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Oral Argument Matters – Here’s Proof

There are some attorneys and judges who say that oral argument doesn’t matter. Today I have proof that it does.

On May 10, 2017, I argued the case of Erie Insurance v. Bristol before the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. When I filed the petition asking the Court to take the case, the court rephrased the issue (the legal argument we wanted the Court to decide) in a very broad and somewhat unusual manner that changed the focus of the case. When we filed our Brief, we addressed the issue framed by the Supreme Court but also outlined why the argument that we had originally asserted was still relevant. This required filing a nuanced brief that responded to the Court’s concerns while also advocating for our client in the manner we believed to be most effective.

At oral argument, the Court questioned me at length (nearly 25 minutes) about whether the Brief we filed had addressed the issue as rephrased by the Court. While we believed that the Court could decide the case based on the rephrased issue, the argument focused primarily on whether the Court should have ruled based on the question we originally presented. Fortunately, I was prepared (and spent two days preparing for the argument) and was able to address the Court’s concerns.

Today, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court – in a highly unusual action – issued an Order agreeing to decide the issue as we had originally framed it (6 Justices joined in the Order, 1 dissented). I do not believe that the Court would have issued this Order today without the benefit of oral argument.

Click here to read the Court’s Orders.

Click here to view the oral argument.

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.

12 Rules for Lawyers to Ethically Deal With Social Media

For lawyers, the issue of social media – whether it is their use of it or, God forbid, their clients’ use of it – is one that seems to pervade every area of their practices. As a result, many attorneys prefer the “head in the sand” approach, hoping that if they ignore it, it will go away.

To assist lawyers in dealing with social media, and help them address their concerns head-on, I authored an article, “12 Rules for Ethically Dealing With Social Media,” which appeared in the February 2017 issue of Business Law Today, published by the American Bar Association Business Law Section.

The article is based on my experience with clients; representing and counseling other attorneys and law firms; and as the primary author of multiple ethical guidance opinions published by the Pennsylvania Bar Association Committee on Legal Ethics and Professional Responsibility (of which I am a Vice Chair) and the Philadelphia Bar Association Professional Guidance Committee.

In the article, I outline twelve important rules for attorneys dealing with social media, regardless of the nature of their practices. Click here to read the article.

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!

Superior Court Refuses to Apply Exculpatory Waivers to College Football Players Injured During Practice Drills – Attorneys Daniel Siegel and Nicole Kratzer Serve as Appellate Co-Counsel

The Superior Court has refused to enforce an exculpatory release that would have insulated a college from liability for serious injuries suffered by two student athletes during a football drill. Attorneys Daniel J. Siegel and Nicole Kratzer of the Law Offices of Daniel J. Siegel, LLC served as appellate counsel with Attorney Andrew Motel, who filed the case and represents the plaintiffs before the trial court.

In Feleccia v. Lackawanna College, et al., the plaintiffs asserted that Lackawanna College’s failure to have qualified athletic trainers at the practice, and the use of a dangerous tackling drill, constituted gross negligence or recklessness. In support of their claims, plaintiffs retained multiple experts, including Richard C. Slocum, former Texas A&M University head football coach. The defendants asserted, however, that the students had signed a pre-injury release barring their claims that the college staff had made an improper return-to-play decision during a drill in which no licensed athletic trainer was present.

Judge Jacqueline Shogan authored the precedential decision, which was issued on February 24, 2017. Relying on Tayar v. Camelback Ski Corp., the Court concluded that otherwise valid liability waivers are unenforceable in claims of gross negligence or reckless conduct. The Superior Court also held that a special relationship exists between a college and its athletes, and that Lackawanna College had a duty to be reasonably prepared to handle foreseeable medical emergencies that occur during participation in a contact sport.

The Court also expressed its concern that the use of waivers such as this by colleges and universities would encourage the schools to ignore the health and safety of student athletes: “Aside from the concern about this practice drill being considered an inherent risk of football, we are concerned with a release being used to excuse a college from having qualified medical personnel readily available to its student athletes. Colleges are expected to put a priority on the health and safety of their students, especially student athletes engaged in dangerous sports. Many colleges profit significantly from student athletes’ participation in these sports. Enforcing a release and granting summary judgment in a situation where the availability of qualified medical personnel is called into question would jeopardize the health and safety of such student athletes by removing at least one incentive for colleges ‘to adhere to minimal standards of care and safety.’”

Click here to read the Opinion in Feleccia v. Lackawanna College, et al.

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