Lancaster Law Blog

Lancaster Law Blog

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Legal Links – February 12, 2016

Posted in Legal Links

On Fridays, we compile and post Legal Links, a list of legal news, reported cases, community events and topics of interest to Lancaster residents and readers of the Lancaster Law Blog.

  1. The People Vs. O. J. Simpson. One of the first national news events I can recall is the verdict from the O. J. Simpson trial. I vividly remember a TV being rolled on a cart into my 5th grade classroom, I assume so that the teachers could get together and watch the verdict.

FX has put together a true crime TV series, with the first season focusing on the O. J. Simpson murder trial. The series has an all-star cast, featuring Cuba Gooding Jr. as O.J. Simpson, John Travolta as Robert Shapiro, and David Schwimmer as Robert Kardashian, to name a few.

If you haven’t seen it, you aren’t too far behind – only two episodes of the show have aired. Catch up On Demand or via the FX Now app.

Interested in the factual accuracy of the show? Both Vulture and Vanity Fair are running series that fact-check the show.

  1. Calling All Young Professionals! There’s a new networking group in town. The Ephrata Area Chamber of Commerce Young Professionals Network will have their inaugural event on Wednesday March 2, 2016 from 5:00-7:00 pm at Boniface Craft Brewing Company.

The event is free for Ephrata Chamber members and $5.00 for non-members. If you’re interested in learning more, here’s a link for registration and additional information.

  1. Vehicle Registration Stickers. Speaking of registration – in 2017, Pennsylvania will eliminate vehicle registration stickers, saving over $3 million dollars in costs.
  1. Speaking Out. Next week, the dynamic duo of Matt Landis and Lindsay Schoeneberger will be giving a presentation about contracts and estate planning (respectively) to the Lancaster Networking Group. Matt will also be presenting a seminar to ASSETS Lancaster’s Lending Circles on the basics of employment law for small businesses and entrepreneurs.

Interested in having a seminar at your organization? Feel free to contact us to see how we can help.

Please submit topics or community events for future Legal Links to

How Important is Farming in Lancaster County?

Posted in Agriculture

Farming is more important to the economy of Lancaster County and Pennsylvania than you may imagine.  At the February 11 Ag Issues Forum, presented by the Lancaster County Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Mike Peachey and Lisa Riggs discussed just how much agriculture benefits all of Lancaster County.  Peachey, a director of Lancaster County Agriculture Council talked about the impacts:

  • The actual products taken from Lancaster County farms – the milk, eggs, produce, etc., produce 1.5 billion dollars yearly.
  • The additional income generated by Lancaster County farms — including food processing, sales, equipment manufacturing and maintenance, etc., generate another $6.7 billion each year.
  • Additional agricultural related services, like fuel, electricity and consulting generates another $2 billion.
  • Farmers and farm workers make up 2% of the population of Lancaster County. Farming accounts for 21% of the total economy of Lancaster County.
  • Lancaster County is responsible for over 20% of the agricultural revenue for the entire state of Pennsylvania. For poultry, this rises to 36% of the entire state.

We all benefit from the beauty of the farmland that surrounds us every day but it’s good to be reminded of the actual economic impact as well.  We are fortunate to call Lancaster County home.

Aaron Marines is an attorney at Russell, Krafft & Gruber, LLP, in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. He received his law degree from Widener University and practices in a variety of areas including Land Use, Land Planning and Zoning matters.

Reflections on Leadership Lancaster – Part Two

Posted in Leadership Lancaster

Lancaster Law BlogAs a proud member of the Leadership Lancaster Core Class of 2016, I will be posting periodic updates of my experiences in the program. Learn more about Leadership Lancaster at or feel free to contact me directly with any questions you may have.

The program for the Core Class of 2016 is flying by. Since my last update, so much has happened. Here’s what I’ve been up to:

As a part of Leadership Lancaster, you are assigned to a small group called a Community Action Team (CAT). Our team was tasked with coming up with a project to benefit the community in the area of employment training and workforce readiness. Over the past months, we have met regularly, conducted research on our topic as it relates to Lancaster County and attended several community events, including a What In The World? Career Fair at Martin Luther King Elementary School hosted by the North Museum of Nature and Science.

