Most of the disputes in which our firm’s litigation practice is involved are on behalf of private entities and individuals. These include disputes among partners, directors, officers and managers; disputes between buyers and sellers, developers and lenders, and businesses; and many other business controversies.
Over the years, our firm’s representations have grown to include disputes where the government is a party or plays an important role in the dispute. The firm now regularly represents governmental entities and public officials, as well as private entities in matters adverse to or involving governmental entities, including regulators, enforcement authorities, and state and local governments. We have been handling these types of high-profile matters for decades – from successfully invalidating Pennsylvania’s ban on same-sex marriage in 2014 to successfully defending both the Philadelphia Beverage Tax on behalf of the City and the Commonwealth’s new electoral map on behalf of Governor Wolf before the Pennsylvania Supreme Court in 2018.
Clients are increasingly turning to the firm to handle these kinds of matters. They turn to our lawyers because navigating these representations requires a mastery of how state and local governments work (sometimes in relation to each other); a strong grasp of regulatory schemes; a thorough understanding of state constitutional and statutory law; and a scrupulous adherence to ethical standards. These cases put a premium on creativity in crafting novel arguments and thinking outside the box.
Many of these matters involve fundamental issues of public law. For instance, John Summers and Andrew Erdlen were selected to lead the representation of the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office and District Attorney Larry Krasner in several matters, including the Pennsylvania General Assembly’s efforts to impeach DA Krasner. In a lawsuit that has garnered substantial national attention, they successfully challenged the impeachment in Commonwealth Court, obtaining a declaration that the Amended Articles of Impeachment against Mr. Krasner are not constitutional. John, Andrew and Matthew Hamermesh, a co-chair of our firm’s appellate practice, are handling the General Assembly’s appeal of that ruling to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. Relatedly, John regularly represents public officials and judges in connection with ethics and misconduct issues.
The firm also represents government entities and officials in a variety of ongoing matters. Pete Keays, for example, serves as outside environmental counsel to the City of Philadelphia, and he, Steve Miano and Rob Wiygul recently won an appeal before the Third Circuit upholding a challenge to a fracking ban in the Delaware River Basin. Rob serves as counsel to state and local elections officials in numerous matters relating to voting rights and elections, with John Hill on the matters as well; and Matthew Hamermesh and Michael Masciandaro serve as bankruptcy counsel to the City of Chester in its pending Chapter 9 bankruptcy.
On the private sector side, the firm has recently represented multiple individuals and entities opposing regulatory decisions by state and local governments. For example, since John Summers’ groundbreaking success before the Pennsylvania Supreme Court in 2017 in overturning several decades of Commonwealth Court decisions that improperly allowed school districts to selectively appeal the assessments of only large commercial properties, many commercial property owners now regularly turn to John and his team of other experienced colleagues to represent them in similar, complex tax assessment appeals. John, together with Mark Aronchick and Andrew Erdlen, represented a private association in successfully challenging a Philadelphia local ordinance as preempted by state law.
In a similar vein, Mark, Jason Levine, Cary Rice and Gianni Mascioli currently represent a gaming company in important litigation involving the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board’s statutory authority to consider an application for a new mini-casino near Penn State University. Across the river, Jason, Rob Wiygul and Nicholas Bellos represent a New Jersey-based pharmacy in a procurement dispute against University Hospital, a state hospital located in Newark, which raises novel issues involving the reviewability of procurements issued by state instrumentalities.
These are just a few examples of our firm’s recent work in this space. As these matters continue to be decided, stay on the lookout for updates in both the firm’s quarterly newsletter, on our website and on social media.Share This