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…

Read More

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…

Read More

Revised Model Noise Ordinance for Pennsylvania Released

Attorney Shannon Brown released a newly-revised Model Noise Ordinance for Pennsylvania municipalities. A noise ordinance acts as an essential tool for municipalities to encourage neighborliness, to recognize fundamental constitutional property rights, and to reduce the negative health effects of noise pollution in Pennsylvania communities. The…

Read More

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…

Read More

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.

Read More

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…

Read More

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…

Read More

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…

Read More

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%…

Read More

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…

Read More

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…

Read More

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.

Read More

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…

Read More

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…

Read More

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…

Read More

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…

Read More

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…

Read More

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,…

Read More

Droning On: Drone Aircraft Activists’ Arguments Unravel

On June 23, 2014, the FAA issued a Federal Register Notice for the operation of model aircraft (drone) aircraft. The Notice repeats the long-standing rules regarding operating model aircraft and addresses the new rules mandated by Congress—ironically, Rules necessitated by…

Read More

The Next Battleground for Data Breaches…Shareholder Lawsuits?

Companies ill-prepared for data breaches and failing to take reasonable steps to secure data and computer systems face increasing and serious risks to the business. Specifically, companies, officers, and boards must start taking data and computer-systems security seriously or risk shareholder lawsuits. Shareholder Lawsuits for Data Breaches In two…

Read More

Commercial Drones Pose Confirmed Dangers?

Drone aircraft crashes and personal injury may no longer be speculation. In Australia, a triathlete was apparently struck by a drone aircraft after radio interference destabilized the drone. See, e.g., Australian triathlete injured after drone crash, BBCNews (Apr.7, 2014). Even military…

Read More

Not So Fast…Commercial Drone Legality Still Remains Unclear

On 6 March 2014, in FAA v. Pirker, a NTSB Administrative Law Judge dismissed the first complaint brought by the FAA against the operator of a commercial drone for reckless operation of an aircraft. While some claim that this opinion means that the commercial drones are absolutely legal, serious…

Read More

A Fair Approach to Drone Regulation

Drone manufacturers and would-be manufacturers paint a picture of skies filled with drones—unmanned aircraft (and other machines). Media and advocacy groups cite First Amendment rights to the use of drones. Police seek drones despite prohibitions by federal and state constitutions. But, serious issues related to safety (what happens when…

Read More

Federal Appellate Court Affirms Warrant Required for GPS Tracking

UPDATE: Government attorneys continue to press for warrantless searches in GPS cases and significant, and unconstitutional, expansion of the so-called Good Faith Doctrine. On December 12, 2013, a majority of the Third Circuit agreed to re-hear the matter en banc and vacated the earlier, October 22, 2013, opinion. The information below still deals with the vacated opinion.

Read More

Warrant Necessary to Obtain Cell Phone Tracking Data

The New Jersey Supreme Court held that government agents must obtain a warrant, supported by probable cause and issued by a neutral judicial authority, before obtaining cell phone tracking data (unless exceptional, exigent circumstances apply). State vs. Earls, A-53-11 (N.J. Sup. Ct., Jul. 18, 2013)(slip opinion).

Read More