In addition to working on our CAT project, we’ve had a few “homework assignments.” First, in preparation for the Arts and Culture session, we were asked to attend a local arts and culture performance, event or exhibit. I chose to attend the Phillips Museum of Art at Franklin and Marshall College. It was amazing to see such a remarkable collection of works here in Lancaster. Typically, I only visit art museums when I’m traveling in major cities, but this experience opened my eyes to the arts and cultural opportunities that are available right in our backyards.

Our second homework assignment was to attend a city or county government meeting. A small group of us attended a Lancaster City Council meeting. I was impressed with the time and care that the City Council members took to educate and explain the actions they were taking to the city residents in attendance.

Finally, here are some brief comments on the latest sessions that I’ve attended:

Health and Human Services – this was an eye-opening, non-traditional session, with a goal of identifying and recognizing the needs of the delivery systems which respond to health care and human needs. We participated in a community problem solving simulation which forced us out of our comfort zones and made us explore the resources that Lancaster County has to offer for health and human services.

 Arts and Culture – this may be my favorite session to date. As I mentioned above, I was excited for this session because the homework assignment whetted my appetite for some local arts and culture experiences. The session did not disappoint – we were hosted by Pennsylvania College of Art and Design, went on a Lancaster Arts Scavenger Hunt which took advantage of the unseasonably warm weather, and finished up with a tour of the Fulton Theatre.

 Public Policy and Economic Development – we were hosted at the Lancaster County Public Safety Training Center, which is an impressive facility designed to bring together key stakeholders in public safety, including EMS, fire, and police. The overall theme of the day was the exploration of the Lancaster County’s past, present and future with respect to local politics and the economy.

In the morning we enjoyed a panel discussion on governance and Lancaster County featuring various public officials, including:

Mayor Richard Gray, Lancaster City

Commissioner Craig Lehman, Lancaster County

Mayor Leo Lutz, Columbia

Borough Manager Roni Ryan, Elizabethtown

Councilwoman Barbara Wilson, Lancaster City

We then had a presentation from Tom Baldridge, President of the Lancaster Chamber of Commerce and Industry on the state of the economy in Lancaster County. In a process that was near and dear to my heart, we broke into small groups to participate in an exercise regarding land use planning before a simulated planning commission.

 Leadership Advantage – in this session, we participated in a variety of short seminars on topics of our choosing. I chose Strategic Planning, Presentations Beyond Powerpoint, and Social Media. While the Leadership Advantage Program focused primarily on nonprofit organizations, I chose the above topics because they could easily be applied to for-profit entities as well as nonprofits.

The Strategic Planning session, hosted by Kate Gallagher of coLAB and Anne Gingerich of PANO provided an excellent framework for strategic planning to help make sure your organization implements a strategic plan and gets the most out of it.

Dr. Kristen Albert of Turning Points, LLC gave a wonderful presentation on…presentations! Aside from many outstanding takeaways on how to give a great presentation, this quote from the presentation really resonated with me: “We don’t learn from experience, we learn from reflecting upon experience.”

Finally, Kris Bradley of MIND Development & Design and Kelly Alice Robinson of katopa LLC gave a dynamic presentation on social media, social media marketing strategies and some tools to make your life easier when promoting your work online.

Wow, that was a lot and I didn’t even come close to covering everything!

If you’re interested in applying for a spot as a member in the Core Class of 2017, applications are available now and can be found here. Just remember, the Core Class of 2016 is the best class ever.

Matt Landis is an attorney at Russell, Krafft & Gruber, LLP, in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. He received his law degree from Widener University and works regularly with business owners and entrepreneurs.

Lancaster Liquor License Cost On The Rise

Posted in Business Law

When you were picking up your bread and milk yesterday did you take a few minutes to stop by one of the beer cafes at a Weis or Giant in Lancaster County?  Recently, Rutter’s announced it is seeking a liquor license for their new store in Leola.  Many Lancaster county residents are pleased that there are a growing number of options to purchase beer.  Did you know, however, that the supermarket purchases have significantly impacted the cost of a liquor license in Lancaster county?  Aaron Zeamer recently spoke to Chad Umble at LNP Media Group, Inc. and contributed to this LNP article which talks about some of the recent changes.

