By: Alix Fequiere
What does the Trump Campaign’s lawsuit challenging the 2020 Election Results have in common with a Fair Housing Act lawsuit premised upon a woman leaving her walker unattended in a Condominium lobby?
In Vorchheimer v. Philadelphian Owners Assoc., the plaintiff Carol Vorchheimer alleged that her condominium homeowners association, its Board President, and General Manager violated the Fair Housing Act by refusing to allow Ms. Vorchheimer to leave her walker unattended in the condominium lobby while she was not in the building. Ward Law attorney Christopher M. Curci represented the defendants and moved to the dismiss the Complaint, arguing that Ms. Vorchheimer failed to plead sufficient facts to state her claim as a matter of law. The trial court agreed and granted the Motion to Dismiss.
Ms. Vorchheimer then appealed to the Third Circuit Court of Appeals. Mr. Curci briefed and argued the issue of first impression before a panel of Third Circuit judges, including Judge Stephanos Bibas. Judge Bibas, appointed to the Third Circuit by President Donald Trump in 2017, wrote a published and precedential opinion upholding the dismissal. Judge Bibas’ colorful opinion quoted the Rolling Stones, “You can’t always get what you want,” and concluded by stating that Ms. Vorchheimer would not be permitted to further amend her Complaint because doing so would be “futile.”
Fast forward to November 2020, when the Trump Campaign sued seven Pennsylvania counties as well as its Secretary of State, alleging violations of Due Process, Equal Protection, and Elections Clauses of the U.S. Constitution. After the defendants moved to dismiss the Complaint, the Trump Campaign sought leave to further amend its allegations. The trial court denied its request, and the Trump Campaign appealed to the Third Circuit.
Which brings us back to Judge Bibas and Ms. Vorchheimer’s walker. Judge Bibas once again wrote the Third Circuit’s decision in the Trump Campaign appeal. The decision acknowledged that the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure permits plaintiffs to amend a Complaint “when justice so requires.” However, in quoting his prior opinion in Vorchheimer v. Philadelphian Owners Ass’n, courts “must grant leave to amend the complaint unless amendment would be futile or inequitable.” Judge Bibas then went on to lay out the ways the Trump Campaign’s Second Amended Complaint was both “futile” and “inequitable.”
This goes to show that it’s pretty much impossible to overcome precedent, even when you’re President! As the song goes, “You can’t always get what you want.” From walkers to the White House, we expect Mr. Curci will receive a call from Aaron Sorkin’s office regarding story rights!