HARRISBURG, Pa. - In a personal injury lawsuit arising out of an auto collision, a trucking industry safety expert may testify that a trucking company's power carrier program did not act as a freight broker, a Pennsylvania federal judge ruled Aug. 3, finding that the expert qualifies to testify on the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSRs) related to brokers of property (Francisco Ramos-Becerra and Louisa Ramos v. Ricky L. Hatfield, et al., No. 14-0917, M.D. Pa.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 101579).
PITTSBURGH - Efforts to enforce a patent against myriad defendant insurers failed Aug. 4 when a Pennsylvania federal judge agreed with the insurer that the patent claims ineligible subject matter and "does not clear" the bar set in Alice Corp. Pty. Ltd. v. CLS Bank Int'l. (134 S. Ct. 2347, 2355 ) (Intellectual Ventures I LLC v. Erie Indemnity Company, et al., No. 14-220, W.D. Pa.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 102289).
SCRANTON, Pa. - A Pennsylvania federal judge on Aug. 2 partially denied a life insurance company's motion to dismiss a putative class action for benefits under an Employee Retirement Income Security Act plan, finding that a section of a state motor vehicle statute "regulates insurance" and is therefore saved from ERISA preemption (Eric Yost, et al. v. Anthem Life Insurance Co., No. 3:16-cv-00079, M.D. Pa.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 101202).
NEW ORLEANS - The Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on July 29 held that a petroleum refiner insured failed to provide any evidence that it would have acted differently had it known that a petroleum distributor's credit account was not secured, affirming a lower court's ruling that there was no "unlawful taking" to trigger commercial crime coverage for the loss of approximately $90 million worth of fuel (Tesoro Refining and Marketing Company, L.L.C. v. National Union Fire Insurance Company of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, No. 15-50405, 5th Cir.; 2016 U.S. App. LEXIS 13838).
PITTSBURGH - A federal judge in Pennsylvania on July 27 granted in part a plaintiff company's motion to clarify findings of fact and conclusions of law regarding contamination at a site in Greenville, Pa., explaining that the parties did not present evidence as to how the defendant company's painting operations contributed to contamination on the property (Trinity Industries Inc., et al. v. Greenlease Holding Company, No. 08-1498, W.D. Pa.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 97824).
PHILADELPHIA - A couple's lawsuit against the builder of a home they purchased from another couple in 2011 was reinstated by a Pennsylvania Superior Court panel on July 26, after it found that privity was not required for the plaintiffs to bring claims for fraud and violation of the Pennsylvania Unfair Trade Practices and Consumer Protection Law (UTPCPL) (Christopher Adams, et al. v. Hellings Builders Inc., No. 1407 EDA 2015, Pa. Super.; 2016 Pa. Super. Unpub. LEXIS 2720).
PHILADELPHIA - Twenty-five days after a jury awarded $70 million to a plaintiff in a Risperdal gynecomastia trial, a Pennsylvania state court judge on July 25 denied post-trial motions by both the plaintiff and defendants Janssen Pharmaceuticals Inc. and Johnson & Johnson (A.Y. v. Janssen Pharmaceuticals, No. 130402094, Pa. Comm. Pls., Philadelphia Co.).
PHILADELPHIA - Finding that the Federal Election Campaign Act (FECA) governs the timing for public release of finance records for the July 2016 Democratic National Convention (DNC), a Pennsylvania judge on July 25 denied a reporter's motion to compel early disclosure of the records, finding Pennsylvania's Right-to-Know Law (RTKL) preempted by the federal statute (Dustin Slaughter v. Paul Deegan, et al., No. 1212, Pa. Comm. Pls., Philadelphia Co.).
ALLENTOWN, Pa. - State Farm Fire and Casualty Co.'s motion for judgment was granted July 21 by a federal judge in Pennsylvania who found that the insurer could deny a man's claim under his automobile policy because he misrepresented that he was a resident of New York rather than Pennsylvania (State Farm Fire and Casualty Company v. Gregory A. Hancle, et al., No. 14-6140, E.D. Pa.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 95084).
