Opinion Summaries for the

Below are our summaries of last week’s precedential appellate decisions from the Pennsylvania and New Jersey state courts, as well as the Third Circuit. Click on a case name, and you will be redirected to the court’s entire opinion.


Commonwealth v. Smith (Criminal Law, Privilege)

The Pennsylvania Superior Court held that the spousal privilege does not apply during a hearing to determine a violation of a PFA between spouses. 

Commonwealth v. Boyd (Criminal Law, SORNA)

The Pennsylvania Superior Court received this case on remand from the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, and further remanded it the Court of Common Pleas. At issue is defendant’s constitutional challenge to Revised Subchapter H of the Sexual Offender Registration and Notification Act (SORNA II). The case is identical to Commonwealth v. Torsilieri.

Page Publishing, Inc. v. Hemmerich (Civil Law, Jurisdiction)

The Pennsylvania Superior Court affirmed the sua sponte order of the Court of Common Pleas in which it held that it did not have subject matter jurisdiction to hear this declaratory action. Plaintiff sought a declaration that any dispute must be arbitrated, but there was no dispute, yet.

Erie Ins. Exch. v. Backmeier (CIvil Law, UIM, Insurance)

The Pennsylvania Superior Court reviewed the murky waters of inter- and intra-policy waivers of UIM. Here a single insured had two policies with UIM coverage. One policy covered a car and homemade trailer. The Court ruled that the insured properly waived stacking and the waiver did not create gap coverage.


Mueller v. Kean Univ. (Civil Law, COVID-19)

The New Jersey Appellate Division held that a university was immune from this suit. Plaintiffs sued because they were upset that the school switched to on-line instruction during COVID and they wanted in-person education. The Court held that the school was immune because it was following the Governor’s orders.


Dirauf v. Berger (Civil Law, Jurisdiction)

The Third Circuit ruled that it had appellate jurisdiction to review a District Court’s order that remanded a matter to state court. The Third Circuit ruled that the lower court declined to exercise supplemental jurisdiction and, as such, had jurisdiction to hear and deny a motion to reconsider the remand order.

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