Justia Pennsylvania Supreme Court Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Communications Law

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The issue before the Pennsylvania Supreme Court in this case concerned whether counties could advance common law claims seeking legal redress against telecommunications companies for alleged deficiencies in their administration of fees associated with 911 emergency communication services. The Supreme Court concluded the Legislature balanced counties’ interests against those of other co-participants enlisted under the 911 Act and provided sufficient indicia evincing its intention to centralize enforcement authority in the relevant state agency. "Although we realize that the County may have been disadvantaged by PEMA’s apparent failure to act, this unfortunate circumstance does not control the judicial construction of a legislative enactment." Thus, the Court reversed the Commonwealth Court, and reinstated the order of the court of common pleas. View "Co. of Butler v. Centurylink, et al.." on Justia Law

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This matter arose from a series of articles written by James Conmy and Edward Lewis which appeared from June 1 to October 10, 2001, in the Citizens’ Voice, a newspaper in the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton area owned by The Scranton Times L.P. The articles reported about the existence of a federal criminal investigation into the alleged ties of William D’Elia, the reputed head of the Bufalino crime family of northeastern Pennsylvania, and Thomas A. Joseph, Sr. to organized crime activities. The articles included information related to, inter alia, the May 31, 2001, execution of search warrants by a large contingent of federal agents and state troopers at the residence of Joseph, Sr., the office of Joseph, Sr.’s business, Acumark, Inc., the residence of Samuel Marranca, the residence of Jeanne Stanton, and the residence of D’Elia. Defendants The Scranton Times L.P., The Times Partner, Conmy, and Lewis appealed a superior court order which affirmed in part and reversed in part the decision of the Court of Common Pleas of Luzerne County and granted appellees Thomas A. Joseph, Thomas J. Joseph, Acumark, Inc., and Airport Limousine and Taxi Service, Inc. a new trial. After careful consideration of the parties' arguments on appeal, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court concluded that the superior court erred in granting Appellees a new trial, and therefore, reversed. View "Joseph v. Scranton Times" on Justia Law

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Following the death of a college student in Shippensburg, Hearst Television, Inc., d/b/a WGAL-TV and its reporter, Daniel O'Donnell (Requester), filed a Right to Know Law (RTKL) request with Michael Norris, the Coroner of Cumberland County (Coroner), seeking the student's manner of death. The Coroner rejected the request, and the Pennsylvania Office of Open Records (OOR) upheld the Coroner's decision. On appeal, the trial court and the Commonwealth Court affirmed. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that under Section 1236.1(c) of the Coroner's Act and the under the RTKL, the record indicating the manner of death was immediately available to Requester. View "Hearst Television Inc. v. Norris" on Justia Law