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

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.

Court to Reconsider Free Speech in Public Meetings

You can't say bomb in an airport -- Ben Stiller learned when protesting treatment by airline representatives.

And you can't say, "some of my friends have guns," as John Barna should have learned protesting school board actions. "I may have to come after all of yours," he added in a sequel.

That earned him expulsion from Panther Valley School Board meetings, and he responded with a First Amendment lawsuit. His case was dismissed, but the U.S. Third Circuit Court of Appeals said it is not over yet.

Third Circuit Sees Sea Change in Maritime Law

The appeals court judges could see it coming, like a wave building on the horizon.

For decades, other circuit courts had ruled that sailors were bound by collective bargaining agreements over pay rates. The U.S. Third Circuit Court of Appeals held to an older view of maritime law.

"Today we stop swimming against the tide," the judges said in Joyce v. Maersk Line, Ltd. It was significant because the court overruled its own precedent, but it also broadsided the plaintiff who had relied on the 27-year-old decision.

Court Revives Civil Rights Case Over Trooper Killed in Training

Firearms instructor Richard Schroeter didn't check to see if his gun was loaded, then accidentally shot and killed Trooper David Kedra during routine training.

Schroeter pleaded guilty to reckless endangerment, and Kedra's mother sued for civil rights violations. She alleged that Schroeter subjected her son to a state-created danger, but a trial judge said the instructor was entitled to qualified immunity.

In Kedra v. Schroeter, the U.S. Third Circuit Court of Appeals reversed. The plaintiff may soon have her day in court, but one judge said the case may have long-term impact.

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.