Craig J. Staudenmaier

Craig Staudenmaier has built a reputation as an authority on Right to Know and Media Law in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.  He is at the forefront of issues and landmark cases stemming from the state’s open records and meetings laws.  Craig also concentrates his practice in the areas of state and federal litigation and was selected by his peers for inclusion in The Best Lawyers in America® 2013, 2015-2016 in the field of Commercial Litigation and in 2014 in Transportation.

Litigation

An experienced trial lawyer, Craig has tried numerous cases to verdict in favor of his clients in both the state and federal courts.  He routinely represents clients in all phases of the litigation process including mediation and arbitration.  Craig has served as an arbitrator in Dauphin County for four 2-year terms, the last as Chairman of the panel (2015-2016).

Much of Craig’s litigation practice is devoted to representing the railroad industry, as well as assisting both large and small businesses facing litigation issues.

Railroad

Craig concentrates his practice in the representation of Class I, regional and shortline railroads in all types of litigation, including employee claims under the Federal Employers’ Liability Act (FELA), crossing accidents, trespassers and property damage. He has represented railroad clients in the trial courts of approximately twenty-six counties in Pennsylvania and has successfully argued cases before the Commonwealth, Superior and Supreme Courts of Pennsylvania, as well as the Middle and Eastern Districts of Pennsylvania and the Third Circuit Court of Appeals.

Practice Highlights:

  • Successfully represented a Class I railroad in a unanimous decision of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court reaffirming the occupied crossing rule as a complete bar to recovery and finding for the first time Pennsylvania’s blocked crossing statute pre-empted under the Federal Rail Safety Act. Krentz v. Consolidated Rail Corp., 910 A.2d 20 (Pa. Supreme Ct.).
  • Successfully represented a Class I railroad in obtaining judgment as a matter of law at trial in a FELA case affirmed by the Third Circuit Court of Appeals. Castro v. Consolidated Rail Corp., 46 F.3d 1115 (3rd Cir.).
  • Successfully represented a Class I railroad in summary judgment of a trespasser rendered a paraplegic. Barr v. Consolidated Rail Corp., 1999 WL 554598 (E.D. Pa.)
  • Numerous defense verdicts in FELA injury and crossing accident injury and wrongful death cases.

Right to Know/Media Law

Craig routinely represents the print and broadcast media, businesses and private individuals in public records and open meetings access matters and issues involving the subpoena of reporters, privacy and defamation claims. He is the Chairman of the firm’s Right-to-Know Practice Group and served for four years as Co-Chair of the Pennsylvania Bar Association’s Bar/Press Committee.  He is also a member of the Pennsylvania Bar Association’s Judicial Campaign Advertising Committee. Craig also serves as General Counsel to the Pennsylvania Freedom of Information Coalition.

Practice Highlights:

  • Obtained the unsealing of hundreds of pages of records filed in the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas surrounding Penn State’s litigation with one of its insurers arising out of the Jerry Sandusky case on behalf of a coalition of print media companies from across the Commonwealth.  Pennsylvania State Univ. v. Pennsylvania Mfgers. Assoc. Ins. Co., Nov. Term 2013, No. 03195 (June 9, 2016).
  • Successfully represented a coalition of 11 print and broadcast media organizations before the Pennsylvania Supreme Court resulting in an order compelling the Public Utility Commission to release an anonymous tip letter and investigation records surrounding favorable restoration of power to the neighborhood of a high-ranking PPL executive after a power outage that resulted in loss of power to over 388,000 PPL customers and a $60,000 fine to PPL.  The decision also affirmed the public’s right to access PUC records under its own governing statutes independently of the Right to Know Law.  Pennsylvania Public Utility Com’n. v. Seder/The Times Leader et al., 139 A.2d 165 (Pa. 2016).
  • Successfully represented Patriot-News before the Pennsylvania Supreme Court where the salary information of Penn State employees belonging to the state retirement system was found to be a public record, including that of head football coach, Joe Paterno. Penn State University v. State Employees’ Retirement Board, 935 A.2d 530.
  • Successfully represented Patriot-News, Associated Press and WTAE-TV, Pittsburgh, in decision holding PHEAA Board retreat expenditures were public record and first appellate decision in Pennsylvania to award over $48,000 in counsel fees for willful failure of a state agency to release public records. Parsons, et al. v. PHEAA, 910 A.2d 177 (Pa. Cmwlth.).
  • Successfully represented newspaper in opening meetings of Empowerment Teams of Harrisburg and Steelton-Highspire School Districts as agencies under Sunshine Act. Patriot-News Co. v. Empowerment Team of Harrisburg School Dist., 763 A.2d 539 (Pa. Cmwlth.).
  • Representation of various print and broadcast media personnel in quashing subpoenas requiring testimony regarding sources and other unpublished information , pre-publication review and defending defamation claims.