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Transformative Pro Bono Experiences in The Philadelphia Lawyer

May 16, 2024

An excerpt written by partner Douglas Rosenblum about his personal experience with pro bono work. Pro bono representations have been critical to my development, both personally and professionally. I left my role as a prosecutor 15 years ago to pursue a career in private practice. From the day I left the Montgomery County District Attorney’s Office, I decided to volunteer my time as a child advocate. At all times since transitioning to private practice, I have represented at least one pro bono client under 18. I have represented children who have been victims of abuse and neglect, and I have represented children who were witnesses to horrific crimes. My clients have ranged from newborn babies to high school graduates. Donating my time free of charge has been one of the most rewarding aspects of my career. Pro bono representations, including child advocacy, require perspective and empathy. Many of my young clients have no concept of what a lawyer does, let alone how the justice system works. We, as attorneys, especially those in private practice, often take for granted that our clients have a fundamental understanding of our role and the legal process. We cannot and should not make such assumptions. I have learned that we should take the time necessary to ensure that our clients – including those who pay for our services and those who do not – understand what we are doing and why we do it. Clients come to us because they have a problem they would like to fix or a difficult issue they need to deal with. No matter the age of the client or size of the client’s bank account, we should educate them  in a compassionate and empathetic manner. Nothing quite compares to the relief I see on the faces of my young pro bono clients when I explain that I represent them – not their parents, aunts, uncles, teachers, or coaches – just them for as long as it takes, day or night.   Read More

Pietragallo Gordon Alfano Bosick & Raspanti, LLP and Gentile, Horoho & Avalli, P.C. to Merge

2023/08/01

Business and Commercial Litigation Firm Adds Family Law and Estate Administration/Orphans’ Court Practice AUGUST 1, 2023 – Two established Pittsburgh law firms have agreed to merge, bringing a highly-experienced family law and estate planning, administration, and litigation practice to a nationally-recognized business and litigation firm. Effective August 1, 2023, Gentile, Horoho & Avalli, P.C (GHA) will merge with Pietragallo Gordon Alfano Bosick & Raspanti, LLP (Pietragallo). All seven GHA attorneys, well-known for their experience in complex and high net-worth divorce and custody disputes as well as intricate estate/trust cases will now join Pietragallo, a multi-disciplined business and commercial litigation firm, with offices in Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, and Sharon, PA, Steubenville, OH, Weirton, WV, and Palm Beach Gardens, FL. The merger comes on the heels of Pietragallo’s expansion into Palm Beach Gardens in 2022. Pietragallo’s clients range from Fortune 200 and large privately-held companies to municipal entities and entrepreneurial businesses in a broad diversity of industries and business sectors. Gentile, Horoho & Avalli brings to Pietragallo more than 30 years of experience in providing exceptional legal counsel in the areas of family law and estates and trusts as well as complex orphans’ court litigation. “We are excited to engage with these outstanding practitioners in a new sphere of domestic-business litigation,” said Pietragallo chairman William Pietragallo II. “Our practices share a common commitment to achieving results.” “The lawyers at Pietragallo have distinguished themselves as leaders in our profession and in the communities they serve,” said Kenneth J. Horoho, Jr. “The blending of our two firms will provide our current clients with experienced business litigation attorneys who are known for problem-solving and results.” The family law/estate litigation attorneys joining Pietragallo include: Kenneth Horoho, Jr., Partner Charles Avalli, Partner Kerri Lee Cappella, Partner Carla Schiff Donnelly, Partner Lorraine W. Mervan, Special Counsel Robert D. Weinberg, Associate Adam J. Read More

Phillip Earnest elected to Academy of Trial Lawyers of Allegheny County

2023/06/22

Pietragallo partner Phillip R. Earnest has been elected into membership of the Academy of Trial Lawyers of Allegheny County. Mr. Earnest, chair of the firm’s Construction Practice Group, joins an esteemed group of Pietragallo lawyers who, in part, make up the 250 members of the Academy. The Academy of Trial Lawyers began in 1959 as an organization to promote the highest standards of integrity, civility, and competence in the legal profession. The Academy fosters development, improvement and accomplishment of the highest quality of advocacy before our Courts. Members of the Academy have long represented the most exceptional trial lawyers in Allegheny County. Each year, the Academy completes a rigorous membership process where new members are selected, this year Mr. Earnest is among twelve members who have been selected by the membership committee. Mr. Earnest primarily represents corporations in commercial, construction, and insurance contract drafting, negotiation, claims, and litigation. He has tried numerous jury trials and has successfully conducted commercial and construction arbitrations throughout the federal and state court systems of Pennsylvania and West Virginia. Learn more about the Academy of Trial Lawyers of Allegheny County here. Read More

