Review of a final order of the Superior Court or the Commonwealth Court is not a matter of right, but of sound judicial discretion, and an appeal is allowed only when there are special and important reasons. The Supreme Court grants allocatur as to particular issues, not cases.
Pennsylvania Appellate Advocate will note allocatur grants as they are made and will provide background on the issues as to which discretionary review has been granted. Allocatur grants issued beginning August 1, 2017 are noted below, and this page will be updated on a continuing basis.
Allocatur granted Apr. 17, 2018. Death during Pendency of Divorce Proceedings where Post-nuptial Agreement Already Executed; Impact on Insurance Proceeds under 20 Pa.C.S. § 6111.2 & Pension Benefits under ERISA
The Supreme Court of Pennsylvania granted allocatur to determine the effect on the right to a decedent’s pension and insurance proceeds where the decedent dies intestate during the pendency of a divorce proceeding from his spouse after the execution of a post-nuptial agreement but before the entry of a final decree in divorce.
Allocatur granted Apr. 5, 2018. DUI; Refusal of Blood Test as Evidence of Guilt
The Supreme Court of Pennsylvania granted allocatur to determine whether §1547(e) of the Vehicle Code is violative of the Pennsylvania Constitution and the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution to the extent that it permits evidence of an arrestee’s refusal to submit a sample of blood for testing without a search warrant as proof of consciousness of guilt at the arrestee’s DUI trial.
Allocatur granted Apr. 3, 2018. Statutory Construction; Prenatal Child Abuse; Addiction
The Supreme Court of Pennsylvania granted allocatur to determine whether 23 Pa.C.S. § 6303 et seq. allows a mother to be found a perpetrator of “child abuse” if addicted to drugs when the child is still in the womb.
Allocatur granted March 28, 2018. Statutes of Repose: Article I § 11 “Open Courts” Guarantee; MCARE
The Supreme Court of Pennsylvania granted allocatur to determine whether the MCARE Statute of Repose violates the Open Courts guarantees of the Pennsylvania Constitution by depriving some patients of any access to courts, but permitting actions by similarly situated patients.
Allocatur granted March 27, 2018. Land Use; Private Road Act
The Supreme Court of Pennsylvania granted allocatur to determine land use issues related to the Private Road Act as decided by the Commonwealth Court.
Allocatur granted March 21, 2018. Municipal Business-privilege Tax; Gross Receipts Exemption
The Supreme Court granted allocatur to determine whether a freight broker is permitted to exclude freight delivery charges from its taxable gross receipts under the City of York’s Business Privilege and Mercantile Tax Ordinance.
Allocatur granted March 13, 2018. Act 47; Direct Appeal of Act 111 Award
The Supreme Court of Pennsylvania granted allocatur to determine issues related to the Commonwealth Court’s determination that the FOP was not entitled to direct appeal pursuant to Act 47 of an Act 111 award.
Allocatur granted Feb. 27, 2018. Compulsory Joinder Rule; Jurisdiction
The Supreme Court of Pennsylvania granted allocatur to determine whether the Superior Court erred in determining that the Philadelphia Traffic Court has sole jurisdiction over summary traffic offenses even when those charges are part of a single incident which also includes a misdemeanor and/or felony charges.
Allocatur granted Feb. 22, 2018. Foreclosure: notice under Acts 6 and 91; Effect of Dismissal of Earlier Action; Caution to Counsel; Non-conforming Brief; Numerous Issues
Whether a lender/mortgagee whose first complaint in mortgage foreclosure against a borrower/mortgagor was dismissed is required to send a new Notice of Intention to Foreclose pursuant to 41 P.S. § 403(a) (Act 6 Notice) prior to filing a second complaint in mortgage foreclosure.
Allocatur granted Feb. 21, 2018. Zoning; Statutory Construction
The Pennsylvania Supreme Court to determine whether the Commonwealth Court disregarded Albert v. Zoning Hearing Board of North Abington Township by finding that the purely transient use of a property as part of a commercial short-term vacation rental business was a permitted use in a residential zoning district.
