Hope for Hurricane Harvey Victims

I can sympathize with the many people going through the flooding and worry of Hurricane Harvey. I was part of the flood of 1972 in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, and the not knowing where you will go and the stress of watching your home and belongings be sucked up by the raging waters is enough to break anyone’s heart. I know that Atty Neil O’Donnell and his family were displaced from their family home for several months during the flood caused by Hurricane Agnes.


My brave nephew, Colton, is in Army continuing his training at Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio, Texas. I was so happy to receive word today from him that he is safe. It was merely a text message.  My thoughts and prayers are with each and every one of them.


If you would like to help now, please consider the American Red Cross. I know they were vital to the recovery of Northeast Pennsylvania after the flood here in 1972. They set up shelters, and gave us food and water.  You can contact them as follows:


Help those affected by #HurricaneHarvey. Visit http://redcross.org , call 1-800-RED CROSS or text HARVEY to 90999 to make a $10 donation.


Our law office, O’Donnell Law Office, located at 267 Wyoming Avenue, Kingston, Pa., 18704, has placed a box in the front entrance way of our office and is accepting any donations.  Please do not bring any monetary donations to the Office. Just blankets, canned food, etc.


You may have seen unsubstantiated claims that Pennsylvania’s election is
somehow “rigged”. It’s utter nonsense.

The Pennsylvania Election Code features specific safeguards which assure a fair
election. Further, specific provisions of the Code exist for contesting and certifying
election results. Pennsylvania electronic voting machines are not connected to the
internet, nor connected to each other. From the judges of election, to the election
board at each polling precinct, to the properly appointed poll watchers for each
candidate — Pennsylvania elections are highly scrutinized and regulated, and the
process is all done in the open.

The Pennsylvania Election Code provides for emergency hearings, so all votes
may be cast and counted. The counting and certification of results is done in the
public, and in a completely open manner.

During the day of the election, there are County Court Judges available on an
emergency basis to conduct evidentiary hearings on various issues every minute the
polls are open, and beyond. I had the privilege of serving as Counsel to the Luzerne
County Election Board for many years. I have seen this process up close, and handled
many of these hearings.

While there may be an occasional irregularity, there are specific rules to
contest the results of an election, or an individual ballot, all within the judicial
system. And all of those challenges are heard on an expedited basis to assure the
most accurate, efficient, and prompt tallying and certification of election results.
Claims of a “rigged” election are baseless. Please keep in mind that
allegations of voter fraud were fully litigated in the Commonwealth Court in the voter
identification challenge. See, e.g., Applewhite v. Commonwealth of Pennsylvania,
330 MD 2012 (Cmwlth. Ct.). In that lengthy proceeding, there was not one
substantiated instance of voter fraud brought to the Commonwealth Court’s

So on November 8, 2016, get out and vote — and know that your vote will be
properly counted!

Neil T. O’Donnell, Esq.

Leadership Wilkes-Barre Class of 2017 Retreat

Just a follow-up to our opening retreat held on September 22nd and 23rd. It was very informative, challenging and fun! The accommodations at the Fairfield Inn were wonderful.

We had a very interesting class participation exercise with W-B City Councilman Tony Brooks. He took us through a detailed time line of the history of Wilkes-Barre City regarding its expansion and revitalization, while Pat Endler, Vice-President of Borton-Lawson, drew detailed illustrations of the key moments in our city’s history. Mr. Brooks also confirmed for our class that the proper way to say Wilkes-Barre is Wilkes “berry”, such as in strawberry, and explained the history behind that fact.

We then went to the Farmer’s Market and had a walking tour of Wilkes-Barre City while being instructed by Larry Newman, Mike Lombardo and Joe Boylan, who all are involved in the economic and revitalization of W-B City, and are doing a magnificent job I might add! Part of our tour included visiting the offices of Pepperjam, which was very uplifting as I had no idea such a large tech savvy corporation exists right in the center of our city. The walking tour took us across Market Street Bridge to Kirby Park where we met Brianne Oempke and her team from Quest and participated in team building exercises, some of which were more challenging than others, but all were very fun. I was able to interact with many of my classmates and I find all of them very kind and helpful people. We all gathered later that evening for a fun mixer at TGIFridays and had a great time.

