PHILADELPHIA - A Pennsylvania appeals panel on Feb. 17 ordered a new trial on liability and damages in a construction defects case after learning that the judge who presided over the suit had retired and that no other judge could prepare a supplemental opinion explaining his rulings (Leo J. Dolan v. Hurd Millwork Company Inc., et al., No. 2951 EDA 2015 Pa. Super., 2017 Pa. Super. Unpub. LEXIS 691).
PITTSBURGH - A Pennsylvania federal judge on Feb. 15 dismissed two of four Wyndham divisions in a class complaint alleging fraud via hidden hotel charges, finding that those two divisions were not provided fair notice (Thomas Luca, Jr. v. Wyndham Worldwide Corp., et al., No. 16-746, W.D. Pa., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 21433).
SCRANTON, Pa. - Because more than 31 percent of an insured condominium development's common areas were in use at the time a loss for water damage occurred, a Pennsylvania federal judge ruled Feb. 10 that an insurance policy's "Vacancy Provision" does not apply to exclude coverage for the insured's claim (Village Heights Condominium Association v. The Cincinnati Insurance Co., No. 16-554, M.D. Pa., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 19425).
PHILADELPHIA - A judge in Pennsylvania federal court sentenced a former podiatrist to 97 months in prison and ordered him to pay $4.9 million in restitution after pleading guilty to health care fraud for submitting bills to Medicare, Medicaid and private insurers for procedures that were not performed or medically unnecessary, the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania announced Feb. 7 (United States of America v. Stephen A. Monaco, No. 16cr255, E.D. Pa.).
PHILADELPHIA - In a Feb. 3 ruling, a Pennsylvania federal magistrate concluded that compelling Google Inc. to comply with warrants requiring production of data stored in foreign-based servers to the Federal Bureau of Investigation "does not constitute an unlawful extraterritorial application of the" Stored Communications Act (SCA) (In re Search Warrant No. 16-960-M-01 to Google, No. 2:16-mj-00960 and In re Search Warrant No. 16-1061-M to Google, No. 2:16-mj-01061, E.D. Pa., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 15232).
PHILADELPHIA - A federal judge in Pennsylvania in a reinsurance dispute over asbestos-related claims granted on Feb. 2 an insurer's unopposed motion for the issuance of a protective order regarding confidential information (R&Q Reinsurance Company v. St. Paul Fire & Marine Insurance Company, No. 16-cv-01473, E.D. Pa.).
PHILADELPHIA - Although insureds have failed to plead their claim for breach of contract against their insurer, they have shown that the insurer's delay in taking part in a mandatory appraisal process was in bad faith, a federal judge in Pennsylvania ruled Jan. 30 in granting in part and denying in part the insurer's motion to dismiss (Charles Dagit, et al .v. Allstate Property and Casualty Insurance Co., No. 16-3843, E.D. Pa., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 12124).
PHILADELPHIA - A "free and clear" sale of assets in a bankruptcy court auction precludes holding the purchaser liable for pre-purchase take-home asbestos exposures, a Pennsylvania appeals court held Jan. 26 (Jacqueline S. Wagner and Thomas H. Wagner v. Standard Steel LLC, et al., No. 850 EDA 2016, Pa. Super.).
PITTSBURGH - Remand of an insurance breach of contract and bad faith lawsuit is not proper because the parties are sufficiently diverse and the plaintiffs' bad faith claim seeks damages in excess of the statutory limits, a federal judge in Pennsylvania ruled Jan. 30 in denying the plaintiffs' motion to remand and an insurer's motion to dismiss (Deborah A. Marks, et al. v. Utica First Insurance Co., No. 16-1671, W.D. Pa., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 12096).
SCRANTON, Pa. - Insureds have failed to state a claim for relief in arguing that their automobile insurance provider acted in bad faith in delaying payment of their underinsured/uninsured motorist claims because they have not shown that the insurer's delay in making an offer or the offer amount were unreasonable, a federal judge in Pennsylvania ruled Jan. 27 (Thomas and Colleen Meyers v. Protective Insurance Co., No. 16-1821, M.D. Pa., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 11338).
