A personal injury verdict which awards lost wages but nothing for pain and suffering may be against the weight of the evidence but is not necessarily inconsistent.

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In Avery v. Cercone, 2019 Pa. Super. 366 (Dec. 23, 2019), the Superior Court of Pennsylvania held that a jury verdict in a motor vehicle accident personal injury case that awarded lost wages of $8,500 but nothing for pain and suffering was not necessarily inconsistent but might be against the weight of the evidence. Accordingly, the trial court should not have sent the jury back to continue deliberations but should have considered a motion for a new trial on the basis that the verdict was against the weight of the evidence and shocked the conscience.

Don’t drive so fast you can’t stop from hitting the car in front of you.

Photo by Joline Torres on Unsplash
Photo by Joline Torres on Unsplash

The Pennsylvania Superior Court recently reaffirmed, in the case Smith v. Wells, 2019 Pa. Super 181, the principle that driving at a speed greater than will permit the driver to bring his vehicle to a stop within the assured clear distance ahead constitutes negligence per se, i.e. the defendant’s conduct must legally be found to be negligent (the judge or jury has no discretion to find the defendant’s conduct was not negligent). Of course, this assumes the defendant’s conduct was voluntary and that there was no contributory negligence by the driver of the vehicle ahead, e.g. the result might be different if there was ice on the road.

Personal Jurisdiction

A litigation defendant, when sued in a court located in a state in which it does not reside, may be able to challenge the jurisdiction of that court. For example, in a recent case decided in the Superior Court of Pennsylvania, Seeley v. Caesar’s Entertainment Corporation, the Court held that the plaintiffs could not sue a New Jersey casino in the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas for a slip and fall which occurred in New Jersey.

Photo by Claire Anderson on Unsplash


Photo by Claire Anderson on Unsplash

A Few Words About Real Estate Transfer Taxes in Pennsylvania

 

Transfers of real estate in Pennsylvania are subject to a state tax of 1% of the value of the real estate, 72 P.S. § 8102-C. Traditionally the payment of the tax is equally split between the transferor and the transferee. However, the parties to the transfer may agree between themselves to split payment differently. Nevertheless, no matter how the parties agree to split payment of the tax, the Commonwealth may proceed against either or both of them to enforce payment of the tax.

Certain transactions are exempt from the tax, 72 P.S. § 8102-C.3including certain transfers between family members. One point of note in this regard is that the Pennsylvania Department of Revenue regulations concerning the tax define children only as children by natural birth or adoption and specifically exclude stepchildren and children of parents whose parental rights have been terminated.

Also, in addition to the state tax, local governmental authorities in Pennsylvania may impose additional real estate transfer taxes, 72 P.S. § 8101-D.  Both the local municipal authority, e.g. borough or township, and the local school district may impose a tax. These taxes are subject to the same exclusions as the state tax.  The rates of these taxes vary from locality to locality in Pennsylvania.  Presently, in Bedford County Pennsylvania, a .5% tax is imposed by the municipality and a .5% tax by the school district, resulting in a total local tax of 1%, which when added to the state tax of 1%, results in Bedford County real estate transfers being subject to a total of 2% realty transfer taxes.

What Do You Need to Know About Magisterial District Courts?

 

While certain criminal matters and traffic offenses are handled in Magisterial District Courts in Pennsylvania, this post will address how such courts handle civil matters. First,  you need to know that MD Courts are small claims courts, i.e. the maximum amount of damages you can seek, exclusive of interest and costs, is $12,000. Second, you need to know that MD Courts cover geographic areas smaller than counties. Third, you need to know that that any party in DJ Court has a right to appeal a judgment to the Court of Common Pleas where the case will be tried anew. While a matter in DJ Court will likely proceed to trial much more quickly than a matter in the Court of Common Pleas, as long as the opposing party is willing to bear the expense of appealing to the Court of Common Pleas, it is easy to frustrate a final resolution of the dispute in MD Court. If you have any questions about Magisterial District Courts, please give me a call at 814-283-5788