Writing Services for Attorneys

Interlocutory Appeals – When is the Right Time?

The term itself sounds alien – “interlocutory.” It refers to interim court decisions that usually aren’t appealable. Yet, the Pennsylvania Appeals Court Rules permit parties to appeal from some interlocutory rulings. The rub is when and how, two considerations lawyers may not think about or understand. Today, we won a case in which the Superior Court concluded that it could decide an interlocutory appeal based on Pennsylvania Rule of Appellate Procedure 341(c). The decision in Sawyers v. Davis is interesting because, to convince the Court, we had to carefully nuance the arguments in our brief and particularly at oral argument. The result: the plaintiff whose case was tossed gets her day in court. Click here to read the Superior Court decision in Sawyers v. Davis.

So, when can you appeal an interlocutory order? Attorneys need to closely review Pennsylvania Rule of Appellate Procedure 311, which says an “appeal may be taken as of right” without a final order, namely: orders affecting judgments; orders involving attachments, change of criminal venue or venire, injunctions, peremptory judgment in mandamus, new trials, or partition; and orders relating to venue or personal or in rem jurisdiction, preliminary objections in eminent domain matters and certain Commonwealth criminal appeals. There is a catch-all for “other cases” in which an “order is made final or appealable by statute or general rule, even though the order does not dispose of all claims and all parties.” Rule 311(a)(8).

A real nuance is Rule 311(f), which specifically addresses appeals following an administrative remand. Parties may appeal as of right: “(1) an order of a common pleas court or government unit remanding a matter to an administrative agency or hearing officer for execution of the adjudication of the reviewing tribunal in a manner that does not require the exercise of administrative discretion; or (2) an order of a common pleas court or government unit remanding a matter to an administrative agency or hearing officer that decides an issue that would ultimately evade appellate review if an immediate appeal is not allowed.”

Recently, the Commonwealth Court threw out an appeal because the Environmental Hearing Board’s decision was not appealable as of right under Rule 311(f)(1). In the case, Sunoco appealed from an Environmental Hearing Board Order sending a dispute back to DEP for further consideration. The Court concluded that the appeal did not satisfy Rule 311(f)(1) or (2) because the DEP would have to exercise administrative discretion and the issue would not evade appellate review.

Additionally, Rules 312 and 1311 address interlocutory appeals by permission and require you to file a petition to permission from an interlocutory order with the statement contained in 42 Pa. C.S. § 702(b).

Determining whether you can file an interlocutory appeal can be complicated. Our office regularly assists attorneys deciding whether they can file an appeal, and can assist at any point in the litigation. Just give us a call at (610) 446-3457.

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Why Teamwork Matters

We practice law as a team, not as individuals who just “do their own thing” and reject the input of our colleagues. Doing so allows us to spot “holes” in arguments, improve the focus of whatever point we are trying to make, and – most importantly – win cases and get the best results for our clients. And many of our clients are other attorneys who seek our advice or hire us to handle their appeals.

But not all lawyers subscribe to this belief – to them, ego matters more – they need all the credit.

Consider this scenario. I agreed to collaborate on an amicus (friend of the court) brief for a lawyers group about a legal issue where I had previously drafted an amicus brief that contributed to what was called the most important Pennsylvania Supreme Court decision in over 30 years. But like any landmark case, the decision needed some fine interpretations and cases are pending in various appellate courts.

I agreed to collaborate on amicus briefs in both the Supreme Court and the Commonwealth Court, both coincidentally due last week. My collaborator was an attorney with whom I had not worked. He provided me with drafts of the briefs. The briefs contained some excellent arguments, but were turgid, one exceeded the word limit, and both were begging for improvement. So I decided to do so.

One brief was 3,000 words too long, and the lawyer framed the legal issue as:

Whether Protz v. WCAB (Derry Area School District), 161 A.3d 827 (Pa. 2017) (Protz II) is to be applied retroactively to the date on which Claimant’s 500 weeks of partial disability benefits elapsed because the modification from total to partial was based on an Impairment Rating Evaluation (IRE) conducted under statutes since held unconstitutional. Failure to give Protz II full retroactivity violates the Remedies Clause of the Pennsylvania Constitution.

I revised the issue to read:

In Protz v. WCAB (Derry Area School District), 161 A.3d 827 (Pa. 2017) (Protz II), the Pennsylvania Supreme Court invalidated the Impairment Rating Evaluation provisions of the Workers’ Compensation Act. Because all IREs were deemed void ab initio, does Protz II apply retroactively to the date on which a Claimant’s 500 weeks of partial disability benefits elapsed because any other modification would violate the Remedies Clause of the Pennsylvania Constitution.

I also added multiple introductory sections, and cut the brief down to the proper word limit.  My “collaborator’s” reply was: “Your rewriting of my brief is great. … How did you do that so quickly?” He still filed his draft as written.

The Court rejected the brief my “collaborator” filed as too long. He received permission to file a shorter brief. Did he file my “great” version? No. He cut his dense document by 3,000 words and ignored me.

As for the Pa. Supreme Court brief, I revised his draft to make it more persuasive and reader-friendly. His reply: He attacked me viciously in email. Other attorneys who read it said it was “great” or “perfect.”

My guess is that when the Pa. Supreme Court rules, it will cite our amicus brief, as it regularly does. In fact, one Supreme Court Justice has publicly commented about the quality of my briefs, using compliments that made me speechless.

My “collaborator” is an excellent lawyer by all accounts. He just does not like collaborating, and seems to fit into the subject of Robert Sutton’s great book. But for our office, and our clients, and all the other injured persons we help by writing amicus briefs, we will continue to collaborate. After all, our goal is results!

 

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Pa. Supreme Court, Citing Dan Siegel’s Brief, Issues Landmark Car Accident Ruling

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled today that, in car accidents claims against Pennsylvania governments and governmental agencies, “operation of a vehicle” is the continuum of activity from when a vehicle begins its journey until it reaches its final destination.  This case will impact every auto accident claim against the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, every municipality, and every governmental agency, such as SEPTA.

In the case, known as Balentine, the Supreme Court specifically cited and adopted the standard suggested by Attorney Daniel J. Siegel of the Law Offices of Daniel J. Siegel, LLC, who authored the Amicus/Friend of the Court Brief for the Pennsylvania Association for Justice. The Opinion reverses 30 years of inconsistent and illogical decisions, and creates a uniform and logical standard for evaluating the responsibility of a governmental entity in motor vehicle accident cases. Our law firm is proud that over the past 13 years since we opened, our cases have protected and expanded the rights of more injured workers and car accident victims than those of any other law firm in Pennsylvania! Last year, our Pennsylvania Supreme Court case expanded the statute of limitations in all uninsured and underinsured motorist cases.

The Opinion in Balentine specifically cited Attorney Dan Siegel’s Brief, “The approach set forth in the Warrick dissent, as advocated for by Amicus Curiae Pennsylvania Association for Justice, does not contradict the ‘intent of the Tort Claims Act to insulate local government agencies from liability.'”

Click here to read the Opinion in Balentine v. Chester Water Authority.

Click here to read Dan Siegel’s Brief.

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A 94% Percent Success Rate – Wow!

Our firm is unique because many of our clients are lawyers, including firms that you see on TV or on I-95. They consult with us about ethical questions, and they hire our firm to prepare their appeal briefs, answer motions to dismiss and other court filings. We always knew that we won the majority of motions and appeals we handled, but never knew how successful we were. So last year we began to compile whether we won or lost the motions and appeals we handled. We were pleasantly surprised to learn that we won 94% of the motions and appeals we handled last year. Obviously, we don’t win every motion or appeal, but we regularly explain that there is a difference in results depending upon how an attorney presents information. Ask most attorneys, and they won’t be able to say they won 94% of the motions and appeals they handled. We look at cases differently, we write differently, and we use different methods of presenting our clients’ cases, all with the goal that they win their motions and appeals, and get the best results for their clients.

Of course, we use the same techniques for our clients, including our workers’ compensation and personal injury clients. No one wins everything, but winning 94% of our motions sure makes us feel good. The next time someone says all attorneys are the same, and that’s why it’s OK to hire one of those guys on TV, remember that cases are won – and lost – based on how well lawyers handle the various motions and other filings before trial, or on appeal. That’s when you will see the difference at the Law Offices of Daniel J. Siegel, LLC.

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Voting has closed in the Delco’s Best Lawyers poll.

Thank you for voting for the Havertown Law Offices of Daniel J. Siegel, LLC in the Delco’s Best Lawyers poll in our major practice areas: Appellate; Personal Injury; Workers’ Compensation.  Voting ended Thursday, March 8th.

Here’s why we believe we have earned your support.

  • In 2017, we were appellate counsel, and won, two Pennsylvania Supreme Court cases, that expanded the rights of injured workers (workers’ compensation) and auto crash victims (personal injury). No other firm in Pennsylvania can say that! We won many other cases at trial, or on appeal, and settled numerous other matters without the need for trial.
  • 2/3rds of our clients are lawyers. They hire us to serve as appellate counsel or to assist them in preparing their complex workers’ compensation and personal injury cases. As part of these services, nearly 2,000 attorneys and judges read our monthly newsletter highlighting recent Pennsylvania appeals court decisions.
  • We are especially proud of our reputation for representing our friends and neighbors throughout Delaware County and the Main Line in their cases.

Our office is proud of our reputation for providing high quality legal services in an affordable client-focused manner.

