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Houston Harbaugh Blog

March 2015 Archives

Major Construction Decision Holds that CASPA Does not Apply to Government Entities

Owen-J-Mcgrann-profile.jpgThe Commonwealth Court came out with a hallmark case in Pennsylvania construction law on March 6, 2015, definitively holding that the Prompt Payment Act applies to government entity owners and CASPA does not.  East Coast Paving & Sealcoating, Inc. v. North Allegheny School District, No. 751 C.D. 2014, ___ A.3d ___ (Pa. Cmwlth. 2015).  (This opinion is attached below for easy reference and review.)  The Court reached this conclusion through analyzing not only the plain language of the text (the Prompt Payment Act explicitly calls out payments made by a "government agency," whereas CASPA calls out payments made by an "owner" or "party"), but also by comparing the threshold requirements to receive attorneys fees and penalties under both Acts. The requirements to impose penalties and attorneys fees under CASPA are relatively lower, requiring a showing that payments were "wrongfully withheld" and that the contractor has "substantially prevailed in litigation." The Prompt Payment Act requires an outright showing that the government agency acted in bad faith.

The State of Products Liability in Pennsylvania after Tincher - Part One

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court has, after decades of only tangentially addressing clear issues with the state products liability law in the Commonwealth, at last spoken. Since the Pennsylvania Supreme Court issued Azzarello v. Black Brothers Co., 391 A.2d 1020 (Pa. 1979) thirty-five years ago, Pennsylvania has been one of the most plaintiff-friendly jurisdictions for product liability claims. Azzarello adopted a unique version of the Restatement (Second) of Torts ยง 402A, which effectively took as hard-line of a strict liability stance as is conceivable under the Second Restatement.

Judge Wettick Explores the Scope of Regulatory Estoppel

In Sunbeam Corp. v. Liberty Mut. Ins. Co., 781 A.2d 1189 (Pa. 2001), the Pennsylvania Supreme Court adopted a strong application of regulatory estoppel. The question in Sunbeam was whether insurers doing business in Pennsylvania must be bound by representations made to the Pennsylvania Insurance Department by the "insurance industry." Specifically, the Supreme Court held that insurers could not argue that a specific pollution exclusion provision of a standard CGL policy meant something different from what the industry represented it meant to the Pennsylvania Insurance Department.

Pennsylvania Superior Court Upholds Finding That Fraudulent Acts Exclusion of Policy Bars Coverage in Underlying Federal Class Action for ERISA Violations