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Tort Litigation Archives

What Is the Pennsylvania One Call System?

Reiner, Amber 143 .jpg April is National Safe Digging Month, reminding all contractors and homeowners to call 811 at least three business days before starting a digging project to ensure that all underground utility lines are properly marked and precautions are taken to ensure safety and damage prevention. Whether you are in Pennsylvania or another state, 811 is the nationally recognized number for reporting your planned digging project. According to Pennsylvania 811, "every six minutes an underground utility line is damaged because someone decided to dig without first dialing 8-1-1." Hitting a single utility line can cause severe bodily injury as well as repair costs and power outages. So whether you're planning to simply install a new fence or you're about to begin a major public construction project, Call Before You Dig!

Pennsylvania Supreme Court to Reconsider Employer's Liability for Physical Injury Caused by Independent Contractor's Work

Thumbnail image for Monaco Greg.jpgOn May 14, 2015, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court granted a petition for allowance of appeal on two narrow issues relating to an employer's liability for negligence under Section 414 of the Restatement (Second) of Torts: (1) was it appropriate for the Superior Court to decide that there was insufficient evidence from which to conclude that the employer controlled the independent contractor's work without submitting the issue to the jury; and (2) did the Superior Court err by requiring an additional "element of proof" for imposing liability on the employer that conflicts with Section 414? Both issues directly implicate the Pennsylvania Supreme Court's 2011 decision in Beil v. Telesis Constr., Inc., 11 A.3d 456 (Pa. 2011), where the court interpreted Section 414 in holding that a property owner is legally responsible for physical injuries caused by the work of an independent contractor only if the employer controls the independent contractor's work. The case in which the appeal has been allowed, Nertavich v. PPL Elec. Utils., 100 A.3d 221 (Pa. Super. 2014), relied heavily on Beil in concluding that the evidence offered by the plaintiff was insufficient as a matter of law to establish liability under Section 414. It will be interesting to see what refinements the Supreme Court makes to its prior interpretation of Section 414.

Pennsylvania Supreme Court Clarifies Considerations for Venue Transfer

In Bratic v. Rubendall, 99 A.3d 1 (Pa. 2014), the Pennsylvania Supreme Court addressed and clarified the application of venue rules and venue transfers on the basis of forum non conveniens. The Bratic decision offers defendants a much more robust set of options for precluding a plaintiff from venue shopping.

Pennsylvania Supreme Court Decides in Tincher Case: "No Restatement (Third) of Torts: Products Liability §§ 1 et seq."

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District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania Allows Punitive Damages Claim for Alleged Cell Phone Use in Trucking Accident

Western Federal District Court Judge Mark R. Hornak recently granted a Plaintiff's Motion for Leave to File an Amended Complaint to add punitive damages in Scott v. Burke, et. al., 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 123432 (W.D. Pa. Aug. 29, 2013 Hornak, J.) The facts of the case involve a traffic accident in Fayette County where Plaintiff-decedent's car became disabled on a two-lane roadway. Plaintiff-decedent exited the car and was located near the trunk of her vehicle. Defendant Thomas Burke was operating a tractor with two attached trailers for his employer United Parcel Services, Inc. ("UPS"), who admit that Burke was acting within the scope and course of his employment. The tractor trailer driven by Defendant collided with Plaintiff-decedent and her vehicle, killing her and severely injuring one of her children. The surviving spouse brought this action on behalf of Plaintiff-decedent.

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