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.


Commonwealth v. Aumick (Criminal Law, SVP)

An en banc panel of the Pennsylvania Superior Court ruled that a doctor testifying at a sexually violent predator hearing was permitted to rely on police reports containing allegations of sexual abuse that defendant did not plead guilty. And the doctor was permitted to rely on hearsay evidence in reaching her conclusion.

Read Judge Dubow’s dissenting opinion here.

Commonwealth v. (Jessie) James (Criminal Law, Conspiracy)

The Pennsylvania Superior Court rejected defendant’s claim of ineffective assistance of counsel on unitary review and agreed with the trial court that defendant waited too long to file a supplemental post-sentence motion. But most importantly, the Court held defendant conspired to commit PWID by selling to a confidential informant.

Commonwealth v. Dahl (Criminal Law, Restitution)

The Pennsylvania Superior Court ruled that a court must specify the amount and method of restitution at sentencing, under 18 Pa.C.S.A. § 1106(c)(2). The court may not sentence a defendant to pay restitution in an amount to be determined later. Indeed, an order of restitution to be determined later is ipso facto illegal.

Commonwealth v. Martin (Criminal Law, Sufficiency & Weight)

The Pennsylvania Superior Court reinstated appellant’s verdict and sentence after the trial court granted his post-sentence motion, finding the verdicts were against the weight and sufficiency of the evidence. The Court faulted the lower court for sua sponte considering legal issues not raised by appellant.

Read Judge Bender’s concurring and dissenting opinion here.

Commonwealth v. Boyd (Criminal Law, Search & Seizure)

The Pennsylvania Superior Court held that the Commonwealth established probable cause for a search warrant for a car because the affiant swore that the driver was nervous, that he smelled marijuana, and that the driver was coming from a high crime area. Also, there was a gun holster in the back seat. 

In re H.H.N. (Family Law, Parental Rights)

The Pennsylvania Superior Court reversed an order that terminated a mother’s parental rights to four children. The Court chastised the lower court for kicking the children’s counsel out of a hearing and held depriving the children of their lawyer deprived them of their statutory right to counsel under 23 Pa.C.S. § 2313(a).

Commonwealth v. (Gregory) James (Criminal Law, Medical Records)

The Pennsylvania Superior Court affirmed an order of the Court of Common Pleas that granted the Commonwealth’s request to compel the county prison to turn over defendant’s medical records. The Commonwealth sought the records to prove that defendant had the same venereal disease as his five-year-old victim.

Hinerman v. Westmoreland Cnty. Airport Auth. (Administrative Law, 

The Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court affirmed an order granting summary judgment. Plaintiff fell on a grassy median that was covered by snow even though a paved and cleared walkway was nearby. The Court ruled that defendant fulfilled its duty to protect invitees from defects by creating the paved walkway and by clearing it of snow.


DiFiore v. Pezic (Civil Law, DRE)

The New Jersey Supreme Court largely upheld the Appellate Division’s ruling regarding who may attend a defense medical examination — as well as whether and how such examinations may be recorded — when a plaintiff has alleged cognitive limitations, psychological impairments, or language barriers. The Court put the burden on the defense to show why an accommodation should not be made.

Parsells v. Bd. of Education of Somerville (Administrative Law, Tenure)

The New Jersey Supreme Court ruled that the Tenure Act does not require school boards to notify, in advance, full-time teachers who consider voluntarily transferring to part-time teaching positions that they may not have a right to return to their full-time position. Instead, principles of common law waiver apply.

Keyworth v. Careone at Madison Ave. (Civil Law, Discovery)

The New Jersey Appellate Division ruled that nursing homes’ records that were developed during a process of a self-critical analysis as part of a patient safety plan that complied with the requirements of N.J.S.A. 26:2H-12.25(b) but were not reported to the Department of Health are protected by the self-critical analysis privilege for internal documents that are the product of an investigative process even though not submitted to the Department.


United States v. Stevens (Criminal Law, Hobbs Act Robbery)

The Third Circuit ruled that a Hobbs Act robbery is a general intent crime. And the Court held that the aiding or abetting a Hobbs Act robbery is a predicate offense that triggered liability under § 924(c) (setting a mandatory minimum for anyone who uses a firearm to further a drug trafficking or violent crime).

City of Warren Police & Fire Ret. Sys. (Civil Law, Class Action, Falsity)

In this putative class action, a retirement system alleged securities fraud against an insurer that the system invested in. The Third Circuit partially vacated the lower court’s order dismissing the complaint because one set of particularized allegations satisfied the heightened standard for pleading falsity and plausibly alleges the falsity of a statement by the Chief Financial Officer.

Williams v. Tech Mahindra Inc. (Civil Law, Equitable Tolling)

In this putative class action regarding employment discrimination, the Third Circuit drew a sharp distinction between two forms of equitable tolling: wrong-forum tolling and American Pipe tolling. The Court ruled that SCOTUS’s limitation on tolling in China Agritech, Inc. v. Resh limited American Pipe tolling, but did not limit equitable tolling.

Responsible Adult Q.T. v. Pottsgrove Sch. Dist. (Administrative Law, Education Law)

A school district claimed that a student’s adult cousin, with whom the student resided but who did not have legal custody over, did not have standing to bring a complaint under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. The Third Circuit conducted a Chevron analysis and determined that the cousin had standing.

Search entire site by keyword...

Search for Summaries by Hashtag...

Past Opinion Summaries


We’re legal ghostwriters with over 25 years of litigation experience. We write briefs, motions, and appeals that are always on time, on budget, and ready to file.