Busy Days at the Third Circuit, Part 2

Yesterday’s post noted that the Third Circuit has published a number of opinions in recent days. Here are summaries of some more of those opinions, all of which emanate from the District of New Jersey:

In re Remicade (Direct Purchaser) Antitrust Litig., 938 F.3d 515 (3d Cir. 2019). This appeal, in an antitrust action, centered on whether plaintiffs were required by contract to arbitrate the antitrust claims instead of litigating them in court. The parties had agreed to arbitrate all claims “arising out of or relating to” a distribution contract between them. Plaintiff’s claim was that defendants’ allegedly wrongful conduct caused plaintiff to pay higher prices for purchased under the distribution contract. The District Court declined to compel arbitration. But the Third Circuit reversed in an opinion by Judge Krause, which held that the claims did arise out of or relate to the distribution contract.

North Sound Capital, LLC v. Merck & Co., Inc., 938 F.3d 482 (3d Cir. 2019). The question in this appeal, in which the panel opinion was again written by Judge Krause, was whether the Securities Litigation Uniform Standards Act (“SLUSA”) bars investors who have excluded themselves from a class action from bringing individual actions under state law. The District Court dismissed the opt-out cases. On appeal, however, the Third Circuit, by a 2-1 vote, reversed. Judge Krause, joined by Judge Bibas, held that because the opt-out cases and the class action were not “joined, consolidated, or otherwise proceed[ing] as a single action for any purpose,” the language of SLUSA, that statute did not mandate dismissal. Judge Shwartz was the dissenter.

In re Hackler, 938 F.3d 473 (3d Cir. 2019). Judge Roth wrote the opinion in this bankruptcy appeal. The issue, one of first impression, was “whether a transfer of real estate title conducted via New Jersey’s tax foreclosure procedures may be voided as ‘preferential’ under [section] 547(b) of the Bankruptcy Code.” Both the Bankruptcy Court and the District Court voided the transfer, and the Third Circuit, relying on the “plain language of the Bankruptcy Code,” affirmed.

Weber v. McGrogan, 939 F.3d 232 (3d Cir. 2019). A New Jersey state court custody case spawned this matter, in which plaintiff sued dozens of defendants, including multiple Superior Court judges, Governor Christie, Senator Menendez, and many others. Judge Matey wrote the panel’s opinion, which resulted in a dismissal of the appeal for lack of a final order. Fans of classic literature will appreciate Judge Matey’s repeated references to James Joyce’s Ulysses in the course of his opinion.