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Our Firm - Bugaj/Fischer Law Office, Honesdale, PA
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BUGAJ/FISCHER, P.C. is a general practice law firm located in Honesdale, Wayne County, Pennsylvania. As a general practice law firm, we handle a wide variety of matters in areas that include family law, civil litigation, criminal defense, real estate, appeals, and estate planning and administration. Located in northeastern Pennsylvania, we regularly appear in Wayne, Pike, and Lackawanna Counties, and have also appeared in Monroe, Susquehanna, Luzerne, Bradford, Schuylkill, Center, and Carbon Counties. We have also successfully litigated cases in the Superior Court of Pennsylvania, Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania, and Supreme Court of Pennsylvania.

See a detailed list of services provided by Bugaj/Fischer Law Office.

NEWS

Bugaj/Fischer Wins Pair of Non-Suits for Defendants

Bugaj/Fischer recently won two non-suits for defendants in two different cases, both in the Court of Common Pleas of Pike County, Pennsylvania.

The first case was brought by the sister of a man who had passed away. She alleged that her mother had transferred a piece of property to her in 1990, where she lived. She added her husband's name to the deed on the property, and her husband then took out a mortgage on the property just in his name. The Bank foreclosed on the mortgage in 2006. Around that same time, she alleges that she contacted her brother, who then purchased the property so that it did not get sold at sheriff sale. The sister alleged that she gave her brother $30,000.00 for the deposit on the property, and that she continued to reside on the property, paying part of the mortgage, taxes, and insurance for the property. In 2014, her brother moved into the home with her. She alleges that she cared for her brother in that home until he passed away in 2018. She sued her deceased brother's estate and the executor thereof, claiming constructive trust and ownership interests in the property by virtue of her allegedly providing the $30,000.00 deposit monies.

Representing the deceased brother's estate and the executor, Bugaj/Fischer made a motion for compulsory non-suit after the sister rested her case during trial. The Court agreed with Bugaj/Fischer that the sister had failed to establish that she paid her brother any money in anticipation of his purchasing the property, and further failed to establish that her brother's estate was unjustly enriched. The Court also sustained objections made by Bugaj/Fischer to the sister's testimony regarding verbal agreements she alleged she entered into with her brother, which objections were based on Pennsylvania's Dead Man's Rule (which prevents adverse parties from testifying to anything that occurred during a decedent's lifetime).

The second case was brought by an ex-boyfriend who alleged that his ex-girlfriend owed him money for his paying off the mortgage on a parcel of real property they purchased together. The couple purchased the property in 2007. They financed the purchase with a mortgage in the amount of $416,000.00. Just three months after their purchase, the ex-boyfriend paid off the mortgage in full. Two years later, the ex-boyfriend transferred his interest in the property to his ex-girlfriend. He alleged that he did so at his ex-girlfriend's request, so that she could obtain financing to purchase another property in North Carolina, and that she promised to repay him when she was able.

Bugaj/Fischer represented the ex-girlfriend, who vehemently denied entering into any kind of agreement with her ex-boyfriend regarding paying him back for satisfying the mortgage or transferring his interest in the property to her. She maintained that she did not want him to satisfy the mortgage so that they could use it as a tax write-off and specifically told him if he were to do so she would not give him any money towards the payoff. She also alleged that her ex-boyfriend transferred his interest in the property to her to assuage her concerns about liability due to his drinking and driving.

The ex-boyfriend sued his ex-girlfriend for breach of contract, unjust enrichment, and a constructive trust. After the ex-boyfriend presented his case at trial, Bugaj/Fischer moved for a non-suit, on the grounds that the ex-boyfriend failed to prove the required elements for these causes of action. The Court agreed and granted a compulsory non-suit.

Both cases were tried by Ronald M. Bugaj, Esq.

Bugaj/Fischer Wins Verdict in Construction Case for Contractor

As a result of a nonjury trial in the Pike County Court of Common Pleas in December of 2020, Bugaj/Fischer won a verdict in favor of a contractor in a construction case.

The contractor had filed a mechanics' lien claim against the homeowners for over $100,000.00 in unpaid labor and materials that the homeowners failed to pay the contractor. The homeowners filed a countersuit, alleging that they were due a setoff in the amount of nearly $235,000.00, which is what they alleged the cost to complete the construction would be, together with what they alleged was a diminution in value of their home due to work they were unsatisfied with. Following a nonjury trial, the Court entered a verdict in favor of the contractor in an amount in excess of $92,000.00, concluding that the contractor proved that it was entitled to be paid for the work that it performed on the home.

This case was tried by Ronald M. Bugaj, Esq.

