Month: March, 2009
First Amendment Press Access
Fuzzie Vohs | March 4, 2009 | 3:15 pm | Practice Areas | Only Pings

The lawyers at Fowkes Rodkeyare also experienced First Amendment practitioners.  Joe Rodkey has represented media outlets in a number of high profile press access to court proceedings and records cases, including high profile case involving the federal prosecution of the famed former Allegheny Coroner and forensic pathologist, Cyril Wecht in U.S. v. Wecht, 484 F.3d 194 (3rd Cir., 2007) and U.S. v. Wecht, 537 F.3d 222 (3rd Cir., 2008), where Joe helped one of Pittsburgh’s largest media outlets gain access to information improperly sealed by the government and successfully challenged a local federal rule constituting a gag order on attorney speech. In addition, in  Commonwealth of Pennsylvania v. Gilbert Martinez, No.724 WDA 2004 (Pa. Super. 2007), Joe represented a major media outlet in convincing the Pennsylvania Superior Court that letters delivered to the sentencing judge before a high profile local political criminal defendant was sentenced fell within the scope of “judicial records” accessible to the public.

In addition, Joe Rodkey has litigated cases under the Federal Freedom of Information Act and is experienced in the recently enacted Pennsylvania Right to Know Act.

jrodkey | March 1, 2009 | 8:51 pm | Practice Areas | Only Pings

Joe has extensive experience in equity injunction and preliminary injunction practice.  Joe has represented many plaintiffs and defendants in courts all over the United States involving requests for preliminary injunctions relating to intellectual property, non-competition agreements, trade secrets and other matters.  It has been said that the request for a preliminary injunction is tantamount to seeking judgment and execution before trial.  The case is front-loaded and expedited.  Immediate action is required to protect or defend your legal rights.  Joe knows the drill.  Now, let Joe help you navigate the legal rollercoaster related to injunctive relief.
For instance, in International Settlement Design, Inc. v. Hickey, 25 Pa. D&C 4th 506 (Allegheny County 1995), Joe defended two individuals who started their own business against claims from their former employer for claims including, breach of a non-compete agreements, theft of trade secrets and commercial disparagement.  Joe beat the odds and busted the covenants not to compete convincing the court to rule that the agreements were so grossly overly broad that they should not be enforced at all and got that order affirmed on appeal.  In addition, the court agreed with Joe’s argument that the customer lists and other information at issue were not trade secrets.  Most recently, in Nucor Corporation v. Bell and SeverCorr, LLC, 482 F. Supp. 2d 714 (D.S.C. 2007), Joe represented an individual and his new employer against a panoply of claims including breach of a non-disclosure and non-solicitation agreement the individual signed years after he commenced employment, theft of trade secrets and other claims.  Joe was successful in gaining an early dismissal of the breach of non-disclosure and non-solicitation agreement for lack of consideration.
In another episode of the Nucor litigation, Joe helped defend an individual accused of wiping allegedly relevant data from a computer. After a Daubert hearing on the qualifications of the parties’ computer forensics experts, the court excluded testimony of the opposing expert that a particular program to wipe data had been downloaded, installed, and used on Joe’s client’s laptop computer. Although the laptop had large blocks of “zeros” that the expert theorized could have been created by use of a secure delete function of the program, the court found that the version of the program placed on the laptop did not have a secure delete function. Nucor Corp. v. Bell, 2008 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 86328 (D.S.C. Jan. 11, 2008).
Another one of Joe’s reported commercial cases includes, Latuszewski v. VALIC Financial Advisors, Inc., 2005 WL 1367809 (3rd. Cir. 2005), where Joe represented the former employer and convinced the U.S. Third Circuit Court of Appeals to affirm the District Court’s grant of a preliminary injunction that protected the unauthorized disclosure and use of the former employer’s trade secrets and Arnold v. Pennsylvania, Dept. of Transp., 477 F.3d 105 (3rd Cir., 2007), Joe helped a private construction company beat back a media outlet’s attempt to pierce a court ordered confidentiality agreement to attempt exploit confidential information disclosed in court proceedings.
While not a reported case, Joe represented the founding partners of Superior Well Services, Inc. (“SWSI”) when they broke from the notorious Haliburton and were sued by Haliburton in federal court in an unsuccessful attempt to prevent them from starting their own new company that is now publicly traded on the NASDAQ as SWSI.

Gun Ownership Law
jrodkey | March 1, 2009 | 8:51 pm | Practice Areas | Only Pings

“A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”  (U.S. Const. Amend. II).

Likewise, the Pennsylvania Constitution provides that “The right of the citizens to bear arms in the defense of themselves and the State shall not be questioned.”  (Pennsylvania Constitution, Art. I, §21).