We are also proud that we have been recognized by our peers in Super Lawyers and Best Lawyers in America.

For these reasons, we thank our clients and friends who voted in the poll for Delco’s Best Lawyers.

THANK YOU FOR NEARLY 13 YEARS OF REPRESENTING OUR FRIENDS, NEIGHBORS & COLLEAGUES THROUGHOUT DELAWARE COUNTY, THE MAIN LINE, AND THE PHILADELPHIA AREA!

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Answers to Common Questions About the Unwanted Side-Effects of Some Medicine

 So, you’ve taken a drug and experienced a side-effect. Most are minor and go away quickly. But others can be serious or fatal. As a result, we’ve put together the following questions and answers to help you understand your rights if you experience side-effects from medicine.

  • When a doctor prescribes medicine, do we have to read all the lengthy print-outs, pamphlets and warning labels?
    • Manufacturers or physicians may be held liable to pay damages caused by their failure to warn a patient about side-effects of medication. Federal law requires a manufacturer to provide warnings about potential risks on prescription labels and instructions. The strongest warnings a manufacturer must provide are black box warnings. Similarly, physicians must know about these warnings, and have a duty to inform the patient about them before prescribing the medicine.
  • What if you have an adverse reaction to a drug and believe that your doctor failed to take the proper steps or that the manufacturer didn’t warn you about the side-effects?
    • The failure to warn about potential side-effects may be a basis for a lawsuit against either the physician or manufacturer or both. If a manufacturer or a physician fails to warn to patient of a risk, then either may breach the “duty of care” to the patient. Expert testimony can establish that a drug caused an injury. See Stange v. Janssen Pharma. et al., 2018 PA Super 4 (Pa. Super. Jan. 8, 2018).
  • What should I do and what should my doctor do to reduce the possibility of these side effects?
    • First, a doctor should know the characteristics of the drug.
    • Second, the doctor must also know the safe amount of the drug to prescribe.
    • Third, you should tell your doctor about any medication you are taking.
    • Fourth, your doctor should advise you of “any dangers or side effects associated with the use of the drug.”
    • Fifth, the doctor should explain to you how and when to take the drug.

If you believe that a prescription caused you injuries, contact the Law Offices of Daniel J. Siegel, LLC. We can review your situation, and we work with other law firms that handle these types of claims.

 

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The Protz Impact

Ever since the Pennsylvania Supreme Court declared in Protz v. WCAB that the Impairment Rating Evaluation provisions of the Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Act are unconstitutional, my office has been deluged with calls asking how the decision impacts injured workers and how other lawyers should handle their existing cases. These calls have come because we regularly represent injured workers in workers’ compensation claims, because we regularly write briefs and handle appeals for other lawyers in workers’ compensation and other matters, and because we authored the Amicus Curiae (friend of the court) brief for the Pennsylvania Association for Justice (PAJ). Because the Supreme Court did not state how the decision applies to current claims, we are left to predict the results of future cases.

The PAJ will be sponsoring a webinar, “Forward to the Past: Protz and the Elimination of the IRE,” on Wednesday, August 9, 2017 from 12 to 1 p.m. I will be join Tom Baumann, counsel for Mr. Protz, and Larry Chaban, one of the deans of the claimant’s workers’ compensation bar, on the panel. Click here to register for the program.

And finally, thank you to one attorney who read my brief and offered the following observation:

A note to compliment you on your outstanding, world class writing style with your Protz Amicus Brief.

I enjoyed my 20 years of Claimant practice in Blair County, handling over 1000 cases and reading dozens of briefs (and case decisions) over the years. In reviewing your recent brief which lead to a landmark Pa Supreme Court decision - Wow... articulate, well reasoned, well organized, persuasive...it's the Super Bowl of them all!

Me? ... [I] still peruse the workers comp literature when I noticed your written gem.

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Pa. Supreme Court Declares Impairment Rating Provisions of the Workers’ Comp Act Unconstitutional; Attorney Dan Siegel Authored Amicus Brief

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court today declared as unconstitutional the impairment rating evaluation (IRE) provision in Section 306(a.2) of the Workers’ Compensation Act. The decision in Protz v. WCAB (Derry Area School District) means that injured workers will no longer be subject to a cap on the length of wage loss benefits they received. Attorney Dan Siegel of the Law Offices of Daniel J. Siegel, LLC authored the friend of the court brief on behalf of the Pennsylvania Association for Justice (formerly the Pennsylvania Trial Lawyers Association).

In the 6-1 majority opinion authored by Justice Wecht, the Court concluded that the Pennsylvania legislature violated the state Constitution when it passed this provision because it (1) gave “unfettered discretion over Pennsylvania’s impairment-rating methodology” to the American Medical Association, and (2) “did not include in … any of the procedural mechanisms that this Court has considered essential to protect against ‘administrative arbitrariness and caprice.'”

