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. Westlake (Timeliness, Sentencing)

The Pennsylvania Superior Court affirmed the trial court’s ruling that defendant waived the suppression motion contained in his second omnibus motion because it was untimely. However, the Court ruled that defendant’s sentence was illegal because the trial court erroneously sentenced him for two counts of DUI, which should have merged.

Allegheny Cnty. v. Labor Relations Bd. (Administrative Law, Unemployment)

The Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court affirmed the Pennsylvania Labor Relations Board’s order denying a county a setoff for unemployment compensation benefits against its back pay award issued to a corrections officer.

O.H. Bel Air Partners LP v. Hinton (Civil Law, Landlord-Tenant Law)

The Pennsylvania Superior Court ruled in favor of a tenant and held that a landlord was not entitled to rental-assistance payments made on behalf of a tenant where the landlord did not have a rental license under Section 9-3901(4)(e) of the Philadelphia Code.

G.W. v. Avonworth Sch. Dist. (Education Law, Residency)

The Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court affirmed the trial court’s order that sustained G.W.’s appeal and reversed the School District Board of Directors’ adjudication that he was not a School District resident. The Court ruled that none of the four issues the School District argued were meritorious.

Downs Racing L.P. v. Luzerne Cnty. (Administrative Law, Appellate Procedure)

The Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court ruled that an appeal regarding taxes on complimentary rooms should not be quashed as interlocutory and that the Luzerne County Convention Center Authority was not an indispensable party. As such, the Court remanded to the trial court for further proceedings.

Basinger v. Adamson (Administrative Law, Property Law)

The Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court dealt with several challenges regarding access to a rural road. The Court ruled that the parties were bound by their concession that the road was public. And since the Township did not statutorily convert it to a private road, it remained public.


State v. Williams (Criminal Law, Car Stop)

The New Jersey Supreme Court ruled that “in the absence of information that reasonably indicates to a pursuing officer that the driver is not the vehicle’s owner,” information from an MDT that a vehicle’s owner’s license is suspended or revoked furnishes reasonable suspicion authorizing a stop.

In re R.K. (Megan’s Law Registration, Statutory Interpretation)

The New Jersey Appellate Division affirmed the trial court’s order that denied defendant’s motion to terminate his sex offender registration obligations. The Court ruled that defendant’s commission of a new sex offense within fifteen years of the predicate sex offense permanently prohibited him from termination of the registration requirements.


United States v. Dowdell (Suppression, Car Stop)

The Third Circuit affirmed the District Court’s order suppressing a firearm the police found on defendant’s person. The Government forfeited its argument justifying defendant’s frisk because the argument was neither made nor preserved in the District Court. 

United States v. Simmons (Criminal Law, Supervised Release)

During its review for plain error, the Third Circuit rejected the defendant’s argument that he was entitled to offset his lifetime of supervised release by the twenty-one months that he served in prison upon revocation of supervised release.

American Home Assurance Co. v. Superior Well Svs., Inc. (Insurance Law, Indemnity)

The Third Circuit reversed the District Court’s order granting summary judgment to the plaintiff-insurance policyholder, a fracking company. The Court ruled that the insurance policy did not indemnify the fracking company for property damage caused by its faulty workmanship.

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