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


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.

3rd Circuit Revives FMLA Case Against Boscov's

In a way, the farmer's market was mixing apples and oranges.

Craig Zuber, who worked at the Fairgrounds Farmer's Market in Reading, Pennsylvania, signed a settlement agreement after he was injured on the job. He then sued the company for Family Medical Leave Act violations and other claims.

Boscov's, the employer, said he waived his right to sue when he settled the injury case. A federal appeals court said, that's different.

Court Denies Sunoco Request for Arbitration

Arbitration agreements are not what they used to be, at least not as far as Sunoco is concerned.

The gasoline company sought to compel arbitration in an alleged fraud involving Citibank, claiming the plaintiff Donald White signed an arbitration agreement with the credit card company. White alleged Sunoco induced him to sign up for a rewards card but did not give him promised discounts.

The U.S. Third Circuit Court of Appeals said Sunoco wasn't part of the arbitration agreement in White v. Sunoco, Inc. The proposed class-action will move forward.

In a shocking case, the Third Circuit Court of Appeals held that a TSA agent cannot be held liable for violating the civil rights of a traveler he falsely accused of making a bomb threat.

Following the analysis under Zigler v. Abbasi, the appellate court refused to extend Bivens to hold a TSA agent liable for retaliating against a passenger that wanted to file a complaint. Additionally, it noted that TSA agents enjoy a special protection for national security reasons.

The makers of the brand name pharmaceuticals Lipitor and Effexor XR were dealt a significant loss in the Third Circuit Court of Appeals in a consolidated antitrust case appeal. Drug makers Pfizer and Ranbaxy, as well as their affiliates, plan to continue to fight this matter out.

The In re: Lipitor Antitrust Litigation appeal overturned a district court's dismissal of two separate complaints against each drug's respective maker. The thrust of both cases involved reverse payment settlement agreements which were alleged to be anticompetitive and attempts at creating a monopoly. Additionally, as to the claims against Lipitor, it was alleged that the drug maker engaged in fraudulent patent procurement and enforcement.

Court Refuses to Revive Nuclear Power Cancer Cases

A federal appeals court dealt another blow to Pennsylvanians suing over a nuclear facility they claimed caused cancer.

The U.S. Third Circuit Court of Appeals said they could not prove the facility damaged them. In affirming a dismissal of consolidated cases against the successor to Nuclear Material and Equipment Corp., the court may have ended a battle for more than 70 plaintiffs.

"Plaintiffs are missing critical elements, and therefore their claims fail," Judge D. Brooks Smith wrote in the unanimous decision, McMunn v. Babcock & Wilcox Power Generation Group, Inc.