This essential right to a free society, born of the blood shed by our forefathers, was recently reconfirmed by the United States Supreme Court in the District of Columbia v. Heller, 128 S. Ct. 2783 (2008) and it is also recognized and respected by the Pennsylvania Constitution and the Pennsylvania legislature through Pennsylvania statute.  In Pennsylvania, the state legislature has preempted all regulation of firearms through the Pennsylvania Uniform Firearms Act. 18 Pa.C.S. §6120.  See also Ortiz v. Commonwealth, 681 A.2d 152 (Pa. 1996).

However, these rights are under constant assault from the forces of the statists who desire to grab our guns and the media that shamelessly panders to special interest groups seeking to portray responsible firearm ownership as the source of crime.  Indeed, irresponsible city, county and municipal governments have ignored the clear law they are duty bound to uphold and have set about an illegal agenda to enact various ordinances purporting to regulate firearms in violation of Pennsylvania law.

If you have been charged with violation of a city, county or municipal ordinance purporting to relate to the ownership, possession, transfer or transportation of firearms, ammunition, or ammunition components when carried or transported for the purposes not prohibited by the laws of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, make the right call to Fowkes Rodkey for a free consultation regarding your firearm rights.

In addition, Pennsylvania is a right to carry state.  This means that generally the Sheriff of a county must issue a citizen a permit to carry a concealed firearm upon proper application unless:

a.    the applicant has been convicted of one or more of the “Prohibited Offenses” defined in 18 Pa.C.S.§ 6105(b); or

b.    the applicant:

1.    is a fugitive from justice; or

2.    has been convicted of an offense under the Controlled Substance, Drug, Device and Cosmetic Act (PL 233, No. 64) punishable by imprisonment exceeding two years; or

3.    has been convicted three times for driving under the influence of alcohol or controlled substance (75 Pa.C.S. § 3731) within a five-year period; or

4.    has been adjudicated as an incompetent or who has been involuntarily committed to a mental institution for treatment under §302, 303, or 304 under the Mental Health Procedures Act (PL 817, No. 143); or

5.    is an alien, is illegally or unlawfully in the United States; or

6.    is the subject of an active protection from abuse order issued pursuant to 23 Pa.C.S. § 6108 relating to relief; or

7.    was adjudicated delinquent (with conditions specified in the UFA). (With certain exceptions and time expirations); or

c.    the applicant meets certain conditions under federal law as applied to Pennsylvania such as being under indictment for, or conviction of a misdemeanor offense for which the maximum prison term may exceed two years or a felony if the maximum prison term exceeds one year.

If you believe that a county sheriff is unlawfully denied you a permit or you have questions about the conditions that may disqualify you from obtaining a license to carry concealed weapon, make the right call to Fowkes Rodkey.

Legal Malpractice
jrodkey | March 1, 2009 | 8:50 pm | Practice Areas | Only Pings

Lawyers have a duty to provide you with legal services according to a professional and reasonable standard of car.  However, sometimes lawyers make mistakes.  If you believe your attorney has engaged in wrongdoing or been negligent in the handling of your case or legal affairs and that the wrongdoing or negligence has caused you to lose money, make the right call to Fowkes Rodkey for a free and confidential consultation.

Estate Planning
jrodkey | March 1, 2009 | 8:50 pm | Practice Areas | Only Pings

Fowkes Rodkey lawyers have practices that includes both Estate Planning and Probate and Trust Litigation.  With Estate Planning, Fowkes Rodkey attorneys such as Michael Winklmann assist clients in the preparation of wills, trusts, living wills and powers of attorney for health care and for property.  You have worked hard for what you have, let Mike help construct an estate plan to maximize estate tax reduction.  In addition, if and when it is needed, Fowkes Rodkey attorney Joe Rodkey draws upon his extensive litigation experience to represent clients in Probate and Trust Litigation in Pennsylvania’s Orphan’s Court, for instance, to contest a will or in cases that involve claims of breach of fiduciary duty of a trustee.

Workers Compensation
jrodkey | March 1, 2009 | 8:49 pm | Practice Areas | Only Pings

Have you been injured on the job?  Workplace injuries are an unfortunate risk.  Make the right call to Fowkes Rodkey for help in navigating the Workers’ Compensation process. 

Remember, your employer and its insurance carrier have a financial incentive to do everything in their power to try to minimize your claim.  But you are the person who is injured and you should have someone on your side to help fight for all the benefits you are entitled to receive.

First, when an injury at work occurs it is critical to have immediate intervention to preserve the evidence of the accident scene and any product or instrumentality that may have caused you harm.  Your employer may want to clean up to resume production but you should not let your rights to recovery be thrown in the trash.  Fowkes Rodkey has experience with using the appropriate legal tools to preserve accident scenes and defective products so that evidence vital to your recovery is not lost, misplaced or destroyed.

