Opinions

Archived Opinion Summaries from 2012 to April 2016 CLICK HERE
Recent Opinion Summaries published in the Butler County Legal Journal:
 
BCLJ: 5/27/16 Vol. 24 No. 43
 
ROSENSTEEL v. INTEGRACARE CORPORATION, et al.
(AD No. 2015-11027; April 4, 2016)
Deliberate alteration of medical records to reflect that care was provided, when it had not been provided, is sufficient outrageous conduct to support the imposition of punitive damages and a finding that defendant acted with reckless disregard of the rights of the deceased.
 
Nursing homes and related entities can be subject to potential direct liability for corporate negligence in regard to the treatment of a resident if requisite resident-entity relationship existed.
 
ALLEN, et al. v. WOJICHOWSKI, et al.
(AD No. 2010-11463; April 8, 2016)
Courts will liberally grant leave to parties to amend their pleadings in order to secure a decision on the merits, unless the amendments violate the law or unfairly prejudice the rights of the other party.
 
PITTSBURGH LOGISTICS SYSTEMS, INC. v. BURKS
(AD No. 15-10412, CP No. 15-21790; May 2, 2016)
Improper or defective service constitutes sufficient cause to open a judgment.
 
RUPERT v. RUPERT
(FC No. 11-90813-D; May 3, 2016)
When Antenuptial Agreement is silent as to the definition of “income” and is: (1) governed by the laws of Pennsylvania; and (2) uses statutorily defined terms such as alimony and support, the definition of income is controlled by the Pennsylvania Domestic Relations Code, 23 Pa. C.S.A. § 4302.
 
In ruling on a claim for alimony pendente lite the Court will consider the following factors: the ability of the other party to pay; the separate estate and income of the petitioning party; and the character, situation, and surroundings of the parties.
 
BCLJ: 4/29/16 Vol. 24 No. 39
 
GALANTE v. COUNTY OF BUTLER, et al.
(AD No. 15-10398; March 4, 2016)
A promise to vote a certain way during legislative proceedings would violate positive law and is not enforceable. As such, promissory estoppel does not provide plaintiff with the means to enforce such a contract.
 
NICHOLAS, et al. v. PEOPLES TWP
(AD No. 15-10561; March 15, 2016)
A grant of injunctive relief is appropriate in situations where a governmental entity’s actions constitute a continuing trespass on a plaintiff’s property. Where defendant has not secured permission from plaintiff property owners for the continuing intrusions by their employees and equipment upon the surface of the plaintiff’s property, a continuing trespass exists.
 
BCLJ: 4/22/16 Vol. 24 No. 38
 
CRANBERRY DFK, LLC v. CRANBERRY TOWNSHIP
(AD No. 12-11398; February 29, 2016)
Defendant cannot have actual notice of pitting and corrosion in pipe that was in a different location than a prior break. Notice of a latent defect that cannot be discerned upon reasonable inspection cannot be imputed to a government entity even if the defect created the dangerous situation. When plaintiff produces no evidence that defendant failed to produce or preserve inspection and maintenance records, no spoliation inference can be drawn.
 
FERRONE v. HUNTINGTON BANCSHARES, et al.
(AD No. 14-10463; March 2016)
Where contract language is not ambiguous and plaintiff has not alleged facts to support a question of latent ambiguity, the court must determine the parties’ intent solely from the language of the contract. Plaintiff cannot support a promissory estoppel claim by merely alleging that they reasonably relied upon the terms of a written contract which contain two explicit conditions precedent to the effectiveness of the agreement, where said conditions are not alleged to occur. A breach of the duty of good faith and fair dealing is subsumed in a breach of contract action and is not a separate cause of action. Ordinary breach of contract claims may not be recast as tort claims under the “gist of the action” doctrine.
 
BCLJ: 3/04/16 Vol. 24 No. 31
NICHOLAS v. PEOPLE’S TWP, LLC (January 2016)
The defense of prescriptive easement fails when Defendant cannot prove that entry and continued occupation of the property has been adverse. When Defendant had initially entered the property pursuant to consent of the prior predecessor in title, and there is no hostility due to continued use past the initial lease term and no notice of encumbrance to title is given. Court also dismisses the defense of presumptive grant since the property was initially entered on by a recorded right of way that was not in dispute.
 
DEMATTEIS v. ANDREASSI, ET AL.
(January 2016)
A Motion to Open/Strike a Confessed Judgment pursuant to Statute of Limitations will be denied when a payment was made in 2014 on a Note dated 1990, since Defendants had revived the Note by making payment. Motion to Open/Strike pursuant to laches will be denied when Defendants acknowledge the debt and paid on it over time. Motion to Open/Strike due to lack of knowledge and voluntariness of their consent to a Confession of Judgment will be denied when Defendants admit that they were given opportunity to consult with counsel, and Note was executed with a plainly visible Confession of Judgment clause.