Teresa Ficken Sachs

Co-Chair, Appellate Advocacy and Post-Trial Practice Group
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Terry serves as the co-chair of the firm’s Appellate Advocacy and Post-Trial Practice Group. In her capacity as an appellate attorney, Terry has developed significant experience representing all manner of insureds, self-insureds and insurance carriers. With 34 years of experience as a civil litigator, including 20 as a trial attorney, Terry has the understanding and the ability to work closely with trial counsel, prior to and during trial, to ensure that all potential appellate issues are preserved.

Terry has argued before the Supreme Court of the United States, regularly appears before all levels of the Pennsylvania state and federal courts, including the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit and the Pennsylvania Supreme, Superior and Commonwealth Courts, and has also argued before the Supreme Court of Ohio. Terry is experienced in product liability matters, in a broad range of issues involving the defense of health care systems and physicians (enhanced by her background as a trained pharmacist), and in insurance coverage and uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage disputes for a number of large insurance carriers. 

Frequently, Terry is asked to make presentations and author articles on insurance-related topics, as well as appellate practices. She has often been asked to represent insurance industry groups, as amici curiae, before the Pennsylvania Superior and Supreme Courts. Terry has been among the top five percent of lawyers chosen by her peers in Pennsylvania Super Lawyers as published by American Lawyer Media and Philadelphia Magazine. In 2013, she chaired the Bar Association's Commission on Judicial Selection and Retention.

Dedicated to community service, Terry currently serves as a board member, Vice President and Registrar for the Chestnut Hill Youth Sports Club. As well, she is a board member of the Twin Lakes Conservancy.

Significant Representative Matters

Pursued successful appeal to Superior Court from trial court's grant of new trial after jury returned a defense verdict in medical malpractice case.  The Superior Court found that the trial court abused its discretion in granting a new trial based upon a juror's alleged failure to disclose certain information, where the information would not have been a basis to strike the juror for cause.   

Successfully defended appeal to Superior Court in legal malpractice action by principals of telecommunications company against their prior counsel. 

Pursued successful appeal to Supreme Court of Ohio in wrongful death case involving application of an arbitration clause to a lawsuit by the decedent's estate. 

Successfully defended appeal to Superior Court in declaratory judgment action seeking UIM benefits from carrier than had paid all applicable coverage in motor vehicle death case.  

Successfully defended Third Circuit appeal, after obtaining summary judgment in favor of insurance carrier, in declaratory judgment action involving enforceability of policy exclusion regarding insureds to whom coverage would be extended.  

Successfully defended Third Circuit appeal in declaratory judgment action challenging coverage denial to insurance broker in claim alleging payment of more than $1 million due to fraud by broker. 

Successfully defended Third Circuit appeal in brain cancer death case against university and health system.  The decedent was a university research scientist; the plaintiff claimed that the decedent's brain cancer was due to alleged radiation exposure in the university research facility.  The issues included applicability of the federal Price-Anderson Radiation Act standards as well as claimed medical malpractice.  

Successfully defended Third Circuit appeal in case seeking damages in excess of $12 million arising from construction of natural gas pipeline.  The plaintiff alleged negligent misrepresentation under the Bilt-Rite doctrine with respect to certain design activities; the Third Circuit affirmed that the Bilt-Rite doctrine did not apply to impose a duty on the defendants.    

Successfully defended Third Circuit appeal in suit alleging deceptive conduct under multiple state and federal laws in a sale of property. 

Successful defense on appeal of judgment for defendants in premises liability death case.

Represented large university in successful defense of post-trial motions following verdict in university’s favor in case involving catastrophic injury to student, and affirmance of that result on appeal.

Represented major university health system in successful defense of Superior Court appeal involving issues of first impression regarding expert witness requirements in alleged nursing malpractice case, and ongoing defense in Pennsylvania Supreme Court.

Represented insurance carrier in successful appeal to Superior Court and successful defense in Supreme Court resulting in reversal of seven-figure judgment arising from shooting during armed robbery.

