Articles Posted in U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit

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The Lansaws operated a daycare in space leased from Zokaites. After they entered into a new lease with a different landlord, but before they moved, Zokaites served them with a Notice for Distraint, claiming a lien against personal property for unpaid rent. The following day, the Lansaws filed for bankruptcy, triggering the automatic stay, 11 U.S.C. 362(a). Zokaites’s attorney was notified of the filing on August 17, 2006. On August 21, Zokaites and his attorney entered the daycare during business hours, by following a parent, and photographed the Lansaws’ personal property. On August 27, Zokaites entered after business hours, using his key, then padlocked the doors, leaving a note stating that Zokaites would not unchain the doors unless Mrs. Lansaw’s mother agreed that she had not been assaulted by Zokaites, the Lansaws reaffirmed their lease with Zokaites, and the Lansaws ceased removing property from the daycare. The Lansaws removed the chains and slept in the building. Zokaites locked the door from the outside and left with the Lansaws’ keys. The Lansaws called the police. Meanwhile, Zokaites attorney communicated by phone and letter with the new landlord, stating that, if the new lease was not terminated, Zokaites would sue the new landlord. In an adversary proceeding, the Bankruptcy Court awarded the Lansaws attorney fees ($2,600), emotional-distress damages ($7,500) and punitive damages ($40,000) under 11 U.S.C. 362(k)(1). The district court and Third Circuit affirmed. Section 362(k)(1) authorizes the award of emotional-distress damages; the Lansaws presented sufficient evidence to support the award. View "In re: Lansaw" on Justia Law

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The apartment building, constructed in 1912, was used first as a factory, before it was abandoned. Goldtex purchased the the building in 2010 and hired KlingStubbins to design a plan to convert the entire building into rental apartment units and retail space. The building was almost gutted for conversion into a residential building with 163 apartment units and ground floor retail space that began accepting tenants in 2013. A housing advocacy group filed suit alleging violation of the design and accessibility requirements of the Fair Housing Act (FHA), 42 U.S.C. 3604(f)(3)(C). The district court dismissed, citing HUD’s interpretation of the provision—which exempts converted buildings from the accessibility requirements if they were constructed prior to March 13, 1991. The Third Circuit affirmed, finding the agency’s interpretation entitled to deference. The interpretations are reasonable and reflect a legitimate policy choice by the agency in administering an ambiguous statute. View "Fair Hous. Rights Ctr. v. Post Goldtex GP LLC" on Justia Law

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Bare Exposure operates “Atlantic City’s Only All Nude Entertainment.” HMS, a private corporation, leases expressway service plazas from the South Jersey Transportation and New Jersey Turnpike Authorities to operate restaurants and convenience stores. The Authorities are not involved in day-to-day operations or management, but only perform long-term maintenance to parking areas, building exteriors, and lobbies. HMS entered into a contract, allowing CTM to install and service brochure display racks in plaza lobbies. HMS “must approve all brochures or publications” before placement. The Authorities were not a party to the CTM contract. HMS discovered a Bare Exposure brochure in a CTM display rack. HMS instructed CTM to remove all Bare Exposure brochures. HMS did not consult with or receive any direction from the Authorities and did not consider the New Jersey Administrative Code. The Authorities never directed HMS to take any actions regarding the brochures. Bare Exposure contends that the Authorities placed government signs and photographs in lobbies and filed suit under 42 U.S.C. 1983 alleging that HMS violated the First and Fourteenth Amendments. The Third Circuit affirmed summary judgment in favor of HMS. HMS did act not “under color of any statute, ordinance, regulation, custom, or usage, of any State,” absent direct involvement by state authorities either in the decision to remove the brochures or in general plaza operations. View "P.R.B.A. Corp. v. HMS Host Toll Roads, Inc." on Justia Law