Catching up With the Third Circuit

In the recent period, the Third Circuit has published a small number of opinions. Here are summaries of some of those decisions:

Mallet and Company Inc. v. Lacayo, ___ F.4th ___ (3d Cir. 2021). This was a trade secret and unfair competition case. The specific subject was “baking release agents,” which are “lubricants that allow baked goods to readily separate from the containers in which they are made,” according to Judge Jordan’s opinion for the panel. Employees of plaintiff left that company to join defendants, allegedly taking with them trade secrets related to baking release agents. The District Court issued a preliminary injunction that forbade defendants from competing with plaintiff. The Third Circuit found the injunction to be “flawed” because “the District Court did not identify with specificity the information it found to be Mallet’s trade secrets,” rendering appellate review impossible. The injunction was vacated, and the case was remanded for further consideration of “what, if any, equitable relief is warranted and what sum Mallet should be required to post in a bond as ‘security … proper to pay the costs and damages sustained by any party found to have been wrongfully enjoined or restrained.’ Fed. R. Civ. P. 65(c).”

Hepp v. Facebook, ___ F.4th ___ (3d Cir. 2021). Judge Hardiman wrote the panel’s opinion in this case. The first paragraph of his opinion well summarizes the case and the result. “Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act of 1996 bars many claims against internet service providers. See 47 U.S.C. § 230(c). But Section 230 does not bar intellectual
property claims. § 230(e)(2). The question presented in this appeal is whether a Philadelphia newscaster’s state-law claims for violating her right of publicity are precluded by § 230. Because those claims are encompassed within the intellectual property carve-out, § 230(e)(2), we hold they are not

In re Citizens Bank, N.A., ___ F.4th ___ (3d Cir. 2021). In this Fair Labor Standards Act matter, which involved both a collective action under that statute and a putative class action, the District Court scheduled a trial on the key factual issue in the case before determining whether it would certify a class in the putative class action.” Citizens Bank objected to that, and when it could not get satisfaction at the District Court, the bank sought a writ of mandamus from the Third Circuit. That court stayed the trial and explained its reasons for doing so in an opinion by Chief Judge Smith. In the interim, the District Judge withdrew from the case, and the panel found the mandamus application moot in part, vacated the stay, and remanded the matter for reassignment.