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


Guard Allegedly Encouraged Inmate's Suicide, Reviving Lawsuit

Ever have one of those days when everything seems to go wrong?

From the moment you roll out of bed and stub your toe, you know it's going to be one of those days. That's how it must have felt for Joan Mullin, only much worse.

She sued prison officials for contributing to her son's suicide. Then her lawyer misfiled some key evidence, and her case was dismissed.

Fortunately, Murphy's law is not a real law. Mullin finally got some relief from the U.S. Third Circuit Court of Appeals in Mullin v. Balicki.

New Jersey Senator Bob Menendez 'Dodges Bullet' in Mistrial

In the criminal defense world, a 10-2 deadlock is a pretty big win.

A complete acquittal would be like a home run, but jurors voted 10-2 and sent a big message to the prosecutors in United States of America v. Menendez. Don't try it again.

U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez, whose bribery case ended in a mistrial, hopes the Department of Justice doesn't refile charges against him. But for Senate Democrats, the mistrial was a ticket to the big game where they need every vote.

Eye Drops Plaintiffs Get Relief on Appeal

Don't shed a tear for the plaintiffs in the wasted eye drops case.

Their putative class-action was dismissed for lack of standing, but the U.S. Third Circuit Court of Appeals reversed that decision in Cottrell v . Alcon Laboratories. The appeals court said the trial judge applied a too-narrow definition of injury.

The plaintiffs alleged eye drop bottles wasted their medicine. In other words, standing is in the eye of the bottle holder.

Stephanos Bibas Makes it to the 3rd Circuit

Justice Stephanos Bibas made it to the U.S. Third Circuit Court of Appeals by a Senate vote of 53-43.

He won largely along party lines with only one Democrat crossing the aisle to vote for the Republican nominee. It was close during a week when four judges were confirmed to federal appeals courts.

Critics said Sen. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell was rushing the process. But for Bibas, who has never been a judge, it was still a win.

Maritime Law Protects Sailors From Asbestos

Maritime law applies to a different world, one where ships and sailors live.

But if the "special solicitude for the safety and protection of sailors" goes further ashore, machine makers may have a problem. In re. Asbestos Products Liability Litigation, a federal appeals court said manufacturers may be liable for injuries from parts added to their products later.

That means the "bare metal defense" won't work. Manufacturers can be held liable even for asbestos they don't put in their machines.

Deaf, Blind Moviegoer Wins Accommodation Appeal

What's the fun for someone sitting in an empty movie theatre?

Exactly, there is none. That's the point the U.S. Third Circuit Court of Appeals made in reversing and remanding McGann v. Cinemark U.S.A., Inc.

The plaintiff, who was deaf and blind, had a right to experience a movie through special interpreters. The theater needs to accommodate him or explain why it cannot, the court said.

Two sheriff's deputies out of Lackawanna County, Pennsylvania filed an appeal after winning a judgment against their employer for unpaid overtime in the Souryavong v. Lackawanna County case. The government employer contended that the failure to pay overtime was an administrative error, a payroll glitch and nothing more.

While the lower district court did award the three plaintiffs their unpaid wages, and even doubled the damages and awarded attorney's fees, the plaintiffs, and their attorney, filed an appeal seeking more money. Sadly for the plaintiffs and their attorney, the appellate court did not disturb the ruling of the lower court.

The Third Circuit Court of Appeals has affirmed the dismissal of an employee's slip and fall injury accident case against the Cabot Oil and Gas company, and the drilling outfit, Patterson UTI, where he worked. However, the lawsuit was not dismissed on summary judgment, nor via the all too familiar 12(b)(6), but rather via a 12(b)(2) jurisdictional challenge.

In short, both the district and appellate courts ruled that the court did not have sufficient jurisdiction over the defendants due to their lack of contact with the state of New Jersey, where the case was filed.

Drunken Brawl on Ship and Maritime Law

'Drunken sailor' is probably an unfair, stereotypical label, but it works for a case that arose from a drunken brawl on the Delaware River.

Michael Bocchino was aboard a cruise vessel, the "Ben Franklin Yacht," when a fight broke out among some passengers. He didn't know who hit him, but it was enough for him to file a lawsuit in state court against the boat's owner.

The owner filed an action in federal court for lack of maritime jurisdiction, but a federal appeals court reversed. So the blurry question was, what is maritime jurisdiction for brawls anyway?

Court Rejects Football Player's Concussion Case

For Sheldon Mann, it started when he got hit twice in one day playing high school football. The coach told him to get back into the game after the first collision without evaluating him for a concussion injury.

After the second hit, Mann started suffering the effects of a traumatic brain injury, including headaches, hallucinations, short-term memory loss, and seizures. Mann would never play competitive football again.

His parents sued on his behalf, alleging the coach did not protect their child. But now that's over because an appeals court said the law didn't protect him either.