Articles Posted in U.S. 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals

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The Sponsors formed West Run to construct and manage West Virginia University off-campus housing and retained CBRE to secure financing. CBRE provided prospective lenders with confidential information. Huntington’s predecessor loaned $39.975 million and construction began. A competing project (Copper Beach) was built across the street. West Run learned that Huntington had loaned $20 million for that project; West Run alleged that Huntington divulged to Copper Beach proprietary West Run information provided by CBRE. West Run‘s occupancy dropped from 95 percent to 64 percent. West Run sued, alleging that Huntington had breached its duty of good faith and fair dealing by financing Copper Beech. Two similar projects, involving the Sponsors, alleged breach of contract based on Huntington‘s failure to provide funds under their construction loan agreements. Huntington claimed that they had sold insufficient units to require Huntington to disburse additional funds under the agreements. The district court dismissed. The Third Circuit affirmed in part, holding that the complaint contained no corroborating facts that confidential information was disclosed and that no contract terms prohibited Huntington from lending to competitors. The court vacated with respect to the other projects for a chance to provide evidence showing that the pre-sale numbers in the original complaint were incorrect. View "W. Run Student Hous. v. Huntington Nat'l Bank" on Justia Law

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In 1987, Waterfront purchased 5.3 acres in Philadelphia’s Central Riverfront District, zoned G-2 industrial. In exchange for rezoning to C-4 commercial, for a mixed-use, high-rise project, Waterfront agreed to restrictive covenants. When financing became possible in 2005, Waterfront obtained a permit for demolishing existing structures and constructing a 28-story apartment tower and entered into a financing agreement with a construction start date of February 2006. Waterfront had to postpone construction. In March 2006, the city extended to the site a zoning overlay with a height restriction of 65 feet and a width restriction of 70 feet. Waterfront alleged mistake; that the area councilman admitted that inclusion of the site was a mistake; and that Mayor Street stated that he would not have signed it had he known that the height restriction applied to the site. Waterfront unsuccessfully sought repeal, but never applied for a permit under the ordinance and did not seek a variance. Waterfront filed suit. In 2010 the city rescinded application of the height restriction. The district court held that the rescission mooted federal constitutional claims, denied Waterfront’s motion to amend to attack the width restriction, and granted the city summary judgment on all other claims. The Third Circuit affirmed. View "CMR D.N. Corp. v. City of Philadelphia" on Justia Law

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The Port Authority’s subsidiary, PATH, operates the Grove Street Station in Jersey City. The Station was built in 1910. In 2000 PATH planned to expand the Station to accommodate larger trains and persons with disabilities, a project that would have involved construction of a new entrance and two elevators. After September 11, 2001, and the resulting closure of two stations, ridership increased at the Station. Concerned about congestion and safety, PATH scrapped its renovation plans and undertook a “fast track” project. Construction began in 2002 and concluded in 2005. Plaintiffs alleged that the renovations triggered an obligation under the Americans with Disabilities Act, 42 U.S.C. 12101–12213, to make the Station accessible to handicapped persons. They also alleged violations under New Jersey’s Law Against Discrimination and certain state construction code provisions. The district court dismissed, state-law claims on the basis that allowing such claims to proceed would violate the interstate compact between New York and New Jersey that created the Authority, but ordered the Authority to make the east entrance accessible. The Third Circuit affirmed dismissal of the state law claims, but remanded the ADA issue for trial on the issue of feasibility. View "Hip Heightened Indep. & Progress, Inc. v. Port Auth. of NY & NJ" on Justia Law

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Stoerr pled guilty to bid rigging, 15 U.S.C. 1; conspiracy to provide kickbacks and to defraud the United States, 18 U.S.C. 371; and assisting in the preparation of false tax returns, 26 U.S.C. § 7206(2). The convictions stemmed from kickback payments that Stoerr solicited and accepted from sub-contractors in connection with environmental remediation projects managed by Sevenson, his employer from 1980 to October 2003. In total, the district court determined that the scheme resulted in losses of $134,098.96 to the EPA and $257,129.22 to Tierra. After Sevenson learned of the kickbacks scheme, it paid Tierra approximately $241,000 to compensate for its losses. It then commenced a civil action against Stoerr in state court to recover its losses, and sought restitution in connection with Stoerr’s sentencing, under the Mandatory Victims Restitution Act, 18 U.S.C. 3663A, for reimbursement of the amount that it paid to Tierra. The district court denied Sevenson‟s request for restitution, instead ordering that Stoerr pay restitution to Tierra. The Third Circuit dismissed; as a non-party, Sevenson lacks standing to appeal. View "United States v. Stoerr" on Justia Law

