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September 2013 Archives

Commonwealth Punches Back Over Breathalyzer Results

Pennsylvania is currently in the midst of a legal battle over the admissibility of breathalyzer results in the prosecution of DUI cases. The state Superior Court on Thursday overturned a Dauphin County judge's decision in a drunken driving case that legal observers said could have curtailed the use of breathalyzers in such prosecutions. Yet the state court's ruling in the case, Commonwealth v. Schilt, won't end the battle over whether breathalyzers are accurate enough to provide evidence of motorists' blood-alcohol levels. The motorist's attorney, Justin McShane, said he will appeal the Superior Court ruling to the state Supreme Court in hopes of taking breathalyzer evidence off the table in DUI prosecutions once and for all.

Builders Beware; Subsequent Purchasers of Homes Get Implied Warranty

Recent decisions out of the Pennsylvania Superior Court and the U.S. District Court for the Western District of PA have greatly expanded the rights available to subsequent home purchasers. Specifically, both courts have ruled that the implied warranty of habitability was available to subsequent purchases, a remedy that was previously only available to original purchasers. The implied warranty of habitability provides the purchaser of a newly constructed home with implied warranty protection from the home's builder-vendor that the home is constructed in a reasonably workmanlike manner and fit for habitation. This judicially created doctrine shifts the risk of certain defects in the construction of a new home from the purchaser to the builder-vendor. Of course, some defects that affect the habitability of a home do not materialize until years after the home is built. The state Superior Court has now decided that the risk for these defects should be borne by the builder-vendor of the home regardless of whether the original purchaser or a subsequent purchaser discovers the defect.

Wrongful Death Claims Cannot Be Waived By the Decedent

In a recent 2013 opinion by the Pennsylvania Superior Court, it upheld the trial court's determination that a Wrongful Death Claim belonged not to the deceased person but to the beneficiaries as provided under the Wrongful Death Statute.  Therefore, even though the deceased person had waived his rights to a trial by jury, the court determined the Wrongful Death Claim belonged not to the deceased person but to its beneficiaries. 

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