S. Vance Wittie

S. Vance Wittie

Sedgwick LLP

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Latest Publications


Pennsylvania Supreme Court Declines Review of Case Applying Statute of Repose to Asbestos Claims

As we reported in our July 2014 edition, the Superior Court of Pennsylvania held, in Graver v. Foster-Wheeler Corp., 96 A.3d 383 (Pa. Super. Ct. 2014), that the 12-year statute of repose applicable to claims against designers...more

3/8/2015 - Asbestos Asbestos Litigation Construction Industry Contractors Designer Professionals' Liability Statute of Repose

Texas Supreme Court Upholds Class Representative's Authority to Dispose of Unclaimed Settlement Proceeds

A sharply divided Texas Supreme Court recently held that unclaimed class action settlement funds may be disposed of in the manner selected by the parties and are not subject to the state’s Unclaimed Property Act. In Highland...more

9/16/2014 - Class Action Contractors Liability Insurance Settlement Subcontractors Unclaimed Property

The Adverse Amicus: Does Court Acceptance of Factual Assertions Require a More Active Response?

The September 1 issue of the New York Times reports on an upcoming article on the role of amicus curiae briefs in shaping Supreme Court opinions. The article, authored by William and Mary professor, Allison Orr Larsen,...more

9/4/2014 - Appeals SCOTUS

Fifth Circuit Applies Punitive Damages Limitations to Statutory Civil Penalties

It’s not uncommon for state and federal regulatory schemes to provide for an award of statutory civil penalties to deter and punish certain conduct that it is difficult to monetize in a suit for damages. ...more

9/4/2014 - Civil Monetary Penalty Commercial Leases Corporate Counsel Damage Caps Healthcare Leases Punitive Damages Wal-Mart

Pennsylvania Statute of Repose Applies to Asbestos Claims

In Graver v. Foster Wheeler Corp., 2014 Pa. Super. 132, the Superior Court of Pennsylvania held that the statute of repose applicable to designers and constructors of improvements to real property applied to asbestos claims....more

7/31/2014 - Asbestos Asbestos Litigation Mesothelioma Statute of Repose

U.S. Supreme Court Resolves Enforcement of Forum Selection Provisions

The federal courts have been divided regarding how to handle motions to enforce contractual forum selection provisions. Some courts have held that the plaintiff’s choice of a forum other than the one provided by contract...more

12/11/2013 - Forum Selection SCOTUS

Texas Dramatically Expands Review of New Trial Orders

Traditionally, Texas trial court judges have enjoyed a virtually unlimited power to order new trials “in the interest of justice.” The Texas appellate courts have refused to review almost all new trial orders. This has led to...more

9/27/2013 - Abuse of Process New Trial

Reading Law: An Indispensable Treatise

In 2012, Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia and legal writing expert, Bryan Garner, published Reading Law: The Interpretation of Legal Texts. According to its authors, the purpose of the book is two fold: (1) to promote a...more

8/30/2013 - Legal Writing

When Words Are Not Text: Don't Bring a Knife to a Gun Fight

Appellate advocacy often comes down to a conflict over the meaning of words. The Supreme Court’s opinion in Vance v. Ball State Univ. provides graphic proof that not all fights over terminology are created equal. Advocates...more

6/27/2013 - Discrimination EEOC Harassment Hiring & Firing Race Discrimination SCOTUS Vance v. Ball State University

The Unheard Tree: The Struggle Over Unmanifested Defects in Consumer Class Actions

One of the most famous questions in philosophy is “if a tree fell in a forest and nobody was there to hear it, would it still make a sound?” A similar question dominates the world of consumer class actions. If a product...more

2/7/2013 - Causation Class Action Commonality FRCP 23(b)(3) Rules Enabling Act Toyota

Addressing the "Consolation Prize" - A Dilemma For Appellate Advocates

One more note on National Gas Pipeline Co. v. Justiss is appropriate. The Texas Supreme Court held that the landowners had failed to present admissible evidence that the permanent nuisance caused by the defendant had...more

1/15/2013 - Appeals Remand

When "Undisputed" Evidence Is Not "Conclusive" Evidence

The Texas Supreme Court’s opinion in Natural Gas Pipeline Company of America v. Justiss highlights a subtle but important point regarding the way appellate courts treat undisputed facts. The case concerned claims by...more

1/14/2013 - Evidence Natural Gas Nuisance Pipelines Statute of Limitations

Texas Supreme Court Applies Daubert-Type Standards to Lay Testimony

Texas has long adhered to the “Property Owner Rule,” permitting property owners to testify as to the value of their property. Recent cases have emphasized that the testimony must relate to market value, rather than intrinsic...more

1/14/2013 - Admissibility Nuisance Testimony Valuation

Product Liability Law Medical Device Law Update: December 2012 - “A State of Profound Uncertainty”: The Crisis in Pennsylvania

Since the mid-1960s, Pennsylvania has adhered to the strict liability tenets of section 402A of the Restatement (Second) of Torts. Its version of strict liability had a number of unique features, including the determination...more

12/24/2012 - Appeals Design Defects Medical Devices Negligence Split of Authority Strict Liability

Changes on the Horizon in Texas Civil Procedure

The Texas Supreme Court has adopted several rule changes that significantly affect civil litigation. New Rule 91a permits the filing of a motion to dismiss an action that lacks a basis in law or fact....more

11/4/2012 - Attorney's Fees Motion to Dismiss Prevailing Party

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