PA Superior Court Affirms- Jack Frost Ski Area Can’t Be Sued in Philadelphia

Posted in Legal Updates

In a recent non-precedential opinion in the case of Gordon v. JFBB Ski Areas, Inc., No. 1454 EDA 2014 (Pa. Super. April 28, 2014), the Superior Court of Pennsylvania affirmed a Philadelphia County ruling ordering that the case be transferred to Carbon County based upon preliminary objections alleging improper venue.

In this case, Plaintiffs had filed a complaint in Philadelphia County against multiple defendants, including Jack Frost Ski Area, seeking recovery for injuries sustained while at the Carbon County skiing destination.  Plaintiffs alleged that venue was proper pursuant to Pa.R.C.P. 2179 as defendants regularly conduct business in Philadelphia County.  Defendants filed preliminary objections seeking to have the case transferred to Carbon County alleging that their business activity in Philadelphia was not sufficient to sustain venue there.  After reviewing evidence on this issue, the Philadelphia Court agreed and transferred the case to Carbon County.

The evidence submitted indicated that Jack Frost’s lift tickets can be purchased either over the internet or at the facility in Carbon County.  While all transactions could not be tracked, roughly 4.7% of all lift tickets were purchased by residents of Philadelphia.  The evidence further indicated that Jack Frost conducts significant advertising activities and promotional events in Philadelphia.  Nonetheless, the Superior Court affirmed the ruling of the trial court.

This ruling is a bit of surprise in light of some other recent Superior Court decisions holding that a corporate defendant deriving as little as 2% of their revenue from Philadelphia County was sufficient to establish venue under Pa.R.C.P. 2179.  See Lugo v. Farmers Pride, Inc., 967 A.2d 963, 971 (Pa. Super. 2009); Zampana-Barry v. Donaghue, 921 A.2d 500 (Pa. Super. 2007).  It would appear that the Gordon Court focused on the fact that no actual lift ticket sales occurred in Philadelphia County.  The Court emphasized the fact that tickets purchased through the Jack Frost website, which is administered by a California company, involves transferring money through a third-party bank.  All other tickets were sold at the mountain itself in Carbon County.  The Court further determined that all Philadelphia-based promotional events and advertising were incidental to Jack Frost’s business and insufficient to establish venue.

Individual Education Plan (IEP): The Next Chapter

Posted in Educational Law, News & Events

Shareholders Brian Smith and Michelle Christian will present the seminar, IEP: The Next Chapter, at The Springtime School/Potential Inc. in Newtown, PA. The seminar is open to the public and will begin at 6:30 PM.

It is a relatively straightforward process for parents of special-needs children and their school districts to enter into Individual Education Plans (IEPs) to ensure that such children receive the same educational opportunities as their non-special-needs peers. It is not as straightforward a process to make sure that the provisions of an IEP are complied with by the school district, or to remediate the consequences of non-compliance with an IEP. This seminar presumes that an IEP is already in place and explores the “what happens next,” when the provisions of an IEP are not followed, with an emphasis on the rights and remedies of aggrieved parents.

For more information or to register to attend, please click here. This event is free and open to the public (registration guarantees your spot). Child care will also be provided at no cost.

Five Tips For Boaters To Help Keep Our Waterways Safe

Posted in Personal Injury

With the summer right around the corner, many people will be  flocking to the ocean, lakes and rivers. Here are five tips for boaters to help keep our waterways safe.

  1. Do not approach any military, cruise line or commercial shipping vessels. The Naval Vessel Protection Zone requires boaters not to approach within 100 yards and to slow minimum speed within 500 yards of any Naval Vessel.
  2. Observe and avoid all security zones and commercial port operations areas.
  3. Do not stop or anchor beneath bridges or overpasses.
  4. Report suspicious activities to marina security, local authorities and/or the Coast Guard.
  5. Do not drink alcohol and operate a boat.

