Opinion Summaries for the

Welcome to 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.


Campbell v. Tang (Civil Law, Men Behaving Badly)

Plaintiff didn’t tell defendant – his fiance – that he was still married to his first wife because “it was a personal thing” and he “didn’t think it was that important.” At issue was who got the engagement ring when things went sideways. The Pennsylvania Superior Court awarded the ring to defendant.

Commonwealth v. Corson (Criminal Law, ARD)

The Pennsylvania Superior Court vacated defendant’s DUI conviction. Defendant was denied admission into ARD based on the county DA’s Office’s blanket policy prohibiting first-time DUI offenders from ARD. But an intervening change in the law undercut the Office’s reasoning. As a result, the Court found that defendant was entitled to individual consideration of his application.

Commonwealth v. Green (Criminal Law, Reasonable Suspicion)

The Pennsylvania Superior Court ruled that officers had reasonable suspicion to detain defendant when “they observed drug paraphernalia in plain view strewn about defendant’s vehicle, noticed the outline of a firearm on defendant’s person, and detected an odor of burnt marijuana.”

Commonwealth v. Rondon (Criminal Law, Bail)

The Pennsylvania Superior Court held that a surety-bail bondsman’s petition to strike and/or set aside bail forfeiture and exonerate the surety was properly denied. Defendant failed to appear for a hearing based on a clerical error on the courts. The resulting bench warrant was lifted and bail was reinstated upon learning of the error. The bail bondsman unsuccessfully argued that the court needed the written consent of the bail bondsman to continue suretyship after that initial error.

Commonwealth v. Stroud (Criminal Law, Anders Brief)

The Pennsylvania Superior Court chided defense counsel and the trial court. Defense counsel filed an Anders brief but failed to file a 1925(b) statement. Counsel also did not assure that the record was transmitted to the Superior Court. The Court remanded the case so that the lower court and counsel could do their jobs.

Commonwealth v. Asbury (Criminal Law, SORNA)

The Pennsylvania Superior Court ruled that a juvenile, who is charged and convicted of an offense that is statutorily excluded from the definition of “delinquent act” and filed directly in criminal court, is not exempt from sex offender registration.

Riverview Carpet & Flooring, Inc. v. Presbyterian Seniorcare (Civil Law, Construction)

In a 95-page epic, the Pennsylvania Superior Court dealt with a series of suits filed among a senior-care facility, a contractor, and various subcontractors. After a non-jury trial, the Court dealt with five consolidated appeals, as numerous parties were aggrieved by the final judgment. The case ended with the Court ordering several parties to indemnify the senior-care facility. 

Scolforo v. Cnty. of York (Administrative Law, Right to Know)

The Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court dealt with a right-to-know request for name, salary, job title, and length of service, including start and end dates, for employees of the York County Prothonotary’s Office.

Glahn v. Dep’t of Environmental Prot. (Env. Hearing Bd.) (Administrative Law, Environmental Law)

The Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court affirmed an order of the Department of Environmental Protection’s Environmental Hearing Board. The Board held that it did not have jurisdiction over problems caused by the Department’s prolonged inaction on reaching a determination on the Petitioner’s water supply contamination complaint under the Oil and Gas Act.

Perez-Diaz v. Pa. Dep’t of Transp., Bureau of Motor Vehicles (Administrative Law, Inspection)

The Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court affirmed the order of the Court of Common Pleas that suspended appellant’s vehicle inspection station’s certificate of appointment as an official safety inspection station.

Allegheny Cnty. v. Hailer (Administrative Law, Right to Know)

The Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court ordered the county medical examiner to release autopsy and toxicology records in its possession.

S.F. v. Pa. Dep’t of Human Servs. (Administrative Law, Education Law)

The Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court ruled in favor of a teacher who claimed that the Child Protective Services Law does not provide adequate procedural due process protections. After allegedly mistreating her pupil, the teacher was interviewed by a County Children and Youth Serivces employee, but received no hearing before a neutral adjudicator prior to being listed as a perpetrator of child abuse on the ChildLine Registry.

M.T. v. Pa. State Police (Administrative Law, SORNA)

The Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court sustained the State Police’s preliminary objections and dismissed the petitioner’s challenge to his SORNA classification based on a conviction from Utah.

