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With all the uproar about Facebook’s use of our data and businesses bracing to deal with the EU’s GDPR, it is easy to forget there is no general obligation to protect your personal information. The Third Circuit Court of Appeal’s decision last week in Enslin v. Coca-Cola, et al. is the latest reminder of that fact.

Shane Enslin is a former employee of Coca-Cola. As part of his employment, he submitted, as we all do, personal information including his social security number. Coca-Cola discovered that one of its IT staffers was stealing company laptops and taking them home for his own use or giving them to others. Among the devices stolen were machines used by human resources employees that contained sensitive personal information, like Enslin’s social security number. After the devices were stolen, Enslin was the victim of identity theft.
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With one week left before the EU’s General Data Privacy Regulation (GDPR) takes effect, we have been fielding a lot of questions about how, or if, it applies to businesses here in Lancaster. Here are three questions to help you determine if you should worry about the GDPR.

  1. Who does it apply to?

It is easy to think that businesses here in the U.S. need not worry about the EU’s data protection laws unless you have stores or employees in Europe. But the GDPR’s reach is much broader than that. If you have the data of an EU citizen or use a service located in Europe, then the GDPR probably applies to you. Here are a few examples where the GDPR applies:

  • You send email blasts and some recipients are in England (yes, England is still in the EU… for now!).
  • You have a digital list of mailing addresses to send out physical mail and some recipients of that mail are in Italy.
  • You use an online marketing service that processes your clients’ data on servers in Germany.
  1. What data is protected?

Okay, okay. So I have contacts in the EU on my mailing list. But names and addresses aren’t protected, right? Wrong. Unlike many U.S. laws, such as Pennsylvania’s Data Breach Notification Act, the GDPR is very broad in its definition of protected information. For example, under Pennsylvania law you need a name combined with some sensitive piece of data, like a social security number or bank account, before the law applies. But the GDPR applies to any identifying information. This includes names, email addresses, physical addresses, and social media names, plus all the sensitive stuff you would expect like financial and medical information.
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Yesterday afternoon I had the pleasure to attend SCORE Lancaster-Lebanon’s 2018 Small Business Awards Luncheon held at Millersville University’s Ware Center. This luncheon is always a great place to hear more of SCORE’s success stories. This year was no different.

SCORE provides our community with many resources for local entrepreneurs. These include providing free business counseling through its mentors, facilitating round-table discussions among local small businesses, and teaching educational workshops on how to start and improve a small business. SCORE’s workshops hold a special place in my heart because I have helped teach one of the workshop sessions for several years now (or perhaps more appropriately, I help translate the legalese of forming a corporation or LLC into an outline of what a small business owner should know).
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One of the most important things I do as a Litigation attorney is explain to my clients what has happened, and is likely to happen, in their lawsuit. Unfortunately, it’s all too easy to do that using abstract legal jargon as though everyone uses these terms as often as I do. So, rather than leaving you searching Google to find out what your lawyer is talking about, let’s start by going through some common legal terms in Pennsylvania lawsuits:

Who is Involved?

  • Plaintiff – The party or parties who starts a lawsuit against a
  • Defendant – The party or parties being sued by a Plaintiff. Even if both parties have claims against each other, the Plaintiff is the one who files first regardless of the size of their respective claims.
  • Litigation –The process of taking part in a lawsuit. “Litigators” are lawyers who practice Litigation.
  • MDJ – Short for Magisterial District Judge. A MDJ presides over “small claims” court in Pennsylvania for disputes worth less than $12,000 or disputes about issues like landlord/tenant claims.
  • Court of Common Pleas – The Pennsylvania court level where elected judges preside over claims. It is the step above and MDJ and can hear almost any type of claim.

What is Being Claimed?

  • Complaint – The document a Plaintiff files that usually starts a lawsuit. Its numbered paragraphs lay out the facts of the case, legal theories supporting their position, and what they want the Court to give them.
  • Answer – The document a Defendant files in response to a Complaint. It responds to each of the numbered paragraphs in a Complaint either by admitting that what the Plaintiff argues is true or denying it and explaining why it’s denied.
  • Reply – This document is how a Plaintiff responds to any new claims made by a Defendant in an Answer.
  • Default Judgment – If a Plaintiff or Defendant doesn’t respond to a Complaint or Answer in time, the other party can ask the Court to win automatically. The other party has given up by not defending themselves. (NOTE: if you get a “Notice of Default” warning you that a default may be entered, you need to seek legal counsel at once).
  • Motion – A formal request for the Court to do something. It is for tasks more complex and less administrative than those of a Praecipe. Among the most common are requests for the Court to rule in one party’s favor (either dismissing a claim or awarding a Judgment).
  • Praecipe – Pennsylvania’s mini-motion. It is a request for the Court to do something more administrative. For example, notifying the Court you have hired a new lawyer to represent you.
  • Brief – A writing submitted to the court by a lawyer, usually in connection with a Motion, that argues their client’s legal theory. It’s the lawyer version of an essay or paper.


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When you think of a document drafted by an attorney, what do you expect? Crisp, clean prose that conveys its meaning in as few words as possible? Probably not. Large walls of incomprehensible text that no one (maybe not even the lawyer) has read carefully? Sounds more like it.

In the legal profession we refer to these regularly used blocks of text as “boilerplate” language (although boilerplate can also refer to blocks of frequently used computer code). The term boilerplate comes from the similarity between the curved steel used to make boilers and the curved plates that printed newspapers in the early 1900s. Boilerplate legal language often covers repeatedly used topics like the court where disputes will be resolved  or indicating that an agreement may be signed electronically.
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Like brothers who favor rival football teams, my colleague Matt Landis and I often spar over our respective technological preference for Apple vs. Google/Windows/Microsoft. Generally, I think of this as just that, a pair of rival paths.

Imagine my surprise when Matt sent me this article from Daring Fireball reviewing the Google Pixel 2. I assumed he was egging me on to follow his path of annually upgrading to the latest smartphone. While I do have a first-generation Pixel, I am not feeling the need to upgrade to the latest version. But he was after something much more nefarious… convincing me that our paths were not as different as I assumed.
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I have served on the Board of Directors of the Landis Valley Village & Farm Museum for the past five years and have had the privilege of serving as Board President for the last two years. As you might imagine, I really enjoy this Lancaster County hidden gem, so as we prepare for Lancaster’s Extraordinary Give I thought it might be nice to share a few fun facts you might not know (even if you live down the street):
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Many technology enthusiasts subscribe to the theory that to appear on the cutting edge they need to always upgrade to the latest version. The latest software patch, the latest device, etc. I, on the other hand, have always felt like an upgrade needed to give me something (although when I do make a move I tend to spend more than your average bear doing so).
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When it comes to smart phones, Lancaster’s technology lawyers Matt Landis and Brandon Harter rarely agree on anything. Brandon wisely chooses the superior flexibility offered by Google’s Android environment, while Matt continues to dogmatically do only what someone in a long-sleeved black T-shirt and jeans tells him.

 In this post and in Matt’s counterpart, we managed to find some common ground: we can’t stand distracted driving. These posts will outline how features on an iPhone or an Android phone can reduce distractions and make the road a little bit safer for everyone.

 With the release of Apple’s Do Not Disturb While Driving feature as part of iOS 11, it is worth taking the time to remind everyone that Android apps have been helping us manage this for years. In a nutshell, the app prevents distracted driving by: (1) silencing your phone so you cannot see new text messages until you arrive; and (2) gives you the option to automatically reply that you’re driving and will get back to them when you arrive.
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