Legal Perspectives

Attorneys at the law firm Wolf, Baldwin & Associates, P.C. provide a variety of posts on legal issues affecting the business community.

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April Showers Bring May Fees

Unfunded government mandates come in many forms. One of the newest challenges to municipal governments is based upon mother nature and rainfall, which eventually becomes stormwater, and is now the subject of considerable new and complicated governmental regulations.

The Terrible “D” Word

Just the word “divorce” is scary enough for most people, without even the consideration of what the process entails. Add in the myriad issues and problems that could crop up and most people find the entire process to be draining and frustrating. Having an understanding of the process and a lawyer whose practice style aligns with your goals can help alleviate some of the headache involved.

Should Employers Cooperate With Workers’ Compensation Subrogation?

People generally know that they cannot sue their employers when they get hurt at work.  It is the foundation of our system of workers’ compensation in Pennsylvania (and in all other states too) that the tradeoff for receiving workers’ compensation benefits is that employers are shielded from liability even if they are negligent in causing injuries to their employees.  But most people are not as familiar with the concept of workers’ compensation subrogation, which arises when injured workers sue so-called third parties and not their employers.

Urban Legends in Estate Law — Fact vs. Fiction

As an Estate practitioner, I have found that lately I am spending more time listening to my clients tell me about what they think the law is when it comes to Estate planning and Estate Administration, as compared to actuality.  People hear all kinds of things from friends, family and of course, what people try to use as a replacement for a licensed attorney: the Internet. 

Therefore, I think it would be helpful to shed light on what’s true and what is not on some of the most common myths I am hearing.  Here they are:

 

Using Trademarks to Protect Your Brand

In business, branding is the name of the game today. Your brand is your identity, and your identity is usually tied to your success. How you define your business and your product or service to clients and consumers is crucial to your ability to attract and maintain loyal clients and customers. This is just as true for the Fortune 500 Corporation as it is for the local real estate agent or accountant. Your brand communicates who you are and the quality of your product or service.

All Is Well – Remain Calm!

As we move further away from this contentious election season, I kept thinking about a scene from the movie “Animal House” where Kevin Bacon in his first movie role (which led to many and the parlor game “Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon”), stood in the middle of the town during the Tri Delts’ assault on the parade and screamed “All is well, remain calm” while mayhem erupted around him.  This clip, in the interest of proper footnoting, can be found at www.youtube.com/watch?v=zDAmPIq29ro .  Please watch the video now and I’ll wait

Can Employers Test for Drugs After Work Injuries?

The answer to this question used to be very clear.  For decades, many employers have had internal policies that require that a drug test is mandatory after any injury suffered at work.  The mandatory test was usually not required because of any circumstances surrounding the injury, but rather, it was mandatory because an injury took place.  Further, refusal to take such a drug test was usually grounds for termination.

“Cat’s Paw” Discrimination Liability?

Every employer knows how difficult it is to stay in compliance with employee-protection laws.  Thanks to a ruling out of New York’s United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit on August 29, 2016, compliance with anti-discrimination laws may now be a little harder.  The ruling comes in the case of Vasquez v. Empress Ambulance Services, where the Second Circuit has just adopted a “Cat’s Paw” theory of liability for holding an employer liable for retaliatory action taken by one employee against a co-worker.

RULES, RULES, RULES

One of the functions of government is to establish laws and other rules to govern and regulate how people treat themselves, others, and their property.  All levels of government enact laws on many different topics.  Obviously, the Federal government enacts laws that potentially impact the entire country, typically on a more broad scale.  In addition to these laws, there is also a comprehensive series of administration regulations that accompany the laws essentially to fill in the blanks and provide specific detail where the law, itself, is vague or general. 

“It’s Not Fair” – Navigating PA Domestic Relations Support Proceedings

Most people who leave a proceeding for child support, spousal support or alimony pendente lite end up muttering the same words – no matter which side they are on: “It’s not fair.” This is usually followed by, “I can’t afford to live on this.” Oftentimes the feeling comes from the lack of control over the situation and being unfamiliar with the process. The best way to combat this feeling is to come to an agreement with the opposing party, which is more often easier said than done.

Primer: Required Workplace Postings

Various federal and state laws require employers to post certain notices for employees regarding their rights. These requirements are mandatory but often inadvertently overlooked.  Failure to post certain notices could result in criminal and civil fines.

When You are Injured at Work, Do You Have to Go to a “Workers’ Comp” Doctor?

One of the questions that I am asked as a Workers’ Compensation attorney the most after meeting with a new client is, “do I have to see a workers’ comp doctor?” In other words, if an employee is injured at work, does he or she have to go to a particular doctor? The answer to that question is often “yes.”  However, the rules governing where the injured employee gets treatment are a little more complicated.

A THANKLESS JOB

The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania is one of the country’s leaders when it comes to the number of local government units. This includes counties, cities, boroughs, townships, incorporated towns and school districts. Many of these governmental units rely on what are essentially volunteers to serve as elected officials who oversee the operation of the government. 

The Home Improvement Consumer Protection Act – A Primer

With spring come the myriad signs popping up in our neighbors’ yards advertising the services of the contractor who put on their new roof, new deck, new driveway, new kitchen or whatever other home renovation project they’ve recently undertaken. It’s always refreshing to have an update and most of us are happy to trust the professionals we hire to get the job done right. But we also all know some horror story of a never-ending project, contract disputes, cost overruns, faulty work and so on.

Why A Lawyer Can't Just Answer A Simple Question

I have been practicing law for over twenty-two years, and have fielded countless legal questions from clients and prospective clients. Our law office is well-established, with a good reputation, and people feel comfortable calling us with their legal concerns. Many believe that their questions can be answered quickly, for free, and over the phone. This belief is usually incorrect, for a number of reasons.

Tales from the Trenches of Estate Practitioners: Truly Obnoxious Will Provisions of the Rich and Famous

As an Estate Practitioner, I’ve had my fair share of clients with unusual requests in their Wills. Without going into detail, and therefore potentially violating attorney-client privilege, I can say that some of them have been absolutely hilarious, others have been down right hurtful, and some have been, well just plain weird. In any event, it usually comes down to the Testator (the person who makes the Will) wanting some sort of control from the grave.

Employees May Sue Employers for Loss of Personal Data to Hackers

Pennsylvania’s Supreme Court recently issued a landmark ruling in the case of Dittman v. UPMC which makes employers vulnerable to lawsuits from employees for improper handling of personal data. 

UPMC operates the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center and UPMC McKeesport in the Pittsburgh area.  Dittman was an employee of UPMC and the lead plaintiff in a class-action lawsuit filed on behalf of all employees of UPMC.

REALTORS AND LENDERS ALERT – YOU’RE BEING WATCHED!

Anyone who knows me knows that I attempt to educate consumers about the subtle commonplace real estate practices that seem innocent on the surface, but actually are detrimental to the best interests of the consumer. In an effort to inform those attempting to mislead consumers or unfairly profit from these practices know that the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (“CFPB”) is watching you, I offer the following recent actions taken by the CFPB:

Steering Consumers to a Title Insurer.

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