Estelle Kokales McGrath

Shareholder

Estelle is a member of the Professional Liability Department with a diverse practice, which is concentrated in the areas of Public Entity/Civil Rights, Employment Law, Real Estate and Insurance Agent Errors & Omissions litigation in both the state and federal courts of Pennsylvania and West Virginia.

The Public Entity/Civil Rights part of Estelle's practice focuses on the defense of public entities and police officers. Estelle routinely represents schools, universities and municipalities for various claims and suits brought against them. She also represents and defends teachers, college professors and coaches covering a wide array of professional liability matters. In addition, she defends police chiefs, police officers, constables, humane officers, volunteers and security guards when claims and suits are brought against them.

Estelle’s Employment practice includes her representation and defense of public entities and private employers. The claims brought against her clients involve discrimination and retaliation based on race, sex, religion, age, disability and FMLA entitlement, as well as claims of Whistleblower violations and sexual assault. Discrimination cases frequently have Estelle representing her clients at the administrative level (EEOC/PHRC) and, thereafter in state and federal court.  Estelle also represents employers at unemployment and workers’ compensation hearings.

In her Real Estate/Directors’ & Officers’ practice, Estelle represents real estate agents, real estate appraisers, home inspectors, property management companies, homeowner associations, homeowner boards and board members. The defense of these individuals and entities requires Estelle to regularly analyze contracts, governing documents of the association and the Uniform Planned Community Act.  

She also concentrates her practice on the defense of errors and omissions claims brought against insurance agents and brokers.  

Estelle is a member of the Professional Liability Underwriting Society (PLUS). She was also selected to be a member of the Council on Litigation Management (CLM) and the FETA organization (individuals in the professional lines business of Greek ethnicity).  

Significant Representative Matters

Complaint Dismissed Against Homeowners' Association and Property Management Company, January 28, 2020
A homeowner, Plaintiff, filed suit in Butler County Court of Common Pleas.  Plaintiff sued the Homeowners' Association, the Property Management Company, the Property Managers and individual board members alleging breach of contract, breach of fiduciary duty, gross negligence, intentional misrepresentation and negligent misrepresentation. After arguing preliminary objections to the 490-paragraph complaint, the Judge sustained the objections and dismissed the entire lawsuit with prejudice.  The Judge also granted the Defendants' Motion for Sanctions against Plaintiff for failing to voluntarily dismiss the individual defendants from the suit.

Motion to Dismiss Granted for Housing Authority Alleged to Have Violated Civil Rights of Tenant and Guest, January 13, 2020
Plaintiffs filed a lawsuit in the United States District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia alleging that the housing authority and their employee violated state and federal laws.  After filing a motion to dismiss all claims against the housing authority and their employee, the Judge granted the motion in its entirety dismissing three counts alleging violations of federal laws and four counts alleging violations of state laws.

Defeated Class Action Certification Against Property Management Company, November 20, 2019
Eight homeowners filed a  class-action complaint in Washington County Court of Common Pleas avering claims of conversion and conspiracy against a property manager of their homeowners' association. The homeowners sought to certify a class-action lawsuit for all of the unit owners in the planned community.  They accused the property manager of wrongfully converting unit owner association fees and conspiring to delay the "turn over" of their homeowners' association. After a lengthy and contentious discovery process, the Judge denied the class certification against the property management company. 

Dismissal of Employee's Claims of Employee Status, August 2018
Claimant filed a claim petition alleging he was an employee of a newspaper. The case was bifurcated to determine whether the claimant was an employee versus an independent contractor. The Judge dismissed the claim petition finding that claimant was an independent contractor. Claimant appealed to the Workers' Compensation Appeal Board that affirmed the Judge's findings.

Voluntary Dismissal of Real Estate Agent from Lawsuit, November 16, 2017
A buyer sued multiple defendants, in Westmoreland County Court of Common Pleas, including the seller's real estate agent alleging claims of misrepresentation and unfair trade practices in Pennsylvania state court.  During the discovery process, counsel was able to prove that the real estate agent was not liable. Thus, Plaintiff voluntarily agreed to discontinue the lawsuit as to the real estate agent.   

Voluntary Dismissal of Borough and Chief of Police, March 17, 2017
A prior employee (plaintiff) filed a complaint in the United States District Court For The Western District of Pennsylvania alleging that the borough, the mayor and chief of police unlawfully discriminated against him, which forced him to resign. The employee set forth various federal and state claims including a violation of his substantive due process rights and intentional infliction of emotional distress. After deposing the plaintiff, he voluntarily agreed to dismiss the complaint with prejudice. 

Employee Injuries Denied and Determined Fully Recovered, May 2016
A union president filed multiple petitions against the employer for accepted and unaccepted injuries. During a six-year battle, the employer was successful in its defenses before the workers' compensation judge, the workers' compensation appeal board, the Commonwealth Court and the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. 

Employee's Claims for Wage Loss Denied, March 17, 2015
An employee, truck driver, filed a claim in West Virginia for injuries he suffered in the course of his employment. The Employer was successful in proving that claimant's disc injury was preexisting in nature, which was affirmed by the Supreme Court of Appeals.

Preliminary Injunction Denied, November 24, 2014
Plaintiff, a manufacturer and seller of refractory products, filed a Motion for Injunctive Relief to prohibit their prior employees from working with a new company, which also manufactured and sold refractory products. The Judge denied Plaintiff's Motion for Preliminary Injunctive Relief after a contentious, speedy discovery stage of depositions and other motions. The trial team was successful in protecting the defendants' new business from being shut down. 

Published Works

"House Bill No. 88 to be Signed by Governor Rendell," What's Hot in Workers' Comp, Volume 7, No. 12, December 2003

"Supreme Court Reverses Caso Decision," What's Hot in Workers' Comp, Volume 7, No. 12, December 2003

"Course of Employment Argument Saves Employer," Defense Digest, Volume 9, No. 2, June 2003

"Board's Decision Reversed Where Claimant Failed to Present Evidence," Lawyers Journal, The Journal of the Allegheny County Bar Association, June 27, 2003

"Borough of Lewistown v. Pennsylvania Labor Relations Board: The Supreme Court of Pennsylvania Holds Arbitration Award Final and Binding When Participating Joint Employer Failed to Appeal the Award," 9 WIDENER J. PUB. L 615 (2001).

Admissions
Pennsylvania
2001
West Virginia
2011
U.S. District Court Southern District of West Virginia
2011
U.S. District Court Western District of Pennsylvania
2011
U.S. District Court Northern District of West Virginia
2017
Education
Widener University School of Law (J.D., 2001)
Juniata College (B.A., 1998)
Honors & awards
Pennsylvania Super Lawyer Rising Star
2008, 2012-2016
Associations & memberships
Allegheny County Bar Association
Council on Litigation Management
FETA 2013-present
Pennsylvania Bar Association
Professional Liability Underwriting Society (PLUS) 2013-present
West Virginia Bar Association
Year joined
2002