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

August 2011 Archives

Disgraced Politician Wayne Bryant Loses Appeal

The Third Circuit Court of Appeals upheld former New Jersey State Senator Wayne Bryant’s 2008 political corruption conviction last week, rejecting Bryant’s claims that his due process rights were violated in the case. The court also upheld the conviction of Bryant’s partner in crime, R. Michael Gallagher, the former dean of the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey (UMDNJ).

For those new to the Third Circuit, Wayne Bryant was convicted on fraud and bribery charges after Gallagher arranged for UMDNJ to pay Bryant $35,000 per year for a low-show job; Bryant, in return, used his position as chairman of the state’s Senate Appropriations Committee to funnel an additional $10 million per year to UMDNJ.

Third Circuit Swats Philadelphia PD with Cat's Paw Theory

The Third Circuit Court of Appeals upheld three former Philadelphia police officers’ employment discrimination judgments last week under the Supreme Court’s “cat’s paw” theory memorialized in Staub v. Proctor Hospital.

The case, McKenna v. City of Philadelphia, went to trial as a Title VII discrimination claim filed by three terminated police officers, William and Michael McKenna, and Raymond Carnation. All three officers alleged that they were disciplined in retaliation for protesting the discriminatory treatment that the Philadelphia Police Department (Philadelphia PD) afforded their African American colleagues.

Recalculate: Feds Win in Vincent Fumo Sentence Appeal

The Third Circuit Court of Appeals issued a lengthy opinion on Tuesday criticizing a federal district judge’s numerous procedural errors in sentencing power-drunk, former Pennsylvania State Senator Vincent Fumo for using state and non-profit funds to clean his mansion, charter yachts, and spy on ex-girlfriends and political enemies. The court ordered a new sentencing hearing in the case.

How outrageous was Fumo’s 55-month sentence? So bad that even then-Governor Ed Rendell, who wrote a letter asking for leniency in Fumo’s case, recommended that prosecutors pursue a sentence appeal.

No Probable Cause for a Search Warrant? Exclusionary Rule Applies

What do you get when you combine an investigator with more suspicions than facts and a judge who happily issues a warrant that lacks probable cause? A 30-page suppression opinion.

Tydel John, a teacher in the U.S. Virgin Islands, was under investigation for sexually assaulting several of the children at the school where he taught. Children told police that John maintained two, spiral-bound notebooks in which he made notes about his students, including inappropriate notes about past and present female students. According to witnesses, John carried the notebooks with him to and from school each day in his work bag.

Circuit Blocks Double Recovery Setoff Under Foreign Judgment

Lawsuits, like bicycles and skydiving harnesses, occasionally occur in tandem. Like tandem sporting activities, tandem litigation requires considerable coordination and communication between the courts to ensure a fair outcome for foreign judgment holders.

Otos Tech originally brought suit in New Jersey in 2003, asserting claims for breach of contract, conversion, and embezzlement arising out of defendant Yale Kim's retention of three checks worth $587,775.05. Kim answered and asserted counterclaims for breach of contract, breach of a settlement agreement, and breach of the covenant of good faith and fair dealing. Kim said that Otos wrongfully terminated his employment contract and that he retained the checks under a wrongful termination settlement.

Havana Club Rum Label Not False Advertisement

Booze. Exotic locations. Communism. This case has it all.

The Third Circuit Court of Appeals ruled last week that consumers are smart enough to figure out that Havana Club Rum is made in Puerto Rico, not Havana.

In a geographic battle for the ages, French liquor producer Pernod Ricard sued Bacardi, the Bermuda-based rum giant, alleging that Bacardi's Havana Club rum label was a false advertisement and misleading.

Amendments to Third Circuit Rules Effective August 1

The Third Circuit Court of Appeals implemented five changes to its Local Appellate Rules this week. The amendments, which became effective on August 1, affect Local Appellate Rules 26.1.0, 31.4, 33.0, 39.3, 46.3.

Changes to the rules address corporate disclosure statements, brief extension timelines, electronic filing in mediation, document reproduction costs, and law student eligibility to appear before the court.

Details of the changes are outlined below.

Anonymous Petitions Restricted in Third Circuit

What’s in a name? He who we call a plaintiff filing under a pseudonym would have as much right to bring a complaint, correct?

The Third Circuit sayeth nay.

On Monday, the Third Circuit upheld a Pennsylvania district court’s decision denying a plaintiff’s motion to proceed anonymously in a claim against public officials.