ERIE, Pa. - A Pennsylvania federal judge on March 5 refused to dismiss an insured's breach of contract and bad faith lawsuit, rejecting the insurer's argument that underlying dispute was over business transactions that were not performed in the course of "professional services" as defined in the professional liability errors and omissions insurance policy (Municipal Revenue Service Inc., et al. v. Houston Casualty Co., No. 1:13-cv-151 Erie, W.D. Pa.; 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 27762).
PITTSBURGH - The U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania judge presiding over consolidated lawsuits alleging personal injury and property damage claims against the operator of a coal-fired electricity plant in western Pennsylvania entered an order March 5 denying cross-motions to exclude general and specific causation expert opinions in a thallium exposure lawsuit (Michael Hartle, et uxor v. FirstEnergy Generation Corp., No. 08-1019, W.D. Pa.;2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 27755).
PHILADELPHIA - An excess insurer had a duty to defend a manufacturer of a connector device that allegedly was at fault in a gas leak, the Pennsylvania Superior Court affirmed March 5, finding that the manufacturer had exhausted coverage under its primary insurer (Titeflex Corp. v. National Union Fire Insurance Company of Pittsburgh PA, et al., No. 2047 EDA 2012, Pa. Super.; 2014 Pa. Super. LEXIS 112).
PHILADELPHIA - A widow who claims that Medicare is not entitled to the proceeds of a settlement from an asbestos action must go through administrative channels before she seeks judicial review, a federal magistrate judge in Pennsylvania held Feb. 25 (In re: Asbestos Products Liability Litigation (No. IV) Maria Torres v. Consolidated Rail Corp., et al., No. MDL 875 95-1173, E.D. Pa.; 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 24138).
SCRANTON, Pa. - A Pike County, Pa., property owner was awarded $78,545 in compensation on Feb. 24 in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania in an eminent domain condemnation action filed by a natural gas pipeline company for widening an existing easement and right-of-way to construct a second pipeline in the right-of-way (Tennessee Gas Pipeline Co. v. Permanent Easements, et al., No. 11-28, M.D. Pa.; 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 23895).
PHILADELPHIA - The County of Santa Clara, Calif., can proceed with its state law false advertising lawsuit against GlaxoSmithKline plc (GSK) for its marketing of the diabetes drug Avandia without regard to political boundaries, a Pennsylvania federal judge ruled Feb. 25 in denying defense summary judgment (In Re: Avandia Marketing, Sales Practices and Products Liability Litigation, MDL Docket No. 1871, No. 2:07-md-1871, County of Santa Clara v. GlaxoSmithKline, No. 10-1637, E.D. Pa.).
PHILADELPHIA - Pennsylvania's third Topamax birth defect trial got under way Feb. 24 in the Philadelphia County Common Pleas Court (Josiah Brown, et al. v. Ortho-McNeil-Janssen Pharmaceuticals Inc., No. 110503417, Pa. Comm. Pls., Philadelphia Co.).
ANNAPOLIS, Md. - Pennsylvania law, not New York law, should be applied to a coverage dispute over an insured's asbestos liabilities because the policies were made in Pennsylvania and not New York, the Maryland Court of Appeals said Feb. 24 (TIG Insurance Co. v. Monongahela Power Co. et al., No. 31, Md. App.; 2014 Md. LEXIS 71).
HARRISBURG, Pa. - A divided Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania on Feb. 19 reversed a decision ordering the disclosure of the rates managed care organizations (MCOs) paid to subcontractors and the rates the subcontractors paid to the providers of Medicaid dental services (Dental Benefit Providers Inc., et al. v. James Eiseman Jr., et al., Nos. 945 C.D. 2013, 957 C.D. 2013, 958 C.D. 2013, Pa. Comm.; 2014 Pa. Commw. LEXIS 113).
HARRISBURG, Pa. - A Pennsylvania federal judge on Feb. 19 partially dismissed a dispute related to the payment of health care benefits for the treatment of autism, dismissing claims for legal damages and breach of contract but leaving a claim for equitable remedies (Patrick C. Jarman v. Capital Blue Cross, et al., No. 13-932, M.D. Pa.; 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 20464).
