DAMAGES-ECONOMIC LOSS DOCTRINE-EMPLOYEE SENSITIVE PERSONAL INFORMATION STORED BY EMPLOYER ON INTERNET ACCESSIBLE COMPUTER SYSTEM

November 28th, 2018 by Rieders Travis in Miscellaneous

Dittman v. UPMC, 2018 Pa. LEXIS 6051 (Pa. S.Ct. November 21, 2018) Baer, J.  We granted discretionary review in this matter to determine whether an employer has a legal duty to use reasonable care to safeguard its employees’ sensitive personal information that the employer stores on an internet-accessible computer system. We also examine the scope of Pennsylvania’s economic loss doctrine, specifically whether it permits recovery in negligence for purely pecuniary damages. For the reasons discussed below, we hold that an employer has a legal duty to exercise reasonable care to safeguard its employees’ sensitive personal information stored by the employer on an internet-accessible computer system. We further hold that, under Pennsylvania’s economic loss doctrine, recovery for purely pecuniary damages is permissible under a negligence theory provided that the plaintiff can establish the defendant’s breach of a legal duty arising under common law that is independent of any duty assumed pursuant to contract. As the Superior Court came to the opposite conclusions, we now vacate its judgment. We conclude that the lower courts erred in finding that UPMC did not owe a duty to Employees to exercise reasonable care in collecting…

CONFLICTS OF LAW-CHOICE OF LAW-FORUM SELECTION CLAUSE-INTENDED THIRD PARTY BENEFICIARY TO THE CONTRACT

November 28th, 2018 by Rieders Travis in Miscellaneous

In re McGraw-Hill Global Educ. Holdings, LLC, 2018 U.S. App. LEXIS 32931 (3d Cir. November 21, 2018) Smith, C.J.  These consolidated mandamus petitions require us to decide whether two professional photographers bringing separate copyright infringement actions are bound by a forum selection clause in contracts they did not sign. We conclude that the photographers are not bound because they are not intended beneficiaries of the agreements, nor are they closely related parties. Our conclusion means that one District Court got it right, and the other got it wrong. But mandamus is an extraordinary remedy. Because the erring District Court’s mistakes were not clear or indisputable, we decline to issue the writ. A non-signatory may be bound by a contractual forum selection clause if he is an intended third-party beneficiary to the contract. DuPont, 269 F.3d at 195 (citing Coastal Steel Corp., 709 F.2d at 202–04). The New York Court of Appeals has adopted the Restatement (Second) of Contracts for determining third-party beneficiary status. Subaru Distribs. Corp. v. Subaru of Am., Inc., 425 F.3d 119, 124 (2d Cir. 2005) (citing Fourth Ocean Putnam Corp. v. Interstate Wrecking Co., 485 N.E.2d 208,…

CONDEMNATION-GAS LINES

November 15th, 2018 by Rieders Travis in Miscellaneous

Transcon. Gas Pipe Line Co. v. Permanent Easements for 2.14 Acres, 3d Cir. 2018 LESIX 30669 (October 30, 2018) Roth, J. Congress may grant eminent domain power to private companies acting in the public interest. This appeal requires us to determine the limits on Congress’s grant of eminent domain power to private companies building gas lines under the Natural Gas Act (NGA), 15 U.S.C. §717f(h). The NGA gives natural gas companies the power to acquire property by eminent domain, but it provides only for standard eminent domain power, not the type of eminent domain called “quick take” that permits immediate possession. The District Court granted a preliminary injunction to Transcontinental Gas Pipe Line Company, which effectively gave the company immediate possession of certain rights of way owned by appellant landowners. The landowners claim that granting immediate possession violated the constitutional principle of separation of powers because the taking of property by eminent domain is a legislative power and the NGA did not grant “quick take.” We disagree and hold that the District Court’s order did not violate the principle of separation of powers because Transcontinental properly sought and obtained the…