Pietragallo Welcomes New Associates

2022/10/17

Pietragallo Gordon Alfano Bosick & Raspanti, LLP is pleased to announce the addition of two new associates to the firm’s Pittsburgh and Philadelphia Offices. Michael O. Bethune joins our Commercial Litigation team in our Pittsburgh Office. Michael was a law clerk at a regional law firm who specialized in personal injury, legal malpractice, and employment litigation cases. He also served as an extern for the Honorable Helena Barch-Kuchta of the U.S. District Court, Eastern District of California. He is a graduate of Duquesne University School of Law. Megan E. Young joins our Employment & Labor team in our Philadelphia Office. Megan completed an externship in the City of Philadelphia’s Law Department where she handled a multitude of aspects of the litigation process including initial responsive pleadings, written discovery, depositions, pre-trial motions, municipal court, and arbitration hearings. She also spent time at a public healthcare technology company. Megan is a graduate of Temple University Beasley School of Law. About Pietragallo Pietragallo Gordon Alfano Bosick & Raspanti, LLP is a multi-disciplined business and litigation law firm headquartered in Pittsburgh and Philadelphia with six offices throughout Pennsylvania, Florida, Ohio, and West Virginia from which we are able to serve our clients in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Read More

Supreme Court Just Made a Prosecutor’s Job More Difficult: The Impact of ‘Ruan’

2022/07/21

On June 27, the U.S. Supreme Court expanded the scope of the government’s burden of proof of a defendant’s mental state, or mens rea. The Supreme Court held that in a statute that provided an exception or exemption to prosecution, that is a clause stating “except as authorized,” the government must now prove beyond a reasonable doubt that a defendant knew that he did not fall within the scope of that exception. Although the case related to a federal criminal statute prohibiting the dispensing or distribution of controlled substances by a physician, the ruling can be applied to myriad criminal statutes that carve out exceptions or exemptions to prosecution. This article explains the Supreme Court’s decision and focuses on the ramifications as it pertains to other criminal statutes. It also raises questions regarding the reasonableness standards of the exclusionary rule under United States v. Leon, 468 U.S. 897 (1984). In Ruan v. United States, 597 U.S.        (2022), two physicians in two distinct cases were convicted of dispensing or distributing controlled substances by issuing opioid prescriptions in violation of 21 U.S.C. Section 841(a). Section 841 makes it a federal crime “except as authorized, … for any person knowingly or intentionally … to manufacture, distribute, or dispense … a controlled substance.” The Supreme Court consolidated the cases for purposes of the opinion. The defendants asserted that they were authorized to issue the prescriptions under 21 CFR Section 1306(a)(2021), which allows physicians to write prescriptions for controlled substances only “for a legitimate medical purpose … acting in the usual course of his professional practice.” They further asserted that even if they failed to comply with such standard, they believed they did. In other words, they asserted a good faith defense. The government in both trials argued that the prescriptions issued by the defendants did not comply with the standards set forth in 21 CFR Section 1306(a). Read More

Chambers USA Recognizes Pietragallo as a 2022 Leading Law Firm in Pennsylvania

2022/06/01

Pietragallo Gordon Alfano Bosick & Raspanti, LLP is pleased to be recognized by Chambers USA in its 2022 guide in the area of Litigation: White-Collar Crime & Government Investigations in Pennsylvania.  Chambers ranks leading law firms and attorneys across the U.S. based on the opinion of their clients and peers, and by the quality of their work. Chambers USA acknowledges that the Pietragallo team “is extremely knowledgeable about every facet of the work they are performing. In addition, they are very reliable, responsive and provide an excellent work product.” Clients and peers are quoted as saying, “They are reliable and straightforward. They certainly pay attention to me and keep me informed on matters referred to them.” Additionally, the following partners are ranked: William Pietragallo— Litigation: General Commercial— Pennsylvania: Pittsburgh & Surrounds Marc S. Raspanti— Litigation: White Collar Crime & Government Investigations— Pennsylvania Kevin E. Raphael— Litigation: White Collar Crime & Government Investigations— Pennsylvania   About Pietragallo Pietragallo Gordon Alfano Bosick & Raspanti, LLP is a multi-disciplined business and litigation law firm headquartered in Pittsburgh and Philadelphia with six offices throughout Pennsylvania, Florida, Ohio, and West Virginia from which we are able to serve our clients in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Read More

The Physician Payments Sunshine Act and the Future of Healthcare Transparency: Part 2

