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  • Peter Patton Argues Case Before En Banc Panel of Pennsylvania Superior Court

    On September 24, 2009, Galfand Berger Senior Partner, Peter Patton, argued a case before an en banc panel of Pennsylvania’s Superior Court.  An en banc panel consists of at least 9 judges of the Superior Court and is only seated after a majority of Pennsylvania’s Superior Court judges deem the issue at question to be of special importance.

    Consequently, such arguments before the Superior Court are a rarity.  Indeed, in 2008, of the over 7900 cases on appeal to the Superior Court by year’s end, less than 30 were slated for argument before an en banc panel.In the case he argued, Kiak v. Crown Equipment, Mr. Patton seeks to overturn a lower court decision, which determined that a federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulation preempted our client’s claim under state law.  If upheld, this lower court decision would restrict the rights of workers to recover for on-the-job injuries caused by defective machinery or equipment.Our client suffered a serious leg injury when a forklift, coasting in reverse, struck him in a warehouse.  The forklift had a back-up beeper that beeped when the forklift traveled in reverse but did not beep when the forklift coasted.  Without this safety feature, our client did not hear the approaching forklift truck and suffered debilitating injuries.The lead issue before the court was whether a federal OSHA regulation preempted plaintiff’s strict liability claim under state law.  The manufacturer of the forklift truck argued that an American National Standards Institute (“ANSI”) standard was incorporated in the OSHA regulation.  It argued that the ANSI standard created a conflict between the OSHA regulation and our strict liability claim so that the state strict liability claim was preempted.  Arnoldy v. Forklift L.P. 927 A.2d 257 (Pa. Super 2007)

    The trial court agreed and granted summary judgment to the manufacturer, preventing the claim from going to trial.

    Mr. Patton argued to the Superior Court, en banc, that the ANSI standard was not, in fact, part of the OSHA regulation.  If there was no OSHA regulation, there could be no preemption.  Therefore, the trial court was wrong to grant summary judgment.

    You can see a taped broadcast of Mr. Patton’s argument on PCN TV on October 15 at 9:00 p.m.