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Steven M. Williams is the Managing Partner in the Firm’s Harrisburg office, Chair of the Firm's Commercial Litigation Group, and a member of its Labor & Employment, Energy & Utilities, Financial Services, and Government Law & Regulatory Affairs Groups. He concentrates his practice in the areas of commercial and civil litigation, real estate, landlord and tenant law, condominium and homeowner law, employment law, business and corporate law, and construction law.

Steve lectures regularly, and is a frequent writer, on such topics as landlord and tenant law, fair housing, debt collection, employment law, the impacts of social media on individuals and businesses, and miscellaneous business issues.

Pennsylvania Court Adds ‘Last Month’s Rent’ to Definition of ‘Security Deposit’

As most residential landlords know, the Pennsylvania Landlord and Tenant Act (the “Act”) contains comprehensive and complicated rules and procedures regarding security deposits1. One such rule governs the amount a landlord may collect and hold as a security deposit. 
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In some states, courts allow contractors to sue design professionals for negligence even in the absence of a contract. In others, like Maryland, courts apply a rule known as the Economic Loss Rule (ELR) to bar such claims. Courts apply the ELR when, without a contract in place, someone sues another for purely financial losses (i.e., not for personal injuries or property damage). The ELR is very important in the construction world because contractors who sustain losses that they attribute to substandard design documents often sue the design professional who prepared the plans and specifications, even though they rarely have a contract with the designer.

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In a recent case – Balfour Beatty Infrastructure, Inc. v. Rummel Klepper & Kahl, LLP – the Maryland Court of Special Appeals (“Court”) reaffirmed the ELR and rejected various claims brought by a contractor against a design professional. The Balfour Beatty Infrastructure case involved a public works project for the City of Baltimore (“City”). The City entered into contracts with the design and engineering firm Rummel Klepper & Kahl, LLP (“RK & K”) to upgrade a water treatment plant. The City also entered into a contract with Balfour Beatty Infrastructure, Inc. (“Balfour”) to build the upgrades. Balfour did not have a contract with RK & K. Due to a series of design errors, Balfour suffered delays during construction and performed additional work that it attributed to the design errors. Based on these facts, Balfour sued RK & K for professional negligence and negligent misrepresentation, alleging that RK & K supplied false information to prospective bidders and failed to establish a  reasonable contract duration.


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On June 25, 2015, Justice Kennedy delivered the Supreme Court’s decision in Texas v. Inclusive Communities Project.  In the case, the Court determined that the Fair Housing Act of 1968 includes disparate impact claims.  Prior to Texas v. Inclusive Communities Project, nine of the twelve federal Courts of Appeals had ruled that the Act