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Thomas A. Pendleton

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Phone: (814) 870-7756
Fax: (814) 454-4647

100 State St #700
Erie, Pennsylvania 16507

Tom Pendleton has been representing businesses, non-profit corporations and individuals in a wide variety of legal matters for more than 25 years. He concentrates his practice on business matters, including preparing agreements and commercial litigation. These agreements include assignments of oil and gas interests, covenants not to compete, and contracts governed by the Uniform Commercial Code.

The commercial litigation matters range from debt collection for failure to pay through complex lawsuits involving millions of dollars.

Tom has extensive experience in the area of appellate practice, having successfully briefed and argued cases before the Third Circuit Court of Appeals as well as before numerous panels of the Superior Court and Commonwealth Court, obtaining both affirmances and reversals of trial court rulings.  These appeals have involved diverse subject matters, including motor vehicle accidents, contract cases, marital settlement agreements, oil and gas rights, and Public School Code matters.  Tom is well-versed in the appellate courts' procedural rules and has advanced oral advocacy skills.

Tom devotes a substantial portion of his practice to representing charter schools on all matters concerning Pennsylvania Charter School Law, including advising them on Right to Know Law matters, Sunshine Law matters and special education matters. Tom also advises non-profit organizations on general business and contractual matters.

Representative Matters

Tom successfully protected the rights of private school students to receive free bus transportation to school, provided by the school district in which the students reside.  The school district argued that the students were not entitled to free transportation because they were in the United States on an F-1 visa.  The Third Circuit Court of Appeals rejected the school district's argument, holding that federal immigration law did not pre-empt Pennsylvania's busing statute.  The Third Circuit remanded the case to the District Court for consideration of the private school's request for a permanent injunction and for relief under Section 1983.

Tom recently completed a transaction including the assignment of approximately 280 shallow natural gas wells on behalf of the acquiring natural gas producer. He was responsible for negotiating with the seller, resolving issues with the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection and communicating with landowners.

Tom recently represented a charter school which became the first charter school in Pennsylvania to obtain a court order allowing the charter school to expand to a second location under the same charter.

Tom and his co-counsel, J. Bruce McKissock, of Doylestown, Pennsylvania, recently reached a multi-million dollar settlement on behalf of investors in an oil and gas well drilling project in Northwestern Pennsylvania. The settlement was reached following five days of testimony to a jury.

The lawsuit stemmed from a contract under which the investors contributed money towards "seismic exploration" used to identify potential locations for drilling oil and gas wells. If one oil and gas well was successfully drilled on one of these locations, the drilling company could use these results in conjunction with the seismic exploration to determine whether to drill more wells in a particular area. The central issue was whether the investors' contributions entitled them to receive royalties from oil and gas wells drilled during a specific time period, or whether the investors were entitled to receive royalties from all wells drilled as a result of the seismic exploration to which the investors had contributed.

Primary to the resolution was the scope of the fiduciary duty that exists between entities involved in oil and gas exploration ventures. The trial judge determined that a fiduciary duty existed in this case, meaning each person or entity must act for the benefit of all parties involved in the project. The judge relied upon court decisions from other oil and gas-producing states which held that relationships in oil and gas drilling ventures are more akin to confidential relationships involving trusts than to arm's-length transactions typical in business ventures.

MacDonald Illig counsel presented extensive evidence, including computer simulations, to illustrate the factual issues in the case to the jury. Digital maps showed the location of the seismic exploration and the oil and gas wells that were eventually drilled.


J.D., Vanderbilt University School of Law - Nashville, Tennessee, 1993
Oralist, Jessup International Moot Court Team

B.S., Allegheny College - Meadville, Pennsylvania, 1987
magna cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa

Bar & Court Admissions Pennsylvania Supreme Court
Western District of PA
Third Circuit Court of Appeals
Memberships & Associations

Pennsylvania Bar Association

President, Community Country Day School, 2015-Present

Board Treasurer, Community Country Day School, 2009-2015

Pennsylvania Coalition of Public Charter Schools


Fulbright Scholar, Saarbruecken, Germany (1987-1988)

Vanderbilt University School of Law/Alumni Interviewer