Lancaster Law Blog

Lancaster Law Blog

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12-Packs May Now Be Available At Beer Distributors

Posted in Business Law

The Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board, through its counsel, issued an advisory opinion this afternoon appearing to clear the way to allow beer distributors to sell 12-packs of beer.  This ruling is completely separate from any of the recent modernization or privatization movements which have been discussed by the governor and the legislature.

The opinion closely scrutinizes the language of the Liquor Code and the regulations which define what can be sold by or to distributors.  Distributors in Pennsylvania may sell malt or brewed beverages which are in a “case” or they must be in “original containers” of at least 128 ounces.  Until now, the PLCB was never asked to clarify what constitutes an “original container”.  In its advisory opinion, the PLCB takes the position that an original container could include a 12-pack of beer, provided that the 12-pack is how the manufacturer of the alcohol originally packaged it.

This opinion sets the stage for breweries and other manufacturers to package their product in 12-packs which could now be sold through a distributor.  I would expect to see that local breweries will quickly start to alter their packaging so that they can provide to distributors “original containers” of 12-packs and we have seen that most large manufacturers such as Anheuser-Busch, Miller and Coors already package and sell their product in 12-packs.  They may have to alter slightly the manner in which they ship and sell these 12-packs, but it appears that we will soon see even the national brands in 12-packs on the shelves of our local beer distributors.

This ruling also may have an interesting impact on the modernization and privatization discussions that continue to occur in Pennsylvania.  Distributors have expressed significant concern that allowing grocery stores to sell alcohol unfairly competes with their business.  This ruling, however, appears to give the distributors some ability to now compete with these grocery stores and sell smaller quantities of alcohol in the form of a 12-pack.  Whether this opinion helps to move the modernization/privatization movement remains to be seen.

Aaron Zeamer 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 Business Law and Liquor License matters.

Is Co-Parenting Possible?

Posted in Custody, Divorce, Family Law

This headline recently caught my attention Co-Parenting Win: I Lived With my Stepson’s Mother.  The article, fashioned in the form of a letter to the mother of the author’s stepson, chronicles the evolution of the relationship between Mother, Father, and Father’s Wife.  It is a quick, worthwhile read that demonstrates it really is possible to move past the emotional baggage of a breakup to form a new, different kind of relationship that allows everyone to be actively involved in a child’s life.

The article doesn’t assume that everyone can or should co-parent like this.  In many cases, this type of situation would not work.  But, in a world of custody battles that can sometimes turn ugly, it’s great to see a positive story that reminds us of the unique possibilities for relationships between parents and step-parents.

Lindsay Schoeneberger is an attorney at Russell, Krafft and Gruber, LLP in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. She received her law degree from Widener University School of Law and practices in a variety of areas including Family Law.

Pennsylvania Liquor Updates

Posted in Business Law, Legal Tidbits

There has been a significant amount of liquor license topics which have garnered media attention recently, especially in the Lancaster area.  Last Monday, the Beer Café in the Weis Markets in Ephrata opened.  Also throughout the week, there was daily coverage of the Liquor Privatization Bill which was debated and passed in the House of Representatives.  There was also coverage of a hearing before the House Gaming Oversight Committee where it was pointed out how costly and burdensome the Applications are for tavern gaming licenses. It was also pointed out that a mere 38 tavern gaming licenses were issued in the state.  When the tavern gaming license was introduced in 2013, the Legislature anticipated that it would generate in excess of $100 million dollars of revenue for the state.  Needless to say, they have fallen woefully short of that projection.  Continue Reading

Facebook’s New Legacy Contact

Posted in Estate Planning, Legal Tidbits

You may have read our blog posts about Death in the Digital Age and Emailing after Death.  Facebook has certainly established a reputation for making changes, sometimes in response to user concerns.  This issue is no exception and Facebook has decided to join the digital death bandwagon.  It has added a new feature which allows you to designate what they are calling a “legacy contact” to manage your account posthumously.

Don’t panic about allowing someone access to all of your private messages or the ability to post as you.  The legacy contact you designate will only have limited access to your account for things like updating your profile picture or responding to new friend requests.  Or, if you don’t want your Facebook page to live on after you, there is an option to delete your account entirely.  While this all may sound rather morbid, as technology becomes more and more integrated into our regular daily activities, planning ahead for what happens to those accounts is important.  If you do not choose between a legacy contact and deleting your account, Facebook will simply freeze your account if they discover you have died.  However, this new option allows you to control what happens to your account.

If you have chosen to designate a legacy contact, you should inform them just as you would inform your designated agent named on your Power of Attorney and the Executor or Executrix named in your will.  Also, be sure to discuss your wishes for the account.

Lindsay Schoeneberger is an attorney at Russell, Krafft and Gruber, LLP in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. She received her law degree from Widener University School of Law and practices in a variety of areas, including Estate Planning.

Beer Delivery to Your Home – Are We There Yet?

Posted in Business Law, Legal Tidbits

I’ve gotten a number of inquiries from clients recently about whether the law has changed allowing them to deliver alcohol to customers if they hold a valid liquor license.  This topic originated through a legal opinion issued by the Chief Counsel’s Office and as a result of a question by a licensee. The opinion generated some media coverage which has, in turn, created a lot of questions in the liquor sales industry.