Why is this essential?  While your employer may only be responsible for worker’s compensation benefits, there may be other parties potentially responsible for your injuries, pain and suffering and lost earning capacity such as a manufacturer of a defective product or a subcontractor against whom you may have a claim for damages. 

Make the right call to Fowkes Rodkey when you get hurt at work.

Personal Injury
jrodkey | March 1, 2009 | 8:49 pm | Practice Areas | Only Pings

The lawyers at Fowkes Rodkey represent individuals who have suffered serious personal injury in accidents, motor vehicle crashes, who have been hurt as a result of medical malpractice, the negligence of others or by defective products or who have been hurt at work.  Below are just some examples of the types of personal injury cases that the firm handles.


  • Motor Vehicle Crashes


Make the right call when you or someone you know has suffered serious injuries or trauma as a result of a motor vehicle accident such as a car crash, motorcycle accident, truck crash ATV or boat accident.  Fowkes Rodkey has the resources to immediately respond to protect and preserve the accident scene and vital evidence of your claim.  Also, remember, the insurance company works for the other side.  Fowkes Rodkey knows how to aggressively wage war against insurance companies who want to unfairly minimize and reduce your claim.  Make the right call to Fowkes Rodkey to get all the compensation for property damage, lost wages, personal injuries and pain and suffering that you deserve.


  • Medical Malpractice


You trust your physicians, doctors, nurses, dentist, and other health care providers with your life – – literally.  So, you expect medical professionals to deliver care and services to you with the appropriate professional standard of care.  However, when those medical professionals that you trust fail to deliver health care to you with the appropriate level of professional care and you are injured thereby the law provides that you are entitled to compensation for your injury, pain, suffering, future medical expenses and needs and other things.  If you suspect that you or someone you know has been injured as a result of medical malpractice such as a surgical error, prescription error, birth injury, misdiagnosis of cancer or other disease, delayed diagnoses, nursing home negligence or the like, make the right call to Fowkes Rodkey for a free evaluation of your claim.


  • Dog Bites and Vicious Animal Attacks


Pets are nice but owning them comes with a responsibility to keep others safe from them.  So, when you or someone you know has suffered injury as a result of a dog bite or other type of vicious animal attack, make the right call to Fowkes Rodkey to help you recover all of the compensation for your injuries, pain and suffering that you deserve.


  • Products Liability


Manufacturers and suppliers who sell and distribute products that are in a defective or unreasonably dangerous condition are liable for the physical harm and injuries caused.  A product can be defective because it was improperly designed, incorrectly manufactured, or changed at some point in the chain of distribution.  A product can also be defective because it has inadequate warnings of the risk of harm associated with use of the product.  If you or someone you know is injured by a defective product, make the right call to Fowkes Rodkey as soon as possible.  Taking immediate action to preserve the product is often an essential to recovering compensation for the harm, injuries, pain and suffering.

Don’t get hurt again, call Fowkes Rodkey.


  • Premises Liability


Businesses and persons who own property have a legal duty to make the property reasonably safe for you to be on or about the property — especially business properties like the mall, grocery stores, or other corporate buildings and office spaces and parking lots.  When you or someone you know is injured as a result of an unsafe or dangerous condition on the property of another, make the right call to Fowkes Rodkey.  Fowkes Rodkey has experience in premises liability cases including preservation of accident scenes and vital evidence and then fighting the property insurance companies to get the compensation to which the law entitles you.


  • Construction and Industrial Accidents



If you or someone you know has been injured in a construction or industrial accident, make the right call to Fowkes Rodkey.  Often those injured in a construction or industrial accident mistakenly believe that they are limited to Workman’s Compensation benefits.  While they may indeed be entitled to Worker’s Comp. benefits, there may also be others such as other contractors, manufacturers and suppliers of vehicles, equipment, products or other items who are also responsible for your injuries, pain and suffering and lost wages. 

As with other types of injury claims, immediate action to investigate and preserve the accident is essential, so call Fowkes Rodkey now.


  • Fraud, Whistleblower, False Claims Act – Qui Tam Law


If you believe that you have been the victim of a scam, securities fraud, mortgage loan fraud or other unlawful scheme to steal your money, make the right call to Fowkes Rodkey for a free consultation regarding your legal rights.

Also, if you are aware that your company, business, college, university or medical office is engaged in fraud against the Unites States government, you may be entitled to a reward of between 15% to 30 % of the fraudulent billings recovered by the government.  Examples of those who can be involved are businesses that contract with the government and those involved in Medicare payments.  If you suspect that your employer or some other entity is engaged in fraud against the government, make the right call to Fowkes Rodkey for a free and confidential evaluation.

