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Opinions

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

Judge James M. Munley

In this habeas corpus action, we are asked to determine the constitutionality of Petitioner Daniel Jacobs’ conviction of first degree murder and his sentence of death. The respondents are Martin Horn, Commissioner, Pennsylvania Department of Corrections; Conner Blaine, Jr., Superintendent of the State Correctional Institution, Greene County; and Joseph P. Mazurkiewicz , Superintendent of the State Correctional Institution at Rockview. The petitioner raises a multitude of issues involving alleged errors of the trial court and ineffectiveness of counsel. With one exception, we find all of petitioner’s arguments to be either without merit or moot. However, because we find, for the reasons which follow, that the petitioner’s death sentence violates the Constitution of the United States, we will condition ally grant the petition for a writ of habeas corpus.

In June 1983, the plaintiff was hired as a warehouseman for A&P. In that position, plaintiff was a member of a collective bargaining unit and was represented by the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, Local 229. Plaintiff first requested and was granted a medical leave of absence from September 13, 199 3 through November 22, 1993. Plaintiff’s Transcript (herein after “Pl. Trans.”) 81. Th e defendant stated that the plaintiff provided medical documentation to justify the continued leave of absence . Id. at 83-84. Plaintiff was again granted a medical leave of absence from July 8, 1994 through October 17, 1994. Id. at 85-86. The plaintiff also provided A&P with medical documentation for that leave.
In November 1995, plaintiff requested and was granted a third leave of absence after a back injury at work . Id. at 89:14-19. The plaintiff’s treating physician, Dr. Teig Port, restricted the plaintiff to light duty as a result of the back injury. The plaintiff informed the defendants of this restriction by providing A &P with a note from Dr. Port. However, as there was no light duty work available, Defendant A&P granted the plaintiff a leave of absence, which was approved by Dr. Port through July 1, 1996. Dr. Port prepared a Medical Report Form in June 1996 that authorized the plaintiff to return to his regular duties on July 1, 1996. A&P received this form and then on June 28, 1996, the plaintiff telephoned A &P to confirm that he would return to work on July 1, 1996. Id. at 103-04.

The facts as alleged in plaintiffs’ complaint are a s follows: P laintiff Sup ervisor Tobin and Defendants Skrincosky and Skrobak all served together on the New Castle Township Board of Supervisors. Defendant Badamo was hired as a part-time police officer for New Castle Township in February 1999. Subsequently, the acting police chief resigned, leaving no one to supervise the day to day activities of the police department.

Defendants Skrincosky and Skrobak had developed feelings of animosity toward Supervisor Tobin and began to work against him in his efforts to better the township, in particular, his attempts to address the concerns and problems involving the police department and Defendant Badamo. They intentionally and maliciously prevented the hiring of any supervisory officer because of their desire to undermine the authority of Supervisor Tobin.

This case arises out of the issuance of umbrella liability insurance policies by the defendant to the plaintiff in 1996, 1997, 1998 and 1999. The policies provided excess insurance coverage above the underlying medical malpractice coverage that plaintiff obtained through other sources.

In June 1998, plaintiff was sued by Ellen Thurston. Plaintiff sent notice of the action to defendant in July of 1999. In September 1999, a declination of coverage was issued by the defendant based on the revised terms and conditions contained in the 1998 renewal policy. Plaintiff brought suit involving the defendant’s actions in the renewal of the policies and its declination of coverage with respect to the Thurston claim. Plaintiff contends that the never provided any notice of the substantial and material revisions that it unilaterally made to plaintiff’s 1998 and 1999 policies. In fact, plaintiff alleges that the defendant never even provided a copy of the changed excess umbrella renewal policy to plaintiff until long after the inception date of the 1998 renewal policy. Consequently, plaintiff claims to be entitled to the same insurance coverage provided to it under its 1996 and 1997 policies.