The second part of the retreat was where we learned Personal Assessment and which of the four primary categories we fall under: Thinker, Director, Relater or Socializer. I fall under the Socializer category, meaning I am open and direct and react at a fast pace. We learned the pros and cons as to each category and broke up into groups, which we then realized would be our team project groups. We learned how to come to a consensus in our groups and I must say … I am very happy with the team I am part of and believe we will do a wonderful job on our project.

On October 6th we went to CVS Caremark for the day and learned all about their facility and also were able to come to conclusions about which projects we will be working on. The team I am on will be doing a project involving the Special Olympics and I can’t wait to begin.

Leadership Wilkes-Barre Class of 2017

I am happy to say that I am part of the Class of 2017 and our opening retreat is this Thursday and Friday!

As part of our retreat, Brianne Oempke, Director of Quest Professional at Bloomsburg University will lead us in an outdoor team-building program. The exercises will consist of a series of challenging activities presented as problems for our individual groups to solve. The elements will require a hands-on approach as well as the cooperation of the entire group to come to a solution.

I will also be participating in a Downtown Wilkes-Barre walking tour and afterwards a social mixer and dinner.

We will not know who our teammates are, or how many groups will be established, until our day begins. I am part of a class of 51 wonderful, talented people and I look forward to interacting with everyone.

Friday will be the more formal part of the retreat where we will go over our project ideas and project teams will be picked.

The retreat should prove to be an excellent opportunity to get to know my classmates and I have great expectations about future events with Leadership Wilkes-Barre. I cannot wait to find out who my teammates will be and what project we will be working on to better our community. I will keep you posted……


Sandee Olshefski, Paralegal at O’Donnell Law Office


A subpoena duces tecum is a document used to obtain information in a civil or criminal case.   Presently this type of subpoena is commonly called a “Subpoena to Produce Documents or Things for Discovery”.  A subpoena is also used in Workers’ Compensation cases for the same purpose.  In a Workers’ Compensation case, a subpoena is obtained from the assigned Judge.

In a civil or criminal action, the subpoena is obtained from the Prothonotary’s office of the county in which your action has been filed for a small fee.  Once it has been obtained, a copy is sent to opposing counsel with a Notice of Intent to Serve Subpoena.  This Notice gives opposing counsel 20 days within which to object in writing to the serving of the subpoena.  Opposing counsel also has the opportunity to waive this Notice and the subpoena may be sent to the appropriate entity prior to the 20 day deadline.  An addendum may be added to the subpoena stating exactly what is being requested from the entity you are seeking documentation.  This is used in the event the list of documents being sought does not fit into the few lines given on the subpoena for that purpose.

At the time the subpoena is being served, usually by regular mail, a Notice is also enclosed directed to the entity advising them to complete an Acknowledgment of Receipt of Subpoena which also to be signed and returned to the sending counsel.  Also included with these documents is a Certificate of Compliance form for the person who is responsible for preparing and providing the requested documents to sign and return with the documents being produced within the 20 day time period given to produce and send the documents to the requesting counsel.

On the same date that the subpoena and all accompanying items are being sent to the entity being subpoenaed, a Certificate Prerequisite to Service of Subpoena is filed with the Prothonotary’s office of the appropriate county.  This Certificate has a copy of the Notice of Intent to Serve Subpoena, along with a copy of the Subpoena and any accompanying Addendum, attached to it.  A copy also needs to be sent to opposing counsel with a Certificate of Service of same.

This may seem very complicated, but it is a common practice for every law firm, and a very good reason why attorneys and their expertise are needed when filing a lawsuit.

Please also note that there is another type of subpoena called “Subpoena to Attend and Testify” which is served on a person, such as a witness in a case, and there are various rules which must be done when that type of subpoena is used.  For example, this type of subpoena would be accompanied by a witness fee check for a standard fee, which would also include mileage to and from the destination the witness would be required to go to, as per the instructions in the subpoena being served.  It would also be accompanied by a Notice of Deposition directed to that particular person.

I hope this gives you a better understanding of what a subpoena actually is and how it is used by a law office.

Sandra M. Olshefski


O’Donnell Law Offices

267 Wyoming Ave.

Kingston, PA  18704

E-Mail: sandee@odonnell-law.com

Phone:  (570) 821-5717; Fax: (570) 821-5799



The Workers’ Compensation Independent Medical Exam – There’s Nothing Independent About It!

