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Pennsylvania Supreme Court grapples with distinction between gross negligence and recklessness.

By Christopher P. Lagay

In the case of Feleccia v. Lackawanna College, No. 74 MAP 2017, 215 A.3d 3 (Pa. 2019), the Pennsylvania Supreme Court heard an appeal from the Lackawanna College defendants, after their motion for summary judgment, granted by the trial court, was reversed on appeal by the Superior Court.

Plaintiffs, Feleccia and Resch were student athletes at Lackawanna College, trying out for the football team in March of 2010.  Lackawanna College’s football department had lost its two athletic trainers in the summer of 2009, and had hired two recent graduates with degrees in Athletic Training, though neither had passed their athletic trainer certification exam at the time they were hired for the position.  In fact, after their hiring, both new hires failed their certification exam, and the Lackawanna re-titled their position to “first responder,” though they did not sign new or different job descriptions.

Lackawanna College moved for and was granted summary judgment, based primarily on waiver.  Finding the negligence claims barred, the trial court ruled the claim for punitive damages also failed, and discussion of the waiver’s applicability to the punitive damages claim was unnecessary.

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Summary Judgment Granted in Favor of Homeowners Following Fire

The Court in Passaic County Dismissed a Complaint against the owners of a residential multi-unit building in Patterson, New Jersey.  The Complaint was filed by a neighboring property owner that sustained a total loss due to a fire originating in the apartment of a tenant of our client.  The Court found that the property owner was not responsible for the negligent act of the tenant, and granted summary judgment.

Robert E. Lavoie III joins Connor, Weber & Oberlies

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.

Legislative Response to Business Interruption Coverage in Pennsylvania

By Julia Jacobelli, Esquire

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).

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Robert A Morton, IV joins Connor, Weber & Oberlies

Robert A. Morton IV joined Connor, Weber & Oberlies in 2019 and works out of the Paoli, Pennsylvania office. Robert focuses his practice in the areas of construction claims, products liability, professional liability, and Federal Civil Rights litigation. Robert is licensed to practice in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, the State of New Jersey, the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, and the U.S. Tax Court. Robert will be based out of the Paoli office of Connor, Weber & Oberlies.

Summary Judgement affirmed in Malpractice case against NJ Insurance Producer.

Summary Judgment was affirmed by the Appellate Division in a professional malpractice case against an insurance producer in a New Jersey Superior Court case. Amelia M. Lolli, Esquire was successful in obtaining summary judgment in favor of a Camden County insurance agency in a 2014 case. The summary judgment decision was appealed by the Plaintiff and oral argument was conducted by Ms. Lolli in front of the Appellate Division in January 2019. The Appellate Division affirmed the dismissal of the case by the trial court and found the insurance producer did not breach a fiduciary duty to its client.

Pre-trial Dismissal in Mercer County Slip and Fall

In Mercer County, New Jersey, the Court dismissed plaintiff’s case in its entirety on the eve of trial, following the suppression of plaintiff’s medical evidence during the pre-trial conference.

Plaintiff claimed he slipped and fell on ice outside his apartment and suffered substantial injuries. Phil Degnan challenged plaintiff’s theory of liability and damages. The Court ruled that the suppression of plaintiff’s medical evidence precluded plaintiff from presenting his case to the jury.

Defense Verdict Upheld in Monmouth County Slip and Fall

The Court denied plaintiff’s Motion to Vacate the jury’s defense verdict following a trial in Monmouth County. Plaintiff had alleged that she fell down a set of unlit exterior stairs outside a community lodge.

Plaintiff had suffered a broken ankle in the accident. Phil Degnan successfully argued that the plaintiff could have chosen a safe path of travel, or simply turned on the light above the stairs, and should have used the handrail. No appeal has been filed.