Category: News
Deadline for Property Assessment Appeals
jrodkey | February 26, 2014 | 10:25 am | News | Only Pings

This is an important reminder that the deadline to appeal your Allegheny County property assessment is March 31, 2015. The attorneys of Fowkes Rodkey are experienced in both commercial and residential assessment appeals and stand ready to help you navigate the assessment appeal process.

Fowkes Rodkey
jrodkey | February 18, 2013 | 4:59 pm | News | Only Pings

With over 50 years of experience, the lawyers at Fowkes Rodkey have handled a wide range of cases in the county courts throughout Pennsylvania and in federal and state courts across the United States. Fowkes Rodkey provides advice and counsel to local, regional, and national companies, businesses, and banks representing them in a variety of commercial matters including business formation, shareholder disputes, contract drafting, collections, and complex litigation such as commercial and contract litigation, real estate and lease litigation, construction disputes and mechanics liens, trade secrets and non-compete agreement cases, creditor and debtor rights, receiverships, and insurance coverage litigation.

Also, Fowkes Rodkey represents individuals who have suffered serious personal injury in accidents, 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. In addition, Fowkes Rodkey represents individuals in estate and trust matters, from the drafting of wills and trusts to the complete administration of estates, tax matters, real estate transactions. Fowkes Rodkey also handles family matters, including divorces, child support and custody, and criminal defense.

Whatever your legal need, Fowkes Rodkey delivers to its clients big-firm talent at small-firm rates.

Let Fowkes Rodkey put their experience to work for you.

At Fowkes Rodkey — every case is personal.

The initial consultation is always confidential and free. In most personal injury cases we advance the costs of the litigation and, of course, there is no fee unless there is a recovery of money damages in your favor.

Strict Construction Rule Rejected — PA Superior Court Holds Mechanics’ Lien Law Of 1963 is to be Liberally Construed
jrodkey | June 12, 2012 | 9:55 am | News | Only Pings

In January 2012, the Pennsylvania Superior Court, sitting en banc, issued a decision holding that Section 1928(c) of the Pennsylvania Statutory Constructions Act (1 Pa.C.S.A. §1928(c)), requires that the Mechanics’ Lien Law of 1963 (the “Mechanics’ Lien Law”), 49 P.S. §1101 et seq., “must be ‘liberally construed to effect [its] objects and to promote justice’”. Bricklayers of Western Pennsylvania Combined Funds, Inc. v. Scott’s Development Company et al., 41 A.3d 16, 25 (Pa. Super. 2012). This is a significant holding that changes the landscape for interpretation of the Mechanics’ Lien Law because prior to 2012, prevailing jurisprudence in Pennsylvania held that because mechanics’ liens were purely statutory in nature and origin and thus were in derogation of common law, lien claims were reviewed with strict construction of the statute that created it.

In Bricklayers, the Court examined the cases espousing the rule of strict construction and concluded that the precedent upon which they rested dated back to the case of Sampson-Miller Associated Cos. v. Landmark Realty Co., 303 A.2d 43 (Pa. Super. 1973) which relied upon the Pennsylvania Supreme Court case, Brann & Stuart Co. v. Con. Sun Ray, Inc., 253 A.2d 105, 106 (Pa. 1969) that interpreted the Mechanics’ Lien Law of 1901 (which was subsequently repealed in 1963 to make way for the present Mechanics’ Lien Law).

The Superior Court reasoned that Sections 1928(a) and (c) of the Statutory Construction Act require that statutes, like the Mechanics’ Lien Law of 1963, enacted after 1937 “shall be liberally construed to effect their objects and to promote justice.” Bricklayers, 41 A.3d at 25. As such, the Court further opined that “the Mechanics’ Lien Law of 1963 cannot be strictly construed on the basis that it is in derogation of the common law.” Id. The Court went on to point out that the genesis of the strict construction rule, Sampson-Miller, “erroneously rested on case law construing the Mechanics’ Lien Law of 1901 and inaccurately transposed it to the successor statute, the Mechanics’ Lien Law of 1963.” Id.

Lastly, the Bricklayers Court concluded that the strict construction rule was not saved by Section 1962 of the Statutory Construction Act that provides “[w]henever a statute is repealed and its provisions are at the same time reenacted in the same or substantially the same terms by the repealing statute, the earlier statute shall be construed as continued in active operation.” Id, 41 A.3d at 25. The Court reached this conclusion finding that the Mechanics’ Lien Law of 1963 was not a complete reenactment of the prior Mechanics’ Lien Law of 1901, noting that many provisions of the current Mechanics’ Lien Law were substantially revised, and it contains new provisions not previously contained in the Mechanics’ Lien Law of 1901, including the overarching provision at issue in Bricklayers, Section 1303(a).

The Bricklayers precedent paves the way for Courts to apply the Mechanics’ Lien Law of 1963 more liberally with the object to promote its remedial nature to assist contractors and subcontractors in obtaining compensation owed them for the provision of labor and/or materials in connection with improvements to land. Trial courts may rely upon this precedent to avoid forfeitures of lien claims where lien claimants fail to comply with some technical aspect of the statutory requirements of the Mechanics’ Lien Law, but have otherwise substantially complied with the overall statutory requirements of the Mechanics’ Lien Law. Stated differently, owners may find it more difficult to have lien claims stricken or dismissed based upon minor non-compliance of statutory requirements that do not result in significant prejudice to the owner.

Commercial & Residential Real Estate Assessments
jrodkey | February 16, 2012 | 2:23 pm | News | Only Pings

The new property assessments in Allegheny County could have a dramatic impact on Allegheny County residents and businesses. As reported by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the appeals process places the burden on the property owner to prove that the assessment is incorrect. The attorneys of Fowkes Rodkey are experienced in both commercial and residential assessment appeals and stand ready to help you navigate the assessment appeal process.

Attorney Rodkey Wins Novel Mechanics’ Lien Issue Related to Marcellus Gas Wells
jrodkey | January 2, 2012 | 4:02 pm | News | Only Pings

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 in the Pennsylvania Court of Common Pleas.

Is Shale a Mineral? Court to Decide
jrodkey | November 14, 2011 | 1:12 pm | News | Only Pings

Marcellus shale drilling has recently become an integral part of Western Pennsylvania’s economy, but unfortunately, the climate for Marcellus shale drilling is about to get a lot more confusing. A 2011 study conducted by researchers at Penn State University, found that Marcellus shale drilling related development accounted for $11.2 billion in “value added” to Pennsylvania’s economy, most of it in Western Pennsylvania. The report reached the “value added” amount by accounting for both the direct and indirect economic impact of the development.

However, both present and future Marcellus drilling leases may be threatened by a case pending in the Susquehanna County Common Pleas Court. The case started when John and Mary Butler filed a complaint to quiet title on their property in Susquehanna County. The Butlers held a deed on forty-four acres of land which contained an exception reserving: “[O]ne half the minerals and Petroleum Oils to said Charles Powers his heirs and assigns.” Charles Roger’s estate argues that this exception is a valid “mineral reservation” that should include Marcellus Shale. The court disagreed and held for the Butlers.

The Common Pleas Court based its holding on the definition of “minerals” established by the 1882 case, Dunham v. Kirkpatrick. That case held that when a “mineral reservation” does not specifically mention natural gas or oil, the court should presume that it was not intended to include them. Although a “mineral reservation” can include natural gas and oil, the Dunham rule requires that the person trying to assert the reservation must show evidence that the person who made the reservation meant to include them.

Not wanting to lose their valuable claim to the Marcellus shale on the Butler’s property, members of Charles Roger’s estate appealed to the Pennsylvania Superior Court. The Superior Court held that Pennsylvania law was unclear as to whether Marcellus shale is a mineral, and remanded to the Susquehanna County Common Pleas Court to decide. No matter how the Common Pleas Court rules, its decision will certainly be appealed back to the Pennsylvania Superior Court and perhaps to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. Accordingly, there may be some period of time until clarity is obtained as to who owns the rights to Marcellus shale under a “mineral reservation.” If the courts overturn over one hundred years of legal precedent by finding Marcellus shale to be a mineral, drilling contracts all over Pennsylvania will be thrown into doubt.

Fowkes Rodkey Retained To “Smoke” Out Century Building In Downtown Pittsburgh
Fuzzie Vohs | June 14, 2011 | 1:06 pm | News | Only Pings

Fowkes Rodkey has filed suit on behalf of a former tenant at the supposedly “green” Century Building in downtown Pittsburgh after management. As reported in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the Century Building is held out as a “gold” rated property under the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design “LEED” system. However, as set forth in the Complaint filed in the Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas in May 2011, building management has permitted “uncontrolled and pervasive smoking”. Smoking is a violation of lease covenants. The lawyers at Fowkes Rodkey have a wide range of experience in residential and commercial landlord tenant and real property law issues.

Attorney Rodkey Retained To Secure Mechanics’ Liens On Marcellus Shale Wells
Fuzzie Vohs | June 14, 2011 | 1:05 pm | News | Only Pings

Attorney Rodkey has been tabbed by a major supplier of directional drilling materials to secure mechanics’ liens against major oil and gas well drillers and producers on numerous Marcellus Shale wells across North Central and South Western Pennsylvania. Attorney Rodkey has extensive experience in the intricacies of the Pennsylvania Mechanics’ Lien Law. Whether it be a Marcellus Shale well, a commercial building project or a residential construction project, Attorney Rodkey can provide you with the solution to your mechanics’ lien issue.

Pool Drowning
Fuzzie Vohs | June 6, 2011 | 1:51 pm | News | Only Pings

See this article on a recent drowning of Christopher Myers at the Rosedale Beach Club in Verona.

The lawyers at Fowkes Rodkey note that from a legal perspective, these types of unfortunate and tragic accidents highlight the need for early involvement of counsel to obtain access to the accident site to preserve what could be critical evidence. Sometimes counsel must go so far as to seek a court order in order to gain access to evidence and have evidence preserved in order to protect the rights of the injured.

U.S. Supreme Court Confirms Second Amendment Applies To States
jrodkey | June 30, 2010 | 8:27 am | News | Only Pings

The U.S. Supreme Court holds in McDonald, that the ruling of Heller applies to laws passed on municipal levels (in addition to those on a federal level such as those in Washington, DC), by confirming that the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms must be ensured within local and state laws (per the Fourteenth Amendment).

Justice Alito’s majority opinion is clear:

The Court eventually held that almost all of the Bill of Rights’ guarantees met the requirements for protection under the Due Process Clause. The Court also held that Bill of Rights protections must “all . . . be enforced against the States under the Fourteenth Amendment according to the same standards that protect those personal rights against federal encroachment….
The Fourteenth Amendment makes the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms fully applicable to the States.”

To read the case click here. Court Opinion.