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Opinions

The Middle District of Pennsylvania offers a database of opinions for the years 1999 to 2012, listed by year and judge. For a more detailed search, enter the keyword or case number in the search box above.

Chief Judge Christopher C. Conner

There are few circumstances in which a district court may continue to exercise authority over a case after the filing of a notice of appeal, an “event of jurisdictional significance [that] confers jurisdiction on the court of appeals and divests the district court of its control over . . . the case.”1 The district court may proceed if the appeal is patently frivolous.2 It may proceed if the notice relates to a non-appealable order or judgment.3 It may also proceed if the appeal is taken in bad faith and would result in unwarranted delay.4 The notice of appeal filed by defendant in this case represents a convergence of all of these circumstances. Despite the notice, this court retains jurisdiction over these proceedings.

Presently before the court is a motion by defendant, The Bearington Collection, Inc. (“Bearington”), for partial reconsideration of a memorandum and order denying summary judgment in its favor on the copyright infringement claims of plaintiff, The Boyds Collection, Ltd. (“Boyds”). The court concluded that several of the copyrights at issue, for plush bears differing only with respect to their clothing, are potentially valid because such clothing does not necessarily constitute a “useful article.”1 Bearington argues that this holding improperly contravenes rulings of the United States Copyright Office, the federal agency responsible for administration of copyright law. The court previously rejected this argument, and will reject it again for similar reasons.

Bears are big business. Revenues in the collectible teddy bear industry approached $1 billion in the late 1990s, in a field consisting of both established companies and relatively small start-ups.1 Against this competitive backdrop, plaintiff, The Boyds Collection, Ltd. (“Boyds”), seeks to enjoin sales of bears designed by defendant, The Bearington Collection, Inc. (“Bearington”).2 The complaint alleges that several Bearington bears infringe on copyrighted Boyds bears, entitling Boyds to injunctive and monetary relief under federal law.

Judge John E. Jones III

Pending before the Court are a Motion for Summary Judgment (Rec. Doc. 30) filed by the Plaintiffs Michael Walker, Ernie Heffner, Jefferson Memorial Funeral Home, and Betty Frey (“Plaintiffs”), which seeks a declaratory judgment against the Defendants, Jodi Flitton, Joseph A. Fluehr, III, Michael J. Yeosock, Janice Mannal, Anthony Scarantino, Michael D. Morrison, Donald J. Murphy, James O. Pinkerton, (“Defendants” or “Board members”) and a Motion for Summary Judgment (Rec. Doc. 34) filed by the Defendants seeking dismissal of Plaintiffs’ action.1 The aforementioned Defendants are all members of the Pennsylvania Board of Funeral Directors and are named parties in their official capacities as members of that Board. Plaintiff Ernie Heffner is a licensed funeral director at Plaintiff Jefferson Memorial Funeral Home, which employs Plaintiffs Betty Frey and Michael Walker, the former through a subsidiary, Preneed Associates, Inc.2 Both Frey and Walker are licensed insurance salespersons but are not licensed funeral directors.
 
This Court has jurisdiction over the individual Board members based on federal question jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1331 as this action for declaratory relief is brought pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and the Declaratory Judgment Act codified at 28 U.S.C. § 2201.

Pending before the Court is a Motion to Intervene as Defendants (doc. 27) filed by Michael and Sheree Hied, Raymond and Cynthia Mummert, and James and Martha Cashman (the “Applicants”) on January 17, 2005. Also pending before the Court is a Motion to Dismiss (doc. 30) filed by Defendants on January 28, 2005.
 
We will resolve the pending Motions herein, and for the reasons that follow we will deny both the Motion to Intervene and the Motion to Dismiss.

Pending before the Court is a Motion to Quash a Subpoena and for a Protective Order (“the Motion”) (doc. 35), filed by the defendants Daniel Mimnaugh (“Mimnaugh”) and David J. Swartz (“Swartz”) (together, “Defendants”) on October 25, 2004. For the reasons that follow, the Motion shall be granted in part and denied in part.

Judge A. Richard Caputo

Presently before the Court are two motions to treat counterclaims as affirmative defenses, one filed by Stephen Flood and The Luzerne County Retirement Board (hereinafter the Board) (Doc. 256.1) and the other filed by the Luzerne County Retirement Fund1 (hereinafter the Fund) (Doc. 259.1). I will grant the portion of the motion requesting dismissal of the counterclaim against Stephen Flood for intentional interference with contract2 because all of the alleged actions by Mr. Flood were while he was acting as an agent of a party to the contract. I will deny the remainder of the motions--because indemnity and contribution are properly classified as counterclaims.

Presently before the Court is Defendant’s Motion for Summary Judgment. (Doc. 17.) I will deny Defendant’s motion because the hills and ridges doctrine does not apply and there are genuine issues of material fact whether Defendant was negligent in its maintenance of the loading dock area. The Court has jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1332.

Judge Malachy E. Mannion

On April 25, 2003, the plaintiffs initiated the instant action in which they seek a declaratory judgment to order the defendant to: (1) allow them to backfill mine pits on a certain tract of land known as the “Bliss tract” located in Cherry Township, Sullivan County, Pennsylvania, with fly-ash material; and (2) grant its consent to the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, (“DEP”), Bureau of Mining and Reclamation, for this procedure.

Judge Sylvia H. Rambo

Before the court is Defendant’s Motion for Bail Pending Appeal (Doc. 772). In the motion, Defendant offers five issues that he asserts justify his release from incarceration during appeal under 18 U.S.C. § 3143(b)(1). The court recently granted Defendant’s motion in part. (See Doc. 784.) Specifically, the court concluded that its decision to rule the United States Sentencing Guidelines (the “Guidelines”) unconstitutional as applied to this case in light of Blakely v. Washington, 124 S. Ct. 2531 (2004) presented a substantial question of law that could have resulted in a significant modification of Defendant’s sentence. The court stayed Defendant’s sentence until the Supreme Court issued its anticipated decision regarding Blakely’s impact on the Guidelines and deferred ruling on the remaining four issues in Defendant’s motion.

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