Tuesday, November 26, 2013

ABA Intellectual Property Roundtable - December 12th

David G. Oberdick, Esquire
Roundtable Host
Meyer, Unkovic & Scott is proud to sponsor the Pittsburgh Roundtable for the American Bar Association Intellectual Property Litigation Section.

These quarterly meetings allow IP litigation practitioners to network with other attorneys and discuss topics of interest.  All practicing attorneys interested in intellectual property matters are invited to attend - you need not be members of the ABA IP Litigation Section.

December 2013 Topic:
“Section 285 Exceptional Cases: Will the High Court Change the Standard?” and “Obviousness:  An Assessment of the Role of Objective Factors of Non-Obviousness”

Date/Time:  Thursday, December 12, 2013 @ noon

Location:  Offices of Meyer, Unkovic & Scott LLP
Henry W. Oliver Building
535 Smithfield Street, Suite 1300
Pittsburgh, PA  15222

Please click here to view the full invitation.

RSVP by December 9th to:  rsvp@muslaw.com.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Pennsylvania’s Home Improvement Consumer Protection Act

Frank Kosir, Jr.
Shafer Electric & Construction v. Mantia, 2013 PA Super  111; 67 A. 3d 8

This matter addressed the issue of whether a contractor who had failed to comply with the registration requirements of Pennsylvania’s Home Improvement Consumer Protection Act (“HICPA”) (73 P.S. § 517.1 et seq.) was precluded from recovering damages in quantum meruit.  Shafer Electric & Construction, Inc. (“Contractor”), a licensed contractor with a principal place of business in New Cumberland, West Virginia, entered into a contract with Raymond and Donna Mantia (“Owners”) for the construction of an addition to the garage of the Owners’ residence (“Property”), situated in Avella, Washington County, Pennsylvania.  Following the completion of the work, the Owners failed to pay the Contractor, who subsequently filed a mechanics’ lien claim in the amount of $37,874.26 against the Property.  In response, the Owners filed Preliminary Objections asserting that the contract was unenforceable due to the Contractor’s failure to register in Pennsylvania as required by HIPCA.  The trial court sustained the Preliminary Objections and dismissed the lien with prejudice concluding that, as Section 517.7(a) of the Act (73 P.S. § 517.7(a)) requires all enforceable home improvement contracts to include the state registration number of the contractor, and since the Contractor did not have such a registration number, the contract was void and unenforceable.
On appeal, our Superior Court reversed.  In issuing its ruling, the court referred to its recent decision in Durst v. Milroy General Contracting, 2012 PA Super 179; 52 A.3d 357, wherein it held that HIPCA does not preclude recovery in quantum meruit on oral contracts.  In this instance, there was no question that the Contractor had completed the work, nor that the parties did not have an enforceable contract under HIPCA due to the Contractor’s failure to register in Pennsylvania.  As such, since HIPCA does not preclude recovery in quantum meruit, and principles of equity require that the Contractor receive fair compensation for the benefit that its services have conferred on the Owners, the Contractor was entitled to proceed against the Owners in quantum meruit.


Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Meyer, Unkovic & Scott LLP Ranked in 2014 "Best Law Firms"

Meyer, Unkovic & Scott LLP has been ranked in the 2014 "Best Law Firms" list by U.S. News & World Report and Best Lawyers® nationally in 5 practice areas and regionally in 26 practice areas.

Firms included in the 2014 "Best Law Firms" list are recognized for professional excellence with persistently impressive ratings from clients and peers. Achieving a ranking signals a unique combination of quality law practice and breadth of legal expertise.

Meyer, Unkovic & Scott LLP was recognized with Pittsburgh Metropolitan Tier 1 Rankings in the following practice areas:
The 2014 Edition of "Best Law Firms" includes rankings in 74 national practice areas and 120 metropolitan-based practice areas.

