On June 13, 2012, Chief Judge Kane entered judgment in favor of Defendant in part and in favor of Plaintiff in part. The genesis of this action was a traffic stop initiated by Defendant, a police officer, of a car in which Plaintiff was riding as a passenger. Plaintiff began recording the stop, and when Defendant noticed Plaintiff was recording Defendant seized Plaintiff’s camera and called a district attorney to inquire whether Plaintiff’s actions constituted a violation of the Pennsylvania Wiretap Act. The district attorney informed Defendant that he had probable cause to make an arrest, and Defendant arrested Plaintiff. It was later determined that Defendant did not have probable cause to effectuate an arrest. Accordingly, Plaintiff sued the police officer for violations of his Fourth Amendment rights in seizing the camera and placing him under arrest. The Court ultimately determined that because Defendant made a reasonably and in good faith relied on the district attorney’s advice in making the arrest, that he was entitled to qualified immunity on the Fourth Amendment claim arising from the arrest. The Court further determined, however, that Defendant was not entitled to qualified immunity for the seizure of the camera because he did not rely on a legal authority in taking that action and the law was clearly established that Plaintiff was not committing a violation of the Wiretap Act.
On June 4, 2012, Chief Judge Kane granted in part Plaintiff’s motion for judgment on the pleadings. In this action, Plaintiff Federal Insurance sought a declaration that the insurance policy provided to the Second Mile and its directors and officers did not cover costs associated with various civil and criminal actions against Defendant Gerald Sandusky related to allegations of child sexual abuse. The Court found that the public policy of Pennsylvania precluded an insurance policy from reimbursing Defendant for any civil damage award that he may ultimately be found to owe arising from the sexual abuse of a child. The Court reserved ruling on the question of whether the public policy of Pennsylvania barred insurance coverage for civil and criminal defense costs.
On March 20, 2012, Chief Judge Kane granted Defendants’ motion to dismiss Plaintiff’s complaint. Plaintiff argued that her employer had discriminated against her based on her gender and religion, which resulted in a hostile work environment. Upon review, the Court found that Plaintiff’s complaint was barred by the statute of limitations and dismissed the complaint with prejudice.
On January 26, 2012, Chief Judge Kane granted in part Defendant Blue Cross’s motion to dismiss and granted Defendant South Williamsport School District and Defendant Lycoming Trust’s motion for judgment on the pleadings. In this action, Plaintiff filed a lawsuit alleging breach of a fiduciary duty as well as several claims filed pursuant to the Employee Retirement Income Security Act after Defendants denied coverage for Plaintiff’s spinal surgery. The Court determined that Plaintiff’s breach of fiduciary duty and ERISA claims could proceed against Defendant Blue Cross. The Court found, however, that Plaintiff failed to plead sufficient facts to support a breach of contract claim and that Plaintiff’s claims against Defendants South Williamsport and Lycoming Trust were preempted by ERISA.
On April 23, 2012, Chief Judge Kane granted two motions to dismiss and granted in part one motion to dismiss in this matter. Plaintiff was charged and ultimately acquitted of aggravated assault and endangering the welfare of children related to injuries sustained by his infant child. As a result of the charges, Plaintiff’s children were temporarily removed from the custody of Plaintiff and their mother. Plaintiff ultimately filed suit alleging violations of his constitutional rights against three groups of defendants: (1) employees of Franklin County; (2) employees of the Chambersburg Borough; and (3) employees of the Penn State Milton Hershey Medical Center. The Court found that Plaintiff’s allegations regarding the Medical Center’s opinion that the injuries sustained by Plaintiff’s child was the result of abuse did not state a Constitutional violation. Similarly, the Court found that the decision to remove Plaintiff’s children from his custody and institute a voluntary safety plan following the child abuse allegations did not violate Plaintiff’s right to familial integrity. The Court did, however, determine that allegations regarding whether the extension of the safety plan beyond thirty days without a Court order may state a claim. Accordingly, at this early stage, the Court denied the Franklin County Defendants’ motion to dismiss that claim.
On May 3, 2012, Chief Judge Kane granted in part the motion to dismiss of Defendants Bucknell University and various Bucknell employees and the motion to dismiss of Defendant Anothony Voci. Plaintiff, a Bucknell student, filed this suit after the University and several of its employees initiated sexual misconduct proceedings against him, which Plaintiff contends were commenced without proper process and with the knowledge that the allegations were false. Plaintiff also filed suit against his alleged victim’s attorney alleging, among other things, defamation and conspiracy. The Court dismissed without prejudice a number of claims, but concluded that Plaintiff’s claims for fraud, breach of contract, false arrest, intentional infliction of emotional distress, malicious prosecution, tortious interference, and defamation could proceed as to some of the Defendants.
On January 13, 2012, Chief Judge Kane granted Defendant Milton Hershey School’s motion to dismiss and dismissed Plaintiff’s complaint with prejudice. The lawsuit arose from Defendant’s decision to expel Plaintiff from the school, which Plaintiff alleged violated his rights under the United States Constitution pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 as well as the Americans with Disabilities Act. The Court found that Defendant was not a state actor, and thus not subject to liability under Section 1983. Finally, the Court found that because Plaintiff failed to allege a disability or discrimination based on a disability the Americans with Disabilities Act claim failed as a matter of law.
On May 18, 2012, Chief Judge Kane granted Defendants’ motion for a new trial in a civil rights lawsuit brought by a former student and her parents against the Pleasant Valley School District, her principal, and her history teacher. The Court determined that the jury verdict against the School District was inconsistent with the verdict in favor of the principal, and thus a new trial was required on that issue. The Court further found that the jury verdict as to the claims against the teacher and in support of damages was against the weight of the evidence. Finally, the Court concluded that the conduct of Plaintiffs’ counsel was sufficiently prejudicial to warrant a new trial.
On June 5, 2012, Chief Judge Kane granted Plaintiff State Auto’s motion for summary judgment and denied Defendants’ cross motions for summary judgment. This matter was instituted to determine Plaintiff’s obligations pursuant to an insurance policy it had issued to a tavern regarding a lawsuit filed by a former patron. The patron alleged that he had been overserved alcohol at the tavern and was permitted to leave in an intoxicated condition. The patron alleged that as a result of the tavern’s conduct when he attempted to cross the street outside the bar he was stuck by an automobile which caused severe injuries. The patron sued the tavern and the tavern sought insurance coverage. The Court found that the conduct alleged by the patron fell within the insurance policy’s liquor liability exclusion, and as a result held that the tavern’s insurance company was not responsible for defending and indemnifying the tavern in a lawsuit by the patron.
On April 16, 2012, Chief Judge Kane denied Plaintiffs’ motion to reconsider an order compelling arbitration in this matter. The Court, relying on the Supreme Court’s decision in AT&T v. Concepcion had previously ordered that the parties proceed to arbitration in November 22, 2011. Plaintiffs argued that a decision issued by the National Labor Relations Board in In re D.R. Horton represented an intervening change in controlling law that required the Court to reconsider its prior order. The Court ultimately determined that its prior interpretation of AT&T v. Concepcion was correct, and that to the extent In re D.R. Horton was inconsistent, the Court declined to follow the decision.