Aaron works with commercial real estate agents and restaurant and bar owners to facilitate the sale and transfer of PA liquor licenses. His familiarity with the liquor code and his frequent interaction with the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board allows him to assist clients with a broad range of liquor license issues.  His work as a member of the board of directors of the Pennsylvania Restaurant and Lodging Association (PRLA) ensures that he stays abreast of industry developments and the needs of the hospitality industry in Pennsylvania. Click here or feel free to give Aaron a call if you would like additional information on how liquor licenses work in Pennsylvania.

Legal Links – February 5, 2016

Posted in Legal Links

On Fridays, we compile and post Legal Links, a list of legal news, reported cases, community events and topics of interest to Lancaster residents and readers of the Lancaster Law Blog.

1.  The Law in the News – 2015 Edition.The ABA Journal compiled and summarized what it considers the 10 most important legal stories of 2015, touching on major developments regarding same-sex marriage, capital punishment, and Syrian refugees.

In the number one spot is the Supreme Court’s decision in Obergefell v. Hodges, which provides same-sex couples the right to marry under the protection of the 14th Amendment.  This sparked some dissenting jurisdictions to enact religious freedom laws, and it also resulted in the Kim Davis controversy.

There was a notable decline in executions during the course of the year, which can be partially attributed difficulty in obtaining the drugs used for lethal injection; after large shipments of sodium thiopental had been confiscated by the FDA in Arizona and Texas, some states put scheduled executions on hold due to a shortage of the FDA-approved, “safe” supply of the drugs.

2.  Law Hawk flies to Super Bowl 50. A Texas criminal defense attorney named Bryan Wilson will star in a Taco Bell commercial that will air during the Super Bowl this weekend.

How did Wilson get such an honor? Wilson’s series of television commercials, where he refers to himself as “the Texas Law Hawk” have become an internet sensation. Here’s another one of his videos: Bryan Wilson, the Texas Law Hawk.

Who’s our pick for Super Bowl Champion? Although we’d love to see Peyton Manning go out on top, our pick is in line with FiveThirtyEight’s prediction: the Carolina Panthers.

3.  High School Seniors go to Trial. The 2016 Pennsylvania High School Mock Trial Competition, hosted by the Pennsylvania Bar Association, is underway. Teams from across the state compete before real judges, each assuming the role of an attorney or witness. Local attorneys serve as jurors for the competition. Our own Matt Landis and Lindsay Schoeneberger frequently volunteer as jurors, and were particularly impressed with the teams they’ve witnessed this year.

 To read more about this year’s case, check out this link for the materials given to each participant.


Please submit topics or community events for future Legal Links to

Russell, Krafft & Gruber, LLP has named Aaron K. Zeamer a Partner of the firm

Posted in Business Law, Outside the Law, Personal Injury, Real Estate

Aaron K. ZeamerThe law firm of Russell, Krafft & Gruber, LLP has named Aaron K. Zeamer a Partner effective January 1, 2016.

Aaron is a member of Russell, Krafft & Gruber’s growing Business, Real Estate and Litigation practice groups.  As a reliable and trusted advisor to his clients, he offers practical advice and clear solutions for businesses and individuals. Aaron’s representation is enhanced by his ability to provide personalized legal representation by understanding each client’s industry, unique business situation and current personal circumstances.

In addition to providing quality business, real estate and litigation representation, Aaron works frequently with commercial real estate agents and restaurant and bar owners to facilitate the sale and transfer of PA liquor licenses. His unique in-depth understanding of the PA liquor laws and his regular interaction with the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board (PLCB) enable Aaron to provide clients with sound guidance on a broad range of liquor license matters.  He is an active member and serves on the Board of the Pennsylvania Restaurant and Lodging Association (PRLA).

A native of Columbia, Pennsylvania and a graduate of Hempfield High School, Aaron joined Russell, Krafft & Gruber as an Associate in 2008 after obtaining his J.D. from Widener University.  He completed his undergraduate studies at Bloomsburg University and obtained his B.A. in Criminal Justice in 2004.

Aaron is active in the community and is a member of the Columbia Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons and the Mountville Lions Club.  In addition to currently serving on the PRLA Board of Directors, he recently served on the Board of Directors of Hands-on House.  He is a member of the Pennsylvania and Lancaster Bar Associations.

