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


Just a few days after the most popular hot dog eating holiday in the country, the legal fight between two titans of the hot dog industry came one step closer to reaching a final resolution. The Third Circuit Court of Appeals issued their order in the closely watched Parks v. Tyson case. Tyson Foods owns Ball Park brand hot dogs, while Parks became known for making PARKS' brand hot dogs.

Although the PARKS brand was, at one time, among the leading brand of hot dogs, after the owner died, the company never really recovered, but it never went away. However, when Ball Park sought to expand their line of dogs with their new "Park's Finest" label, Parks the brand filed suit claiming trademark dilution, infringement, and false advertising.

In a pair of cases out of the Third Circuit Court of Appeals, a three judge panel reversed a seemingly rogue lower federal district court ruling that refused to extend First Amendment protections to two individuals who photographed police in public. While the cases were remanded back to the lower federal court, the circuit court seemed to caution the parties that the defendants were likely to be immune from liability, regardless of the outcome of the appeal.

The cases are: Fields v. City of Philadelphia, et al., Case No. 16-1650, and Geraci v. City of Philadelphia, et al., Case No. 16-1651. Michael Fields was standing on the sidewalk video recording police as they were breaking up a college party. Fields was arrested simply for making the recording. Amanda Geraci was physically restrained, by the neck, when she attempted to photograph a police officer arresting a protester.

Divorce is painful enough, but beating a man to sign divorce papers? Oy vey!

Yet that's what three Jewish rabbis were doing. They kidnapped husbands, then beat and tortured them to finalize their religious divorces.

And you thought circumcision was painful!

In May, the Third Circuit ruled on a False Claims Act suit against Genentech. Other major decisions involved asbestos litigation, a petition for IRS relief, and a First Amendment retaliation claim. For a quick review of the top cases from May 2017, we've put together a list from the FindLaw Opinion Summary Archive:

FCA Suit Against Genentech Dismissed

A federal appeals court turned back a lawsuit that said Genentech concealed health risks about Avastin in seeking government approval for the cancer drug.

The U.S. Third Circuit Court of Appeals said the plaintiff did not show how Genentech's actions would have made any difference under the False Claims Act. In fact, the court said Gerasimos Petratos, the former head of analytics for the company and whistleblower in the suit, acknowledged that the government would have deemed any of the alleged violations insubsubstantial.

"He concedes that Genentech followed all pertinent statutes and regulations," the court said in Petratos v. Genentech. "If those laws and regulations are inadequate to protect patients, it falls to the other branches of government to reform them."

Aaron Hernandez died in prison on Wednesday, having taken his own life. The former New England Patriots tight end's suicide came as he was serving a life sentence for murdering Odin Lloyd, the boyfriend of his fiancee's sister, and just days after he had been acquitted in another double murder case.

Hernandez's may be one of the most famous prison suicides, but it's not the only one. Every year, hundreds of inmates kill themselves, making it the leading cause of death in local jails, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics. Now, the Third Circuit has clarified just when such suicides may be considered violations of the Eighth Amendment.

Qualified Immunity Trumps First Amendment Lawsuit Over Wetlands

Identifying a right to be free from retaliatory restriction on speech, a federal appeals court ruled that a township official was nonetheless immune from liability when he told local residents not to contact him or other town leaders about a property dispute.

The Third Circuit ruled last week that the official had violated a Pennsylvania couple's rights with his "no contact" email, but that the right was not clearly established in the law at the time. Under the circumstances, the appeals court said, the official was entitled to a qualified immunity.

Fair Housing Claims Survive Death of a Party

Continuing a neighborhood dispute beyond the grave, a federal appeals court said that Fair Housing Act claims survive the death of a party.

The U.S. Third Circuit Court of Appeal said in Revock v. Cowpet Bay West Condominium Association that the Act is silent about survival claims. However, in a case of first impression, the judges said that federal courts have already provided a uniform rule for survival in many cases.

"Whether a Fair Housing Act claim survives the death of a party is an issue where a uniform federal common law rule is appropriate to fulfill the 'overall purposes' of the statute," the appeals panel said.

The court then reversed a judgment and remanded the case in favor of a woman who died during the litigation and another plaintiff in the case.

Man Held in Contempt for Refusing to Unlock Devices in Child Porn Case

A federal appeals court affirmed a contempt ruling against a man who refused to give authorities passwords to his electronic devices known to have child pornography.

The U.S. Third Circuit Court of Appeals concluded that the defendant was in contempt of a trial court order to provide the passwords. The defendant claimed a right against self-incrimination, but the appellate court said the government already knew the devices contained child pornography and that it was "a foregone conclusion" the defendant knew the passwords.

"Based upon the testimony presented at the contempt proceeding, that fact is a foregone conclusion," Judge Thomas Vanaskie wrote for the court in United States of America v. Apple MacPro Computer.

For the first time, a federal appeals court has ruled that a resident doctor may sue a teaching hospital for gender discrimination under education laws.

Reversing and remanding a trial judge's dismissal, the U.S. Third Circuit Court of Appeals said the former resident at Mercy Catholic Medical Center could proceed with her case under Title IX of the U.S. Education Amendments Act. The case was a matter of first impression in the circuit, which includes Pennsylvania, Delaware, New Jersey and the U.S. Virgin Islands.