The U.S. News - Best Lawyers "Best Law Firms" rankings, for the fourth consecutive year, are based on a rigorous evaluation process that includes the collection of client and lawyer evaluations, peer review from leading attorneys in their field, and review of additional information provided by law firms as part of the formal submission process. Clients and peers were asked to evaluate firms based on the following criteria: responsiveness, understanding of a business and its needs, cost-effectiveness, integrity and civility, as well as whether they would refer a matter to the firm and/or consider the firm a worthy competitor.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

We Welcome Kevin F. Israel

Kevin F. Israel, Esquire
The Newest Member of Our Tax & Estate Planning and Corporate & Business Law Groups

Kevin F. Israel is a member of the firm's Tax & Estate Planning Group and the Corporate & Business Law Group.  He focuses his practice in the areas of estate planning and administration, income tax planning, asset protection planning, tax controversy engagements, and offshore financial asset reporting compliance.  Mr. Israel represents individuals and closely-held businesses in business planning and transactional matters, including entity formation, succession planning, mergers, acquisitions, reorganizations, debt financing, and general business transactions.  He also advises clients on the formation, structure, and operation of captive insurance companies.

Admitted to practice before the United States Tax Court, he has practiced as a certified public accountant in the areas of income tax planning, tax return preparation, and business transactions.

In 1989, he received his J.D., with honors, from the University of San Diego School of Law, and he is a 1983 graduate of the University of Notre Dame with a B.B.A. in Accountancy, with honors.

You can reach him at 412.456.2841 or kfi@muslaw.com.  Please click here to view his complete bio.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Two Meyer, Unkovic & Scott Attorneys to be Honored by the Allegheny County Bar Association

The Allegheny County Bar Association will honor its 50 and 60-year practitioners at a reception on November 25, 2013, at the Duquesne Club.  Meyer, Unkovic & Scott is proud to have two of their attorneys honored.

Rick Francis
Frederick (Rick) J. Francis a partner of Meyer, Unkovic & Scott LLP where he has practiced law since 1966.

The focus of his practice is in business litigation, wherein he has represented a wide range of corporate and individual clients, as both plaintiffs and defendants, in commercial, insurance coverage, class action, trade secret, ERISA, and unfair competition litigation. Mr. Francis is a member of the Pennsylvania and Allegheny County Bar Associations and has been elected a member of the Academy of Trial Lawyers of Allegheny County. He maintains an AV Preeminent® rating from Martindale-Hubbell®.

He is a graduate of Dartmouth College where he earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in History and the University of Pennsylvania Law School where he received his LL.B. degree.  Following graduation from law school, Mr. Francis served in the United States Marine Corps and was honorably discharged as a Captain.

Larry Niemann
Lawrence (Larry) B. Niemann is senior counsel to Meyer, Unkovic & Scott LLP.

In his practice, Mr. Niemann has assisted many business owners in personal, corporate and tax planning, including helping families pass businesses from one generation to another and transferring businesses to outside parties, as well as retirement planning and transferring family wealth to family members through the use of trusts, corporate reorganizations and other means designed to reduce income and death taxes.  He maintains an AV Preeminent® rating from Martindale-Hubbell®.
Mr. Niemann is a member of the Pennsylvania and Allegheny County Bar Associations.  He has served as Chairman of the Allegheny County Bar Association’s Corporate and Banking Law Section.  Mr. Niemann previously served as a member of the Title 15 Task Force, charged with the duty of revising the Pennsylvania Business Corporation Law and has written several articles on the subject.  He is a member of the Estate Planning Council of Pittsburgh and is a past board member and Secretary of the Pittsburgh Chapter of the Association for Corporate Growth.

Mr. Niemann formerly served as Trustee and Vice Chairman of the Pittsburgh Ballet Theater and as a board member of Shady Side Academy and Longue Vue Club.  Mr. Niemann also is a past President of the Fox Chapel District Association. Mr. Niemann currently serves as a Board member and Vice President of the Fox Hall Condominium Association; is a class agent for Shady Side Academy and is a Board member and Secretary of the Institute for German American Relations.