PHILADELPHIA - Insurers have no duty to defend or indemnify an insured in an underlying bodily injury suit arising out of exposure to asbestos because the policies at issue clearly exclude coverage for bodily injury to an employee while employed by the insured, a Pennsylvania federal judge said Jan. 26 (National Fire Insurance Company of Hartford, et al. v. Burns & Scalo Roofing Co., No. 15-6028, E.D. Pa.; 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 11061).
HARRISBURG, Pa. - A school board had a common-law duty to provide a teacher with a safe work space free from asbestos, and local agencies can be held liable for such exposure where it falls within an exception to the general government immunity, a Pennsylvania appeals court held Jan. 25 (John F. Geier, executor of the estate of Marianne M. Geier and John F. Geier v. Board of Public Education of the School District of Pittsburgh v. American Art Clay Company Inc., et al., No. 625 C.D. 2016, Pa. Cmwlth.).
PITTSBURGH - An arbitrary and capricious standard of review will be applied in a suit challenging the denial of a long-term disability benefits because the plan clearly granted the insurer the discretionary authority to determine a claimant's eligibility for benefits, a Pennsylvania federal judge said Jan. 23 (James Neal v. Life Insurance Company of North America, et al., No. 16-1146, W.D. Pa.; 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 8498).
PHILADELPHIA - Faulty workmanship claims do not constitute "accidents" or "occurrences" under a commercial general liability insurance policy, a Pennsylvania federal judge ruled Jan. 23, finding that an insurer has no duty to defend its insured (Quality Stone Veneer Inc. v. Selective Insurance Company of America, No. 15-6509, E.D. Pa.; 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 9393).
PHILADELPHIA - Testimony establishing exposure to dust in dryer felts falls short of linking that exposure to asbestos or the manufacturer in question, a Pennsylvania appeals court held Jan. 19 (James Floyd Jr., executor of the estate of James C. Floyd Sr., deceased v. AstenJohnson Inc., No. 3663 EDA 2015, Pa. Super.).
PITTSBURGH - A federal judge in Pennsylvania on Jan. 23 denied a motion by a third-party defendant seeking to try third-party claims separately in a case where two environmental advocacy groups sued a glass manufacturer for groundwater contamination, finding that the third-party defendant did not show that separate trials were necessary (PennEnvironment, et al. v. PPG Industries Inc., et al., No. 12-342, W.D. Pa.; 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 8683).
HARRISBURG, Pa. - A Pennsylvania's Superior Court panel on Jan. 17 found that a hospital was entitled to limited immunity under Pennsylvania's Mental Health Procedure Act (MHPA) but said that immunity is moot because a woman who sued the hospital after her suicidal daughter was allowed to leave the hospital without being stopped brought claims that could be seen as gross negligence by the jury (Susan M. Martin v. Holy Spirit Hospital, No. 311 MDA 2016, Pa. Super.; 2017 PA Super. LEXIS 32).
PHILADELPHIA - Bifurcating and staying bad faith claims in an insurance breach of contract and bad faith lawsuit would not be convenient for the parties, prejudice an insurer or economize the litigation, a federal judge in Pennsylvania ruled Jan. 18 in denying the insurer's motion (Eizen Fineburg & McCarthy P.C. v. Ironshore Specialty Insurance Co., No. 16-2461, E.D. Pa.; 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 6985).
HARRISBURG, Pa. - The Pennsylvania Superior Court on Jan. 17 in a single opinion vacated orders denying class certification in two substantially similar complaints alleging that oil and gas leases were breached and payments were never made, finding that the trial court abused its discretion in denying the motions (Lucinda A. Cardinale, et al. v. R.E. Gas Development, LLC, et al., No. 1186 WDA 2015, Mary R. Billotte, et al. v. R.E. Gas Development, LLC, et al., No. 1187 WDA 2015, Pa. Super.; 2017 Pa. Super. LEXIS 34).
PHILADELPHIA - A month after a Pennsylvania federal judge granted final approval of a settlement in a class action alleging unfair trade practices related to the paid reviews feature on Angie's List Inc.'s website, the Third Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals granted dismissal of an objector's appeal of that settlement after it was voluntarily withdrawn (Janell Moore, et al. v. Angie's List Inc., No. 16-4430, 3rd Cir.)