PREEMPTION-AIRCRAFT LITIGATION

November 6th, 2018 by Rieders Travis in Miscellaneous

Jill Sikkelee, Individually and PR for Estate of David Sikkelee, deceased v. Precision Airmotive Corp., et al, 2018, 3rd Cir. (October 25, 2018), Shwartz, J.-David Sikkelee died in a plane crash, and his wife, Plaintiff Jill Sikkelee, brought state-law strict liability and negligence claims against the engine’s manufacturer, AVCO Corporation, and its Textron Lycoming Reciprocating Engine Division (“Lycoming”), among other defendants. Sikkelee alleges that the engine has a design defect. We previously held that Sikkelee’s state-law claims are not barred based on the doctrine of field preemption, but we remanded to allow the District Court to consider whether they are barred under conflict preemption. Sikkelee v. Precision Airmotive Corp. (Sikkelee II), 822 F.3d 680 (3d Cir. 2016), cert. denied, AVCO Corp. v Sikkelee, 137 S. Ct. 495 (2016). The District Court concluded the claims are conflict-preempted and that, even if they were not, Lycoming is entitled to summary judgment on Sikkelee’s strict liability and negligence claims based on Pennsylvania law. Sikkelee v. AVCO Corp. (Sikkelee III), 268 F.Supp. 3d 660 (M.D. Pa. 2017). The Court also revisited an earlier ruling and granted summary judgment in favor of Lycoming on Sikkelee’s…

RICO-RACKETEERING ACTIVITY COMMITTED ABROAD

October 17th, 2018 by Rieders Travis in Miscellaneous

Humphrey v. GlaxoSmithKline PLC, 2018 U.S. App. LEXIS 27443 (September 26, 2018) McKee, J.  Section 1964(c) of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (“RICO”), 18 U.S.C. §§ 1961-1968, creates a private right of action for a plaintiff that “is injured in his (or her) business or property” as a result of conduct that is proscribed by the statute. In RJR Nabisco, Inc. v. European Community, the Supreme Court determined that, although a litigant may file a civil suit against parties for racketeering activity committed abroad, § 1964(c)’s private right of action is only available to a litigant that can “allege and prove a domestic injury to its business or property.” In this case of first impression for this court, we must decide whether Plaintiffs pled sufficient facts to establish that they suffered a domestic injury under § 1964(c). For the reasons that follow, we will affirm the District Court’s judgment that they have not. 

UNFAIR TRADE PRACTICES AND CONSUMER PROTECTION LAW-NURSING HOMES-MISLEADING STATEMENTS

October 17th, 2018 by Rieders Travis in Miscellaneous

Commonwealth v Golden Gate Nat’l Senior Care, LLC, 2018 Supreme Court of PA LEXIS 5018 (September 25, 2018) Donohue, J. The Office of the Attorney General (“OAG”), on behalf of the Commonwealth, filed suit against more than two dozen nursing homes and their parent companies (collectively, “Appellees), alleging violations of the Unfair Trade Practices and Consumer Protection Law, 73 Pa. C.S. §§ 201-1-201-9.3 (“UTPCPL”), and unjust enrichment. Upon consideration of Appellees’ preliminary objections, the Commonwealth Court dismissed the claims and this appeal followed. For the reasons discussed herein, we find that the dismissal of the UTPCPL claim was improper, but the dismissal of the unjust enrichment claim was proper because the claim was filed prematurely. Accordingly, we reverse the Commonwealth Court’s order and remand for further proceedings. Appellees are individual nursing homes located throughout Pennsylvania as well as their affiliated companies and parent entities. On July 1, 2015, the OAG filed a complaint and petition for injunctive relief in the Commonwealth Court’s original jurisdiction alleging violations of the UTPCPL and unjust enrichment. The complaint named the Parent Companies and fourteen Facilities. Following the filing of preliminary objections, the OAG filed…

FAIR DEBT COLLECTION PRACTICES ACT-THREAT OF REPORT TO INTERNAL REVENUE SERVICE

October 17th, 2018 by Rieders Travis in Miscellaneous

Schultz v Midland Credit Mgmt., 2018 U.S. App. LEXIS (September 24, 2018), Vanaskie, J.  The question before us in this matter is whether a statement in a debt collection letter to the effect that forgiveness of the debt may be reported to the Internal Revenue Service constitutes a violation of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (“FDCPA”), 15 U.S.C. § 1692 et. seq. The District Court concluded that the statement found in dunning letters sent by Appellee Midland Credit Management, Inc., (“Midland”) to Appellants Robert A. Schultz, Jr. and hi wife, Donna (the “Schultzes”) could not constitute a violation of the FDCPA, and dismissed their putative class action complaint. We disagree, and hold that the statement in question may violate the FDCPA. Accordingly we will reverse the dismissal of this action and remand for further proceedings. 