Mr. Niemann graduated from Princeton University in 1959 with a Bachelor of Arts Degree.  He earned his LLB in 1962 from Harvard Law School.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Meyer, Unkovic & Scott Community Service Day

On Saturday, October 26th, attorneys, staff and friends of Meyer, Unkovic & Scott donated their time to help those in need at the Rainbow Kitchen in conjunction with the Kitchen’s annual coat distribution.  Volunteers spent the day preparing and serving soup and sandwiches to over 200 adults and children in the Homestead area.

Since 1984, Rainbow Kitchen Community Services has been a strong and reliable source of aid for those in need.  Rainbow Kitchen provides a vital safety net for hungry children, struggling families, low-income elderly, ill, and disabled individuals, the homeless, and growing numbers of people who are unemployed or among the working poor.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Two Meyer, Unkovic & Scott Attorneys Named Pittsburgh Lawyers of the Year

Best Lawyers® has selected Robert E. Dauer, Jr., as 2014 "Lawyer of the Year" for Litigation - Bankruptcy in the Pittsburgh area and David G. Oberdick was selected as 2014 "Lawyer of the Year" for Litigation - Intellectual Property in the Pittsburgh area.

Only a single lawyer in each practice area and designated metropolitan area is honored as the “Lawyer of the Year,” making this accolade particularly significant. These lawyers are selected based on particularly impressive voting averages received during the peer-review assessments.  Receiving this designation reflects the high level of respect a lawyer has earned among other leading lawyers in the same communities and the same practice areas for their abilities, their professionalism, and their integrity.

Robert E. Dauer, Jr.
Robert E. Dauer, Jr., is Best Lawyers’ “2014 Litigation – Bankruptcy Lawyer of the Year” in Pittsburgh. Dauer is a partner at Meyer, Unkovic & Scott and is a member of the firm’s Management Committee and Business Litigation Group and chairs the Creditor’s Rights & Bankruptcy Group. Dauer focuses his practice on preparing contractual documents and terms and conditions for manufacturers and suppliers selling goods under the Uniform Commercial Code. He also represents regional and national companies in foreclosure and bankruptcy proceedings. He earned his bachelor’s degree in political science and business, a master’s degree in business administration and a juris doctor all from the University of Pittsburgh.

David G. Oberdick
David G. Oberdick is Best Lawyers’ “2014 Litigation - Intellectual Property Lawyer of the Year” for Pittsburgh. Oberdick is of counsel to Meyer, Unkovic & Scott and is a member of the firm’s Intellectual Property, Corporate & Business Law and Business Litigation groups. He focuses his practice on representing and counseling individuals and companies facing intellectual property matters. Oberdick earned a bachelor’s degree and juris doctor from the University of Pittsburgh.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Proud Sponsor of Pro Bono Rocks

Meyer, Unkovic & Scott is proud to sponsor The Allegheny County Bar Foundation’s Pro Bono Rocks – Battle of the Attorney Bands on Saturday, November 9, 2013This event will take place at Dave & Buster’s at the Waterfront.  Doors open at 6:30 pm.

This remarkable group of local lawyer bands will compete for the title of best band.  Proceeds from this worthwhile event will go to the PRO BONO CENTER, a unique organization in Allegheny County that recruits, trains, and supports volunteer attorneys to provide legal services to those who cannot otherwise afford it.  Working with 34 partner organizations and programs, the Center strives to meet the legal needs of low-income individuals and families in Allegheny County.

For more information, please visit:  http://www.pittsburghprobono.org/Pro-Bono-Rocks.asp

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Prior Approval Needed Before Condemning Lands

Frank Kosir, Jr.
In Re: Condemnation By PPL Electric Utilities Corporation of Real Estate Situate in Schuylkill County, Pennsylvania, Being The Property of WMPI Land Corp.; Appeal of: WMPI Land Corp., 2013 Pa. Commw. LEXIS 134 (2013)

This matter addressed the issue of whether a public utility company was required to obtain the approval of the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission prior to condemning lands on which it operated an existing electrical transmission system.  WMPI Land Corp. (“WMPI”) is the owner of a parcel of real property (“Property”) situated in the Borough of Gilberton, Schuylkill County, Pennsylvania.  Currently erected on the Property is an electric distribution system consisting of poles and an overhead power line previously installed by PPL Electric Utilities Corporation (“PPL”) under an expired right-of-way agreement (“Agreement”) entered into with WMPI's predecessor in title.