Allocatur granted Feb. 12, 2018. Investigatory Detention; Probable Cause
The Supreme Court granted allocatur to consider whether the trial court erred in denying a motion to suppress when the suspect was detained for pulling into his own business, when such was closed, and thus the stop and subsequent detention was not supported by probable cause or reasonable suspicion of criminal activity.
Allocatur granted Feb. 8, 2018. Election Law; Fatal Defects; Statement of Financial Interests, Petition to Strike; Timeliness
The Supreme Court granted allocatur to review Commonwealth Court’s holding that a write-in candidate’s failure to file a Statement of Financial Interests is not “fatal” in terms of the candidate’s position on the municipal or general election ballot because noncompliance with the regulation is a matter for enforcement by the State Ethics Commission rather than the courts.
Allocatur granted Jan. 30, 2018. Taxation; Preemption; Sterling Act
The Supreme Court granted allocatur to review Commonwealth Court’s conclusion that Philadelphia was empowered to enact the Philadelphia Beverage Tax (PBT) under the Sterling Act and that the City’s authority to do so was neither explicitly nor impliedly preempted by Commonwealth statutes such as the Tax Code and the Local Tax Reform Act.
Allocatur granted Jan. 30, 2018. Criminal Procedure: Abuse of discretion; Speedy trial; Pa. R. Crim. P 600
The Supreme Court granted allocatur to consider whether the Superior Court abused its discretion regarding excluable calculations under Pa. R. Crim. P. 600.
Allocatur granted Jan. 30, 2018. Discovery; Attorney-Client Privilege; Work-Product Doctrine
The Supreme Court granted allocatur to consider whether the Superior Court commit an error of law when holding that a client waives the work-product protection of its counsel’s pre-litigation e-mail by forwarding the e-mail to its public relations consultant, and/or by holding that, to qualify as a privileged person within the attorney-client privilege, a third party must provide legal advice and have the lawyer or client control its work?
Allocatur granted Jan. 29, 2018. Zoning; Special Exception; Applicable Law
This allocatur grant arises from a case of first impression in Bd. of Commissioners of Cheltenham Twp. v. Hansen-Lloyd, L.P., where the Commonwealth Court considered whether, under the Municipalities Planning Code (MPC), the zoning ordinance in effect when a mandatory sketch plan for development was filed applies to a subsequently filed application for special exception, or whether the application for special exception is governed by the zoning ordinance in effect at the time it is filed.
Allocatur granted Jan. 22, 2018. Land Use and Zoning: Conditional Use; Burden of Proof: Sufficiency of Evidence
The Pennsylvania Supreme Court granted allocatur to determine whether the Commonwealth Court erred as a matter of law by imposing a standard upon the admissibility of objectors’ evidence that effectively eliminates the ability to raise any objection to a land use application based on firsthand experience with a similar use when the proposed use does not already appear within municipal borders?
Allocatur granted Jan. 22, 2018. Application of Fruit of the Poisonous Tree Doctrine to In-Court Identification Testimony
The Supreme Court granted allocatur to determine the applicability of the fruit of the poisonous tree doctrine to in-court identification testimony.
Allocatur granted Jan. 17, 2018. Standing of Same-Sex Partner in Custody Action
The Supreme Court granted allocatur to determine whether the Superior Court erred in affirming the decision of the trial court that a former same-sex partner lacked standing both 1) as a parent and 2) as a party who stood in loco parentis to seek custody of the child born during her relationship with the birth mother where the child was conceived via assisted reproduction with an anonymous sperm donor and the parties lived together as a family unit for the first five years of the child’s life.