Chief Justice Saylor authored a concurring opinion. Justice Baer filed a dissenting opinion. Pittsburgh attorney Tom Baumann represented claimant.

Click here to read the Protz opinion.

Click here to read Dan Siegel’s Amicus brief.

Before the decision, Section 306(a.2) of Act permitted employers to require an injured worker to undergo an IRE after receiving 104 weeks of disability benefits. If the IRE physician determined that the injured worker’s whole body impairment was less than 50 percent, as determined by the AMA Guides to the Evaluation of Permanent Impairment, the worker was limited to 500 weeks of future wage losses. The Court held that the delegation of the impairment determination was impermissible because only the legislature can make those decisions.

“I am pleased that the Supreme Court has conclusively ruled on this issue,” said Dan Siegel, “because we have been raising the issue on behalf of our clients, and in cases in which other attorneys have retained us to do so. In addition, it was a pleasure to work with attorney Tom Baumann, who handled the underlying case and successfully argued the case before the Supreme Court.”

Attorney Dan Siegel provides trial and appellate court writing services to attorneys throughout Pennsylvania. Contact Dan at dan@danieljsiegel.com or (610) 446-3457.

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Attorney Dan Siegel Named Pa. Workers’ Compensation “Super Lawyer” – Will Anyone Know?

For the 10th consecutive year, Havertown Attorney Daniel J. Siegel has been named a “Super Lawyer” in the area of workers’ compensation (representing claimants/injured workers and medical providers). Dan, who is also the author of Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Law: The Basics: A Primer for Lawyers, Workers, Medical Professionals & Others, is the only workers’ compensation Super Lawyer in Havertown. In addition, many of the other Super Lawyers are clients of Dan’s, and many have retained him to assist with their most complicated cases, and their appeals.

If you are searching for a workers’ compensation Super Lawyer in Havertown, however, you will probably never find Dan’s listing. Why? Because Dan has not paid for an enhanced listing, Super Lawyers places Dan’s listing on the 7th page (out of 8 pages) of the results; despite being the only workers’ compensation Super Lawyer in Havertown, he is the 155th lawyer listed in the results for that search.

Dan regularly represents injured workers in their claims and represents medical providers seeking payment for treatment provided to injured workers; Dan also represents individuals in personal injury claims arising from motor vehicle accidents, defective conditions on property, etc. In addition, Dan represents and assists other attorneys with their appeals and complicated matters. Just this week, Dan argued the case of Erie v. Bristol before the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. The case will determine how the statute of limitations is triggered in uninsured motorist claims (claims that arise when a person is injured by another driver who either does not have motor vehicle insurance or who fled the scene and could not be identified).

Click here to read how Super Lawyers are selected.

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Please vote for the Havertown Law Offices of Daniel J. Siegel, LLC in the Delco’s Best Lawyers poll.

Please vote for the Havertown Law Offices of Daniel J. Siegel, LLC in the Delco’s Best Lawyers poll in our major practice areas: Appellate; Personal Injury; Workers’ Compensation. To do so, go to http://pa.journalregister.com/delcotimes/toplawyers/. Here’s why we believe we have earned your support.

Our office is proud of our reputation for providing high quality legal services in an affordable client-focused manner. We are also proud that we have been recognized by our peers in Super Lawyers and Best Lawyers in America. One of the differences that we do not often discuss is that the majority of our clients are lawyers, who hire us to handle their complex appeals, provide guidance on ethical issues, and prepare them for trial. As part of these lawyer-focused services, nearly 2,000 attorneys and judges read our monthly newsletter highlighting recent Pennsylvania appeals court decisions.

February 2017 highlighted these successes:

  • We represented a local church in defense of a claim that it did not maintain its property safely. The Philadelphia jury returned a verdict in favor of our client/the church in 40 minutes.
  • We settled the medical benefits portion of a workers’ compensation claim for $685,134.40, for a client with a serious back injury. The total settlements for this client have exceeded $800,000.00.
  • We were hired as appeals counsel in a case in which the trial court dismissed claims by two student athletes who were injured in a football practice drill. In the case, the Superior Court refused to enforce a release that would have insulated a college and others from liability. The Court agreed that a jury should decide whether the college’s failure to have qualified athletic trainers at the practice, and its use of a dangerous tackling drill, constituted gross negligence or recklessness.

For these reasons, we ask our clients and friends to vote in the poll for Delco’s Best Lawyers. Just go to http://pa.journalregister.com/delcotimes/toplawyers/.

THANK YOU FOR NEARLY 12 YEARS OF REPRESENTING OUR FRIENDS, NEIGHBORS & COLLEAGUES THROUGHOUT DELAWARE COUNTY AND THE PHILADELPHIA AREA!

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