U.S. Third Circuit - The FindLaw 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals Opinion Summaries Blog

Hybrid Medical Device Not Exempt From State Liability

Walter Shuker had a complicated hip replacement surgery.

It wasn't just the total replacement of his hip that was complicated. It was the device -- an apparatus comprised of a metal head, metal sleeve, a stem connecting the metal head to the thigh bone, a metal liner, etc. Together, the pieces created a "metal-on-metal articulation."

That's where his post-operative pain began and a subsequent lawsuit emerged in Shuker v. Smith and Nephew. The case -- with a question of first impression -- was as complicated as the corrective surgery.

Tribe's Arbitration Clause Is Unenforceable

If this were the Old West, John MacDonald might've said he got scalped.

But times have changed, and so MacDonald just says he got ripped off in a bad loan. He borrowed $5,000 at 116 percent annual interest, resulting in a $35,994 finance charge over seven years.

Fortunately for MacDonald, the U.S. Third Circuit Court of Appeals let him get out of part of the deal. And as it turns out, a Native American tribe was involved.

Settlement Offers Are Misleading in Time-Barred Debt Collection

One wrong word can make a big difference when a debt collector comes calling.

No, it's not a four-letter word. (Debt collectors can be aggressive.) The word is "settlement."

A company broke the law when it offered a settlement on a time-barred debt, a federal appeals court said. In Tatis v. Allied Interstatethe decision revived a class-action lawsuit. 

Good and Bad Eggs in Antitrust Case

Call it the egg conspiracy case.

It's easier than In Re: Processed Egg Products Antitrust Litigation, but you choose. Unfortunately, like most conspiracy theories, it is not that simple.

When a court has to use diagrams to show the connections between conspirators and non-conspirators, it is at least novel. The U.S. Third Circuit Court of Appeals also said it presented a question of first impression.

University Worker's Whistleblower Case Tossed

Colleen Bradley, director of budget and financial planning at a Pennsylvania university, had a problem with the budgets.

They were "false budgets" designed to increase taxpayer-funded appropriations, she alleged in Bradley v. West Chester University of the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education. When she complained about them, Bradley said, she was fired.

A trial court dismissed her case, and an appeals court affirmed. The U.S. Third Circuit Court of Appeals said it was about government immunity and the limits of free speech.

Preachers Beat Criminal Charges, Lose Civil Case

Perhaps it was the message evangelical ministers were preaching that got them into trouble.

After all, there's something wrong about telling people "the end is coming" just as they board a train. But Don Karns and Robert Parker were not going to stop preaching just because they didn't have a permit to be on the train platform.

That was the real problem, according to the New Jersey Transit Authority. But after beating criminal charges against them, the preachers sent the state agency another message in Karns v. Shanahan.

'But-For' Causation Required for FCA Retaliation Cases

After climbing up the corporate ladder, Marie DiFiore had a great fall.

She was newly promoted to director of marketing at a drug company, but started to have problems with co-workers and certain "off-label" products. When the company put her on probation, she quit.

DiFiore sued for wrongful discharge and retaliation under the False Claims Act, but a trial court ruled against her. On appeal in DiFiore v. CSL Behring, the U.S. Third Circuit Court of Appeals said the judge got it right.

Gold Mining Company Can't Collect $1.2 Billion Debt

Chasing a debtor can be complicated, especially when the debtor manages to move its assets to a foreign country.

In Crystallex International Corp. v. Petroleos de Venezuela, that would be an understatement. The U.S. Third Circuit Court of Appeals called the debtor's trail "exceedingly complex."

It was a "tangle of debtors, creditors, parents, subsidiaries, alter egos, and complex international corporate transactions," but the court unraveled it in three words: no fraudulent transfer.

Super Bowl Tickets Case: Forward Motion

It's the Super Bowl of lawsuits. Wait, no, it's the lawsuit of Super Bowls.

Actually, it's a lawsuit against the NFL for allegedly gouging fans for tickets to Super Bowl XLVIII. It's not that complicated, but the NFL has been sued more than once over Super Bowl tickets.

This time, in Finkelman v. National Football League, a fan says the NFL sold out the public by withholding 99 percent of its tickets for league insiders and leaving non-insiders to pay inflated prices on the resale market.

Hospital Worker Can't Refuse Flu Vaccine, Court Rules

It's hard to understand how a hospital worker would not believe in vaccinations.

But to each his own, and apparently it wasn't a problem for Paul Fallon when he went to work for Mercy Catholic Medical Center. When Fallon refused to be vaccinated for the flu, however, that was another issue.

The hospital fired him, he sued, and a trial judge dismissed. That would have been the end of the story, but then he appealed to the U.S. Third Circuit Court of Appeals.