Articles Posted in U.S. 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals

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The Port Authority’s subsidiary, PATH, operates the Grove Street Station in Jersey City. The Station was built in 1910. In 2000 PATH planned to expand the Station to accommodate larger trains and persons with disabilities, a project that would have involved construction of a new entrance and two elevators. After September 11, 2001, and the resulting closure of two stations, ridership increased at the Station. Concerned about congestion and safety, PATH scrapped its renovation plans and undertook a “fast track” project. Construction began in 2002 and concluded in 2005. Plaintiffs alleged that the renovations triggered an obligation under the Americans with Disabilities Act, 42 U.S.C. 12101–12213, to make the Station accessible to handicapped persons. They also alleged violations under New Jersey’s Law Against Discrimination and certain state construction code provisions. The district court dismissed, state-law claims on the basis that allowing such claims to proceed would violate the interstate compact between New York and New Jersey that created the Authority, but ordered the Authority to make the east entrance accessible. The Third Circuit affirmed dismissal of the state law claims, but remanded the ADA issue for trial on the issue of feasibility. View "Hip Heightened Indep. & Progress, Inc. v. Port Auth. of NY & NJ" on Justia Law

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Philadelphia International Airport is the ninth busiest airport in the U.S. Since 1999, PHL has been among the 10 most delayed airports and has contributed to delays at airports nationwide because its runways are too short, too close together, and too few. After receiving the City’s proposal for expansion in 2003, the FAA prepared an Environmental Impact Statement. In 2008 the FAA published a three-volume, 900-page draft EIS. The EPA submitted comments, citing alleged data omissions in the FAA’s analysis. The FAA considered and responded to each of the EPA’s comments in the final EIS. Although disagreements remained, in 2010, the FAA published its Record of Decision, which approved the expansion and delineated reasons for approval, including a finding that the project was reasonably consistent with existing plans of public agencies for development of areas surrounding the airport, as required by the Airport and Airway Improvement Act (AAIA), 49 U.S.C. 47106(a)(1. Objectors alleged violations of the National Environmental Policy Act, 42 U.S.C. 4321 and the AAIA. The Third Circuit denied review, finding that the FAA decision was not arbitrary. View "Twp. of Tinicum v. U.S. Dep't of Transp." on Justia Law

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The federal government has maintained navigation in the Delaware River for more than 100 years. In 1992, the Army Corps of Engineers published an Environmental Impact Statement, recommending deepening of five feet along 102-miles. The EIS identified potential adverse impacts, but concluded these would be minimal and were outweighed by benefits of reduced shipping costs. In 1997, after engineering, the Corps published a Supplemental EIS. The project stalled until 2008, when the Philadelphia River Port Authority agreed to share costs. Improved technology reduced the amount of sediment; wetlands restoration was deferred. An oil spill had increased sediment toxicity. Expected expansion of sturgeon, potentially increased blasting risks. A 2009 Environmental Assessment recommended the project proceed. The district court rejected state challenges under the Coastal Zone Management Act, which requires a “consistency determination” for any state whose coastal zone will be affected, 16 U.S.C. 1456(c)(1); the Clean Water Act, which requires compliance with state water pollution law, 33 U.S.C. 1323(a); and the National Environmental Policy Act, 42 U.S.C. 4321. The states had attempted to revoke CZMA clearances. The Third Circuit affirmed, noting that dredging has begun. The 2009 EA was not arbitrary. CWA’s “congressionally authorized” exception to state approvals applies. The Corps reasonably concluded that it need not provide supplemental CZMA consistency determinations to states. View "State of DE v. U.S. Army Corps of Eng'rs" on Justia Law

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The insured was driving his pickup truck when he was injured after swerving to avoid a cardboard box lying in the middle of his lane. Allstate stipulated that an unidentified vehicle dropped the box, but rejected a claim for uninsured motorist benefits and sought a declaratory judgment. The insured responded with counterclaims for breach of contract and insurance bad faith under 42 Pa. Cons. Stat.8371. The district court entered judgment for Allstate, finding that the injuries did not "arise out of ownership, maintenance or use of an uninsured auto." The Third Circuit reversed, rejecting an argument that the harm was caused by a box, not a vehicle. Physical contact with an uninsured vehicle is not required for an accident to "arise out of" the use of an uninsured vehicle. Accepting for purposes of appeal that an unidentified vehicle that dropped the box was an uninsured vehicle, there is a sufficient causal connection. The court noted that the insurance law is to be liberally construed in order to afford the greatest possible coverage to injured claimants. View "Allstate Prop. & Cas. v. Squire" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff was unloading a railway tank car filled with sulfuric acid when its chemical contents exploded, spraying across his face and chest and inflicting severe burns. He sought damages under the common law, but the district court held that his lawsuit was preempted by the Hazardous Materials Transportation Act, 49 U.S.C. 5101–5128. The Third Circuit affirmed. The Act expressly preempts any common law requirement about the design of a package, container, or packaging component qualified for use in transporting hazardous materials in commerce. The tank car at issue is a container qualified for such use, regardless of whether what plaintiff was doing constituted transport or his employment status at the precise moment of his injury. View "Roth v. Noralfco, LLC" on Justia Law