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.


PENNSYLVANIA

Commonwealth v. Bullock (Criminal Law, Prior Conviction)

The Pennsylvania Superior Court ruled that the trial court did not err in admitting into evidence the defendant’s prior conviction for public drunkenness. The admission of the prior conviction was admissible to contradict the defendant’s assertion of having never been arrested.


Commonwealth v. Wilson (Criminal Law, Hearsay)

The Pennsylvania Superior Court ruled that a child victim’s forensic interview was admissible under the Tender Years exception to the hearsay rule. The interview was also admissible under Pa.R.E. 106, commonly known as the rule of completeness.


In re K.L. (Family Law, Due Process, Stay-Away Order)

In this dependency matter, the Pennsylvania Superior Court vacated a stay-away order. The Court ruled that the juvenile court violated Appellant’s due process rights when the court denied him the opportunity to be heard by ordering him to vacate the courtroom before the stay-away order proceeding began.


Erie Ins. Exchange v.  United States Automobile Ass’n (Insurance Law, Loss of Evidence)

The Pennsylvania Superior Court affirmed the order of summary judgment in this action that Plaintiff brought for damages from loss of evidence in a fire investigation. The Court reaffirmed that “Pennsylvania does not recognize a cause of action to recover damages caused by negligent spoliation of evidence.”


Gruca v. Clearbrook Cmty. Servs. Ass’n Inc. (Civil Law, Adverse Possession)

The Pennsylvania Superior Court ruled that plaintiffs acquired property by adverse possession. The Court held that the land at issue was not woodland, and thus the general adverse possession standard governed. The Court found no error when the trial court altered its findings of fact during post-trial motions. 


Merino v. Repak, B.V. (Civil Law, Jurisdiction)

The Pennsylvania Superior Court held that Appellant timely filed its interlocutory appeal regarding personal jurisdiction. The Court then affirmed the lower court’s order, holding that Appellant – a foreign manufacturer – was subject to jurisdiction because Appellant knew its distributor was operating in Pennsylvania.


Pa. Dept. of Corr. v. South Heidelberg Twp. Zoning Hearing Bd (Administrative Law, Zoning)

The Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court reversed the trial court’s order that precluded the Commonwealth from operating a correctional center on state-owned land.


In re Appeal of Friends of Marconi Plaza (Administrative Law, Municipal Law)

In a highly-publicized opinion, the Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court ruled that the City of Philadelphia must remove a plywood box around its statue of Christopher Columbus.


NEW JERSEY

Delvalle v. Trino (Civil Law, Negligence, Summary Judgment)

The New Jersey Appellate Division held that neither a homeowner, a party host, nor a party guest was liable for the drowning death of an intoxicated party guest. The Court ruled that the Social Host Liability Act did not apply because no motor vehicle was involved.


JPC Merger Sub LLC v. Tricon Enters., Inc. (Civil Law, Contracts)

This dispute in the New Jersey Appellate Division was about the enforceability of a “pay-if-paid” provision in a construction contract and the applicability of the “knock-out” rule when unilateral modifications are made. The Court concluded that N.J.S.A. 12A:2-207(3) was inapplicable to “knock-out” the “pay-if-paid” provision.


American Zurich Ins. Co. v. Meridian Downtown Urban Renewal Bound Brook, LLC (Civil Law, Discovery)

The New Jersey Appellate Division ruled that a Law Division judge erred when it compelled a county prosecutor’s office to disclose its investigative file to litigants in a subrogation action.


3RD CIRCUIT

United States v. Kwasnik (Criminal Law, Appellate Procedure)

The Third Circuit ruled that an appellant “must file a new or amended notice of appeal when he seeks appellate review of orders entered by a district court after he filed his original appeal.”


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