You are here

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

The instant case alleges a variety of wage-and-hour-related claims against Hershey Entertainment & Resorts Company resulting from Plaintiff Sicklesmith’s employment as a server. Plaintiff Sicklesmith brings his claims on behalf of himself and a group of similarly-situated Hershey employees.

Plaintiff Sicklesmith was employed by Defendant at the “Houlihan’s” restaurant in Hershey, Pennsylvania (“the Restaurant”) from approximately January 2017 until September 2019. (Doc. 1 at ¶¶ 7, 9). During his employment, Plaintiff Sicklesmith was paid the Pennsylvania hourly tipped minimum wage of $2.83, plus tips from customers of the Restaurant. (Id. at ¶ 10). This tipped minimum wage falls below the Pennsylvania minimum wage of $7.25, but such a practice is permitted by Department of Labor (“DOL”) regulations, providing that certain requirements are met. 29 C.F.R. §531.56(e). At issue here is whether Defendant complied with relevant regulations when it compelled Plaintiff Sicklesmith and the putative class to perform alleged non-tip-generating work while paying them the tipped minimum wage, as opposed to the higher minimum wage.

Plaintiff alleges that he and similarly-situated tipped servers employed by Defendant were required to perform impermissible “non-tip-producing work” during their shifts, including “rolling silverware; [sic] setting up drink stations, cleaning the soda machine, filling sauce containers, setting-up the salad cooler, preparing food, slicing fruit, sorting silverware and ramekins, and cleaning the Restaurant.” (Id. at ¶ 12). While performing such tasks, Plaintiff Sicklesmith claims, he and other servers were not earning tips, nor did Defendant pay them the higher minimum wage required by regulation.

Presently pending before the Court is Intervenor the Philadelphia Inquirer’s Objections to U.S. Magistrate Judge Martin C. Carlson’s Memorandum and Order of October 22, 2019, (Doc. 176), granting the Philadelphia Inquirer intervenor status but denying its request to unseal docket entries 45, 46, 48, 54, 55, 59, 80, 82, 85, and 86. (Doc. 178). Intervenor’s Objections have been fully briefed, (Docs. 179, 182, 186), and are ripe for disposition. For the reasons that follow, Intervenor’s Objections shall be overruled in part and sustained in part to the extent that we shall remand this matter back to Judge Carlson to mediate a resolution between the parties in accordance with this Opinion.

Presently pending before the Court is Defendant Premier Biotech, Inc.’s Motion to Dismiss Counts VII and VIII of Plaintiff’s Amended Complaint (“the Motion”). (Doc. 28). In her Amended Complaint, Plaintiff Samantha Amig alleges a variety of constitutional and state law claims against Mifflin and Juniata Counties, the Mifflin County Correctional Facility (“the Facility”), its Warden, several Facility Correction Officers, and Premier Biotech, Inc. (“Premier”) arising from her 45-day term of incarceration at the Facility. The claims relevant to the
instant motion relate to an allegedly defective urine drug test which was manufactured by Premier and administered to Plaintiff during her time at the Facility.

Plaintiff now alleges both a violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1983 (Count VII) and a product liability claim (Count VIII) against Premier for the harm caused her by their allegedly defective manufacture of the urine drug test she was administered. In the instant motion, Premier seeks to dismiss Plaintiff’s claims against it for failure to state a claim for which relief can be granted under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). The matter has been fully briefed and is ripe for disposition. For the reasons that follow, Premier’s Motion shall be denied in full.

Defendants the Milton Hershey School and the Hershey Trust Company, as Trustee for the Milton Hershey School Trust (collectively, "Defendants” or “the School”), operate a cost-free, not-for-profit, residential academy. Plaintiffs Julie Wartluft (“Wartluft”) and Frederick Bartels, Jr. (“Bartels”) are the parents of Abrielle Kira Bartels (“Abrielle”), a former student. In their amended complaint, Plaintiffs allege that, despite knowing that Abrielle suffered from depression and suicidal ideations, Defendants discharged her from their care under a “shadow policy” which mandated that students be expelled from the School after two mental health hospitalizations, even if those hospitalizations were recommended by school staff. (Doc. 29 at ¶ 108). Abrielle committed suicide shortly after her discharge. Wartluft and Bartels, in their individual capacities and in their capacities as administrators of the Estate of Abrielle Kira Bartels (“the Estate”), sought damages.

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.

On April 17, 2019, Defendant Keith Thomas Dougherty was charged by a grand jury in the Middle District of Pennsylvania with one count of mailing threatening communications to a federal district court judge in violation of 18 U.S.C. §876(c), and one count of using electronic mail to threaten another federal district court judge in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 875( c ). D.I. 1. To avoid any appearance of impropriety or conflict of interest, the case is being prosecuted by the United States Attorney for the Northern District of West Virginia. Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 292(b), the Chief Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for Third Circuit designated this Court to preside over the case. D.I. 8.

Pending before the Court are six motions filed by Defendant.

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.

Pages