Debtor Creditor Law
jrodkey | March 1, 2009 | 8:48 pm | Practice Areas | Only Pings

Fowkes Rodkey lawyers have substantial experience in representing creditors to them protect and secure their collateral having successfully litigated many actions in replevin in many counties across Western and Central Pennsylvania.  Joe Rodkey has represented numerous commercial clients (including major mall owners and operators and lenders) in obtaining confession of judgments on breached leases, loan agreements and contracts and in securing a landlord’s right to re-possession of its real property.

Whether it be an inventory of heavy construction or mining equipment, cars, motorcycles, horse trailers, or an entire factory of sewing machines or other merchandise, if a financing or loan agreement has been breached or the debtor is out of trust and the collateral is at risk, the lawyers at Fowkes Rodkey know how to quickly engage the legal system to secure your collateral.

In one case, Joe Rodkey obtained a prejudgment injunction on behalf of a major bank with millions at risk to shut down a U.S. subsidiary of a foreign debtor company and freeze its bank accounts just before the foreign parent corporation was set to drain the U.S. bank accounts and wire all the money overseas out of the jurisdiction.  In another case, Joe Rodkey successfully used admiralty law to obtain an arrest of a tugboat on the Monongahela River for failure to pay fuel bills.

Even if the debtor has filed for bankruptcy to stall collection efforts, Joe Rodkey has represented many clients in obtaining relief from the bankruptcy stay so that the secured creditor can immediately recover and sell the collateral securing the loan.

After the collateral has been seized and sold and when the account is still short, the lawyers at Fowkes Rodkey know how to obtain deficiency judgments against debtors and have represented scores of clients helping them to execute on judgments won in court.  For instance, Joe Rodkey has chased deadbeat debtors in counties all over the state, using every legal procedure in the book to find a debtor’s assets, attach them and liquidate them for his creditor clients.  In one case, Joe coordinated the simultaneous execution, levy and sheriff sale of several million dollars worth of a debtor’s personal property located in numerous counties across the state to return millions to corporate bondholders.

In addition to chasing debtors, Joe Rodkey has also served as a court appointed Receiver under Pennsylvania’s Receivership Law to marshal, protect and preserve encumbered assets for creditors.

  • Bankruptcy Litigation

Bankruptcy litigation is often fast and furious. Attorney Rodkey has extensive experience in litigating high profile, high stakes bankruptcy litigation in federal bankruptcy courts throughout the country. Most recently, Attorney Rodkey served as co-counsel for the lender in the widely publicized and extensively litigated case involving the former Pittsburgh Hilton Hotel property (now known as the Wyndham Grand Pittsburgh) in In re: Shubh Hotels Pittsburgh, LLC, No. 10-26337 (Bankr. W.D.Pa.). Attorney Rodkey was a member of the trial team representing the secured bondholders in In re: Weirton Steel Corporation, No. 03-01802 (Bankr. N.D. W.Va.). The Weirton Steel bankruptcy trial was one of the largest bankruptcy trials ever in W.Va. Attorney Rodkey was also part of the litigation team representing MCI WorldCom in the case In re: World Access, Inc. et al., No. 01—14633 (N.D. Ill.), Adv. Proc. No. 01-A-1219.

Insurance Law
jrodkey | March 1, 2009 | 8:48 pm | Practice Areas | Only Pings

Fowkes Rodkey lawyers have years of experience in fighting to make insurance companies pay rightful claims.  Some have said that the business model for an insurance company is simple:  take premiums and deny claims.  But it’s no joke when your insurance claim is summarily denied without proper investigation.  Fowkes Rodkey lawyers are familiar with CGL, D&O, homeowners and vehicle primary and excess policies sold by domestic and foreign insurers and have litigated complex property damage and personal injury insurance coverage claims as well as insurer bad faith claims on behalf of policyholders for years. 

Don’t take no for an answer.  Make the Right Call.

Construction Disputes
jrodkey | March 1, 2009 | 8:47 pm | Practice Areas | Only Pings

The lawyers at Fowkes Rodkey have represented clients large and small in a variety of construction disputes, arbitrations and litigation relating to mechanic’s liens, breach of construction contracts, the validity of cost over-runs and change orders and claims under the Pennsylvania Contractor and Subcontractor Payment Act.  For example, in Washington Engineering & Construction, Co., v. Nitrochem, LLC., 58 Pa. D&C 4th 195 (Fayette County 2002) Joe Rodkey successfully represented a landowner opposing a mechanics’ lien and a subcontractor act claim.  On the other hand, Fowkes Rodkey attorneys have helped many clients successfully assert mechanic lien claims against deadbeat owners of property.

Attorney Rodkey has been at the forefront of cutting edge litigation on the issue of whether a contractor or subcontractor can assert a mechanics’ lien on a Marcellus gas well and the production therefrom. Attorney Rodkey has filed many mechanics’ liens on Marcellus gas wells in many different counties in Pennsylvania and has very recently defeated oil company arguments that the Pennsylvania Mechanics’ Lien Law does not apply to Marcellus gas wells.