Justia U.S. 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals Opinion Summaries

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As a result of criminal convictions Immigration and Customs Enforcement sought removal of lawful U.S. permanent residents. Pending removal proceedings, each was detained under 8 U.S.C. 1226(c), which provides that if ICE has “reason to believe” that an alien is “deportable” or “inadmissible” by virtue of having committed a specified crime, that alien “shall” be taken into custody when released from detention for that crime, "without regard to whether the alien is released on parole, supervised release, or probation, and without regard to whether the alien may be arrested or imprisoned again for the same offense.” In a purported class action, the district court dismissed in part, holding that section 1226(c) did not violate substantive due process with respect to aliens who assert a substantial challenge to their removability. The court later held that the form giving aliens notice of their right to seek a hearing does not provide constitutionally adequate notice, that the government was required to revise the form, and that procedures for that hearing violate due process by not placing the initial burden on the government. The court then denied a motion to certify the class, stating that certification was “unnecessary” because “all aliens who are subjected to mandatory detention would benefit from the injunctive relief and remedies.” Stating that the district court “put the cart before the horse a,” the Third Circuit vacated. Once petitioners were released from detention, their individual claims became moot so the court retained jurisdiction only to rule on the motion for class certification—not to decide the merits issues. View "Gayle v. Warden Monmouth Cnty. Corr. Inst." on Justia Law

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Jani-King, the world’s largest commercial cleaning franchisor, classifies its franchisees as independent contractors. Its cleaning contracts are between Jani-King and the customer; the franchisee is not a party, but may elect to provide or not provide services under a contract. Jani-King exercises a significant amount of control over how franchisees operate and controls billing and accounting. Two Jani-King franchisees assert that they are misclassified and should be treated as employees. On behalf of a class of Jani-King franchisees in the Philadelphia area (approximately 300 franchisees), they sought unpaid wages under the Pennsylvania Wage Payment and Collection Law (WPCL), 43 Pa. Stat. 260.1–260.12. The Third Circuit affirmed certification of the class under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23(f). The misclassification claim can be made on a class-wide basis through common evidence, primarily the franchise agreement and manuals. Under Pennsylvania law, no special treatment is accorded to the franchise relationship. A franchisee may be an employee or an independent contractor depending on the nature of the franchise system controls. View "Williams v. Jani-King of Philadelphia Inc" on Justia Law

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On April 22, 2012, Philadelphia Police Officer Dempsey was on solo patrol in a radio car in North Philadelphia, armed with a baton, a taser, and a handgun. Around 2:00 a.m. and again at 5:30, Dempsey received a call that a naked man was standing in North Mascher Street. Dempsey and other officers responded, but found no one. At 6:00 a.m., a passing motorist informed Dempsey of a naked man at the corner of North Mascher and Nedro Avenue. Dempsey radioed in the information, drove to the intersection, and saw a naked man (Newsuan), standing in front of a residence. Accounts diverge as to what happened next. Ultimately Newsuan, high on PCP, attacked Dempsey, slammed him into multiple cars, and tried to remove Dempsey’s handgun. Dempsey shot and killed Newsuan. The district court entered summary judgment, rejecting excessive force claims by Newsuan’s estate under 42 U.S.C. 1983. The Third Circuit affirmed. Regardless of whether Dempsey unnecessarily initiated a one-on-one confrontation with Newsuan that led to the subsequent fatal altercation, Newsuan’s violent attack on officer Dempsey was a superseding cause that severed any causal link between Dempsey’s initial actions and his subsequent justified use of lethal force. View "Johnson v. City of Philadelphia" on Justia Law

