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

What is the PACA?


The PACA is a federal statute, the Perishable Agricultural Commodities Act. As explained by the United States Department of Agriculture “PACA protects businesses dealing in fresh and frozen fruits and vegetables by establishing and enforcing a code of fair business practices and by helping companies resolve business disputes”.

The law contains trust provisions which put sellers of fresh and frozen fruits and vegetables in a priority status in the event their buyers become insolvent or file for bankruptcy protection. Moreover, pursuant to the PACA the USDA makes available administrative procedures to assist produce suppliers in collecting debts from their buyers. The PACA also provides for jurisdiction in the federal courts for lawsuits for the collection of such debts. Moreover, because of the trust provisions of the PACA, federal courts are authorized to fashion equitable remedies to prevent dissipation of the trust assets. Such remedies may include injunctions to prevent debtors from spending funds or selling other assets and/or the institution of specific claims procedures which allow creditors to present their claims to the court in an orderly and relatively simple manner, rather than every creditor filing a separate lawsuit against the debtor.

I have experience in representing both PACA creditors and PACA debtors in both administrative proceedings before the U.S. Department of Agriculture and in court proceedings in United States District Courts. In fact, I argued an appeal in a PACA case before the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. Several of the PACA cases in which I have represented parties are described in the following published case reports:

Botman International vs. International Produce Imports
Bear Mountain Orchards vs. Mich Kim

If you have any questions about the PACA, please telephone me at 814-283-5788