Del Sole Cavanaugh Stroyd LLC

Pittsburgh Legal Issues Blog

Appellate practice differs from trial court practice

When you take your grievances to a Pennsylvania court, you hope to achieve a certain outcome. If that does not happen, you may feel cheated and wonder whether you have any recourse. It may be possible to file an appeal, but in appellate practice, you can only do so for certain reasons.

In fact, filing appeals is far different than taking your case to a trial court. The two legal systems have vast differences. The rules are different, and so are the exceptions.

What happens in court during civil litigation?

Movies and television give many people here in Pennsylvania and elsewhere a certain idea about how things go once they step foot in the courtroom. The cinematic versions of civil litigation often fall short of the real process. Those heading into court for any civil matter may benefit from a basic understanding of how it works.

If the trial will have a jury, one will need to be chosen. Both attorneys can question potential jurors and eliminate a certain number of people they believe exhibit some bias toward one or the other parties or may not be objective during the case. A Pennsylvania judge also questions these individuals and can excuse those he or she feels should not be part of the panel. 

Would mediation of a denial under the Right to Know Law be best?

Whenever a Pennsylvania news outlet or one of the state's residents requests public information, it could be denied. The person or entity requesting the information does not have to accept this response without further inquiry since the public agency must have a compelling reason to deny the request. In this case, the state's Right to Know Law allows for an appeal, but that may not be the best way to resolve the dispute.

The Pennsylvania Office of Open Records does provide for mediation of disputes between a member of the public and the agency from which the information was requested. Both parties must agree to participate in the process in writing. To request this method of resolution, it must be requested when filing an appeal.

Would alternative dispute resolution work better in your case?

Litigation is not always the best way to resolve a problem you have with another party. Perhaps you tried to work out the issue on your own and think that now, looking for resolution through Pennsylvania's civil courts is the only solution but that may not be true. You may be able to make use of an alternative dispute resolution method to reach the best possible solution.

Perhaps you have heard of arbitration and mediation, which are the most commonly known methods of ADR. Many people achieve a more satisfactory result through these options instead of litigation. Going to court is costly, stressful and undoubtedly adversarial in nature. In the alternative, ADR provides a more relaxed, private and productive atmosphere to resolve conflicts. In addition, it is often less expensive.

3 ways to protect your business against fraud

It’s no secret that owning a business is stressful. While you are juggling responsibilities to keep the doors open and the customers happy, you may not have time to safeguard your business against potential fraud, especially when it comes to employee theft.

Each year businesses lose an estimated $50 billion due to employee theft. Though the media highlights fraud in large businesses, small and medium-sized business take the brunt of most of it. Many small business owners simply may not know what steps they could take to prevent losses. But there are really surprising steps such as:

Court finds that pharmacy exec violated non-compete agreement

In recent years, non-compete agreements have earned a bad reputation, primarily because they are being overused and are often too broadly written. Major companies are including non-compete agreements as standard clauses in the contracts of even low-level workers. And the restrictions placed on workers are often unreasonable – a major litmus test of whether a non-compete is enforceable.

Although use of non-competes has gotten out of hand, these legal agreements still have an important role to play in the right context. A recent court ruling is a good example of why non-compete agreements are so important, particularly with high-level executives.

How should a whistleblower report fraud?

Ethical workers who spot fraud within a company or government need to know their rights. Whistleblowers are often conflicted in how to handle sounding the alarm when fraud is identified. Should an employee approach their managers and supervisors, or should an employee go straight to the police or news station? There are many options on how to approach exposing fraud within a person's place of employment.

If you are worried that you might lose your job or face retaliation for exposing wrongdoing within the company, you are not alone. This is a common fear that keeps many mouths shut that need to speak up when it comes to fraudulent activity at work. The fact of the matter is-- you don't want to approach your leadership or a news station without first contacting a reputable lawyer.

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