U.S. Third Circuit - FindLaw

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


Prosecutor Misconduct in Murder Case Didn't Render Trial Unfair

Prosecutorial misconduct did not render a murder trial fundamentally unfair according to the Third Circuit, affirming the lower court. What kind of misconduct are we talking about? The misconduct included repeated suggestion that the defendant's freedom would threaten the jurors' safety, the suggestion that the defendant's discarded firearm would endanger children, and repeated showings of images of a bloodied corpse the defendant had shot.

Seven women who have accused Bill Cosby of sexual assault could soon have access to files regarding Cosby's confidential settlement with a prior accuser. A judge in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania denied Bill Cosby's motion to squash a subpoena for the case files from his suit and settlement with Andrea Constand.

Constand entered into a confidential settlement with Cosby in 2006, but that doesn't mean her case file can be withheld from discovery, Judge Anita Brody ruled.

The Supreme Court declined to hear a challenge to the EPA's Chesapeake Bay cleanup plan last week, letting stand a Third Circuit ruling that the program did not violate the Clean Water Act. In order to address stubborn, persistent agricultural pollution in one of the nation's largest estuaries, the EPA instituted a complex scheme to regulate key pollutants being discharged into the Bay.

Agricultural interests and developers sued, arguing that the cleanup plan went beyond what the Clean Water Act allowed and usurped the powers of the states. Had their arguments been successful, the EPA could have seen its efforts to address stubborn water pollution hampered in a major way.

Child Welfare Agents Enjoy Immunity From Suit, 3rd Circuit Rules

Child welfare workers who took away a child from its mother during an investigation into her possible drug use enjoy immunity from suit because there was no notice that they were violating a clear constitutional right.

The case grew out of an unfortunate case of domestic violence where the mother attempted to abscond with the baby to a private residence without prior approval from the Division of Child Protection and Permanency.

The Third Circuit dealt the final blow to a long-running whistleblower suit last Tuesday. Jeffrey Wiest, a former accounts payable manager for Tyco Electronics, alleged that he had been illegally terminated in retaliation for raising concerns over expenditures on lavish parties featuring mermaid greeters, pirate performers and fire dancers. He sued, claiming that his firing months later violated the anti-retaliation provisions of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act.

The Third Circuit wasn't convinced, however, finding that Wiest had failed to show that his termination was connected to his mermaid expenditures complaints, rather than a later, independent sexual harassment investigation.

While Donald Trump campaigns to 'make America great again,' the Atlantic City casinos bearing his name have been doing anything but great. Trump casinos, hotels, and resorts have filed for bankruptcy no less than four times. The Trump Taj Mahal Casino first went into Chapter 11 in 1991, then again in September of 2014.

That most recent bankruptcy led to a protracted battle with the casino's union workers, who lost their bid to hold the Taj Mahal to its contracts last Friday, when the Third Circuit ruled that the bankruptcy code allowed debtors to escape their collective bargaining agreements.

If you want to officiate your cousins wedding, you can spend a few bucks and get ordained online in under 15 minutes. But if you want to establish a church plan, an ERISA-exempt defined benefit retirement plan, you better be a church. That's the gist of a recent ruling by the Third Circuit that concluded, "per the plain text of ERISA, only a church can establish" such plans.

Though the Third Circuit's ruling seems straightforward, it contrasts with years of IRS practice found that "nonchurch status is not fatal" when establishing church plans and decades of court opinions assuming that church plans could be established by entities that simply have strong ties to churches.

Another Circuit Court Rules Against Nude Bars

It's been a tough time for business owners who want to open exotic dancing businesses. Both the Seventh Circuit and the a New Jersey appeals court handed down decisions that disfavored the legal arguments put forth by business owners who sought to open strip clubs in their respective towns.

Boy, can't someone run an honest nude bar anymore?

Overview of 3rd Circuit's Precedent-Setting FLSA Cases

Employment lawyers have been keeping their eyeballs on the Third Circuit lately. That court of appeals has been very busy making law with regards to the federal FLSA in two recent cases.

As an added bonus, the court was mercifully clear in its dicta and tone in both opinions. It might not be a bright line rule, but hey -- let's not be greedy.

3rd Circuit Reverses in Favor of ISPs, Rules Against AT&T

Net Neutrality. Data Throttling. These are some of the new vocabulary terms that netizens have become fluent in recently. It seems that every few months, a new court drama plays out over the proper nature of Internet traffic and how to handle it.

One of the key players, AT&T, has been finding itself in courtrooms a lot lately. How nice of them to set precedent for the rest of us.