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Pennsylvania Law & Policy Archives

Car Seat and Child Safety

It's vitally important that your child is safely secured in the proper restraint system in your vehicle. And these regulations can change. One such change has recently gone into effect in Pennsylvania. This new legislation requires young children to ride in rear-facing car seats until age two (2). Previously, the age was one (1). According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, these kinds of seats will better protect young children in car crashes.

Can Someone Record My Telephone Call Or Listen In Without My Permission? What If I "Butt Dialed" A Person, Are They Legally Obligated To Hang Up The Phone?

While Federal Law recognizes the "one-party" consent rule many states, like Pennsylvania still require the consent of all parties before a person can legally tape a telephone conversation.

My Employer Refuses To Pay Me - What Can I do?

Are you living paycheck to paycheck? Would it be devastating to you if your employer failed to pay you on time? Is your employer paying you less than $7.25/hour? What if your employer only paid you a portion of what you earned? Well, if you work in Pennsylvania you are protected and you have recourse under Pennsylvania's Wage Payment and Collection Law, also known as the WPCL. 43 P.S. ยง et. seq. In fact, you are entitled to be paid for all work performed, even if the work you are doing is by your own choice, before or after a shift.

Is it Ok to Fight back? Sexual Advances In the Workplace.

That was the argument the Eastern District of Pennsylvania was met with in the case of Speed v. WES Health System1 in February of this year. WES's employee, Shameka Speed had complained to her boss on several occasions that her male coworker was making sexual and derogatory advances toward her in the workplace. Despite her reports and protests, Speed was forced to continue to work with the employee and when the advances peaked, she fought back. Ultimately, both employees were fired.

Medical Marijuana? An Attorney's Ethical Considerations

The Federal Legislature in 1970 enacted the Controlled Substances Act, 21 U.S.C. Section 811, et. seq. (hereafter "CSA") which defined marijuana as a "Schedule I" drug and makes it illegal to "manufacture, distribute, or dispense, or possess with intent to manufacture, distribute, or dispense," marijuana in any form. In fact, CSA expressly states that there is "no currently accepted medical use in treatment" for marijuana. In spite of the federal government's blanket prohibition on the use of marijuana some twenty (20) states and Washington D.C. have already passed state laws allowing the use of marijuana for medical treatment in certain circumstances.

GPS use During a Collison Could be Civilly Punishable

According to a recent trial court opinion authored by the Honorable Terrence R. Nealson of Lackawanna County, Pennsylvania, the driver of a motor vehicle who causes an accident and is also using a GPS device may be subject to additional damages called punitive damages. There are two general categories of damages: compensatory damages, designed to compensate a person for their injuries and economic losses, and punitive damages, designed to punish the offender.

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. 

Employers Beware: Are your Employees Using Cell Phones While Driving?

Each year, hundreds of thousands of serious and sometimes fatal car crashes occur as a result of "distracted driving." For the majority of these crashes, the cause of the distraction was due to mobile phone use behind the wheel. And, despite the fact that the effect and level of the distraction have been compared to that of driving under the influence, as a society, the serious dangers associated with distracted driving do not seem to have fully set in. Similarly, the serious legal issues surrounding an employer's possible liability from distracted driving by its employees have generally gone ignored by Pennsylvania employers. The fact remains that the costs associated with distracted driving crashes are far-reaching and almost limitless in value.

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