Allocatur granted Jan. 17, 2018. Hearsay – Business Records Exception; Admissibility of Witness Testimony at Debt Collection Trial
The Supreme Court granted allocatur to determine issues related to the conflict between U.S. Bank v. Pautenis; Boyle v. Steiman and Commonwealth Financial Systems v. Smith as to the admissibility of witness testimony at a debt collection trial
Allocatur granted Jan. 17, 2018. Distinguishing Between Preliminary and Permanent Injunction for Purposes of Appeal; Applicability of Pa. R.A.P 311(a)(4); Requirement to File Post- Trial Motions; Waiver
The Supreme Court granted allocatur to determine issues arising from a lawsuit against School District of Lower Merion attacking a tax increase allegedly in excess of the statutory maximum increase
Allocatur granted Jan. 11, 2018. Hearsay; Preliminary Hearing; Due Process
The Supreme Court granted allocatur to determine whether reliance on hearsay alone to establish a prima facie case at a criminal preliminary hearing violates due process.
Allocatur granted Jan. 11, 2018. Impermissible Enhanced Penalties for Refusal to Consent to Chemical Testing
The Supreme Court granted allocatur to determine whether petitioner in this case was given impermissible enhanced penalties, as expressed in Birchfield v. North Dakota, __ U.S. __, 136 S.Ct. 2160, 195 L.Ed.2d 560 (June 23, 2016), for his refusal to consent to chemical testing?
Allocatur granted Dec. 27, 2017. 911 Act; Statutory Construction Act Section 1504 and Common Law
The Supreme Court granted allocatur to determine when the General Assembly plainly and unambiguously grants the right to enforce a statute to a particular Commonwealth agency, may a different plaintiff circumvent this legislative directive by attempting to enforce the statute through common-law damages claims?
Allocatur granted Dec. 27, 2017. Statutory Construction; In Pari Materia; Expressio Unius Est Exclusio Alterius
The Supreme Court of Pennsylvania granted allocatur related to statutory interpretation of the Neighborhood Improvement District Act as decided by the Commonwealth Court.
Allocatur granted Dec. 26, 2017. Choice of Law; Quantum Meruit
The Supreme Court of Pennsylvania granted allocatur to determine issues stemming from a rare choice of law decision from the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.
Allocatur granted Dec. 20, 2017. Admission of Evidence of Similar Crimes; Relevance
The Supreme Court of Pennsylvania granted allocatur related to the admission of evidence of a subsequent, similar burglary at the same residence as evidence of similar crimes, behaviors, and/or acts.
Allocatur granted Dec. 13, 2017. Civil Penalties; Excessive Fines Clause
The Supreme Court of Pennsylvania granted allocatur on issues related to a $1,836,125.00 civil penalty imposed against Hiko Energy by the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission and affirmed by a divided Commonwealth Court.
Allocatur granted Dec. 6, 2017. PCRA; Ineffective Assistance of Counsel
The Supreme Court of Pennsylvania granted allocatur to determine whether the PCRA court erred in dismissing Childs’ Petition for Post Conviction Relief averring that trial counsel was ineffective for failing to object to remarks of the assistant district attorney during her closing argument wherein she repeatedly called Childs a liar?
Building Owners & Managers Assoc. v. City of Pittsburgh, 2017 WL 2153216 (Pa. Cmwlth); Pa. Restaurant & Lodging Assoc. v. City of Pittsburgh, 2017 WL 2153813 (Pa. Cmwlth.), appeal dockets 57-64 WAP 2017 (consolidated for briefing and oral argument)
Allocatur granted Nov. 29, 2017. Municipality’s Authority under Home Rule Charter Law; Exception by Statute
The Supreme Court granted allocatur to determine whether the Commonwealth Court erred in holding that the State Emergency Management Services Code, the State Disease Prevention and Control Act Law, the Second Class City Code, and the Home Rule Charter and Options Law fail to satisfy the “expressly provided by statute” exception, and that the City of Pittsburgh therefore lacked the authority to pass the Paid Sick Days Act and the Safe and Secure Buildings Act?