Plaintiff brought an employment discrimination case against the defend ant. After a trial, the jury returned a verdict for the defendant. The defendant filed a bill of costs totaling $ 22,877.47, which it later amended to $24,346.12. Plaintiff filed objections to the defendant’s bill of costs and first amended bill of costs. Subsequently, the Clerk of Court taxed costs in the amount of $6,50 6.80 against the plaintiff. Plaintiff now appeals from this taxation of costs. In addition, the plaintiff has filed a motion for attorney’s fees and excess costs pursuant to 28 U .S.C. § 1927. W e shall address these two matters separately.

On June 5, 1997, the plaintiff allegedly sustained injuries when he slipped and fell at the Continental Plaza in Cancun, Mexico. The plaintiff alleges that he was a business invitee of the defendant and that he slipped and fell while crossing a foot bridge. The plaintiff asserts that the defendant was negligent, and argues that the accident occurred because of irregularities in the foot bridge and due to a lack of handrails on the bridge. Compl. ¶ 5. The defendant alleges that the defendant does no business in Pennsylvania, is not licensed to do business in Pennsylvania, has never issued a certificate of authority to do business as a foreign corporation in Pennsylvania, and does no advertising in Pennsylvania. The discovery did reveal that a Pennsylvania travel agency paid for and placed an advertisement in a Pennsylvania newspaper that mentioned the defendant.

Judge Richard P. Conaboy

Pending before the Court is a motion for habeas corpus relief filed on June 5, 2000 by Petitioner pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255 along with a “Memorandum of Law” in support of his motion to vacate his sentence.1 (Doc. 114). The Petitioner claims ineffective assistance of counsel, prosecutorial misconduct, and sentencing errors based on misinterpretations of the United States Sentencing Guidelines. The Government failed to file a response. In addition, the Petitioner filed an “Amended (informal) Brief” on December 29, 2000 (Doc. 116) in which he claims that Apprendi v. New Jersey, 530 U.S. 466, 147 L.Ed.2d 435, makes his sentence improper. For the reasons set forth infra, we shall deny the petitioner’s habeas corpus motion.

Judge Sylvia H. Rambo

The following facts are undisputed except where noted. Defendant, P.H. Glatfelter Company (“Glatfelter” or “Defendant”), owns and operates a pulp and paper mill in Spring Grove, York County, Pennsylvania (the “Mill”). The Mill is situated along the Codorus Creek which flows into the Susquehanna River approximately 15 miles downstream from the Mill. Defendant manufactures paper using a bleached kraft process in order to remove the brown color from the wood fiber contained in the paper.

Defendant discharges approximately 14 million gallons of wastewater into the west branch of Codorus Creek daily. The bleaching agents used by Defendant cause a chemical reaction that moves the color molecules from the paper into the wastewater. Plaintiffs contend that there is a discoloration of the Codorus beginning at the mill that is visible all the way downstream through the City of York, located approximately ten miles from the Mill. Plaintiffs claim that this discoloration results from the wastewater discharged by Defendant. (Pl. Statement Undisputed Facts, hereinafter “Pl. Facts,” at ¶¶ 3, 6, 7.) Defendant disputes that any discoloration of the Codorus is caused by the color of the wastewater, that the discoloration begins at the Mill, and that Plaintiffs have established what the “true” color of the stream is. (Def. Resp. to Pl. Facts, hereinafter “Def. Resp. Facts”, at ¶¶ 3, 6, 7.)

 

The instant action seeks a declaratory judgment that certain provisions of Pennsylvania’s Milk Marketing Law, 31 Pa. Cons. Stat. Ann. §§ 700j-101, et seq. (“PMML”), and certain provisions of Official General Orders A-890A and A-900, (i) violate the Commerce Clause of the United States Constitution, and (ii) deprive Plaintiff of rights guaranteed pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Additionally Plaintiff seeks to enjoin Defendants from enforcing the minimum milk prices fixed pursuant to Orders A-890A and A-900.

Judge William W. Caldwell

In 1990, Michael Todd Brosius, then a member of the United States Army, was charged in a military court-martial with premeditated murder under Article 118, Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ), 10 U.S.C. § 918. He was convicted of unpremeditated murder and sentenced to life imprisonment, later reduced to seventy-five years. Brosius, an inmate at USP-Lewisburg, Pennsylvania

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