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appellate practice

Conrad O’Brien has a wealth of experience practicing in appellate courts and tribunals across the Commonwealth and beyond. The firm has represented clients in the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, the Superior Court, the Commonwealth Court, the Third Circuit Court of Appeals, and various administrative tribunals (including the Charter School Appeal Board, the Office of Open Records, and the Department of Health). Our resources include attorneys with significant appellate experience, including former clerks of the Pennsylvania Superior Court and the Third Circuit Court of Appeals. Our appellate team prides itself on creative thinking and thorough research. Our approach has led to successful results for our clients, including the following:

  • Convinced the Pennsylvania Supreme Court to strike down an onerous waiver rule used in Right-to-Know Law appeals.
  • On appeal to the Third Circuit, successfully defended a federal district court order dismissing a constitutional challenge to newly enacted state legislation.
  • Successfully argued ERISA preemption in the Pennsylvania Supreme Court and in response to a petition for writ of certiorari filed with the United States Supreme Court in a breach of contract case brought by former employees against an employer.
  • In a case of first impression before the Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court, had declared invalid and unenforceable student enrollment caps unilaterally imposed by a school district against a charter school.
  • Sought and received emergency injunctive relief from the Pennsylvania Supreme Court based on multiple privileges (including the attorney-client privilege, the work product doctrine, and various statutory confidentiality rights), which prevented the release of millions of client documents.
  • Sought and received emergency injunctive relief from the Third Circuit Court of Appeals regarding a federal health law mandate.
  • On appeal to the Pennsylvania Department of Health, successfully defended supermarket chain in administrative appeals related to store certification under Pennsylvania’s Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC Program).
  • Successfully represented an insurance company in an appeal to the Pennsylvania Superior Court concerning the dismissal of a class action involving massage therapists who sought reimbursement from an insurer for their unlicensed treatment of therapeutic massage.
  • Defended a former executor of an estate, consisting of multi-state commercial real estate empires. After 14 years of litigation that included various hearings, oral arguments, over 70 depositions, and an extensive trial, the trial court rejected the vast majority of claims lodged against our client. The matter was resolved following further findings in our client’s favor by the Superior Court of Pennsylvania, and the Pennsylvania Supreme Court’s rejection of opponents’ application for appeal.
  • On appeal to the Third Circuit, affirmed dismissal of a Section 1983 civil rights action brought against a former state senator by an animal rights activist.

As an adjunct to its appellate practice, Conrad O’Brien has also litigated multiple matters in the Commonwealth Court’s original jurisdiction. Litigation that begins in the Commonwealth Court involves many of the same rules as traditional appeals and generally involves suits by and against the Commonwealth. In these matters, the Firm has represented public officials, public agencies, and private citizens and businesses alike, assisting all of them in navigating the unique terrain of the Commonwealth Court’s rules of procedure. The following are representative matters:

  • Brought suit on behalf of Senator Jake Corman against the NCAA regarding enforcement of the Institution of Higher Education Monetary Penalty Endowment Act. The suit successfully resolved with a settlement creating an endowment in the State Treasury for assistance to programs involving prevention of child sexual abuse.
  • Filed emergency litigation against the Governor on behalf of the Senate Majority Caucus to challenge the Governor’s termination of the executive director of the Office of Open Records. The Commonwealth Court sided with the Caucus in an en banc opinion, ruling the termination violated the Pennsylvania Constitution.
  • Sought declaratory judgment against the Liquor Control Board regarding its interpretation of the Liquor Code and the ability of beer distributors to sell 12 packs of malt or brewed beverages.
  • Defended the Public Utility Commission in a challenge to the constitutionality of various parts of Act 13 of 2012, the state’s comprehensive overhaul of oil and gas laws.