Antonio v. SSA Security, Inc.

Plaintiffs, homebuyers, filed suit against SSA, a security company, after homes were damaged or destroyed due to arson. On appeal, plaintiffs challenged the district court's grant of summary judgment in SSA's favor. The court affirmed the district court's decision to grant SSA's renewed motion for summary judgment as to plaintiffs' negligence-based claims where, under Maryland law, plaintiffs did not own their homes at the time of the arsons and suffered only emotional injuries. The court certified the following question to the Court of Appeals of Maryland: Does the Maryland Security Guards Act, Md. Code Ann., Bus. Occ. & Prof. § 19-501, impose liability beyond common law principles of respondeat superior such that an employer may be responsible for off-duty criminal acts of an employee if the employee planned any part of the off-duty criminal acts while he or she was on duty? View "Antonio v. SSA Security, Inc." on Justia Law

United States v. Cobler

Defendant was convicted of production, possession, and transportation of child pornography, in connection with his sexual molestation of a four-year-old boy. On appeal, defendant challenged the imposition of a 120-year sentence, arguing that the prison sentence was disproportionate to his crimes and constituted cruel and unusual punishment under the Eighth Amendment. The court rejected defendant's constitutional challenges and concluded that the district court did not abuse its discretion in imposing a sentence designed to protect the public and to address the seriousness of defendant's crimes. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment of the district court. View "United States v. Cobler" on Justia Law

Whiteside v. United States

Petitioner appealed the district court's dismissal of his motion to vacate his sentence. The court concluded that petitioner could use a 28 U.S.C. 2255 motion to challenge a sentence that was based on the career offender enhancement under the Sentencing Guidelines when subsequent case law revealed the enhancement to be inapplicable to him. The court held that equitable tolling applied to petitioner's claim and the erroneous application of the career offender enhancement amounted to a fundamental miscarriage of justice that can be corrected on collateral review. Accordingly, the court granted a certificate of appealability, vacated petitioner's sentence, and remanded for resentencing. View "Whiteside v. United States" on Justia Law

T-Mobile Northeast LLC v. The Loudoun Cty. Bd.

T-Mobile filed suit under the Telecommunications Act of 1996, 47 U.S.C. 332(c)(7)(B), challenging the Board's denial of T-Mobile's application for permits to build two telecommunications towers in Loudoun County - one disguised as a bell tower and one disguised as a silo on a farm. The district court concluded that the Board improperly denied T-Mobile's application for the silo tower and affirmed the Board's decision denying permits for the bell tower. The court concluded that the Board's decision to deny T-Mobile's Bell Tower Site application was supported by substantial evidence; did not have the effect of prohibiting the provision of personal wireless services in view of the possibility of other alternatives; and was not made on the basis of health concerns about radio frequency emissions. In regards to the Silo Site, the court concluded that while the aesthetic concerns that the Board gave for denying T-Mobile's application were supported by substantial evidence, its decision to base the denial of T-Mobile's application on improper environmental concerns about radio frequency emissions was prohibited by the Act. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment of the district court. View "T-Mobile Northeast LLC v. The Loudoun Cty. Bd." on Justia Law

Kolon Indus. Inc. v. E. I. DuPont De Nemour

DuPont filed suit against Kolon, alleging the theft and misappropriation of its Kevlar trade secrets (the trade secrets case). Kolon's answer included the instant counterclaim (the antitrust case), alleging that DuPont had illegally monopolized and attempted to monopolize the U.S. para-aramid market through its supply agreements with high-volume para-aramid customers. Para-aramid is a strong, complex synthetic fiber used in body armor, tires, fiber optic cables, and a variety of other industrial products. The court concluded that following United States v. Owens, recusals under 28 U.S.C. 455(b) include a judicially implied timely-filing requirement, and that the district court acted within its discretion when it denied Kolon's recusal motion on timeliness grounds. The court deferred to the district court's considerable discretion in overseeing discovery and will not disturb its discovery rulings. On the merits of Kolon's antitrust suit, Kolon has failed to raise a triable issue of material fact sufficient to sustain either its attempted or actual monopolization claims. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment of the district court. View "Kolon Indus. Inc. v. E. I. DuPont De Nemour" on Justia Law

