Opinion Summaries for the

Below are Sullivan | Simon’s 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. Verbeck (DUI, ARD)

An evenly divided Pennsylvania Supreme Court affirmed the Superior Court’s decision to reverse defendant’s sentence for DUI. The Supreme Court held that the Superior Court correctly determined defendant’s prior acceptance into ARD did not constitute a “prior offense” that would justify the sentence enhancement.

Read J. Wecht’s Opinion in Support of Affirmance here.

Read J. Todd’s Opinion in Support of Affirmance here.

Read J. Mundy’s Opinion in Support of Affirmance here.

Commonwealth v. Perzel (Restitution, Waiver)

The Pennsylvania Superior Court ruled that the Commonwealth waived its right to appeal the trial court’s decision not to impose restitution. The Commonwealth did not object when the court sentenced defendant, file a post-sentence motion, or include the mandatory Pa.R.A.P. 2119(f) Statement in its brief.

​​Commonwealth v. Adorno (Motion to Suppress, Probable Cause)

The Pennsylvania Superior Court reversed the trial court’s order suppressing evidence. The Court ruled that a video showing defendant with guns inside an apartment, coupled with the apartment landlord’s statement to the police that the defendant’s apartment was depicted in the video, was sufficient to provide probable cause for a search.

Prensky v. Talaat (Civil Law, Appellate Jurisdiction)

In this case about a neighborly dispute involving plaintiff’s farm animals, the Pennsylvania Superior Court quashed defendant’s appeal. The Court ruled that it did not have jurisdiction to review the trial court’s consent order because it was not a final order.

GM Berkshire Hills LLC v. Berks. Cnty. Bd. of Assessment (Administrative Law, Taxes)

An evenly divided Pennsylvania Supreme Court affirmed the Commonwealth Court’s decision, holding that a school district’s monetary method for selecting property assessments to appeal is within its discretion so long as that method does not differentiate properties based on property type or another constitutionally infirm basis.

Read J. Mundy’s Opinion in Support of Affirmance here

Read J. Donohue’s Opinion in Support of Affirmance here.

Read J. Dougherty’s Opinion in Support of Reversal here.

Commonwealth v. Goodco Mechanical, Inc. (Criminal Law, Jurisdiction)

A contractor and his company unsuccessfully argued to the Pennsylvania Superior Court that the lower court did not have jurisdiction to hear their cases involving theft by failure to make required disposition of funds received. The Prevailing Wage Law gave an administrative agency power to adjudicate the issue civilly.

Rogowski v. Kirven (Family Law, COVID-19)

The Pennsylvania Superior Court refereed divorced parents’ fight over their child’s COVID-19 vaccinations and boosters. The matter turned on the couple’s shared legal custody of the child.

Rogers v. Thomas (Civil Law, Collateral Estoppel)

An en banc panel of the Pennsylvania Superior Court reviewed eight claims of error following a wrongful death and survival jury trial. The Court held that based on collateral estoppel, the breach of duty element was satisfied by defendant’s criminal conviction. The Court also dealt with comparative negligence.
Read Judge Kunselman’s concurring opinion here.


Memudu v. Gonzalez (Civil Law, Insurance Law)

The New Jersey Appellate Division ruled that the decedent was not “operating” his uninsured vehicle for the purposes of N.J.S.A. 39:6A-4.5(a) at the time of an accident when he went to retrieve his cell phone from his disabled car after a crash minutes earlier.

Maia v. IEW Constr. Grp. (Motion to Dismiss, Statutory Interpretation)

The New Jersey Appellate Division reversed the trial court’s grant of partial summary judgment. The Court ruled that the trial court incorrectly determined that plaintiffs sought retroactive application of the Wage and Hour Law and Wage Payment Law. Instead, plaintiffs sought the statutory remedies available when they filed their complaint. 

Strickland v. Foulke Mgmt. Corp. (Contracts Law, Arbitration)

Guided by the United States Supreme Court’s holding in Hall St. Assocs., LLC v. Mattel, Inc., the New Jersey Appellate Division ruled that parties cannot contractually agree to expand the basis of review of an arbitration award governed by the Federal Arbitration Act.


The Third Circuit did not issue any precedential opinions in the last week of February.

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