March 2, 2022

This is part 2 of a two-part article series. Part 1 was published in the February 2022 issue of Compliance Today and discussed the issues in the healthcare industry that led to the enactment of The Physician Payments Sunshine Act, it’s key statutory language, the potential penalties, and the Act’s evolution. The Physician Payments Sunshine Act (PPSA) took effect in 2013.[1] It requires medical product manufacturers to disclose to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) payments or transfers of value made to physicians or teaching hospitals. PPSA also requires manufacturers and group purchasing organizations to disclose any physician’s ownership or financial interest in those companies. The disclosed data is published annually in a publicly searchable database.[2] The rationale behind the public availability of the data is to empower patients through transparency to mitigate the putative effect of financial incentives on clinical behavior and the public and prevent physician-industry conflicts of interest. Part 1 of this article[3] offers a comprehensive analysis of the major healthcare regulatory enforcement statutes and their continuingly expansive use. First, it considers the issues in the healthcare industry that led to the enactment of the PPSA are relevant to an understanding of the current law and its growing enforcement. Next, it discusses PPSA key statutory language and its evolution and considers the impact from a fraud and abuse standpoint. Part 2 of this article reviews the significance of the first examples of Department of Justice enforcement of the act, as well as the likely increase of private PPSA enforcement. Other sunshine acts, including state and international acts, are also highlighted. Finally, an examination of the future of transparency statutes, including the Hospital Price Transparency regulation,[4] the newest major transparency statute proposed; the Prescription Drug Price Transparency Act; and the Transparency in Coverage statute, which support the notion that transparency is a trend in the healthcare industry that will withstand the test of time. Read More

The Physician Payments Sunshine Act and the Future of Healthcare Transparency: Part 1

2022/02/02

Part 2 of this article series will be published in the March 2022 issue of Compliance Today and focus on examples of enforcement actions and examine the future of transparency statutes. The Physician Payments Sunshine Act (PPSA) took effect in 2013.[1] It requires medical product manufacturers to disclose to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) payments or transfers of value made to physicians or teaching hospitals. The act also requires manufacturers and group purchasing organizations to disclose any physician’s ownership or financial interest in those companies. The disclosed data is published annually in a publicly searchable database.[2] The rationale behind the public availability of the data is to empower patients through transparency to mitigate the putative effect of financial incentives on clinical behavior and the public and prevent physician-industry conflicts of interest. This two-part article provides a comprehensive analysis of the major healthcare regulatory enforcement statutes and their continuingly expansive use. First, we’ll reference the issues in the healthcare industry that led to the enactment of the PPSA that are relevant to an understanding of the current law and its growing enforcement. Next, we’ll discuss key statutory language and PPSA’s evolution. Then, we’ll consider the impact from a fraud and abuse standpoint, which is important to appreciate the significance of the first examples of Department of Justice enforcement of the act that follow, as well as the likely increase of private PPSA enforcement. We’ll also highlight other sunshine acts, including state and international ones. Finally, we’ll examine the future of transparency statutes, including the Hospital Price Transparency regulation,[3] the newest major transparency statute proposed; the Prescription Drug Price Transparency Act; and the Transparency in Coverage statute, which support the notion that transparency is a trend in the healthcare industry that will withstand the test of time. The lead-up to the enactment of the Physician Sunshine Act After years of calls for the healthcare industry to shift toward a more transparent and consumer-friendly environment, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) passed in 2010, including the PPSA codified at 42 U.S.C. Read More

BEWARE Pension Plan Trustees: The United States Supreme Court has Reinforced Your Responsibility

2022/01/31

On Monday, January 24, 2022 the United States Supreme Court issued its much-anticipated opinion in the Hughes, et al. v. Northwestern University, et al. case. Before the Court was the issue of whether Northwestern University violated its fiduciary duty to a class of employee-investors under ERISA by allegedly including unnecessarily expensive investment options and paying excessive fees although they simultaneously offered low cost options. In short, is it a violation of Northwestern’s fiduciary duty to offer both reasonable and unreasonable investment options if they ultimately allow the employee investor to choose which plan to invest in? The District Court ruled the university satisfied their fiduciary duty and dismissed the case. The Seventh Circuit agreed affirming the lower court. The Supreme Court ultimately disagreed and reinstated the class action finding that employee choice does not cure the universities’ potentially imprudent offerings. The basis for the Supreme Court’s reversal and remand is that the lower courts’ rationale was inconsistent with the explanation of the duties owed by a fiduciary explained in Tibble v. Edison Int’l, including the duty to monitor and oversee all plan investment options and remove any deemed imprudent. 575 U. S. 523, 530 (2015). While the Seventh Circuit also based its opinion on guidance provided in Tibble, namely the duty to offer a diverse menu of plan options, it ignored the duty to remove imprudent offerings. The Court briefly touched on the Petitioners’ allegation including: 1. Northwestern failed to monitor record keeping and investment management fees; 2. Northwestern offered plan options including “retail” share classes while identical and cheaper “institutional” share classes were available; and 3. Northwestern created confusion by offering over 400 investment options. By focusing solely on the university diversifying their plan options and providing participant choice, the Seventh Circuit and District Court ignored other equally important aspects of the duty of prudence owed by a fiduciary. Read More

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