EEOC v. Baltimore County, Maryland

The EEOC filed suit alleging that an employee retirement benefit plan maintained by the County discriminated against employees in the protected age group of 40 years of age and older, in violation of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA), 29 U.S.C. 621-634, by requiring them to pay high contribution rates than those paid by younger employees. In this interlocutory appeal, the court held that the district court correctly determined that the County's plan violated the ADEA, because the plan's employee contribution rates were determined by age, rather than by a permissible factor. The court also concluded that the ADEA's "safe harbor provision" applicable to early retirement benefit plans did not shield the County from liability for the alleged discrimination. Accordingly, the court affirmed the district court's award of summary judgment on the issue of liability and remanded for consideration of damages. View "EEOC v. Baltimore County, Maryland" on Justia Law

Pliler v. Browning

Debtors filed a voluntary petition for relief under Chapter 13 of the Bankruptcy Code. At issue was whether above-median-income debtors with negative disposable income were obligated to maintain Chapter 13 bankruptcy plans that last for five years when their unsecured creditors have not been paid in full. The court held that a plain reading of the Bankruptcy Code, and Section 1325 in particular, mandates that an above-median-income debtor maintain a bankruptcy plan for five years unless all unsecured creditor claims are paid in full and irrespective of projected disposable income. Debtors, as above-median-income debtors, were obligated to maintain a five-year plan. The bankruptcy court therefore did not err in deeming the early termination language in debtors' proposed plan void as a matter of law and in extending the duration of debtors' proposed plan. The court affirmed the bankruptcy court's order but remanded in order for debtors to have an opportunity to present evidence regarding the feasibility of their monthly payments. View "Pliler v. Browning" on Justia Law

Dickenson-Russell Coal Co. v. Secretary of Labor

Dickenson Coal contested a citation by the Secretary of Labor for violating the Federal Mine Safety and Health Act of 1977, Pub. L. No. 95-164, 91 Stat. 1290, by failing to report an injury at one of its mines within ten days of its occurrence. The ALJ awarded summary judgment in the Secretary's favor and the Commission declined to exercise discretionary review of the ALJ's decision. Dickenson Coal petitioned for review. The court concluded that the unambiguous language of 30 C.F.R. 50.20(a) imposed an unconditional duty upon Dickenson Coal to report the injury within ten days. Dickenson Coal was not relieved of this duty when the injured person's employer timely reported the incident. Accordingly, the court denied the petition for review. View "Dickenson-Russell Coal Co. v. Secretary of Labor" on Justia Law

EEOC v. Propak Logistics, Inc.

The EEOC initiated a lawsuit against Propak more than six and one-half years after a Propak employee filed his discrimination charge. The district court granted Propak's motion for summary judgment. At issue on appeal was whether the district court abused its discretion in ordering that the EEOC pay attorneys' fees to Propak, the prevailing defendant employer. The court concluded that the district court did not abuse its discretion in holding that the EEOC acted unreasonably in initiating this litigation. The court need not address the district court's alternative holding that the EEOC's continued pursuit of the litigation was unreasonable in light of the developing record in the case. The court declined to address the district court's well-reasoned fee calculation. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment of the district court. View "EEOC v. Propak Logistics, Inc." on Justia Law

United States v. Blackman

Defendant appealed his conviction of two counts stemming from his participation in a series of armed robberies. The government cross-appealed the district court's denial of forfeiture. The court concluded that the evidence was sufficient to support defendant's conviction under Pinkerton v. United States for brandishing a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence. The court concluded, however, that the district court's forfeiture ruling was unsupported by any relevant legal authority. Accordingly, the court affirmed the conviction and reversed the trial court's forfeiture ruling, remanding with directions to enter a forfeiture money judgment in the amount of the value of the stolen goods. View "United States v. Blackman" on Justia Law