There are still some questions as to how the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board will handle this, there are some parameters which have been outlined which could allow a bar restaurant to begin delivering alcohol to its customers.  It is important to keep in mind that if you choose to pursue this for your business, you should clearly understand and follow the guidelines in place.  Continue Reading

Contract Basics: Lessons from my High School Journalism Class

Posted in Business Law

Working primarily with business owners, I draft and review countless contracts, every contract is unique and I enjoy the challenge and process involved in gathering the proper information relevant to each situation.  It occurred to me that some of the skills I use every day in my practice, I gained in my high school journalism class. I wrote for the school newspaper, The Arrowhead and I covered hard-hitting topics relevant to the lives of high school students.  By the way, we got a vending machine with milk in it, and my cell phone review was for the Nokia 5190 . With respect to the milk, I just reported the facts: a variety of choices for every dairy connoisseur, including 1%, 2% and whole milk, all fully stocked and kept at a refreshingly cool temperature. Our newspaper was celebrated for its strictly factual, no-spin news reporting. I recommended the phone because of the removable faceplates, backlit keys AND it had the most advanced game on the market, Snake.

These days, I still write a lot and, facts are still of utmost importance.  Journalism class taught me some valuable lessons that I still apply every day when advising clients on the merits of a contract they’ve been presented with or when drafting an agreement from scratch.  Continue Reading

Family Law Section Approves Proposed Collaborative Law Act

Posted in Collaborative Law, Divorce, Family Law

Recently, the Family Law Section of the Pennsylvania Bar Association supported the enactment of a Collaborative Law Act in Pennsylvania. This is an important step forward for the collaborative process and demonstrates that legal professionals recognize the growing popularity of collaborative law among the general public.  In addition, support from the Family Law section of the PBA reflects other attorneys’ approval of collaborative law as an alternative process to traditional methods of conflict resolution in divorce. Continue Reading

Happiness After Divorce

Posted in Collaborative Law, Divorce, Family Law

I read a lot of articles online about divorce, and all aspects of it.  Not many of them contain content that is worth sharing. However, I found a recent post on Philly.com that I find insightful and provides a healthy perspective about divorce, and overcoming the emotional aspects of extracting oneself from a bad marriage.

In my practice, I’ve never met a client who has been happy that their marriage failed.  This article recognizes that there is life beyond the divorce process (whether collaborative or litigation), and that life does include happiness. With the right information and team in place, a divorcing spouse can find emotional and financial security, and a future of opportunity and reward.

If you are considering a divorce, are in the midst of the process, or are recently divorced, take some time to consider your vision for your post-divorce life.  Understanding your options when choosing the right team of professionals and friends to surround you and assist with the process may be as important as the process itself.  If you are interested in learning more about different process choices for divorce take some time to look into collaborative divorce.  It is not the correct choice for everyone but, depending on your circumstances, it is an option that you may wish to consider.

 Julie Miller is an attorney at Russell, Krafft & Gruber, LLP in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. She received her law degree from Dickinson School of Law and practices in a variety of areas including Collaborative Law and traditional Family Law.

Cost of Gas Down, Reimbursement Rate Up

Posted in Business Law, Taxation

If you have filled up your gas tank recently, turned on the news, listened to the radio, or read a newspaper you’ve probably noticed gas prices are steadily dropping and in a big way.  This time last year the national average price for a gallon of regular gas according to AAA’s gas price tracker was $3.259 and Lancaster County’s average was slightly higher at $3.395 per gallon.  This year, according to AAA’s gas price tracker the national average is $2.082 per gallon of regular gas with Lancaster County again coming in slightly higher at $2.403 per gallon. As other costs of living continue to increase this is welcome news. But wait, there is more good news for those of you who claim your business mileage. Continue Reading

What Is a Privacy Policy and What Does It Do?

Posted in Business Law

Titles can be misleading.  There are many lists and articles online pointing out how audiences can be misled  by movie titles, book titles, headlines and even short titles for legislation.  Which brings me to privacy policies.  According to a recent Pew Research Center survey, 52% of polled internet users responded incorrectly to the following:

True or False: When a company posts a privacy policy, it ensures that the company keeps confidential all the information it collects on users.

The correct response to this statement is “False”.

A privacy policy is a statement that notifies users about the website operator’s practices concerning the collection, storage, use and disclosure of information, including personal information. While a privacy policy may state that the company keeps all of a user’s information confidential, the language of the policy itself will govern what an entity may or may not do with the collected information.

In Pennsylvania, there could be criminal repercussions for entities that publish false or misleading statements in their privacy policies. 18 Pa.C.S. Section 4107(a)(10) makes it a crime when an entity in the course of business “knowingly makes a false or misleading statement in a privacy policy, published on the Internet or otherwise distributed or published, regarding the use of personal information submitted by members of the public” with certain limited exceptions.

Depending on the type of business or its target audience, certain federal laws could require certain privacy notices, restrictions and requirements in addition to typical privacy policy terms. For example:

  • The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (“HIPAA”) requires certain health care and related organizations to include specific privacy notices for online services.
  • The Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act governs certain financial institutions regarding their information-sharing practices.
  • The Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (“COPPA”) imposes certain requirements upon websites that knowingly collect information about or target children under the age of 13.

Continue Reading

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