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A large man, apparently wearing multiple layers of clothing, entered the North Randolph, Pennsylvania PNC Bank, carrying a gun. PNC employees handed him stacks of cash, containing a concealed Global Positioning System tracking device. The robber’s face was completely covered by a ski mask. The device led officers to discover fragments of the GPS in a backyard; they did not recover any fingerprints of evidentiary value. Fulton and Barnes lived separately in a house adjoining the yard. Barnes was unemployed, having been fired as a bank teller. Fulton first told police he had been at work at the time of the robbery. Fulton later admitted that he had lied. He had called in sick and spent day at home. At trial, his landlord’s son testified that Fulton was home and that the two had played video games. A search of Fulton’s residence did not uncover any evidence. Police eliminated Barnes as a suspect because they believed he was on the phone at the time of the robbery. The Third Circuit affirmed Fulton’s conviction for bank robbery. Although the district court improperly admitted certain testimony as lay witness testimony, the error was harmless. The prosecution neither presented improper expert testimony nor misrepresented the testimony of its expert during its closing. View "United States v. Fulton" on Justia Law
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Hoffman, “a serial pro se class action litigant,” frequently sues under the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act, serving as both the sole class representative and sole class counsel. Hoffman has sued nearly 100 defendants in New Jersey state court in less than four years. Hoffman sued Nordic for its allegedly false and misleading advertisements for fish oil supplements. The suit was removed to federal court pursuant to the Class Action Fairness Act. The district court dismissed the lawsuit for failure to state a claim. Hoffman filed a second suit, alleging the same facts and legal theories, but with a smaller class, to reduce the amount recoverable and defeat federal jurisdiction. Nordic again removed the suit. The district court declined to remand the case and dismissed, finding the action procedurally barred under New Jersey’s entire controversy doctrine and, in the alternative, that Hoffman’s claims under the Consumer Fraud Act failed for substantially the same reasons they failed in the earlier suit. The Third Circuit affirmed. The district court was permitted to “bypass” the jurisdictional inquiry in favor of a non-merits dismissal on claim preclusion grounds. View "Hoffman v. Nordic Naturals, Inc." on Justia Law

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Eaton manufactures truck transmissions for sale to Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs), which offer “data books,” listing the options for truck parts. Customer choose among the options; the OEM sources the parts from the manufacturers and uses them to build custom trucks then sold to that customer. Eaton was a near-monopolist in supplying Class 8 truck transmissions. In 1989, ZF emerged as a competitor. Eaton allegedly sought to retain its market share by entering agreements with the OEMs, with increasingly large rebates on Eaton transmissions based on the percentage of transmissions a given OEM purchased from Eaton as opposed to ZF. ZF closed in 2003. In 2006, ZF successfully sued Eaton for antitrust violations. Separately, indirect purchasers who bought trucks from OEMs’ immediate customers brought a class action; that case was dismissed. In this case, Tauro attempt to represent direct purchasers in an antitrust suit was rejected because Tauro never directly purchased a Class 8 truck from the OEMs, but rather purchased trucks from R&R, a direct customer that expressly assigned Tauro its direct purchaser antitrust claims. The Third Circuit reversed. An antitrust claim assignment need not be supported by bargained-for consideration in order to confer direct purchaser standing on an indirect purchaser; it need only be express. That requirement was met. The presumption that a motion to intervene by a proposed class representative is timely if filed before the class opt-out date applies in this pre-certification context. View "Wallach v. Eaton Corp" on Justia Law

