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

August 2010 Archives

Howley v. Mellon Fin. Corp., 08-1748

Howley v. Mellon Fin. Corp., 08-1748, concerned a challenge to the district court's grant of plaintiff's motion for summary judgment, in plaintiff's suit for benefits and for unlawful discrimination under ERISA, as well as several related state law claims, arising from denial of plaintiff's claim for benefits under defendant's Displacement Program.  In affirming the judgment, the court held that, although the district court erred in applying a heightened standard of review and by considering the extra-record evidence that managers helped plan plaintiff's termination prior to the sale of the company, it is nonetheless clear that defendant abused its discretion in denying plaintiff's claim for benefits.

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Delta Air Lines, Inc. v. Chimet, S.P.A., 09-1202

Delta Air Lines, Inc. v. Chimet, S.P.A., 09-1202, involved Delta Airlines' suit for declaratory judgment seeking to limit its liability for losing approximately 100 kilograms of pure platinum shipped from Italy to Pennsylvania.  In affirming the district court's grant of defendant's motion to dismiss on forum non conveniens grounds, the court held that the district court did not abuse its discretion by granting defendant's motion to dismiss as the private interest factors affecting the convenience of the litigants and the public interest factors affecting the convenience of the forum weighed in favor of litigating this dispute in Italy.

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Patel v. Attorney General, 09-1572, concerned an Indian citizen's petition for review of the BIA's final order affirming the denial of her application for cancellation of removal.  In dismissing the petition, the court held that it lacked jurisdiction to review petitioner's claim that she met her burden of showing an exceptional hardship, because it challenges a discretionary determination and does not present a constitutional question or a question of law.  Further, petitioner's motion for a stay of voluntary departure is denied as, in light of 8 C.F.R. section 1240.26(i), petitioner's voluntary departure terminated upon her filing of a petition for review.


Gallimore v. Attorney General, 08-3379

Gallimore v. Attorney General, 08-3379, concerned a Jamaican citizen's petition for review of BIA's final order of removal on the ground that petitioner's conviction alone rendered him ineligible for discretionary relief under INA section 212(c).  In granting the petition, the court remanded the matter as, because the BIA's analysis in all likelihood rests on an historically inaccurate premise, it cannot stand.  Alternatively, BIA's opinion fails adequately to explain its reasoning and appears incorrect as a matter of law.

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Steven I. v. Cent. Bucks Sch. Dist., 10-1179, involved plaintiff's parents' suit seeking compensatory education from the 1997-1998 school year through the filing date for failure to provide a free appropriate public education under IDEA 2004 and section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act.  In reversing the district court's judgment that the two year statute of limitations in IDEA 2004 did not bar plaintiffs' claims. the court remanded the matter in concluding that, because the statute of limitations did not become effective until seven months after the enactment of IDEA 2004, it is reasonable to apply it to claims based on conduct that pre-dated the law's passage.


US v. Quiles, 09-1667, concerned a challenge to the district court's denial of defendants' motions for a new trial, in a conviction of defendants' for money laundering and related crimes in connection with their check cashing business.  In affirming the judgment, the court held that the interest of justice does not require a new trial as the new evidence of defendants' principal adverse witness's indictment for child rape and other crimes is merely impeaching.  The court also held that there was sufficient evidence to convict the daughter.  Lastly, the father's sentence is affirmed as the district court conducted a full sentencing hearing and then sufficiently explained why it was imposing a below-guideline sentence of 60 months imprisonment.


US v. Doe, 09-2615, concerned a challenge to the district court's sentence of 24 months' imprisonment upon a defendant following revocation of his supervised release, with the objective of helping him recover from his cocaine addiction.


Cortez v. Trans Union, LLC., 08-2465

Cortez v. Trans Union, LLC, 08-2465, involved plaintiff's suit against Trans Union pursuant to the Fair Credit Reporting Act for failing to correct the problems with plaintiff's credit report or respond satisfactorily to her inquiries, arising from defendant's production of plaintiff's credit history report to a car dealer containing a credit history report of another individual with very poor credit history.

In affirming the district court's judgment, the court held that defendant remains responsible for the accuracy in its reports under the FCRA as Congress clearly intended to ensure that credit reporting agencies exercise care when deciding to associate information with a given consumer, and the record clearly supports the jury's determination that defendant did not exercise sufficient care here.  Also, the district court did not err in denying defendant's motion for judgment as a matter of law on plaintiff's claims under 15 U.S.C section 1681.  The court affirmed the district court's entry of judgment for $100,000 in punitive damages as it clearly had the authority to enter the conditional remittitur and plaintiff's attempt to avoid the Supreme Court's decision in Donovan is meritless.  The court also affirmed the district court's denial of defendant's motion to remit the compensatory damage award, as well as the district court's remitted punitive damages award of $100,000. 

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In Re: Aetna, Inc. Sec. Litig. 09-2970

In re: Aetna, Inc. Sec. Litig., 09-2970, involved plaintiff shareholders' securities fraud class action suit against Aetna, Inc., claiming that defendants misled investors about Aetna's pricing of insurance policies and then sold shares of Aetna's stock before the fraudulent scheme was revealed to the public.

  • US v. Shakir, 09-2665, concerned a challenge to the district court's denial of defendant's motion to suppress evidence, in a prosecution of defendant for armed robbery of a credit union bank.  In affirming, the court held that a search is permissible incident to a suspect's arrest when, under all the circumstances, there remains a reasonable possibility that the arrestee could access a weapon or destructible evidence in the container or area being searched.  Here, suppression of the cash found within the bag was not required as, although defendant was handcuffed and guarded by two policemen, defendant's bag was literally at his feet, and there remained a sufficient possibility that defendant could access a weapon in his bag to justify its search.

