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. Smith (Criminal Law, Arson)

An en banc panel of the Pennsylvania Superior Court ruled that a defendant may be convicted of and sentenced on separate counts of arson endangering persons when there is one arson but more than one victim. 

Read Judge Lazarus’s’ dissenting opinion here.

Cavallo Mineral Partners, LLC v. EQT Prod. Co. (Civil Law, Interlocutory Appeal)

The Pennsylvania Superior Court quashed this appeal as interlocutory. The trial court granted some – but not all – defendants’ motions to dismiss the matter on the pleadings. Thus, the trial court’s order, which failed to dispose of all claims of all parties, was not a final order under Pa.R.A.P. 341(c).

Von Sick v. ANC Builders, Inc. (Civil Law, Arbitration)

The Pennsylvania Superior Court compelled the parties to arbitration. The Court rejected plaintiff’s argument that only some defendants were bound to the arbitration agreement and the Court faulted plaintiff for failing to produce evidence to prove that the arbitration clause unreasonably favored defendant.

Philadelphia Cmty. Dev. Coal., Inc. v. Philadelphia Redevelopment Auth. (Administrative Law, Real Estate Law)

The Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court held that the orders of the Court of Common Pleas were appealable as of right and then affirmed them. The orders terminated plaintiff’s petition for the appointment of a conservator, lifted a lis pendens, and permitted plaintiff to file a petition for costs.

Bonner v. Chapman (Administrative Law, Election Law)

The Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court dismissed this partisan suit seeking to limit the ability for absentee ballots to be counted if the elector did not hand write the date on a declaration contained on the ballot’s return mailing envelope.

Gonzalez v. Guizzetti Farms, Inc. (Workers’ Comp. App. Bd.) (Administrative Law, Workers’ Comp)

The Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court ruled that Act 111, which enacted the impairment rating evaluation provisions in Section 306(a.3), can be applied retroactively.

Green Analytics North, LLC v. Pa. Dep’t of Health (Administrative Law, Marijuana Law)

The Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court held that the Department’s requirement that two labs test medicinal marijuana exceeded the scope of the Department’s Authority under Section 704 the Medical Marijuana Act.

Houghton Enters., Inc. v. Pa. Dep’t of State (Administrative Law, Solicitor)

The Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court affirmed an order precluding plaintiff from conducting the services of a professional solicitor in Pennsylvania as defined by the Solicitation of Funds for Charitable Purposes Act.

McLogie Props. Inc. v. Kidder Twp. Zoning Hearing Bd. (Administrative Law, Zoning)

The Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court reversed an order of the Court of Common Pleas that denied plaintiff’s request for a variance. The Court ruled that plaintiff was entitled to a variance by estoppel and that the zoning hearing board was equitably estopped from enforcing certain height and story restrictions.


Facebook, Inc. v. State (Criminal Law, Wiretap)

This case is so high profile that former Solicitor General Seth Waxman led Facebook’s all-star legal team in the New Jersey Supreme Court. That Court had to decide whether the State’s request for near real-time user information from Facebook is subject to normal warrant requirements or the heightened requirements needed for a wiretap order. The Court ruled that the State must abide by wiretap requirements in a must-read opinion for trial lawyers.

Arsenis v. Borough of Bernardsville (Administrative Law, Real Estate Law)

The New Jersey Appellate Division ruled that the Superior Court lacks jurisdiction to adjudicate claims for monetary damages, filed years after the statutory deadline for filing a tax appeal, based on allegations that municipal officials committed fraud and other torts by assessing real property in a manner inconsistent with law and at an amount above its true market value.

Singer v. Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.C., Inc. (Civil Law, Lemon Law)

The New Jersey Appellate Division ruled that evidence demonstrating a vehicle is subject to a recall notice, without more, is insufficient to satisfy the “nonconformity” element required by the State’s Lemon Law


Henry v. Wilmington Trust NA (Civil Law, Interlocutory Appeal)

The Third Circuit ruled that it had jurisdiction to hear defendants’ appeal from the denial of its motion to dismiss because that motion was essentially a motion to compel arbitration, and the “substance of the motion and order, and not its form, determines its appealability.” The Court then held that the arbitration and anti-class action provisions were unenforceable as violative of ERISA.

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