For additional information please visit Russell, Krafft & Gruber’s website at

Farewell, Pennsylvania Capital Stock Tax (1844-2016)

Posted in Business Law, Taxation

After years of rumors that the tax would be phased out completely (maybe even since its enactment in 1844), the day has come. Effective January 1, 2016, Pennsylvania’s Capital Stock and Foreign Franchise Tax was finally eliminated.

Prior to its elimination, the tax applied to Pennsylvania corporations with capital stock, joint-stock associations, limited liability companies (LLCs), business trusts and all other entities classified as corporations for federal income tax purposes. In certain circumstances, the prospect of paying capital stock tax discouraged certain businesses from forming an LLC or other type of venture to which the tax applied, thus favoring organizations such as limited partnerships.

As a result of the elimination of the Capital Stock and Foreign Franchise Tax, many organizations subject to the tax will be filing final corporation tax returns for the 2015 tax year. Consult your attorney or tax professional to determine how this impacts your business, and learn more about the tax from the Pennsylvania Department of Revenue here.

Matt Landis is an attorney at Russell, Krafft & Gruber, LLP, in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. He received his law degree from Widener University and works regularly with business owners and entrepreneurs.

Legal Links – January 22, 2016

Posted in Legal Links

On Fridays, we compile and post Legal Links, a list of legal news, reported cases, community events and topics of interest to Lancaster residents and readers of the Lancaster Law Blog.

1.  Estate Planning and Digital Access.Apple takes password security seriously. Some might argue too seriously, especially considering the following circumstances: Widow Told by Apple to Get Court Order So She Can Continue to Play a Card Game on the Couple’s iPad After Her Husband’s Death. Our own estate planning attorneys Jon Gruber and Lindsay Schoeneberger discussed the importance of estate planning and the digital age in the following posts:

Death in the Digital Age
Emailing After Death
Facebook’s New Legacy Contact

2.  SPOILER ALERT. Ok, you’re safe reading this section but beware clicking on any of the links if you haven’t finished Making a Murderer.

Most of our office has been binge-watching the Netflix documentary, which tells the story of Steven Avery and Brendan Dassey and paints a bleak picture of many aspects of our criminal justice system. There is plenty to read on the topic, be it online detectives on Reddit or exclusive interviews of the cast of characters.

We found this article about from The New Yorker fascinating as a commentary on the documentary itself: Dead Certainty – How “Making a Murderer” goes wrong

3.  Law Review – Winter Storm Jonas Edition. If you’re planning on driving during or in the aftermath of Winter Storm Jonas, make sure you clear your car of ice and snow.

It’s not just for safety reasons, it’s the law: Pennsylvania Vehicle Code Law Section 3720, enacted in 2006, states that when snow or ice is dislodged from a moving vehicle and causes injury, you could be fined up to $1,000.

Please submit topics or community events for future Legal Links to

Plain Language Privacy Policies

Posted in Internet Law

This is the latest post in a series about law and the internet. You can find previous posts in the series here.

This is a follow-up to a post I wrote about the basics of privacy policies with an update that is near and dear to my heart – implementation of plain language into the normally dense, legalese-infested, privacy policy. Despite being a lawyer, I’m a fan of the plain language approach to drafting certain types of agreements and documents. As I wrote earlier this week, sometimes legalese can’t (or shouldn’t) be avoided.

A quick refresher in case you haven’t read What is a Privacy Policy and What Does It Do? – a privacy policy is a statement that notifies users about the way their data will be used by a website operator, app developer or other entity. and the Center for Plain Language collaborated to rate and review privacy policies from seven top tech companies for their readability and overall presentation. Read more here: These Companies Have the Best (And Worst) Privacy Policies.

One qualification on the rankings acknowledged in the article is “this is not an assessment of what data these companies have decided to collect from users or what they’ve decided to do with that data.” If you’re interested in how various platforms protect you (or fail to) with respect to government data requests, check out this report from the Electronic Frontier Foundation: Who Has Your Back? Protecting Your Data from Government Requests. Continue Reading

The One Phrase You Should Be Using In a Pennsylvania Contract

Posted in Business Law

If you’ve read some of my other blog posts, you know that I’m a big fan of using plain language instead of legalese.  However, sometimes a little legalese can be the difference between an enforceable contract and a contract that isn’t worth more than the paper it’s written on.

When I’m drafting a contract that is subject to Pennsylvania law, there is one phrase that I nearly always make sure to add to the agreement: Continue Reading