Wednesday, December 04, 2013

welfare - transfer of assets - renunciation of right to remaining principal in residual trust

Shell v. DPW – Cmwlth. Court – December 4, 2013

This case presents an issue of first impression as to whether a beneficiary’s renunciation of her right to the remaining principal in a terminated residual trust, originally created by will, constitutes a transfer of assets for less than fair consideration thereby affecting her eligibility for Medical Assistance - Long Term Care (MA-LTC) benefits.

Specifically, Dorothy Schell petitions for review of the final administrative action order of the Department of Public Welfare, affirming the adjudication and order of an administrative law judge ) recommending the denial of Petitioner’s appeal from the determination of the Northumberland County Assistance Office  that she was ineligible for MA-LTC benefits for the period from January 28, 2011, through August 16, 2012. We affirm.

arbitration - two-contract setting - no arb. clause in retail installment sales contract

Knight v. Springfield Hyundai – Pa. Super. – December 2, 2014

Pennsylvania has a well-established public policy that favors arbitration, and this policy aligns with the federal approach expressed in the Federal Arbitration Act.” . “Arbitration is a matter of contract, and parties to a contract cannot be compelled to arbitrate a given issue absent an agreement between them to arbitrate that issue.” . “Even though it is now the policy of the law to favor settlement of disputes by arbitration and to promote the swift and orderly disposition of claims, arbitration agreements are to be strictly construed and such agreements should not be extended by implication.

The Pennsylvania Legislature enacted the MVSFA in 1947 in an attempt to promote the welfare of its inhabitants and to protect its citizens from abuses presently existing in the installment sale of motor vehicles, and to that end exercise the police power of the Commonwealth to bring under the supervision of the Commonwealth all persons engaged in the business of extending consumer credit in conjunction with the installment sale of motor vehicles; to establish a system of regulation for the purpose of insuring honest and efficient consumer credit service for installment purchasers of motor vehicles; and to provide the administrative machinery necessary for effective enforcement. 69 P.S. § 602.

Pursuant to the MVSFA, if a buyer is purchasing a vehicle via installment sale, the contract must be in writing, signed by the buyer and the seller, “and shall contain all of the agreements between the buyer and the seller relating to the installment sale of the motor vehicle sold[.]” 69 P.S. § 613(A) (emphasis added).

There are no cases interpreting section 613(A) of the MVSFA. Looking at the clear and unambiguous language of the statute, it is apparent that when a buyer makes a purchase of a vehicle by installment sale, the retail installment sales contract (RISC) subsumes all other agreements relating to the sale. See 1 Pa.C.S.A. § 1921(b) (“When the words of a statute are clear and free from all ambiguity, the letter of it is not to be disregarded under the pretext of pursuing its spirit.”).

In this case, the Buyer’s Order contained an arbitration agreement, but the RISC did not. Thus, we conclude there was no enforceable arbitration agreement between Knight and Appellees, and the trial court erred as a matter of law by granting Appellees’ Preliminary Objections and submitting the case to binding arbitration.