Hangley Aronchick has long been known for skilled and nimble trial lawyers.  But cases do not always end in the trial court, and neither do the services the Firm provides to its clients.  In the last few years, the Firm’s appellate practice, which has always been an important part of its litigation work, has continued to increase its profile.  Notwithstanding the COVID pandemic, which significantly slowed the pace of litigation generally, the Firm has amassed a remarkable record of appellate victories—both in cases it litigated in the trial court and cases in which it was engaged specifically as appellate counsel.

Since the beginning of 2020, Hangley Aronchick’s clients have prevailed in more than 20 appeals in state and federal courts across the country, winning more than 95% of the appeals, in whole or in part, in which the Firm has been involved.  The Firm’s election-litigation team, which represents state and local election officials, has been particularly active.  Led by Robert Wiygul, who co-chairs the Firm’s appellate practice with Matthew Hamermesh, the election team represented the Pennsylvania Department of State in a successful, high-profile defense of no-excuse mail-in voting, a voting method relied on by millions of Pennsylvanians since its enactment in late 2019.  In August 2022, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court issued a seminal decision upholding the mail-in voting statute against a constitutional challenge and reversing the decision of the lower court.

The election team was also before the Pennsylvania Supreme Court earlier in the year, representing state officials in fast-paced litigation over Pennsylvania’s congressional district map.  Robert Wiygul argued the case before the Supreme Court, with Cary Rice and John Hill leading the briefing.  After the Commonwealth’s High Court adopted a map, the Firm helped to defend it against a challenge brought in the Supreme Court of the United States.

During the 2020 election cycle, Hangley Aronchick—including Mark Aronchick, former shareholder and now Judge Michele Hangley, Robert Wiygul and John Hill—successfully litigated no fewer than 7 cases (some involving multiple appeals) before state and federal appellate courts, including the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, and the Supreme Court of the United States.  Many of those cases established important precedent.

The Firm has also prevailed in highly accelerated appeals in other arenas.  Earlier this year, John Summers and Andrew Erdlen successfully obtained expedited consideration of, and then won, their Third Circuit appeal challenging the district court’s appointment of a custodian to take control of Republic First Bank.

The Firm has also obtained significant appellate victories in environmental litigation.  Earlier this year, Steve Miano, Robert Wiygul, and Pete Keays successfully represented a group of state senators and municipalities before the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, obtaining a precedential decision rejecting, on standing grounds, a challenge to a ban on fracking in the Delaware River Basin.  And in April, in litigation of both a commercial and environmental nature, Andrew Erdlen prevailed before the Pennsylvania Superior Court on behalf of a municipal authority.

The appellate success of the Firm’s insurance coverage group has been particularly wide-ranging, extending to state and federal jurisdictions in diverse regions.  In a precedential decision by the Eleventh Circuit in 2021, Ronald Schiller and Daniel Layden successfully defended a lower-court decision awarding the Firm’s client summary judgment based on the interpretation of an invasion of privacy exclusion under Florida law.  In a Seventh Circuit decision in 2022, Ronald Schiller, Matthew Hamermesh, and Bonnie Hoffman obtained a ruling overturning a summary judgment decision interpreting a sublimit in an insurance policy.  In 2020, Ronald Schiller and Robert Wiygul persuaded the Oklahoma Court of Civil Appeals to reverse a multi-million-dollar jury verdict in a bad-faith case.

Earlier this year, Ronald Schiller and Bonnie Hoffman won an appeal in Connecticut establishing law on subject-matter waiver of the attorney-client privilege.  And in another 2022 decision, Ronald Schiller, Bonnie Hoffman, and Michael Masciandaro persuaded the Appellate Division of the New York Supreme Court to award judgment as matter of law to the Firm’s insurer client, unanimously reversing the trial court’s ruling that factual issues precluded judgment.

Nor do the cases above exhaust the breadth of the Firm’s appellate practice.  By way of example only: In 2021, in a dispute over the effect of early Twentieth-Century tax sales on the ownership of natural gas in the Marcellus Shale region, Mark Aronchick and Robert Wiygul prevailed in an appeal to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, obtaining reversal of a grant of summary judgment; the same year, Mark Aronchick, John Summers, and Andrew Erdlen obtained a Third Circuit decision affirming a preliminary objection against a local regulation, on the grounds that it was pre-empted by state law; in 2021, Mark Aronchick and Matthew Hamermesh won an appeal before the Pennsylvania Superior Court affirming the grant of judgment notwithstanding the verdict in a wrongful death action; and in 2022, Matthew Hamermesh won an appeal concerning the eligibility of debtors to file Chapter 13 bankruptcy.

With several more cases pending before state and federal appellate courts in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and elsewhere, the firm is confident that its successful run will continue.  Look out for updates in both the firm’s quarterly newsletter, on its website, and on social media.

For more information about the firm’s appellate practice, contact Matthew Hamermesh or Robert Wiygul.