On January 24, 2011, PPL filed a Declaration of Taking (“Declaration”) condemning a perpetual easement and right-of-way across the Property to, inter alia, construct, operate and maintain the existing electrical transmission system.  In response, WMPI filed Preliminary Objections asserting, inter alia, that PPL had failed to satisfy the requirements of Section 1511(c) of the Association's Code (15 Pa.C.S. § 1511(c)), which requires a public utility to obtain the approval of the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission prior to condemning lands for the construction or erection of any utility system.  The trial court, holding that the purpose of the taking was to operate and maintain the existing transmission system and not to construct or erect new lines, concluded that PPL had complied with the Association's Code, and overruled the Preliminary Objections.

On appeal, our Commonwealth Court reversed.  In issuing its ruling, the court noted that Section 1511(c) of the Association's Code governs condemnations for the running of wires or the erecting of poles or other aerial electric facilities only after the PUC has concluded that the proposed facilities are necessary and proper.  In this instance, although the stated purpose of the condemnation was to maintain the existing transmission system, the Declaration also permitted PPL to operate and construct “poles, towers, guys, cables, wires, fiber optics, fixtures and apparatus above and below the ground.”  Therefore, as the language of the Declaration was broad in nature, and did not limit PPL’s rights to the maintenance of the existing transmission system, PPL was required to obtain the PUC’s approval prior to filing a declaration of taking. 

Monday, November 4, 2013

Is A Mechanic's Lien Claim Possible Without Construction?

Frank Kosir, Jr.
B.N. Excavating, Inc. v. PBC Hollow-A, L.P., et. al2013 PA Super 120; 2013 Pa. Super. LEXIS 730 (2013)

This matter addressed the issue of whether a subcontractor retained to complete site preparation work for the construction of commercial buildings can assert a mechanic’s lien claim even though the contemplated structure were never constructed.  Warihay Enterprises, Inc. (“General Contractor”) was retained by PBC Hollow-A, L.P. and PBC Hollow-B, L.P. (“Owners”) to construct two commercial office buildings on the Owners’ real property (“Property”) situated in Phoenixville, Pennsylvania.  The General Contractor subsequently entered into a contract with B.N. Excavating, Inc. (“Subcontractor”) pursuant to which the Subcontractor was to provide “labor and materials for excavation work, including but not limited to, a silt fence, temporary riser, emergency spillway, topsoil stripping, cut and fill, concrete pipe, sub-grading for building pad, storm water bed, rock ribbing and other site work.”  The Subcontractor completed all of the contracted-for work on December 18, 2008, in accordance with its contract.  However, construction of the commercial buildings never commenced.

After its demands for payment were denied, on June 8, 2009, the Subcontractor filed a notice of mechanics’ lien claim in the amount of $118,670.71, and subsequently filed a Complaint on the lien.  In response, the Owners filed Preliminary Objections asserting, inter alia, that, as the buildings were never constructed, the Subcontractor’s work was not incidental to construction, and no mechanics’ lien claims could be asserted.  The trial court, concluding that the lack of any constructed buildings on the Property precluded the assertion of a mechanics’ lien claim, sustained the Preliminary Objections and dismissed the mechanics’ lien with prejudice.

On appeal, our Superior Court reversed.  In issuing its ruling, the court noted that Pennsylvania’s Mechanics’ Lien Law does not require that the erection, repair or construction of the improvement at issue be completed.  Rather, the Law only requires that any excavation or other preliminary groundwork completed be undertaken in conjunction with the erection, repair or construction of the improvement.  In this instance, the Subcontractor’s Complaint included numerous factual allegations that the work it had performed was completed in anticipation of the construction of the commercial buildings.  As such, the trial court had erred in dismissing the Complaint on Preliminary Objections, and the matter had to be remanded to the trial court for a hearing on the issue of whether the work completed was, in fact, incidental to the planned construction of the office buildings.