Interstate Gas Supply, Inc. v. Pub. Util. Comm’n (Administrative Law, Energy Law)

The Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court affirmed an order of the Public Utility Commission which ruled that certain electric distribution companies’ policy of providing what is known as “on-bill billing” for their own non-commodity goods and services, while not providing the same for non-commodity goods and services offered by petitioners, was not unreasonably discriminatory and, thus, did not violate the Public Utility Code or the Electricity Generation Customer Choice and Competition Act.

York v. Kanan (Administrative Law, Civil Rights)

The Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court affirmed verdicts in favor of police officers in this malicious prosecution case. The Court held that any errors in the jury instructions were harmless.

In re: Proposed Annexation of : Wilkinsburg by the City of Pittsburgh (Administrative Law, Municipal Law)

The Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court rejected an attempt by several petitioners to compel Pittsburgh to annex Wilkinsburg. The Court reasoned that the 1903 Annexation Law was effectively repealed by the Constitutional Amendments of 1968.

Almusa v. State Bd. of Med. (Administrative Law, Medical License)

The Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court ruled that the amendments in Section 3113(f) of Act 53 limiting professional discipline of doctors to felony drug trafficking convictions did not apply to the petitioner here because the Board’s suspension of a doctor’s license to practice medicine under Sections 40(b) and 43(b) of Act 53 occurred in 2019, before Section 3113 of Act 53 became effective.


In re M.P. (Juvenile Law, Miranda)

In a sweeping opinion perhaps more notable for what it did not rule on than what it did, the New Jersey Appellate Division held that the State did not prove beyond a reasonable doubt that a sixteen-year-old voluntarily waived his right to remain silent. The Court held that expert testimony regarding the child’s cognitive ability was admissible and that the child’s undisputed cognitive limitations and mental conditions must be accounted for.

MTAG as CUST for ATCF II NJ, LLC v. Tao Invest., LLC (Civil Law, Service)

The New Jersey Appellate Division dealt with service on a limited liability company, the Revised Uniform Limited Liability Company Act, and the Business Corporation Act. Plaintiff failed to properly serve the defendant LLC because it made no attempt to effect service on the State filing office, pursuant to N.J.S.A. 42:2C-17.

Berardo v. City of Jersey City (Administrative Law, Zoning)

The New Jersey Appellate Division held that the Jersey City Historic Preservation Officer’s issuance of a determination of historic significance — an advisory opinion seemingly intended to prevent plaintiff’s application for a demolition permit — is not a procedure authorized by the Municipal Land Use Law.


Mervilus v. Union Cnty. (Civil Law, 1983 Claim)

In the must-read of the week, the Third Circuit revived plaintiff’s Section 1983 claim against the detective who administered his polygraph and the detective’s superiors. The polygraph method used was absurd, and included such farcical and unscientific principles as: “The sexier a lady is dressed, the more likely she is lying.” The Court held that the detective’s ensuing testimony at the criminal trial could be considered “bad faith”, thus providing grounds for the civil suit. And the Court allowed the suit against the superiors to proceed because their failure to train is independent of the detective’s bad-faith testimony. 

United States v. Jumper (Criminal Law, Double Jeopardy)

The Third Circuit “join[ed] every other circuit to address the issue in holding that the Double Jeopardy Clause does not prevent a person subject to a disgorgement order from being criminally sentenced for the same conduct.”

United States v. United States Sugar Corp. (Administrative Law, FTC)

This Third Circuit ruled against the federal government and held that U.S. Sugar’s purchase of Imperial Sugar would not violate Section 7 of the Clayton Act.

In re Delloso (Bankruptcy, Equitable Tolling)

The Third Circuit affirmed the order of the Bankruptcy Court. A creditor sought to reopen a Chapter 7 bankruptcy case because he thought that the debtor fraudulently transferred assets. The court ruled that the rules of court did not allow reopening the case five years later and equitable tolling was not applicable. Furthermore, the creditor could pursue the debt in state court.

Rowland v. Bissell Homecare, Inc. (Civil Law, Removal)

The Third Circuit ruled that four putative class actions were properly remanded to state court. The suits did not qualify for federal jurisdiction under the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act because, at a minimum, they did not have at least 100 class members. The Court then joined the Ninth Circuit in holding that the Class Action Fairness Act does not supersede the MMWA’s jurisdictional limitations. 

Celllco P’ship v. White Deer Twp. Zoning Hearing Bd. (Administrative Law, Zoning Law)

The Third Circuit rejected Verizon’s claim that a township’s zoning board violated the Telecommunications Act by denying multiple variances that would allow the company to erect cell towers.

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