Last month my workers’ compensation topic focused on treating with your own doctor after a work injury.  This month we’re going to talk about doctors again but with a different twist.  I’m talking about the “independent” medical examiner.  Who is he and what is his role in your workers’ compensation case?

Section 314 of the Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Act authorizes a workers’ compensation insurer to direct an injured worker to submit to a physical examination by an appropriate health-care provider at any time after a work injury.

Insurers have come to call these directed exams “independent” medical exams.  Make no mistake, there is nothing independent about this exam.  This is a DEFENSE medical examination where the workers’ compensation insurance company is directing you to a hand-selected doctor with the goal of securing a specific opinion necessary to challenge your claim (opinions such as, “the worker is not really injured” or “the worker is not as injured as his own treating doctor says she is” provide the insurer with the ammo they are looking for to challenge your case).

“Independent” medical examiners are hand selected and coached behind the scenes by the workers’ compensation insurer to provide specific opinions and recommendations in an effort to help the insurer save money.  These medical examiners are well-trained and creative in their approaches.  Not to be overlooked, in most instances, independent medical examiners are making tens of thousands of dollars per year performing examinations for insurance companies.  Business only stays booming if the doctors continue to give the insurers the opinions they seek.

Unfortunately, some workers’ compensation adjusters will lead injured workers to believe that the “independent” medical examination is for a second opinion.  This is particularly true when surgery or other expensive treatment is being recommended.  Again, make no mistake about it, if the insurance company is directing you to a specific doctor and calling it an “independent” medical exam, you are being set up to have a legal challenge brought to your ongoing eligibility for workers’ compensation benefits.  You need someone in your corner to guide you through this  process.

If you’ve suffered a work related injury and your insurance adjuster or nurse case manager has been discussing independent medical exams, it’s time to get a lawyer on your side who can give you a full and accurate explanation as to how such an exam could impact your legal rights.  Contact our office and speak with an attorney who specializes in workers’ compensation claims at the first sign of the so-called “independent exam.”

Michael A. O’Donnell, Esq.

O’Donnell Law Offices

267 Wyoming Avenue

Kingston, Pa. 18702

(Office) 570-821-5717

(Fax) 570-821-5799



Certified as a specialist in the practice of workers’ compensation law by the Pennsylvania Bar Association Section on Workers’ Compensation Law as authorized by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.



Pokémon Go!

As a 52 year old woman, whose children watched the animated Pokemon series nearly 2 decades ago, I am surprised to admit not only do I know what this game is (these now adult children tuned me in), but I think the interaction of actual GPS and these animated characters is intriguing.

What is Pokémon Go? It’s a free download for Android and iOS devices. Similar to the 1990s video games, the goal is still to catch as many Pokemon creatures as you can. Pokémon Go is an augmented reality game — it mixes real-world elements with the game.

The big thing is Pokémon Go uses your phone’s GPS and clock to decide which Pokémon appear in the game. If you’re at the park, more bug and grass types appear. If you’re by a lake, more water types appear. If it’s night, more nocturnal ghost and fairy types do. So Pokémon won’t just come to you; players have to traverse the real world to “catch ’em all”.

So once you download the game app, as you travel, these animated Pokemon creatures appear on your real life GPS screen where you can play the game and “capture” them. Each capture results in points. The more the better.

Unfortunately, many are losing track of this just being a fun game. Many of the problems from texting and walking and texting and driving are now occuring while people are playing this game. Not looking up from the screen and putting their safety and the safety of others at risk. Some are even going as far as trespassing to make a “capture”. We have to remember this is a game. Common sense and safety have to prevail. It is no fun to get hurt or hurt others trying to catch a cartoon character.

So go “catch ‘em all” SAFELY!

Who is Responsible for Payment of Medical Bills When Injured in an Accident?

Workers’ Compensation Claim:

Should you injure yourself on the job, the Employer and its insurance company is responsible to pay for all reasonable and necessary medical expenses incurred for treatment rendered for your work injury(ies).  This includes payments of co-pays for medical appointments, medication(s) and travel expenses to and from medical appointments.  It is important to keep a record of appointments as well as a list of medications to ensure the insurance company is honoring their obligation for payment of these expenses.

