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Media Alerts - J. Lightner v. 1621 Route 22 West Operating Co. - Third Circuit
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September 11, 2013
  J. Lightner v. 1621 Route 22 West Operating Co. - Third Circuit
Headline: Third Circuit Dismisses NLRB Action After Board Decision

Area of Law: National Labor Relations Act

Issue(s) Presented: Whether the District Court's order and opinion granting in part and denying in part a temporary injunction should be vacated after an administrative decision rendered the injunction moot?

Brief Summary: The NLRB sought temporary injunctive relief against Somerset Valley Rehabilitation and Nursing Center in the District Court while administrative proceedings on charges of unfair labor practices were pending. The District Court granted in part and denied in part the NLRB's petition. Both the NLRB and Somerset Valley appealed to the Third Circuit, however the NLRB Board then issued a decision which rendered the temporary injunctive relief moot. The Third Circuit dismissed the parties' appeal and cross-appeal as moot and remanded the case to the District Court with the direction that the court vacate its opinion and order. The Third Circuit reasoned that the Board's decision rendered the appeals moot, but that neither party relinquished its challenge to the District Court's opinion and order giving temporary injunctive relief, and that vacating the prior opinion and order protects the parties from any adverse legal consequences of an unreviewed opinion.

Extended Summary: In 2010, the Regional Director of Region 22 of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), J. Michael Lightner, brought charges of unfair labor practices against Somerset Valley Rehabilitation and Nursing Center. The NLRB sought temporary injunctive relief in the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey while administrative proceedings were pending on the complaint. The injunctive relief sought to prevent the Center from engaging in practices that violate the National Labor Relations Act and to reinstate certain employees. The District Court granted in part and denied in part the NLRB's petition. The court enjoined Somerset Valley from interfering with its employees' interaction with their labor union and also held that two discharged employees were required to be reinstated. However, the Court denied reinstatement of two other employees or to order rescission of notices of discipline against some employees. Both the NLRB and Somerset Valley appealed to the Third Circuit. The NLRB then issued a decision which rendered the temporary injunctive relief moot. As a result, the Board filed a motion to dismiss the appeals and to instruct the District Court to vacate its opinion and order.

The Third Circuit held that because the Board made a decision on the merits of the complaint against Somerset Valley, the pursuit of temporary injunctive relief was moot. The Third Circuit then considered whether the District Court's judgment should be vacated. The Court held that because the complaint against Somerset Valley was resolved on the merits in an administrative proceeding separate from the temporary injunction, the NLRB did not forfeit its right to a legal remedy on appeal. Somerset Valley argued that the District Court's opinion was still relevant because the NLRB took judicial notice of certain testimony offered in the District Court and asked the Court to rely on that testimony in another action involving the parties. The Third Circuit held that vacating the opinion and order would have no effect on either party's ability to rely on facts from the record. To read the full opinion, click on the following link:
http://www2.ca3.uscourts.gov/opinarch/122122p.pdf



Panel: Circuit Judges Ambro, Smith, and Chagares

Argument Date: 10/12/2012

Argument Location: Philadelphia

Date of Issued Opinion: 09/4/2013

Docket Number: Nos. 12-2122 & 12-2726

Decided: Vacated

Case Alert Author: Larissa Staszkiw

Counsel: Elinor L. Merberg, Esquire, Dexter E. Sutton, Sr., Esquire, Saulo Santiago, Esquire Michael P. Silverstein, Esquire, and Laura T. Vazquez, Esquire, National Labor Relations Board, Counsel for Appellant/Cross-Appellee; Rosemary Alito, Esquire and George P. Barbatsuly, Esquire, K&L Gates, Counsel for Appellee/Cross-Appellant; Ellen Dichner, Esquire and William S. Massey, Esquire, Gladstein, Reif & Meginniss, Amicus Counsel for Appellee

Author of Opinion: Judge Ambro

Circuit: 3rd Circuit

Case Alert Circuit Supervisor: Professor Mary E. Levy

    Posted By: Susan DeJarnatt @ 09/11/2013 01:22 PM     3rd Circuit  

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