Bugaj/Fischer Wins Appeal on Issue of Governmental Immunity

In July of 2020, the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania issued a published opinion en banc reversing the decision of the Wayne County Court of Common Pleas that dismissed a lawsuit filed by local property owners against a fire department.

In July and August of 2016, Route 6 in Honesdale flooded after drains located on the side of the roadway became clogged. A local fire department was dispatched to the scene. The fire department pumped water from the roadway into a parking lot located at the top of a steep embankment, which water then made it way down the hill and flooded the property of a daycare/preschool.

The owners of the daycare/preschool sued multiple defendants, including the fire department, in the Wayne County Court of Common Pleas. The Court dismissed the lawsuit on a motion for summary judgment before trial, however, on the grounds that local fire departments are granted governmental immunity under Pennsylvania's Political Subdivision Tort Claims Act.

Bugaj/Fischer, on behalf of the owners of the daycare/preschool, appealed to the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania. Bugaj/Fischer argued that the vehicle liability exception to governmental immunity should apply in this case. This exception allows governmental agencies to be sued for acts involving the operation of any motor vehicle in the possession or control of a local agency. Based on language from a different case, the Wayne County Court had concluded that the fire truck was not "in operation" for purposes of this exception because it was not involved in decisions relating to transporting individuals from one place to another while pumping the water. Bugaj/Fischer successfully argued that "operation" should not be so narrowly defined, but rather should be related to the purpose for which the vehicle is operated. Because one of the purposes of a fire truck is to remove flood water, and because the fire department controlled the parts of the fire truck that removed the flood water and redirected it, the Commonwealth Court agreed that the fire department operated the fire truck and could not avail itself of governmental immunity.

The Commonwealth Court remanded the matter back to the Wayne County Court of Common Pleas for trial. Bugaj/Fischer was then able to successfully resolve the case through mediation prior to trial.

This case was handled in the Wayne County Court of Common Pleas by both Ronald M. Bugaj, Esq. and Ronnie J. Fischer, Esq. Ronnie J. Fischer, Esq. briefed the matter and argued the matter before the Commonwealth Court en banc.

The case, Podejko v. Dept. of Transportation, 236 A.3d 1216 (Pa.Cmwlth. 2020), can be found here:

http://www.pacourts.us/assets/opinions/Commonwealth/out/714cd19_7-27- 20.pdf#search=%22podejko%20%27Commonwealth%2bCourt%27%22

Bugaj/Fischer Assists Clients in Amending Vital Records to Obtain Dual Citizenship

Ronnie J. Fischer, Esq. has been able to combine her loves for genealogy and the law by helping clients amend vital records to obtain citizenship in foreign countries. Many countries allow people to acquire dual citizenship by descent, letting them claim citizenship if their parents, grandparents, or great-grandparents were born in that country. In order to apply for citizenship from another country, individuals are required to provide documentation of their lineage in the form of birth, marriage, and death records. Oftentimes, the ancestors' names in these records do not match exactly, as names were frequently misspelled or nicknames used. Other times, certain ancestors born in the 1800s or early 1900s might never have been issued formal birth certificates. In both of these cases, the individual looking to apply for citizenship by descent must obtain an amended, or in some cases a delayed, vital record. Attorney Fischer was first asked to help someone who was unable to find an attorney willing to file the necessary documents to amend her ancestor's birth certificate, as not many attorneys have experience with such filings. Since then, Attorney Fischer has helped numerous clients obtain amended and delayed birth certificates and amended marriage certificates in counties throughout the Commonwealth.

Ronnie J. Fischer Named One of Pennsylvania's Ten Best Family Law Attorneys for 2020

The American Institute of Family Law Attorneys has named Ronnie J. Fischer one of its "10 Best Family Law Attorneys" for the state of Pennsylvania for 2020. Attorneys selected to the organization's annual list must pass its rigorous selection process, which is based on client and/or peer nominations, thorough research, and AIOFLA's independent evaluation. AIOFLA places particular emphasis on selecting lawyers who demonstrate the highest levels of client satisfaction. This is the second year that attorney Fischer as received this honor, first receiving it in 2019.

Attorney and Practice Magazine has separately also named attorney Fischer as one of its Top 10 Family Law Attorneys for Pennsylvania for 2020. This achievement is awarded to those attorneys whose practice elevates the standards of their state's Bar as well as provides a benchmark for other practitioners. Because of A&P's stringent standards, fewer than 1% of attorneys nationwide are given this honor.

Top 10 Family Law Attorney 2020 10 Best Attorney Client Satisfaction 2020