PHILADELPHIA - After finding that a borrower's claims for violation of the Homeowners Protection Act (HPA) were not preempted and that she sufficiently pleaded her claims for breach of contract and unjust enrichment in relation to her private mortgage insurance (PMI), a Pennsylvania federal judge on July 20 denied a loan servicer's motion to dismiss the complaint (Sue Song, on behalf of herself and all others similarly situated v. Nationstar Mortgage Holdings Inc., No. 16-006, E.D. Pa.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 94362).
LOS ANGELES - A California federal judge on July 18 granted William H. Cosby Jr.'s motion to stay a homeowners and excess insurer's coverage dispute pending resolution of an underlying lawsuit brought by model, actress and TV producer Janice Dickinson but denied the motion to the extent Cosby seeks a stay pending the resolution of a criminal action in Pennsylvania (AIG Property Casualty Co. v. William H. Cosby Jr., et al., No. 15-04842, C.D. Calif.).
PITTSBURGH - A Pennsylvania federal judge on July 14 granted summary judgment in favor of an employer in a wage-and-hour class complaint filed by a former employee finding that employee's severance agreement included a bar on participation in a class or collective action (Jonathan Kubischta, et al. v. Schlumberger Tech Corp., No. 15-1338, W.D. Pa.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 91556).
PHILADELPHIA - A power company that was sued by a group of Pennsylvania residents who contend that it is liable for their injuries, including cancer, that stem from exposure to radioactive materials filed a brief in the Third Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on July 15, arguing that it should let stand a lower court's summary judgment ruling in the company's favor because the plaintiffs lack admissible evidence of specific causation (Michelle McMunn, et al. v. Babcock & Wilcox Power Generation Group Inc., No. 15-3506 [consolidated], 3rd Cir.).
PHILADELPHIA - The Pennsylvania federal judge overseeing the Tylenol multidistrict litigation on July 14 denied a defense motion to exclude a key study from the plaintiff's case in the first bellwether trial and excluded testimony by defense experts who criticized the reliability of the study (In Re: Tylenol [Acetaminophen] Marketing, Sales Practices, and Products Liability Litigation, MDL Docket No. 2436, No. 13-md-2436, E.D. Pa. 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 92334).
PHILADELPHIA - A company cannot be held liable for asbestos-containing products it did not manufacturer, supply or mandate, Crane Co. told a federal judge in Pennsylvania July 13 in looking to upset a more than $1 million verdict against it (Lynn C. Dobrick, et al. v. Air & Liquid Systems Corp., et al., No. 10-03202, E.D. Pa.).
HARRISBURG, Pa. - The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) on July 12 announced that its Bureau of Safe Drinking Water will oversee and work with the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority (PWSA) in response to test results that indicate that the levels of lead and copper in the city's drinking water require remediation.
PHILADELPHIA - Although insureds did not exercise reasonable care in maintaining heat to prevent pipes from freezing in their home while they were away, a question of fact exists as to whether the insureds' home was unoccupied when the loss occurred, a Pennsylvania federal judge said July 7 (Joseph Jugan, et al. v. Economy Premier Assurance Co., No. 15-4272, E.D. Pa.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 87876).
PHILADELPHIA - A federal judge in Pennsylvania on July 11 awarded summary judgment to two lawyers accused of civil conspiracy, finding that Church Mutual Insurance Co. failed to present sufficient evidence that the attorneys agreed with other defendants to pursue fraudulent claims and that they acted with malice (Church Mutual Insurance Company v. Alliance Adjustment Group, et al., No. 15-461, E.D. Pa.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 89194).
HARRISBURG, Pa. - The liquidator of an insolvent insurer asked a Pennsylvania court on July 6 for approval of an agreement under which a reinsurer will make direct payments of claims to the insolvent insurer's insured (In re: Reliance Insurance Company in Liquidation, No. 1 REL 2001, Pa. Cmwlth.).
HARRISBURG, Pa. - Finding that genuine issues of fact remain as to the cause of homeowners' water damage, a Pennsylvania federal judge on July 7 declined to grant summary judgment to an insurer based on exclusions for defective construction, seepage, neglect or known loss doctrine (The Cincinnati Insurance Co. v. Jonathan Drenocky and Deborah Drenocky, No. 15-762, M.D. Pa.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 87711).