Represented Northeastern Pennsylvania college in successful appeal to Superior Court and successful defense in Supreme Court, resulting in reversal of $2.5 million judgment against the college and remand for entry of judgment in its favor in case arising from campus construction project and involving complex issues including college’s control over the worksite.

Classes/Seminars Taught

Personal Injury Potpourri, Faculty, The Dispute Resolution Institute, April 2018

Highlights in Pennsylvania Medical Malpractice Law, Marshall Dennehey Health Care and Health Law Seminar, November 9, 2017

Key Developments in Pennsylvania UM/UIM Law, Pennsylvania Bar Institute Auto Law Update, Philadelphia and Mechanicsburg, PA, October 2017

2016 Most Important Recent Cases, Dispute Resolution Institute's 18th Annual Personal Injury Potpourri, April 12, 2016

Highlights in Pennsylvania Medical Malpractice Law, Health Care and Health Law Seminar, Marshall Dennehey, November 5, 2015

What Can We Learn from Nancy Raynor?, Philadelphia Association of Defense Counsel, June 2015

Appellate Watch, Dispute Resolution Institute's 17th Annual Personal Injury Potpourri, 2015

Appellate Law and Procedure Update 2012, Philadelphia Association of Defense Counsel, 2012

Appellate Update 2011-2012, Defense Research Institute, 2012

Guest Lecturer/Panelist, Temple University Beasley School of Law, 2011

Winning (or Not Losing) Your Case On Appeal, Pennsylvania Bar Institute, 2010

Published Works

"The Supreme Court's Enforcement of Antidiscrimination Laws," chapter author, The Supreme Court of Pennsylvania: Life and Law in the Commonwealth, 1684 – 2017. Penn State University Press, January 2018

"Automobile Insurance Law - Substance and Ethics," UM/UIM Update, Philadelphia Bar Education Center, 1995

Media Commentary

"4 Ways Kraft Shooting Case Could Reshape Punitive Damages Litigation," Delaware Law Weekly and The Legal Intelligencer, July 21, 2017

Admissions
Pennsylvania
1984
U.S. Court of Appeals 3rd Circuit
1985
U.S. District Court Eastern District of Pennsylvania
U.S. District Court Middle District of Pennsylvania
Supreme Court of Pennsylvania
1984
U.S. Supreme Court
Education
Villanova University School of Law (J.D., cum laude, 1984)
University of Connecticut (B.S., cum laude, 1980)
Honors & awards
Appellate Practice, 2018-present
Pennsylvania Super Lawyers
2006, 2008-2019; Top 50 Women in Pennsylvania, 2018-2019; Top 100 in Pennsylvania 2019; Top in 50 Philadelphia 2019
Philadelphia Association of Defense Counsel, William J. O'Brien Distinguished Service Award as 2015 "Defense Lawyer of the Year"
The Philadelphia Inquirer, Influencers of Law Award, 2019
2017 Woman of Distinction Award, Philadelphia Business Journal
Associations & memberships
Pennsylvania Supreme Court Appellate Court Procedural Rules Committee, 2018
American Academy of Appellate Lawyers, Fellow, 2017
Bar Association of the Third Federal Circuit
Lawyers’ Club of Philadelphia - Board of Directors (2013)
Pennsylvania Bar Association
Pennsylvania Defense Institute - Board Member 2006-2012
Philadelphia Association of Defense Counsel - Past President, President-Elect, Vice President and Secretary; Board Member 1997-2004
Philadelphia Bar Association - 2013 Chair, Commission on Judicial Selection and Retention; Member, Appellate Courts Committee
Hearing Committee Member, Serving the Disciplinary Board of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania, 2000-2006
Twin Lakes Conservancy - Board Member, 2000-Present
Chestnut Hill Youth Sports Club - Board Member, Vice President and Registrar, 2003 – Present; Commissioner of travel soccer program, 2004 – 2009
Year joined
2015