PITTSBURGH - A Pennsylvania federal judge on Feb. 21 dismissed a class complaint filed by prison employees who claimed they were denied full pay for mandatory meal breaks during which they were still "on call" (Sandra J. Babcock, et al. v. Butler County, et al., No. 12-394, W.D. Pa.; 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 22170).
WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. - Finding that a genuine dispute exists as to whether a policyholder properly received notice of a two-year limitations period for filing suit, a Pennsylvania federal judge on Feb. 19 declined to dismiss the insured's assumpsit claim against its insurer (Moran Industries Inc. v. The Netherlands Insurance Co., No. 4:12-cv-01435, M.D. Pa.; 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 20081).
HARRISBURG, Pa. - By a per curiam order issued Feb. 21, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court denied an application by the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC) and Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to reconsider the Dec. 19 Pennsylvania Supreme Court opinion finding portions of the state gas and oil regulations known as Act 13 of 2012 in violation of the Pennsylvania Constitution declaration of rights; Justice Thomas G. Saylor filed a dissent with reasons (Robinson Township, et al. v. Pennsylvania, et al., No. 63 MAP 2012 [consolidated], Pa. Sup.; 2014 Pa. LEXIS 513; 2014 Pa. LEXIS 182).
ERIE, Pa. - Summary judgment was granted Feb. 21 to the U.S. Forest Service in a lawsuit filed by the owners of natural gas and oil rights in the Allegheny National Forest on the grounds that the mineral estate owners have no justiciable claims because the complained of regulations are not being enforced by the forest service (Pennsylvania Independent Oil and Gas Association, et al. v. U.S. Forest Service, et al., No. 08-162, W.D. Pa.; 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 21601).
PHILADELPHIA - The Pennsylvania federal judge overseeing the Avandia multidistrict litigation on Feb. 19 asked the Third Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals to rule whether third-party payers have pleaded viable Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act claims in their class action complaints (In Re: Avandia Marketing, Sales Practices and Products Liability Litigation, MDL Docket No. 1871, No. 2:07-md-1871, Allied Services Division Welfare Fund v. GSK, No. 09-730, UFCW Local 1776 and Participating Employers Health and Welfare Fund v. GSK, No. 10-2475, United Benefit Fund v. GSK, No. 10-5419, E.D. Pa.).
HARRISBURG, Pa. - Although a Pennsylvania federal judge found that much of a policyholder's bad faith claim against her insurer contained "general, conclusory allegations," she found that the insured sufficiently alleged that the insurer employed a biased physician in bad faith to conduct an independent medical examination (IME) that ultimately led to denial of her medical payment claims (Sharon Neal v. State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Co., No. 1:13-cv-02309, M.D. Pa.; 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 20017).
PHILADELPHIA - The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) announced Feb. 20 that Philadelphia-area sports bar and restaurant chain Chickie's & Pete's has agreed to pay more than $6.84 million in back wages and damages; on the same day, a settlement agreement valued at more than $1.68 million was filed in a consolidated wage-and-hour complaint filed against Chickie's & Pete's in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania by approximately 90 employees (Thomas E. Perez, Secretary of Labor, United States Department of Labor v. Chickie's and Pete's, Inc., et al., No. 14-1042, E.D. Pa.; In Re Chickie's & Pete's Wage and Hour Litigation, No. 12-6820, E.D. Pa.).
PHILADELPHIA - A glass products manufacturer's operation of an interactive website, in conjunction with its "non-website related activities," serves to establish that it purposefully availed itself of jurisdiction in Pennsylvania, a Pennsylvania federal judge ruled Feb. 12, denying the defendant's motion to dismiss or transfer venue (Bent Glass Design v. Scienstry Inc., No. 2:13-cv-04282, E.D. Pa.; 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 17645).
SCRANTON, Pa. - The Pennsylvania physician who alleges statutory restrictions on his ability to discover the chemicals in proprietary hydraulic fracturing fluids used in natural gas extraction violates his civil rights under the First and 14th amendments to the U.S. Constitution and exposes him to professional disciplinary action by the American Medical Association and the Pennsylvania officials he accuses of the violations stipulated to the dismissal of claims against the chairman of the Public Utility Commission; the stipulation was endorsed by the presiding judge on Feb. 7 (Dr. Alfonso Rodriguez, M.D., v. Michael L. Krancer, et al., No. 12-1458, M.D. Pa.).