Motor Vehicle Collision:

If you are injured in a motor vehicle collision, your automobile insurance carrier is responsible for payment of all medical expenses.  Typically, most consumers carry $5,000.00-$10,000.00 of medical coverage on their policy.  Once you exceed your medical coverage under the automobile policy, it will be the responsibility of your personal health insurance to pay the remaining bills. Should you not have personal health insurance at the time of the collision, it is your responsibility to make the necessary payments to satisfy any outstanding balance(s) you may have incurred.

 Slip/Trip and Fall:

If you are injured in a slip/trip and fall, the property owner is generally responsible for payment of your medical bills depending on what type of limits they carry on their insurance policy. Should they have medical insurance, they will pay medical expenses until it meets their policy limits.  Once your medical expenses exceed the limits, you will be responsible for payment of all medical bills.  In the event the property owner does not carry insurance, you will need to determine whether or not to pay for the treatment out of your own pocket or bring forth a legal action against them.

The above listings are basic outlines.  Should you have difficulty getting medical bills paid due to no fault of your own, it is best to contact an experienced attorney who will navigate through these difficult waters for you.

Noelle M. Stefanoski

Litigation Paralegal

O’Donnell Law Offices

267 Wyoming Avenue

Kingston, PA  18704

E-Mail:  Noelle@odonnell-law.com

Phone: (570) 821-5717




The United States Department of Education has instituted a program allowing for the write-off of student loan debt for individuals with severe mental or physical disabilities.  The program is called Total and Permanent Discharge (TPD).

A TPD relieves the disabled individual from having to repay: (1) William D. Ford Federal Direct Loans; (2) Federal Family Education Loans; (3) Federal Perkins Loans; and/or (4) a TEACH Grant service obligation on the basis of your total and permanent disability.

You can show that you are totally and permanently disabled in one of three (3) ways:

  • If you are a veteran, you can submit documentation from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) showing that the VA has determined that you are unemployable due to service connected disability;
  • If you are receiving Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits, you can submit a Social Security Administration notice of award for the SSDI or SSI benefits stating that your next scheduled disability review will be within five (5) to seven (7) years from the date of your most recent SSA disability determination; or
  • You can submit certification from a physician that you are totally and permanently disabled. Your physician must certify that you are unable to engage in any substantial gainful activity by reason of a medically determinable physical or mental impairment that: (a) can be expected to result in death; (b) has lasted for a continuous period of not less than sixty (60) months; or (c) can be expected to last for a continuous period of not less than sixty (60) months.

The TPD program presents a unique opportunity to discharge student loan obligations if you fall into one of the above mentioned categories.  To start an application online, visit secure.disabilitydischarge.com.




On the 5th green at Oakmont, in the final round of the 2016 U.S. Open, Dustin
Johnson alerted officials that his golf ball had moved. The matter was reviewed and no
penalty was assessed under Rule 18-2 at that time.
Rule 18-2 of the Rules of Golf provides:
18-2. By Player, Partner, Caddie or Equipment
Except as permitted by the Rules, when a player’s ball is in play,
(i) the player, his partner or either of their caddies:
• lifts or moves the ball,
• touches it purposely (except with a club in the act of
addressing the ball), or
• causes the ball to move, or
(ii) the equipment of the player or his partner causes the ball to
move, the player incurs a penalty of one stroke.
An hour or so later — the USGA officials — employing legal sounding principles —
seemingly changed its position:
Our officials reviewed the video of Dustin on the fifth green and
determined that based on the weight of the evidence, it was more likely
than not that Dustin caused his ball to move. Dustin’s putter contacted the
ground at the side of the ball, and almost immediately after, the ball
See “USGA Statement Regarding Dustin Johnson” issued 6/20/16. (Emphasis supplied.)
Fortunately, Dustin Johnson won the Open by 3 shots, so the USGA ruling was not
an issue. But this series of events, and countless views of videos from the 5th green at
Oakmont, raise the question — Did the USGA get it right on Dustin Johnson?
Our office has discussed the matter. By a narrow margin, we believe no penalty
should have been assessed under Rule 18-2.
What do you think?

Neil T. O’Donnell, Esq.