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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 John E. Jones III

Plaintiffs Michael and Brandy Gress (“Plaintiffs”) bring this class action against Defendant Freedom Mortgage Corporation (“Defendant”) on behalf of a multi-state putative class claiming breach of contract (Count I); violation of various state consumer protection statutes1 on behalf of the multi-state putative class (Count II); violation of the Pennsylvania Unfair Trade Practices and Consumer Protection Law (“UTPCPL”), 73 P.S. §§ 201-1, et seq., on behalf of the Pennsylvania cases (Count III); violation of the Pennsylvania Fair Credit Extension Uniformity Act (“FCEUA”), 73 P.S. § 2270.1, et seq., on behalf of the Pennsylvania cases (Count IV); and unjust enrichment on behalf of the Pennsylvania cases (Count V).  Plaintiffs filed their Complaint on March 5, 2019.  (Doc. 1).  Presently pending before the Court is Defendant’s Motion to Dismiss pursuant to Rules 12(b)(1), 12(b)(2), and 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, filed on April 17, 2019.  (Doc. 21).  The Motion has been fully briefed, (Docs. 22, 26, 27), and is ripe for review. 

Presently pending before the Court is Defendant Joshua D. Shapiro’s motion to dismiss the complaint filed by Plaintiffs UPMC Pinnacle and several of its affiliated entities (collectively, “UPMC”). (Doc. 36). Defendant’s motion to dismiss has been fully briefed, (Docs. 42, 51, 56, 57-1), and is ripe for disposition. For the reasons that follow, Defendant’s motion shall be granted, and the complaint shall be dismissed without prejudice.

Presently pending before the Court is Defendant Gary Bradley’s Motion to Suppress physical evidence discovered by Trooper Wesley Johnson (“Trooper Johnson”) as well as any statements Bradley made in connection therewith (“the Motion”). (Doc. 19). The facts of this case are not in dispute. Indeed, nearly the entire interaction was captured by a dashboard camera affixed to Trooper Johnson’s patrol car and a microphone affixed to his uniform. The matter has been fully briefed, (Docs. 19, 20, 24, 35, 39), and is ripe for disposition.

Currently pending before the Court are four motions to dismiss filed by Defendant Ben Wootton and joined by Defendant Race Miner by Order dated October 16, 2018. (Doc. 92). Those motions are as follows: Defendant Ben Wootton’s Motion to Dismiss Counts 1, 3–8, and 9 with Incorporated Brief, (Doc. 70), Defendant Ben Wootton’s Motion to Dismiss Count 9 – Failure to Allege Commission of a Crime, (Doc. 72), Defendant Ben Wootton’s Motion to Dismiss Count 2 – Duplicitous, (Doc. 73), Defendant Ben Wootton’s Motion to Dismiss Count 2 – Statute of Limitations, (Doc. 74). Also pending are Defendant Race Miner’s Motion to Dismiss Count 2, (Doc. 93), Defendant Race Miner’s Motion to Sever Defendant, (Doc. 98), and Defendant Ben Wootton’s Motion for Severance of Charges, (Doc. 71). All of these motions have been fully briefed and are ripe for disposition.

Chief Judge Christopher C. Conner

A jury found defendant Eugene Stallings, Jr. (“Stallings”), guilty of numerous drug-related offenses, including drug distribution resulting in death. Stallings was sentenced to 252 months’ imprisonment. Following an unsuccessful appeal, he moved to vacate his sentence pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255. Stallings seeks funds under 18 U.S.C. § 3006A(e)(1) to hire a medical expert to support one of the claims in his collateral attack. (Doc. 470). We will deny Stallings’ request for funds.

Petitioner Ronald W. Harshman (“Harshman”) is serving a sentence of life imprisonment without parole for first-degree murder. He filed an application for a writ of habeas corpus under 28 U.S.C. § 2254, seeking relief from his Pennsylvania murder conviction. Magistrate Judge Karoline Mehalchick recommends that the court grant Harshman’s Section 2254 petition. We agree with Judge Mehalchick’s recommendation and will grant the writ.

Plaintiff Advanced Fluid Systems, Inc. (“AFS”), commenced this civil action alleging that the collective defendants—a former employee and several of AFS’s competitors—colluded to misappropriate AFS’s trade secrets and deprive AFS of valuable business opportunities. All parties have zealously litigated this case, proceeding through multi-faceted Rule 12 motion practice, substantial discovery, and thorough summary judgment presentations. The case culminated in a six-day bench trial in September 2017, after which the court issued a 54-page memorandum opinion and awarded $3,096,009 in compensatory, exemplary, and punitive damages to AFS. All parties now seek post-trial relief pursuant to various Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.

Plaintiff John Steven Bizarre (“Bizarre”) appeals the decision of the administrative law judge (“ALJ”) denying Bizarre’s claim for disability insurance benefits and supplemental security income. (Doc. 1). Before the court are Bizarre’s complaint and the parties’ respective briefs in support of and in opposition thereto; the report of Magistrate Judge Joseph F. Saporito, Jr., recommending that the court deny the appeal; Bizarre’s objections to the report; and the response of the Acting Commissioner of Social Security (“Commissioner”).

In May of this year, we entered judgment in Pennsylvania Professional Liability Joint Underwriting Ass’n v. Wolf (“JUA I”), No. 1:17-CV-2041 (M.D. Pa.), declaring portions of Act 44 of 2017, P.L. 725, No. 44 (“Act 44”), to be violative of the Takings Clause of the Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution and permanently enjoining enforcement of the Act’s operative provisions. Finding the Pennsylvania Professional Liability Joint Underwriting Association (the “Joint Underwriting Association” or “Association”) to be a private entity and its assets to be private property, we concluded that the state cannot expropriate to its own use funds held in the Association’s coffers.
The General Assembly responded by enacting Act 41 of 2018, P.L. 273, No. 41 (“Act 41”), on June 22, 2018. Act 41 deploys JUA I as a blueprint, endeavoring to avoid the constitutional infirmities that felled Act 44. Specifically, Act 41 purports to transform the Joint Underwriting Association into a governmental entity housed within the Commonwealth’s Insurance Department (“Department”) and operating under the control and oversight of the Commonwealth’s Insurance Commissioner (“Commissioner”). It also seeks to accomplish indirectly what JUA I forbade the state from doing directly—forcing the transfer of the Association’s assets to the Department. By order of July 18, 2018, we preliminarily enjoined enforcement of Act 41 pending merits review of the Joint Underwriting Association’s constitutional claims. The parties’ cross-motions for summary judgment are now before the court.

Plaintiff Press and Journal, Inc. (“plaintiff”) filed this action alleging First Amendment violations by defendant Borough of Middletown (the “Borough”). The Borough moved to dismiss plaintiff’s claims pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b). (Doc. 12). We will deny the Borough’s motion to the extent it is grounded in Rule 12(b)(6).

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