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

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A former teen actress went before the Third Circuit on Friday in an attempt to revive her defamation suit against Bill Cosby. Renita Hill has accused the comedian of drugging and sexually assaulting her when she was a 16-year-old actress on the TV show "Picture Pages."

When Cosby's lawyer denied Hill's accusations, as well as those of scores of other women, she sued, alleging that the denial rose to the level of defamation. A district court tossed that suit last January, but victory in the Third Circuit could revive Hill's claims. Given oral arguments, though, victory is far from assured.

Google and Viacom Win Suit Over Tracking Children Online

The nationwide class action suit that involved Google and Nickelodeon allegedly tracking our innocent, innocent children was largely defeated by the defending companies recently. The Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit felt that planting cookies on children's computers and devices didn't run afoul of both state and federal laws, at least not the ones the parents identified.

It wasn't a complete victory for Viacom, Nickelodeon's parent company, though. The federal court allowed one privacy claim against the entertainment company stand as it had collected children's information despite promises not to do so. It looks like completely fibbing parents still isn't kosher in corporate America.

An Internet privacy class action against Google was revived by the Third Circuit recently. The class action began after it was revealed that Google was circumventing cookie blockers, the browser features that prevent advertisers and other third parties from tracking Internet users.

The class action was originally dismissed on summary judgment, but the Third Circuit found that Google's actions, as alleged, "highly offensive," deceitful, and possibly in violation of California privacy law.

'Renewal' Means More of the Same for Insurance Policies

What does the word 'renewal' mean? The answer to that question could have greater legal import that you might expect. In fact, that question essentially sums up the legal issue that was the core of Indian Harbor Insurance v. F&M Equipment, Ltd.

The 3rd Circuit Ruled on October 15 that "renewal" -- at least in the context of insurance terms -- means "more of the same."

Victims in Pennsylvania who have been awarded punitive damages cannot collect damages against their tortfeasor's insurer, the Third Circuit ruled last Friday. Their ruling stems from the Keystone State's public policy against allowing individuals to insure against punitive damages.

Allowing the victims to collect punitive damages from the insurers (through an assigned breach of contract and bad faith claim) would circumvent the punitive purpose of the damages, the circuit found.

A large class action law firm has filed a writ of mandamus with the Third Circuit, seeking to prevent a court appointed special master from interviewing its plaintiffs. The firm, Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro, gained prominence due to its role in the $260 billion tobacco settlement in the late 1990s, but recently received sanctions for thalidomide lawsuits which were described as "bad-faith advocacy" which "gives new meaning to 'frivolous.'"

As the cases began to falter, and sanctions began to mount, Hagens Berman sought to dismiss them en masse. That led to the special master seeking to interview the plaintiffs, in order to determine if they had knowingly agreed to abandoned their cases.

A couple may proceed in their class action lawsuit against Aaron's, a furniture and office rental store, and many of its franchisees, the Third Circuit ruled yesterday. Clarifying the Circuit's standards on class ascertainability, the Circuit held that the ascertainability test should be a simple, narrow examination of the proposed class.

The decision marks an important clarification in a rule that had been used by defendants to defeat class actions before the class is even formed. The facts of the case, which involve spyware installed on rental computers, serves as another reminder that rental furniture might not be the best idea.

FDCPA Suit Over Account Number in Envelope Window Can Proceed

If you've ever wondered how seriously Congress and the courts take debt collection regulation, this case, involving a combination of a misaligned clear plastic window on an envelope and poorly formatted letter, that merely let a QR Code (barcode) and a bare account number show, is quite telling.

Convergent Outsourcing is a debt collector. The company sent a letter to Courtney Douglass which, due to the misaligned window, also displayed her account number and the barcode (which could be scanned to show how much she owed). But nowhere on the envelope did it say what the letter, or the account number, pertained to.

Still, the Third Circuit held that the company could face a Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) lawsuit over the "invasion of privacy."

N.J. Judge Who Played Prosecutor, Denied Counsel Gets No Immunity

Prosecutor? No need. How about defense counsel? Nah, they can represent themselves.

Meet Judge Louis DiLeo. Back in 2010, in the Linden, New Jersey, municipal court, DiLeo held a "trial" consisting of himself as the judge and prosecutor, the two defendants representing themselves (after denying their request for a public defender), and the police witness, who cross-examined them.

Unsurprisingly, the two convictions were later reversed, Judge DiLeo was reprimanded, and last week, the Third Circuit upheld the district court's holding that he had lost his judicial immunity by going all Judge Dredd on the parties.

In the past week we've had some interesting movement in cases in the Third Circuit. One case was filed in district court in New Jersey, while one is getting set for arguments before the Third Circuit, and another is getting sent back to state court with a certified question.

Here's the latest in Third Circuit cases -- read on for details.