedy joined Connor, Weber & Oberlies in 2019 as the head of the Estate and Trust department in the Paoli, PA office. Her practice focuses on Estate Planning, Estate and Trust Administration, Elder Law, Special Needs Planning, Guardianships and Adoptions.
Pennsylvania Supreme Court: Waiver of Attorney Work Product and Attorney-Client Privilege Protections
The attorney-client privilege and attorney work product doctrine are two well-known evidentiary protections. Although both protect otherwise relevant and “discoverable” materials from disclosure, the two evidentiary protections serve different purposes and are subject to different standards.
The purpose of the attorney-client privilege is to foster the free and open communication of information between the lawyer and client. Whereas, the purpose of the work product doctrine is to protect the mental impressions of an attorney acting on behalf of a client. Consistent with the purposes of these evidentiary protections, the attorney-client privilege is held by the client, while the work product protection is held by the attorney.
Recently, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court clarified the circumstances under which attorney work product protection may be waived, while distinguishing such waiver from the standard for waiver of the attorney-client privilege. Continue reading