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.
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.
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.
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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.3, including 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.
A Florida appeals court ruled that a Florida judge need not recuse herself from a case where she was “friends” with the defense attorney on Facebook: