10/26/2018 – MALVERN, PA – Steve Bardsley recently gave his annual lecture to a class of graduate architecture students at the University of Pennsylvania. The course is called Professional Practice, and it goal is to provide an understanding of the architecture profession by using the project process as a framework. In addition to addressing broader legal issues that impact the profession, Steve focused the class on the design and construction of Penn’s Skirkanich Hall, a complex bioengineering laboratory and academic building designed by renowned architects Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects|Partners (TWBTA). Steve represents TWBTA and, in conjunction with TWBTA’s Project Architect, walked the class thorough the architectural and legal challenges presented by the project.
10/15/2018 – Dean Seman – Buyer Beware – You May Be Acquiring Past Clean-Up Costs
The Third Circuit recently held that a current land owner is liable for environmental clean-up costs that were incurred before the owner acquired it. In PADEP v. Trainer Custom Chemical, LLC, et al., the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (PADEP) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) commenced response actions in 2007 at the subject property due to the presence of hazardous substances and the risk to human health or the environment. The insolvent property owner also fell behind on real estate taxes and the defendants acquired the property through a tax lien sale in 2012. The defendants had knowledge of environmental issues when they acquired the property.
The defendants then developed the property causing addition releases. While there is no dispute that the owners were responsible for environmental costs associated with present releases, the PADEP pursued reimbursement for the response costs incurred prior to the defendants’ ownership. The PADEP’s position was that under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) and the equivalent Pennsylvania statute, the Hazardous Sites Cleanup Act (HSCA), any and all owners are responsible for environmental costs associated with a known and continuing release, regardless of when the costs were incurred.
The court, through its statutory interpretation of CERCLA § 107 (a)(1) and the HSCA equivalent, found that “all costs” meant exactly that – that an owner is liable for all costs regardless of when incurred. The court found that the defendants had knowledge of prior releases when they acquired the property and that none of the liability defenses applied in this matter or triggered any temporal limitations. The court held that the current owners were responsible to reimburse the PADEP nearly $1 Million in response costs incurred prior to the defendants’ acquisition.
This precedential opinion has sweeping implications to entities that are interested in acquiring properties where hazardous substances have been released. While enforcing CERCLA and HSCA’s intent of promoting the prompt clean up of contaminated properties, this opinion oversteps the intent of holding the “potentially responsible parties” liable for the environmental costs. Clearly, the current owners had no responsibility for the prior owner’s operation and management of the site which led to the releases. This opinion may have a chilling effect on the purchase and redevelopment of contaminated properties. The bottom line is that anyone interested in acquiring contaminated properties must be aware of the risks associated with those properties and use appropriate indemnification, risk shifting or cost allocating tools. When the prior owners may be insolvent, the interested party must understand the available defenses and partake in affirmative steps and negotiations to limit any potential liability.
09/26/2018 – MALVERN, PA – Steve Bardsley will attend the Claims Litigation Management (CLM) Construction Conference in Chicago from Wednesday September 26th to Friday September 28th. The Conference covers all aspects of insurance, risk and claims management related to the construction industry. In addition to addressing construction defects and other hot topics, conference sessions will also address facets of construction site accidents/injuries, coverage issues, subcontractor issues, risk management and new technologies on the national, regional, and state levels.
To kick off the conference, Steve and his partner’s Steve Cholden and Larry Gross have invited many of BBC Law’s insurance clients to join them on the Architecture Foundation River Cruise, a spectacular guided tour down the Chicago River that provides a unique perspective of the city and its architecture.
09/05/2018 – MT LAUREL & SCRANTON, PA – Effective September 4, 2018, BBC Law is extremely pleased to share that Scranton-based attorneys Joseph Murphy, Esq & Patrick Murphy, Esq and Larry Gross, Esq. who will be Mt Laurel based are joining the firm as partners. We are extremely excited for these new additions and expanding our capabilities in both Scranton, PA and Mt Laurel, NJ.
06/11/2018 – MALVERN, PA – Pamela Devine defended a claim against a registered professional land surveyor in Philadelphia, and was able to obtain a stipulation of dismissal from all parties. The land surveyor was joined to a home construction case gone wrong by an Architect whose theory was that one (or more) of the parties relied on the survey prepared by our client. After nearly a year of litigation in Philadelphia, Pam was able to establish that none of the parties could have relied on the survey that was performed because all of the homeowners’ damages were incurred before the survey was performed. Despite requests by plaintiffs and the Architect, that the land surveyor contribute to settlements, Pam obtained voluntary dismissal of the client with no contribution to any settlement. Because our client did not contribute to any settlement and we secured a voluntary dismissal, he did not have to pay his deductible.
06/05/2018 – SCRANTON, PA – A brand new firm client of Tom Geroulo’s was referred by another practitioner. The client, a well-known actor, contacted BBC Law on a Monday afternoon. By Thursday of that same week, BBC Law helped the client file for a trademark on his brand new clothing line. In that short time frame, BBC Law consulted extensively with the client, handled the due diligence research, and prepared the application all in the same week.
05/28/2018 – PHILADELPHIA, PA – Andrew Benedict and Sharon Piper Donovan obtained an arbitration award in favor of their client, an owner of a Pizza restaurant in Philadelphia from a claim made by a man who alleged he fell on steps outside the back of the property. The Plaintiff claimed one of the owners invited him to the upstairs portion of the building and witnessed his fall on the steps. Benedict and Piper Donovan put forth evidence that the steps were not open to the public, the Plaintiff was not a patron and the owners did not allow him on the steps. The arbitration panel rejected the Plaintiff’s testimony by finding in favor of the Defendant. The Plaintiff’s demand before arbitration was $50,000.
05/10/2018 – PHILADELPHIA, PA – Just 3 weeks after opening its doors, Bardsley, Benedict + Cholden, LLP earned its first defense verdict as Andrew Benedict and Sharon Piper Donovan gained a victory after a very contentious 6 day trial against a prominent Center City plaintiff’s firm in Philadelphia County before the Honorable Rosalyn Robinson. Benedict and Piper Donovan represented a landscaper/snow removal contractor in a slip and fall on ice action brought by a wife and her husband against said contractor, property owner and lessee. The jury found no negligence on behalf of the contractor. The plaintiffs were making a claim for pain and suffering, permanent injury, future medical costs, consortium and future lost wages. The demand before trial was $1,000,000.