Pennsylvania Addresses Variances Applied to Cell Towers

On June 2, 2020, in Fairview Township v. Fairview Township Zoning Hearing Board, the Pennsylvanian appellate Commonwealth Court addressed issues related to variances and cell towers (wireless communications towers). Use Variances Remain an Extraordinary (and Rare) Remedy A variance represents and extraordinary remedy: “[t]he burden…

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Zoom-bombing and “Hacking” Online Conferencing: A Open Challenge to Future Heroes or Future Felons

The rise of online meeting tools accompanies  the coranavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Tools such as ZOOM, Jitsi.org (open source, community developed), GoToMeeting, and Microsoft Teams provide critical infrastructure during the pandemic and critical tools…

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Pennsylvania Supreme Court Holds No Compelled Disclosure of Computer Passwords

On November 20, 2019, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court in Commonwealth v. Davis held that a defendant in a criminal case cannot be compelled to disclose a password protecting an encrypted computer under the so-called foregone conclusion exception to the doctrine of self-incrimination in the Fifth…

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Use Variances Remain a Challenging Process

The Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court in South Broad Street Neighborhood Association v. Philadelphia Zoning Board of Adjustment affirmed that local governments must strictly apply the Municipalities Planning Code use-variance requirements. The Court also affirmed that a property owner does not possess a right to the allegedly…

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Knick v. Scott Township Re-opens Federal Courts to Property Owners

In June 2019, the US Supreme Court held in Knick v. Township of Scott, 588 US ____(2019), that property owners alleging 5th Amendment “Takings” by state and local governments can once again directly pursue claims against a state entity, such as municipality, in federal court.

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Pennsylvania Short-Term Rentals Limited in Residential Areas

Commentary Generally, property owners  may not assume that they can buy or convert homes in residentially zoned neighborhoods for purely short-term rental use (such as investment properties) as recently corrected by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court in Slice of Life v. Hamilton Township . (NOTE: Be…

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Pennsylvania Clarifies Non-conforming Uses

In December 2018, the Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court of appeals in Renaissance Real Estate Holdings LLP v. City of Philadelphia Zoning Hearing Board reiterated that a property owner, who…

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Pennsylvania Supreme Court Holds Employers Potentially Liable for Data Breaches

On November 21, 2018, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court held that employers in Pennsylvania owe a legal duty to employees to protect the employee’s data from data breaches.

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Ag Community Cautioned on Cybersecurity Threats to Precision Agriculture

On October 3, 2018, US-CERT cautioned agricultural producers about “Cybersecurity Threats to Precision Agriculture.” US-CERT cited a report produced by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) about “Threats to Precision Agriculture” (PDF). The report recognizes the complexity of today’s agriculture, the use of…

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Workplace Noise Again Linked to Heart Disease and High Blood Pressure

Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) researchers confirm that workplace noise can negatively effect health for workers. While traditionally, workplace noise focused on hearing loss, current research shows a litany of other, serious, adverse health effects such as high blood pressure and high cholesterol. The study concluded: 12%…

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Noise Again Linked to Early Death, Heart Disease, Hypertension, and Diabetes

A Swiss National Science Foundation short and long-term study of aircraft, rail and road traffic noise demonstrate disturbing links to early death, heart disease, hypertension, and diabetes. The risk of dying from a heart event increases a disturbing 4% with every 10dB increase in road noise. Martin Röösli, principal…

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Pennsylvania Supreme Court Reiterates that Zoning Must Be Precise

Gorsline Strongly Reminds That Municipalities Must Protect the Rights of All Property Owners On June 1, 2018, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court sent another wake-up call to municipalities. In Gorsline vs. Fairfield Township, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court held that local municipalities cannot play fast-and-loose with the definitions…

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Pennsylvania Living Will and Durable Medical Power of Attorney Example