Following these tips and adopting safe boating practices reduce demands on marina security, local authorities and/or the Coast Guard allowing them to focus on security and emergencies. If by any chance, you are in an unsafe situation, please make any and all attempts to keep yourself and the others around you safe. Injuries in waterways can be very serious, it is important that you follow all directions to protect yourself and others.

New Harvard Study Provides Insight to Public’s View of Medical Errors

Posted in Personal Injury

A recent article published by the Harvard School of Public Health, based on a study commissioned by the Betsy Lehman Center for Patient Safety and Medical Error Reduction, sheds some light on how the citizens of Massachusetts perceive and feel about medical error in that state.

The study’s authors conducted a statewide telephone public opinion poll of 1,224 Massachusetts adults. The poll results revealed that 23% of respondents had been personally involved in a situation where they or a loved one were the victim of a preventable medical error. Of those, roughly half reported that the medical error resulted in serious health consequences. The most common form of medical error reported involved misdiagnosis of a problem or condition. 54% of those involved in a medical error had reported the error to someone, most commonly to a health professional where the error occurred. The most frequent reason given for why people chose to report the error was to prevent the same error from happening to someone else. The most common reason given by those who chose not to report the error was that they field it would not do any good to report it.

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The Pennsylvania Patient Safety Authority

Posted in Legal Updates, Medical Malpractice, Personal Injury

In 2002, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania created the Patient Safety Authority, the “PSA”, to monitor all medical mistakes at health care facilities, including hospitals, free-standing surgical centers, birthing centers and abortion clinics in the Commonwealth (nursing home incidents are also documented, under a another agency).  Pursuant to the law which created the PSA, all these facilities must report every medical mistake to the Pennsylvania Patient Reporting System, which is operated by the PSA.  All mistakes must be reported, from “near-miss incidents” to serious injuries.

The PSA helps Pennsylvania healthcare facilities take their knowledge and expertise to the next level by working with each other to prevent medical errors and improve patient safety. Through these collaborative efforts, the PSA has been able to engage in review of numerous issues, including wrong-site surgery, mislabeling blood specimen events, harmful falls, surgical-site infections, central-line associated bloodstream infections (CLABSI) and adverse drug events.

The PSA is funded through a fee collected from all facilities that report to it. By centralizing the accrual of such information, the PSA can examine incidents statewide over a period of time and this enables the Authority to recognize trends and then recommend practices that make medical facilities safer. The PSA is supported by a Board of Directors that includes three physicians, three attorneys, three nurses, a pharmacist and a non-healthcare worker.

The PSA has given the state a great way to track and stay on top of these incidents. If you are interested to find out more information you can visit their website here. On their website they offer not only information about the incidents but also educational tools that can help keep patients safe.

Pennsylvania’s Motorcycle Learner’s Permit Law Designed to Encourage Riders to Obtain their “Real” Motorcycle Driver’s License

Posted in Legal Updates, Motorcycle Accidents

On December 23, 2013 (then) Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett signed Act 126, which affects Pennsylvania motorcycle riders. The law, known as Act 126 of 2013 (effective February 21, 2014) limits the number of times a motorcycle rider can reapply for a learner’s permit to three times, in a five-year period. The original Bill was sponsored by Rep. Seth Grove (R-Dover) who had the overwhelming support of the Alliance of Bikers Toward Education (A.B.A.T.E) and statewide law enforcement. The initial legislation was designed in part to prevent the practice of continually extending the permit without having to retake the motorcycle knowledge test or skills tests. Law enforcement was particularly concerned with the growing number of motorcycle offenses committed by permitted (but unlicensed) riders. Nearly 3,500 crashes involving motorcycles occurred on Pennsylvania roadways in 2013, 500 fewer than in 2012. Those crashes resulted in 181 motorcyclist fatalities, as opposed to 210 deaths in 2012. The number of registered motorcycles in Pennsylvania decreased in 2013 by just over 3,800, while the number of licensed motorcyclists increased by nearly 6,000.

