Encompass Insurance v. Stone Mansion Restaurant — civil — partial affirmance — Chagares
The federal removal statute provides that, in a diversity case, a case may not be removed if “any of the parties in interest properly … served” is a citizen of the forum state. Here, a forum-state defendant successfully got its case out of state court by initially agreeing to accept service (instead of formal service) but then delaying that service until after it had removed. The plaintiff screamed bloody murder (“nonsensical,” “inconceivable”), but the Third Circuit affirmed the denial of remand on textual grounds. The court acknowledged that its holding may demonstrate “a need for a change in the law,” and it recognized that it could lead to future defendants gaming the removal statute by monitoring dockets and removing between filing and service (a pernicious practice termed “snap removal”) but said that it was up to Congress to fix it.
This opinion strikes me as a big deal and a viable candidate for en banc or certiorari review.
UPDATE: I’ve updated the post to correct an error of mine that appeals whiz Katherine Romano kindly pointed out to me. My original post mistakenly described the defendant as non-diverse rather than a forum defendant.
Kane v. Barger — civil rights — reversal — Fuentes
When a police officer interviewed a sexual-assault victim, alone, he allegedly pulled down her shorts and her shirt in order to view her injuries, questioned her “relentless[ly]” about whether her vagina was injured, used his personal cellphone to take pictures of her breasts and buttocks, and lied about photographing her, and admitted he lied because he didn’t want his girlfriend to be jealous. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of the officer on qualified immunity grounds, but today the Third Circuit reversed, emphatically holding that the officer’s actions violated the woman’s right to bodily integrity and that that right was clearly established.
Joining Fuentes were Chagares and Greenberg. The case was decided without oral argument.
Levins v. Healthcare Revenue Recovery Gp — civil / FDCPA — partial reversal — Jordan
A provision of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act requires a debt collector from using any name other than its “true name.” Today, the Third Circuit held that the plaintiffs stated a valid true-name violation where the company left debt-collection messages identifying itself using a name that was neither its full business name, the name under which it usually transacted business, or a commonly used acronym. The court rejected the plaintiffs’ related arguments under FDCPA’s caller-identity and deceptive-means provisions.
US v. Mayo — criminal — reversal — Jordan
The Third Circuit today vacated a criminal defendant’s sentence, holding that a conviction under Pennsylvania’s aggravated-assault statute, 18 Pa. Cons. Stat. § 2702(a)(1), does not qualify as a violent felony under the residual clause of ACCA, the Armed Career Criminal Act.
Joining Jordan were Chagares and Fuentes. Arguing counsel were Fritz Ulrich of the MDPA defender for the defendant and Carlo Marchioli of the MDPA US Attorney’s office for the government.