If you become incapacitated and cannot make healthcare decisions, who makes those decisions? Such an event can be extremely stressful without the added stress of trying to determine “what mom or dad would want?” Who makes decisions when you are incapacitated? How do you express your wishes? How do…

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Government May Compel Disclosure of Encryption Passwords in Pennsylvania

The Pennsylvania Superior Court issued another troubling, computer-related opinion in late November 2017. Commonwealth v. Davis holds that the Pennsylvania government can compel an individual to disclose a computer password for an encrypted computer. Commonwealth v. Davis, 2017 PA Super 376 (Nov. 30,…

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Equifax Data Breach

On 7 September 2017, Equifax announced a data breach of 143 million Equifax customers involving the compromise of names, Social Security numbers, birth dates, addresses and, in some instances, driver’s license numbers. A subset of victims, apparently, also had credit card numbers and “dispute documents” compromised.

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Pennsylvania Court’s ‘Cest la Vie’ View of Data Breach Damages

NOTICE: See the newer Pennsylvania Supreme Court decision in the same case that now reminds employers of their duty to employers to protect sensitive employee information. The Pennsylvania Superior Court recently held in Dittman v. UPMC, that employees cannot sue employers…

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What is Zoning in Pennsylvania?

In Pennsylvania, the Pennsylvania Municipal Planning Code (often referred to as “the MPC”) defines the legal requirements of zoning. While addressing the legal requirements, the MPC does not do a great job of explaining what zoning is. In simplest terms, zoning helps protect your property value…

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Overview of Pennsylvania’s Data Breach Reporting Law

Many ask what a business should do when uncovering a suspected data breach in Pennsylvania. Unfortunately, the answer can be quite complex depending on the business, the nature of the suspected breach, and the data involved. The legal consequences of a data breach, not to mention the business consequences,…

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FAA Finally Requires Drone UAS Registration

The FAA now requires registration and labeling of all outdoor drones (unmanned aircraft systems or UAS) by February 19, 2016. According to the FAA UAS Website, electronic registration is available for hobbyists, as defined by law, fro drones weighing less than 55 lbs. and paper registration must…

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The Unwitting Cybersecurity Trap: The Risks of Relying on Technology Consultants

Considering the increasing number of data breaches, “hacking” episodes, and cybersecurity incidents over the past few years, businesses are finally starting to take cybersecurity and data security seriously. Businesses also realize that responsibility for data security is shifting from the IT staff to the Board and senior leadership.* However,…

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Pirker Decision Fails: Drones Subject to FAA Rules

As predicted, the NTSB reversed an earlier administrative law decision in Pirker and held that drones (UAS) are aircraft according to law and thus subject to FAA regulation. The FAA accused Pirker of “reckless operation of an aircraft” and imposed a civil fine of $10,000. The FAA alleged that…

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Is PCI Compliance Enough?

CIO Magazine recently ran an insightful article about PCI compliance. The article emphasizes that PCI “compliance” is a credit card industry minimum set of standards to protect data and to minimize data breaches. However, as the numerous data breaches…

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Texas Bar Opinion 642 and Today’s Legal Profession

In May 2014, the Texas Bar Association’s Professional Ethics Committee released Opinion 642 barring law firms from using the title “officer” or “principal” in non-lawyer job titles such as Chief Information Officer. Shockingly, the opinion unleashed a howl of protest from lawyers—even…

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Cybersecurity Resolution Adopted

The American Bar Association (ABA) adopted a startling resolution on cybersecurity at its August 2014 meeting. The ABA resolution urges all businesses, law firms, government agencies, and organizations to take cybersecurity seriously and to conduct regular reviews of security posture. But, the most import aspect of the resolution is,…

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Cybersecurity Basics for Pennsylvania Law Firms

Most Pennsylvania law firms either misunderstand cybersecurity [computer and network security] or significantly underestimate the threat of data breaches at law firms. Successful “hacks” can result in the loss of client confidential data or even losses of escrow funds. Considering the November 2013 updates to the…

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