  • US v. Green, 08-2330

    US v. Green, 08-2330, concerned a defendant's challenge to a conviction for attempted possession with intent to distribute 500 grams or more of cocaine, claiming that the district court erred by allowing the government to introduce evidence that he threatened to kill an undercover police officer. 

  • US v. Dupree, 09-3391

    US v. Dupree, 09-3391, concerned a challenge to the district court's denial of the government's motion for reconsideration of its holding that defendant had been seized without reasonable suspicion, in a prosecution of a defendant for possession of a firearm by a felon.  In affirming the judgment, the court held that, because the government has made no attempt to show good cause, it waived its policy argument that the district court should not have applied the exclusionary rule to suppress defendant's firearm.  The court also held that the government waived its independent-crime argument by failing to raise it before the district court ruled on defendant's motion to suppress.  Lastly, the court held that the district court did not abuse its discretion in denying the government's motion for reconsideration.

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    Singer Mgmt. Consultants, Inc. v. Milgram, 09-2238, concerned a challenge to the district court's denial of plaintiff's request for attorney's fees, arising from plaintiff's suit seeking a TRO and preliminary injunction to restrain the Attorney General of the State of New Jersey from her allegedly unconstitutional enforcement of the New Jersey Deceptive Practices in Musical Performances Statute (Truth in Music Act).  In vacating the decision, the court remanded the matter for an order awarding reasonable attorney's fees and costs as the district court erred in holding that plaintiff was not a prevailing party because it "voluntarily" changed its interpretation of the Truth in Music Act.

    Great W. Mining & Mineral Co. v. Fox Rothschild LLP, 09-3189, involved a plaintiff's 42 U.S.C. section 1983 suit against a law firm and an alternative dispute resolution entity, claiming that its state-court losses were the result of a corrupt conspiracy between defendants and members of the Pennsylvania state judiciary to exchange favorable rulings for future employment as arbitrators with the arbitration firm.  In affirming the district court's dismissal of plaintiff's complaint for failure to state a claim and denial of its motion for reconsideration and motions for leave to amend its complaint, the court held that the defendants' argument that the Rooker-Feldman doctrine precludes the exercise of subject matter jurisdiction over this case is rejected as plaintiff is not complaining of injuries caused by state-court judgments rendered before the district court proceedings commenced and inviting district court review and rejection of those judgments, but rather, plaintiff asserts an independent constitutional claim that the alleged conspiracy violated its right to be heard in an impartial forum.  Further, granting plaintiff leave to amend would have proved futile as even the final version of its complaint failed to plead facts plausibly suggesting a conspiratorial agreement.

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    Partial Grant of Habeas Relief For Murder Conviction Reversed

    Saranchak v. Beard, 08-9000, concerned a challenge to the district court's partial grant of defendant's petition for habeas relief from the first degree murder conviction of his grandmother and uncle and a sentence of death.  In reversing, the court held that the Pennsylvania Supreme Court's rejection of the claim of ineffective assistance of counsel regarding the counsel's failure seek suppression of certain statements was not an unreasonable application of, or contrary to, clearly established federal law.  The court also held that the defendant failed to establish a reasonable probability that, but for the admission of his statements to the state police, the result of the proceeding would have been different.  Also, the defendant failed to establish a reasonable probability that, but for counsel's unprofessional errors in failing to investigate and present a proper diminished capacity defense, he would not have been convicted of first degree murder, and defendant failed to show that he is "in custody in violation of the Constitution or laws or treaties of the United States."

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    Reedy v. Evanson, 09-2210, concerned a plaintiff's 42 U.S.C. section 1983 action against a detective and others, claiming unlawful seizure and unlawful search under the Fourth Amendment and related state law violations arising from a criminal complaint against plaintiff for falsely reporting a crime of sexual assault and robbery while working as a cashier at a convenience store (these were later dropped after a serial rapist was captured and confessed to the crimes).

    In reversing in part, the court held that the district court erred in granting summary judgment to the detective on plaintiff's Fourth Amendment unlawful seizure claim and her related federal and state law claims, as no reasonably competent officer could have concluded at the time of plaintiff's arrest that there was probable cause for the arrest. The court also reversed where the district court erred in granting summary judgment to the detective on plaintiff's unlawful search claim.   Also, summary judgment on detective's defense of qualified immunity cannot stand as the availability of the defense must be decided after fact finding by the jury to determine whether the facts as recounted by the detective or by plaintiff are more credible. 

    However, the court affirmed as to the district court's grant of summary judgment as to all claims against the officer and the public safety director, as well as the grant of summary judgment on plaintiff's intentional infliction of emotional distress claim, against the officer and the safety director.

    Equal Employment Oppotunity Comm'n v. Geo Group, Inc., 09-3093, concerned the EEOC's Title VII suit on behalf of a class of Muslim women employees against a private company that was contracted to run a prison for Delaware County, claiming that defendant violated Title VII's prohibitions on religious discrimination when it failed to accommodate the class members by providing them an exception to the prison's dress policy that otherwise precluded them from wearing Muslim head coverings called khimars at work.  In affirming the district court's grant of defendant's motion for summary judgment, the court held that the district court did not err by relying on Webb v. City of Philadelphia, 562 F.3d 256 (3d. Cir. 2009), which held that, notwithstanding the sincere religious beliefs of plaintiff police officer of the need to wear a khimar, that belief was subordinate to the police department's policy prohibiting the wearing of a khimar because "safety is undoubtedly an interest of the greatest importance."

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