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


Mother Gets More Attorney's Fees in School Disabilty Case

Due to an educational disability, Rena Castrovillo asked the Colonial School District to place her daughter in private school.

District officials were unwilling, at first, so the mother filed for an administrative hearing. Before the hearing, however, they offered to make the placement.

The problem was, they weren't going to pay her attorney's fees. In Rena C. v. Colonial School District, the U.S. Third Circuit Court of Appeals said that was a mistake.

Court Ponders Navy Water Pollution

For decades, an aircraft carrier would dump about 410,000 gallons of human waste into the ocean every day.

Multiply that by 10 aircraft carriers, and you have a whole lot of ship waste. But that's not the real problem in Giovanni v. United States Department of Navy.

The plaintiffs just want the government to pay for medical monitoring of drinking water that the Navy contaminated over the years. The U.S. Third Circuit Court of Appeals is chewing on it.

According to a judge out of Pennsylvania's federal Eastern District Court, UberBlack drivers are not employees under the FLSA, nor under Pennsylvania's state laws.

The ruling granting Uber's motion for summary judgment is the first of its kind in holding that under federal law, Uber drivers are independent contractors and not employees. Although the court acknowledged other holdings contrary to their own, it found that Uber's model did not fit the employer/employee mold as we know it today. The court explained:

Court Hears 'Empire' TV Copyright Case

Maybe Martin Luther King, Jr. could help her win the case, attorney Mary Bogan thought.

The nation had recently celebrated the life of the great civil rights leader, and his words were still in the air. "The time is always right to do the right thing," Bogan quoted to the U.S. Third Circuit Court of Appeals.

Nice speech, but not really relevant? According to reports, Bogan's argument over the "Empire" show might have been a little awkward.

A litterbug out of the state of New Jersey has filed, and basically won, a federal lawsuit over being jailed after pleading guilty to a fine-only offense. Notably, that fine was less than $250, including all the garbage administrative fees courts tack on.

After explaining to the court that he could not afford to pay the fine immediately, but could enter a payment plan, or do community service, he was jailed. Fortunately, for Anthony Kneisser, a family member paid the fine for him shortly after being taking into custody. But, unfortunately for the Burlington Township Municipal Court, the federal district court ruled in the plaintiff's favor on their motion for summary judgment.

A unanimous three judge panel of the Third Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the multimillion dollar award against Citgo, and even increased the damages, related to the 2004 Delaware River oil spill.

A prior ruling of the district court reduced the damages award against the oil company that were to be awarded to the United States. Although the U.S. sought $88 million in reimbursement for cleaning up the oil spill, the district court only wanted to let the government walk away with half. Interestingly, the ship's owners, which pay a significant portion of the cleanup costs immediately after the fact, did not have the damages award in their favor reduced.

Uber Beats Taxis in Philly

Not so many years ago, a taxi driver had to pay $545,000 for a medallion to operate in Philadelphia.

After Uber took over the City of Brotherly Love, however, that medallion was worth about $80,000. What was worse, the driver borrowed against it to buy a cab.

That is a substantial loss, but not damages. In Philadelphia Taxi Association v. Uber Technologies, the U.S. Third Circuit Court of Appeals said it's just competition and it's not unfair.

Nuns Try to Intervene in Contraception Case

As they entered the federal appeals court, the judges and the nuns had more in common than black robes.

The judges of the U.S. Third Circuit Court of Appeals were there to consider whether non-parties have a right to intervene in Pennsylvania v. Trump. The Little Sisters of the Poor Saints Peter and Paul Home were there for that same reason.

Ultimately, the appeals court will rule on President Trump's order that allows conscience-based objections to the contraception mandates of Obamacare. But first they have to decide whether the nuns can join in the conversation.

Hybrid Medical Device Not Exempt From State Liability

Walter Shuker had a complicated hip replacement surgery.

It wasn't just the total replacement of his hip that was complicated. It was the device -- an apparatus comprised of a metal head, metal sleeve, a stem connecting the metal head to the thigh bone, a metal liner, etc. Together, the pieces created a "metal-on-metal articulation."

That's where his post-operative pain began and a subsequent lawsuit emerged in Shuker v. Smith and Nephew. The case -- with a question of first impression -- was as complicated as the corrective surgery.

Tribe's Arbitration Clause Is Unenforceable

If this were the Old West, John MacDonald might've said he got scalped.

But times have changed, and so MacDonald just says he got ripped off in a bad loan. He borrowed $5,000 at 116 percent annual interest, resulting in a $35,994 finance charge over seven years.

Fortunately for MacDonald, the U.S. Third Circuit Court of Appeals let him get out of part of the deal. And as it turns out, a Native American tribe was involved.