Some of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court’s recent rulings have gone against precedent on certain issues.
However, according to Schmidt Kramer partner Scott Cooper, who was quoted in a recent article from The Legal Intelligencer, the court’s decisions have been focused on the Pennsylvania Constitution.
Cooper was the leading attorney representing the victim in the Gallagher v. Geico case, which resulted in January’s state supreme court ruling that household vehicle exclusions preventing the stacking of insurance coverage violate the Motor Vehicle Financial Responsibility Law. The court said these exclusions were a “de facto waiver” of stacked coverage. This overturned decades of precedent on the issue.
According to Cooper, courts had followed precedent on auto insurance cases for many years. However, precedent was not based on interpreting the law, but rather on cases that came up through bad facts.
“We finally have a court that is looking at the law and applying it,” said Cooper.
According to footnotes in the majority opinion in Gallagher v. Geico, the ruling did not go against the idea of ruling according to precedent for two reasons:
- The court was evenly split in the 2011 decision in Government Employees Insurance v. Ayers
- The court issued a plurality decision in Erie Insurance Exchange v. Baker
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