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


Gun control is among the most controversial issues in the country, and New Jersey, taking the lead from other states, enacted a ban on large capacity magazines that hold more than 10 bullets.

Fortunately for the state, both the federal district and appellate courts have agreed that the law does not clearly violate the Second, Fifth, and Fourteenth Amendment, such that a preliminary injunction stopping the enforcement of the ban would be justified.

Third Circuit Upholds Bulk of 'Bridgegate' Convictions

It was a really bad idea, they just didn't realize how bad until years later when their convictions were upheld.

Their plan was to close lanes and lock up traffic to make the city look bad. It would be four days of angry commuters stuck on a bridge and revenge against the mayor for not endorsing the governor.

Yeah, that's the ticket. Wait, you put that in an email?!

3rd Circuit Hears Philly Sanctuary City Case

As former attorney general Jeff Sessions was headed out the door, government lawyers were in federal court trying to salvage his efforts against sanctuary cities.

The U.S. Third Circuit Court of Appeals heard argument from the Justice Department that day, but it sounded like a losing one. Other courts have already said the administration cannot withhold funds from cities for not cooperating with federal immigration enforcement.

In arguing City of Philadelphia v. Attorney General of the United States, the federal government had an uphill battle when Sessions was there. But he resigned literally the same day.

Pittsburgh Synagogue Shooter Pleads Not Guilty to Federal Charges

Attorney Michael Novara has done a good job in the law, but now has a terrible job to do.

He is defending Robert Bowers, who is accused of gunning down 11 people and injuring six others at a Pittsburgh synagogue. Bowers has pleaded not guilty, even as he raged against Jews during and after the massacre.

Novara, a public defender, told reporters his client pleaded not guilty because it is "typical at this stage of the proceedings."

New Property Owners Must Pay Environmental Cleanup

Property owners must pay for environmental cleanup costs that occurred before they acquired it, a federal appeals court said.

In Pennsylvania Department of Equal Protection v. Trainer Custom Chemical, the U.S. Third Circuit Court of Appeals dropped an $818,000 cleanup bombshell on a chemical company after it purchased a property for $20,000. Pennsylvania's environmental protection department sued to recover the cleanup costs.

A trial judge said Trainer Custom Chemical was responsible for costs incurred after the purchase, but not before. The appeals court read the law differently.

DeLorean Widow Loses Royalties Case

It turns out you can go back to the future only in the movies, not in royalty claims.

So it seems for Sallie DeLorean in DeLorean v. DeLorean Motor Company. The widow of carmaker John DeLorean sued for royalties the car company received through merchandising and commercials from the Back to the Future movies.

If you didn't know it, the movies made more money than the car. But the plaintiff will get none of that because, well, it's in the past.

3rd Circuit Denies 'Outrageously Excessive' Attorney's Fees

Attorneys always complain when a judge cuts their fees in a case.

And while they complain about it, they also try to figure out why. They'll conjure up everything from cost-cutting to paranoid delusions: "The judge was mad because I make more money than she does."

In Clemens v. New York Central Mutual Fire Insurance Company, the judge cut $900,000 in attorney's fees to zero. Go figure.

Pennsylvania Gambling Contributions Law Struck Down

Gambling has come a long way in Pennsylvania, once known more for Amish settlements than for casinos.

Today, Pennsylvania takes in more tax dollars from casinos than any other state in the country. It's a multi-billion dollar business.

Lawmakers got a little nervous about potential corruption and banned political donations from the gambling industry. A judge said they can't do that -- at least not that much.

Court Revives Nursing Home Kickback Case

A federal appeals court reinstated a lawsuit against a pharmaceutical company that allegedly got kickbacks from nursing homes to get more lucrative business.

In United States of America v. Omnicare, Inc., plaintiff Mar Silver blew the whistle on PharMerica Corporation in the alleged kickback scheme. He claimed the company defrauded the government by giving below-cost medications to Medicare patients in exchange for better-paying Medicaid patients.

It's called "swapping" in the business, if you haven't read about it. How the plaintiff knew about it was key to the appeals court decision.

Court: Church Can Fire Pastor for Low Attendance

The Sixth Mount Zion Missionary Baptist Church didn't really need a court decision to fire its pastor.

But the U.S. Third Circuit Court of Appeals said the members had every right to do it, despite the lawsuit in Lee v. Sixth Mount Zion Baptist Church of Pittsburgh. Reverend Dr. William David Lee had sued the church for breach of an employment contract.

The reverend lost at trial and again on appeal. That's what happens sometimes when you appeal to higher authority.