Allocatur granted Nov. 29, 2017. College’s Duty of Care to Student-Athletes; Exculpatory Clause
The Supreme Court granted allocatur to determine issues involving a college’s duty of care to student athletes and whether the exculpatory clause shields the college from liability.
Allocatur granted Nov. 28, 2017. Unemployment Compensation; Ineligibility for Benefits due to Incarceration
The Supreme Court granted allocatur to determine issues involving a claimant’s eligibility for unemployment benefits under Section 402.6 for weeks when Claimant was subject to part-time incarceration, and administrative deference afforded to the UCBR.
Allocatur granted Nov. 28, 2017. Automatic Termination of Emergency Guardianship; Incapacity & Financial Transactions
The Supreme Court granted allocatur to determine whether the Superior Court erred by holding emergency guardianship orders automatically expire and/or by holding that the rebuttable presumption that an incapacitated person is unable to engage in financial transactions is inapplicable to a person under the protection of an emergency guardian who has been appointed for the person and his estate?
Allocatur granted Nov. 21, 2017. Municipal Police Powers; DUI Checkpoints
The Supreme Court granted allocatur to consider whether the Superior Court erroneously broaden municipal police powers by holding that when municipal police officers leave their primary jurisdiction for the purpose of conducting sobriety checkpoints.
Allocatur granted Nov. 20, 2017. DUI; Enhanced Penalties for Blood Test Refusal
Whether the Superior Court, relying on Commonwealth v. Giron, 155 A.3d 635 (Pa. Super. 2017), improperly expanded the illegal sentencing doctrine when it vacated Braddock’s sentence on a non-preserved constitutional issue, holding that Birchfield v. North Dakota, 136 S.Ct. 2160 (2016), rendered enhanced penalties under 75 Pa.C.S. §§ 3803-3804 illegal, even though Birchfield recognized exigent circumstances or a search warrant can still justify increased penalties for a blood test refusal?
Allocatur granted Nov. 20, 2017. Evidence of General Risks and Complications in a Medical Negligence Claim
Whether the Superior Court’s holding directly conflicts with this Honorable Court’s holdings in Brady v. Urbas, 111 A.3d 1155 (Pa. 2015), which permits evidence of general risks and complications in a medical negligence claim?
Allocatur granted Nov. 20, 2017. Exceptions to a Forfeiture Determination
Was it not error for the Superior Court automatically to dismiss petitioner’s appeal without a merits review when this Court’ consistent jurisprudence allows exceptions to a forfeiture determination and petitioner’s circumstances track those exceptions?
Allocatur granted Nov. 14, 2017. Three Strikes Law; Separate Sentencing for Related Conspiracy
Whether the Superior Court erred in affirming the imposition of separate consecutive “second strike” mandatory minimum sentence[s] for each conspiracy and crime which was the object of that conspiracy?
Allocatur granted Nov. 7, 2017. Ineffective Assistance of Counsel; Post Conviction Relief Act
Did the Superior Court err in denying PCRA relief where [Petitioner’s] trial counsel failed to preserve for direct appeal the testimony of 14 witnesses who were prevented by the trial court from offering exculpatory testimony that was crucial to the defense and that would have directly contradicted the Commonwealth’s primary witnesses at trial?
Allocatur granted Nov. 1, 2017. Attorney-Client Privilege in Derivative Litigation; Fiduciary, Common Interest, & Garner Exceptions
Whether, in the context of derivative litigation, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania will adopt the qualified attorney-client privilege, the scope of which is subjectively determined, as articulated in the often criticized decision of Garner v. Wolfinbarger, 430 F.2d 1093 (5th Cir. 1970), cert. denied, 401 U.S. 974 (1971), and as articulated in the Restatement (Third) of the Law Governing Lawyers, § 85, where the ambiguous and uncertain scope of such a privilege is inconsistent with Pennsylvania Supreme Court precedent and in conflict with the Pennsylvania statute codifying the attorney-client privilege.