ACT 126 is designed to enable riders to continue to learn to ride a motorcycle properly while encouraging them to get obtain a full motorcycle driver’s license. In addition to limiting the number of times a rider can apply for a permit, ACT 126 requires a rider to successfully pass the motorcycle knowledge test upon each reapplication. It also prohibits PennDOT from renewing a person’s motorcycle learner’s permit. To read the law, click here.

For questions and information on permits, licensing and motorcycle training for Pennsylvania residents, visit the PA Division of Motor Vehicles or Pennsylvania Motorcycle Safety Program (PAMSP).

Attorney Client Privilege and Pennsylvania Government Agencies

Posted in Legal Updates

In a recent unanimous decision, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled that a government agency cannot assert lawyer-client privilege to protect records when the state attorney general considers those records necessary to fulfill his duties.   The Court went on to say that when the attorney general’s office looks into suspected wrongdoing at a state agency, the actual client of the agency’s lawyers is the public, not the agency’s employees.   The Court agreed with the state prosecutors who argued that government lawyers have special duties to act in the public interest and address wrongful official acts.

Company to Pay for Unsafe Infant Tylenol, Children’s Tylenol and Children’s Motrin

Posted in Legal Updates, Mass Tort, Medical Malpractice, Personal Injury

McNeil, a local Montgomery County  healthcare company which produced the medications infant tylenol, children’s tylenol and children’s motrin in its Fort Washington,PA location will have to pay 25 million dollars.  The company recently plead guilty because in 2009 when a consumer alert was issued,indicating there were black specs in the medicine,  the company failed to  initiate a corrective plan.  Consumers found what turned out to be nickel and chromium in the medication, which was not an intended ingredient. Upon investigation, the Food and Drug Administration found that there were more than 30 batches of children’s medication that had  nickel and chromium in them. The local Fort Washington company, which is a division of Johnson and Johnson, remains under a 2011 injunction and must  take corrective measures before it is permitted to reopen.

If a loved on has been injured by a defective drug contact Stark & Stark today for a free consultation.

Newly Legalized Immigrants may be Eligible for Social Security and Medicare or Medicaid Benefits

Posted in Employment, Legal Updates, Social Security

Immigrants who receive provisional legal status under President Obama’s new executive orders may be eligible for Social Security and Medicare or Medicaid benefits.  Under the President’s plan, U.S. residents can apply for provisional legal status if they have  lived in the U.S. for at least 5 years, can pass a criminal background check and have paid their share of taxes.

Provisional legal status, which must be renewed every 3 years, would allow qualified residents to obtain legal work permits and a Social Security number.  Consequently, they would pay into Social Security and Medicare through payroll taxes and thusbe eligible for benefits. Only those years after they obtain provisional legal status would count towards Social Security benefits and these individuals would have to work at least 10 years, legally, in the U.S., to receive Social Security Retirement benefits.

Nursing Home Arbitration Agreement Rejected By Judge

Posted in Legal Updates, Medical Malpractice, Personal Injury

Often nursing homes will require residents or their families to sign arbitration agreements before the resident will be accepted into the facility.   Such agreements vary but, in essence, they provide that, should the resident or their family believe that the resident has been the victim of negligence, abuse or neglect while at the facility, they agree not sue in court, but rather will resolve the claim via a private, binding arbitration.  An arbitration is a proceeding where the parties present their case to a neutral third-party, called an arbitrator (often a retired judge or experienced attorney), who then makes a decision and decides the amount of damages, if any.

Recently, a Berks County, Pennsylvania trial judge refused to enforce one such agreement, required by a Manor Care facility.  The judge concluded that this particular agreement was against public policy, because it was both one-sided and confusing.  The judge explained that cases involving injuries should not be the subject of routine arbitration unless both parties fully and completely negotiated and agreed to the final terms of the agreement.

By entering into these agreements, nursing home residents and their families must understand that they are giving up their right to have a future their case heard by a jury of their peers.  If you believe that you or a loved one has been the victim of nursing home negligence, abuse or neglect, contact the experienced attorneys at Stark & Stark for a free consultation.