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From approximately 1953-1999, Frankenberger worked as a pipefitter at various facilities in Illinois and Indiana. In 1996, Frankenberger was diagnosed with a lung condition consistent with asbestos-related pleural disease. He was diagnosed with lung cancer in 2004, and died from the disease in 2005. A medical expert determined Frankenberger’s lung cancer was caused, at least in part, by his exposure to asbestos. Frankenberger’s estate alleged his asbestos exposure occurred as a result of his work in the State Line, Romeoville, and Acme facilities, and his exposure to asbestos-containing: turbines and switchgears. Both pieces of equipment were manufactured and maintained by Westinghouse, a predecessor to CBS. The district court granted CBS summary judgment. The Third Circuit reversed in part, agreeing that Frankenberger’s turbine-related claim failed to demonstrate CBS was a cause of his asbestos exposure, but disagreeing with the conclusion that the switchgear-related claim is deficient. Unlike his turbine-related claim, Frankenberger’s switchgear-related claim relies on specific evidence Westinghouse switchgears were likely to contain asbestos that resulted in respirable dust. View "In Re: Asbestos Prods. Liability Litig." on Justia Law
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Plaintiffs are trust funds and employee benefit plans for construction industry employees. MRS constructs commercial buildings. In 1997, MRS signed “me-too agreements” binding it to collective bargaining agreements (CBAs) bestowing rights on Plaintiffs. Under the agreement, MRS agreed to be bound by the 1997-2001 CBA in force between a multiemployer association and the union. According to Plaintiffs, MRS also agreed to be bound by later CBAs because the 1997 agreement contains an “evergreen clause” and MRS never gave the notice required to terminate the clause. MRS conceded that it never gave notice, but denied that the letter continuously granted bargaining rights. Under each CBA, employers had to make specified contributions to various Plaintiff funds and permit audits of records relevant to those obligations. Plaintiffs sent MRS requests for audits, believing that MRS had failed to make contributions required by the 2012-2015 CBA. When MRS did not comply, Plaintiffs sought post-audit relief under 29 U.S.C. 1145 for unpaid ERISA contributions and injunctive relief compelling MRS to comply with the 2012-2015 and subsequent CBAs. The Third Circuit reversed dismissal, rejecting an argument that all me-too agreements must satisfy two criteria in order to bind non-signatories to future CBAs. Absent that requirement, the plausibility of the complaint should be assessed under contract law principles and states a plausible claim for relief. View "Carpenters Health & Welfare Fund v. Mgmt. Res. Sys., Inc." on Justia Law

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Cephalon’s patent, issued in 1997, claimed a specific distribution of modafinil, used to treat sleep disorders. Cephalon obtained Reissue Patent 516 in 2002. Cephaolon’s use of modafinil was patent-protected until April 2015. In 1998, the FDA approved Cephalon’s New Drug Application (NDA) for the brand-name drug Provigil and granted New Chemical Entity exclusivity until December 2005, as an orphan drug. Cephalon later obtained six months of pediatric exclusivity, 21 U.S.C. 355a(c). Without the patent, Cephalon’s exclusivity would have ended in June 2006. In December 2002, four generic drug each independently filed an Abbreviated NDA seeking to sell generic modafinil. All four were treated as the first filer. Each application certification “automatically counts as patent infringement,” 35 U.S.C. 271(e)(2)(A)), so Cephalon sued all four, then entered into “reverse-payment settlements” to keep each out of the market. A putative class of wholesalers who purchased Provigil directly from Cephalon filed suit, alleging a global conspiracy involving Cephalon and the generic manufacturers, 15 U.S.C. 1; four separate conspiracies; and monopolization, 15 U.S.C. 2. A motion for class certification was filed after eight years of litigation. One month later the court granted defendants summary judgment on the antitrust conspiracy claim. The court certified the class after three defendants settled for $512 million. The Third Circuit vacated the class certification order and remanded for further consideration of whether joinder of all class members is impracticable. Plaintiffs have not met their burden of showing that the numerosity requirement of Rule 23(a)(1) was satisfied. View "In Re: Modafinil AntiTrust Litig." on Justia Law

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Adeolu was the part-owner and office manager of a tax preparation company that prepared fraudulent tax returns by encouraging taxpayers to claim false dependents. Adeolu was ultimately convicted of conspiracy to defraud the United States and of aiding and abetting the preparation of materially false tax returns, 18 U.S.C. 371 and 26 U.S.C. 7206(2). At sentencing, the court applied the vulnerable victim sentencing enhancement, U.S.S.G. 3A1.1(b)(1) based upon Adeolu’s fraudulent use of young children’s personal information. The Third Circuit affirmed, rejecting an argument that the children were not vulnerable victims because they did not experience “actual” harm. A showing of actual harm is not required under the vulnerable victim sentencing enhancement; the correct test requires a “nexus” between the victim’s vulnerability and the crime’s success. The requirement was met in this case. View "United States v. Adeolu" on Justia Law
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