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Andrews was designated as contractor for improvements to the sewage system, in a no-bid process involving kickbacks and bribery, having made numerous false statements in the bond application package. After the contract was terminated, he submitted a claim of $748,304, based on false statements and duplicate charges. Evidence indicated that Andrews was not capable of the project work and that the entire scheme was fraudulent. He was convicted of one count of conspiracy, 18 U.S.C. 371, four counts of wire fraud, 18 U.S.C. 1343, 1346, and 2, one count of program fraud, 18 U.S.C. 666(a)(1)(B) and 2, one count of making a false claim upon the Government of the Virgin Islands, 14 V.I.C. 843(4), and one count of inducing a conflict of interest, 3 V.I.C. 1102, 1103, and 1107. The Third Circuit affirmed the conviction, but remanded for resentencing. Errors in the indictment and jury instructions concerning honest services fraud did not affect substantial rights. Although the 151-month term of imprisonment was within the statutory maximum for Counts Two through Five, it exceeded the statutory maximum for Counts One and Six; it was not possible to determine whether the sentence was legal as to each count View "United States v. Andrew" on Justia Law

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The Pennsylvania Steel Products Procurement Act,73 Pa. Cons. Stat. 1881-1887, prohibits the use of temporary bridges made out of foreignsteel on public works projects. The district court rejected a claim that the law was preempted by the Buy America Act, 23 U.S.C. 313, and that it violated the Commerce Clause, Contract Clause, and Equal Protection Clause. The Third Circuit affirmed. The federal Act contemplates more restrictive state laws. The state law was authorized by Congress, is rational, and did not, at its enactment, impair plaintiff's existing contracts. View "Mabey Bridge & Shore, Inc. v. Schoch" on Justia Law

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The Secretary of Labor cited the refinery for nine "serious" violations of the asbestos in construction standard, which prescribes protective requirements based on measurable concentration of asbestos fibers to which employees are or may be exposed. The ALJ affirmed the violations and the classification. The Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission reduced the classification to "other than serious" under 29 U.S.C. 666, in part because the Secretary failed to present case-specific evidence of possible employee exposure to asbestos. The Third Circuit vacated and remanded for the citations to be affirmed as "serious." Precedent only requires that there could be exposure to asbestos that is substantially probable to lead to serious harm. Applying this standard, the violations were "serious;" there is no need for case-specific evidence. If the Secretary has shown violations of regulations involving Class II work and the presence of asbestos, the burden shifts to the employer to show that the violations were not "serious." View "Sec'y of Labor v. ConocoPhillips Bayway Ref." on Justia Law

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Developer refused to pay nearly $6.5 million under the prime contract ($5 million was due subcontractors) claiming deficient work. General contractor declined to pay a subcontractor, who sued on the surety bond. The surety asserted that term 6.f conditioned subcontractor's right to payment on contractor's receipt of payment. In the meantime, contractor settled with developer for $1 million--all it was able to pay--and subcontractor declined a pro rata share in return for a release of claims. The district court granted partial summary judgments in favor of subcontractor for an amount $91,790 less than the claimed $1,074,260. The Third Circuit reversed interpretation of the subcontract and rejection of surety's claim for proportional offset for legal fees incurred in the suit against developer, but affirmed denial of subcontractor's waiver claim, and remanded. The parties intended to share the risk of non-payment. Under 6f developer's payment to contractor is a condition precedent to contractor's obligation to pay subcontractor, yielding after six months to provide a mechanism that specifies when and for how much subcontractor may sue contractor. The contract created a mechanism for passing through subcontractor's remaining claims and pegging recovery to the amount that contractor received from developer for subcontractor's work. View "Sloan & Co. v. Liberty Mut. Ins. Co." on Justia Law