Articles Tagged with Third Circuit Court

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On May 23, 2024, after nearly a year of motions practice, Judge George L. Russell III of the United States District Court for the District of Maryland granted plaintiff’s motion to remand its putative class action to state court. Serving as local counsel, Silverman Thompson filed the class action in the Circuit Court for Baltimore City on January 19, 2023. The plaintiff, who has been employed as an hourly, non-exempt worker at Johns Hopkins Hospital (“Johns Hopkins”) for over thirty years, contends that Johns Hopkins has a policy of rounding employees’ hours resulting in illegal withholding of wages, failure to pay minimum wage, and failure to pay overtime wages in violation of the Maryland Wage Payment and Collection Law.

Johns Hopkins removed the matter to federal court more than seven months after receiving the complaint on the basis of federal question jurisdiction. Johns Hopkins argued that the United States District Court for the District of Maryland had jurisdiction pursuant to Section 301 of the Labor Management Relations Act, which provides the court subject matter jurisdiction over employment disputes governed by collective bargaining agreements. Plaintiff promptly filed a motion to remand maintaining that Johns Hopkins’ removal was untimely – in accordance with 28 U.S.C. § 1446, Johns Hopkins had thirty days following receipt of the complaint to file a notice of dismissal.

In its opposition, Johns Hopkins declared that its removal was timely because it first became aware on August 11, 2023, after analyzing the plaintiff’s opposition to Johns Hopkins’s motion for summary judgment, that the resolution of the claims brought against it require interpretation of a collective bargaining agreement. Consequently, Johns Hopkins argued that it filed its notice of removal twenty days after its alleged discovery and within the time limitation prescribed in 28 U.S.C. § 1446.

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In fall 2021, Silverman Thompson filed suit in federal court in Pennsylvania on behalf of a provider of inmate communication services for prisons. The suit alleged that just as Silverman Thompson’s client was about to finalize a contract with a county prison, the incumbent service provider and business rival used illegal, anti-competitive tactics to scuttle the deal and secure a renewal of its contract with the prison. After extensive preliminary motions practice, the district court dismissed the complaint for failure to state a claim, but gave Silverman Thompson’s client the opportunity to amend. Confident in its claims as drafted by Silverman Thompson, the client elected to stand on the complaint and appealed the dismissal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit.

After briefing and oral argument in the Third Circuit led by Silverman Thompson attorneys, the client’s choice was vindicated in December 2023 when the appeals court issued an opinion vacating the dismissal and remanding for further proceedings in the district court to more fully evaluate whether the complaint stated claims under Pennsylvania common law.

On remand, the district court re-examined whether the complaint adequately alleged “independently actionable conduct” by the business rival sufficient to state a claim for tortious interference.  Finding that the complaint had adequately alleged defamation of Silverman Thompson’s client as a means of preventing it from getting the contract, the court denied the motion to dismiss the tortious interference claim.  The case will now go forward to discovery.

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