FEDERAL TORT CLAIMS ACT-DISCRETIONARY FUNCTION TEST-INMATE HOUSING ISSUES

October 11th, 2018 by Rieders Travis in Miscellaneous

Appellant Michael Rinaldi, who at all relevant times was an inmate in custody at United States Penitentiary, Lewisburg (“Lewisburg” or the “Institution”), appeals the District Court’s dismissal of his complaint alleging that the conduct of various personnel violated his constitutional and statutory rights. His appeal requires us to resolve three matters of first impression for our Court: (1) what showing an inmate must make to establish that administrative remedies were not “available” within the meaning of the Prison Litigation Reform Act (“PLRA”); (2) whether the PLRA’s exhaustion requirement is satisfied where a prison administrator elects to resolve a procedurally improper administrative request on the merits; and (3) whether a prison’s housing and cellmate assignments meet the discretionary function exception to the Federal Tort Claims Act’s limited waiver of sovereign immunity. For the reasons that follow, we will affirm the District Court’s dismissal of Rinaldi’s complaint in part and will vacate and remand in part.  The court found the proper exhaustion in that the constitutional claims can go forward, but it also found that the discretionary right of prison authorities with respect to housing and to the Federal Tort Claims Act…

STANDING-ECONOMIC INJURY

October 9th, 2018 by Rieders Travis in Miscellaneous

In Re: Johnson & Johnson Talcum Powder Products Liability Marketing, Sales Practices and Liability Litigation, Mona Estrada, Appellant, 2018 U.S. Court of Appeals for Third Cir., (September 6, 2018) Smith J.  The question presented in this appeal from a dismissal of a class action is both narrow and novel: Has a plaintiff—who has entirely consumed a product that has functioned for her as expected—suffered an economic injury solely because she now sincerely wishes that she had not purchased that product? We hold that such a plaintiff has not suffered an economic injury sufficient to bring a claim in federal court. More succinctly, buyer’s remorse, without more, is not a cognizable injury under Article III of the United States Constitution. A plaintiff alleging an economic injury as a result of a purchasing decision must do more than simply characterize that purchasing decision as an economic injury. The plaintiff must instead allege facts that would permit a factfinder to determine, without relying on mere conjecture that the plaintiff failed to receive the economic benefit of her bargain. Because the plaintiff here has failed to plead facts, sufficient to establish economic harm, the…

JOINT TORTFEASORS-CONTRIBUTION OF THE DRAM SHOP LAW

October 9th, 2018 by Rieders Travis in Miscellaneous

Encompass Insurance Co. v Stone Mansion Restaurant, Inc. 2018 U. S. Court of Appeals, Third Dist. (August 22, 2018) Chagares J.  This appeal, which presents issues of statutory interpretation, stems from a tragic automobile crash that killed the intoxicated driver and seriously injured the sole passenger. Encompass Insurance Company (“Encompass”), the liability carrier for the vehicle, settled the passenger’s claims against the driver’s estate and all other possible parties, including Stone Mansion Restaurant Incorporated (“Stone Mansion”) – the restaurant that allegedly overserved the driver. Thereafter, Encompass brought the instant action against Stone Mansion in Pennsylvania state court, seeking contribution under state law. Stone Mansion removed the case to the United States District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania. Following a dispute over removal, the District Court concluded that the case was properly before it and later dismissed the case pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). Encompass appeals both the decision on the removal and the dismissal. For the reasons stated below, we will affirm in part and reverse in part. Putting aside the procedural issue, the court held that Encompass has not argued that is entitled to…