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Plaintiffs appealed the district court's dismissal of their complaint against Schmidt Baking Co. under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), 29 U.S.C. 201 et seq., and the Maryland Wage Payment and Collection Law. Although professional motor carriers, like Schmidt Baking Co., generally are exempt from the FLSA's requirement that employers pay "overtime" wages for hours worked in excess of 40 hours per week, Congress recently waived this exemption for motor carrier employees whose work, in whole or in part, affects the safety of vehicles weighing 10,000 pounds or less. The Fourth Circuit held that plaintiffs fell within the group of employees protected by the waiver and were thus entitled to overtime wages for hours worked in excess of 40 hours per week. Accordingly, the court reversed the district court's dismissal of the FLSA claims, but affirmed the dismissal of plaintiffs' separate claims brought under Maryland law. View "Schilling, Jr. v. Schmidt Baking Co., Inc." on Justia Law

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After deputies shot and killed David Hensley outside of his home, plaintiffs filed suit against the deputies in their individual and official capacities under 42 U.S.C. 1983 and North Carolina law. The Fourth Circuit affirmed the district court's denial of summary judgment to the deputies based on qualified immunity and state defenses. The court held that a jury could conclude that Hensley never raised his gun, never threatened the deputies, and never received a warning command. Under these circumstances, the deputies were not in any immediate danger and were not entitled to shoot Hensley. Therefore, the deputies were not entitled to qualified immunity. In regard to plaintiffs' state law claims, the district court correctly concluded that plaintiffs' assault claim could proceed as a matter of law. Furthermore, the deputies were not entitled to public official immunity under North Carolina law on plaintiffs' negligent infliction of emotional distress claim because they acted contrary to their duty to use deadly force only when reasonably necessary. View "Hensley v. Price" on Justia Law

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The Fourth Circuit vacated the district court's denial of relief under 28 U.S.C. 2254 as to petitioner's Brady claim, holding that the district court abused its discretion in dismissing the claim without holding an evidentiary hearing because it failed to assess the plausibility of that claim through the proper legal lens. In this case, withheld witness materials were exculpatory and impeaching evidence that was unquestionably subject to disclosure under Brady. The court reasoned that, by failing to disclose such evidence before trial, and unjustifiably continuing to resist its disclosure for years thereafter, the prosecution arrogated to itself a central function belonging to the criminal jury and pursued its roles as adversary to the exclusion of its role as architect of a just trial. Accordingly, the court remanded to the district court for further proceedings. View "Juniper v. Zook" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Fourth Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal of Maguire Financial's amended complaint in a securities fraud class action. The court held that Maguire Financial's amended complaint failed to adequately allege scienter where a statement by the CEO of PowerSecure, to securities analysts that the company had secured a "contract renewal" could not form the basis for liability under section 10(b) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, 15 U.S.C. 78(b), and Rule 10b-5, 17 C.F.R. 240.10b-5, and the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act, 15 U.S.C. 78u-4(b)(2). View "Maguire Financial, LP v. Powersecure International, Inc." on Justia Law

Posted in: Securities Law

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The Fourth Circuit affirmed defendant's convictions for conspiracy to engage in sex trafficking of a minor, in violation of 18 U.S.C. 1594; sex trafficking of a minor, in violation of 18 U.S.C. 1591(a); and enticement of a minor for illegal sexual activity, in violation of 18 U.S.C. 2422(b). The court held that the district court did not err in instructing the jury as to the requisite mental state required to convict under sections 1591(a) and 1594(c); the court rejected defendant's contention that the district court should have instructed the jury that it must find that he had actual knowledge that the victim was a minor for purposes of a conviction under section 2422(b); and the evidence was sufficient to show that defendant knew or recklessly disregarded the fact that the victim was under the age of eighteen years. View "United States v. Banker" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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OpenRisk filed suit against MicroStrategy after MicroStrategy continued to provide services to OpenRisk's ex-employees after they had left and formed a new company. The Fourth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment to MicroStrategy and held that the federal Copyright Act preempted OpenRisk's computer fraud claims under the Virginia Computer Crimes Act (VCCA). The court explained that the core of OpenRisk's VCCA claims was the unauthorized copying and transfer of its data, and that claim was "equivalent to" a copyright infringement action and was thus preempted. The court also held that MicroStrategy was entitled to summary judgment on OpenRisk's remaining claims of computer trespass, tortious interference, and conspiracy. View "OpenRisk, LLC v. MicroStrategy Services Corp." on Justia Law

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The Fourth Circuit affirmed the district court's denial of class certification and grant of summary judgment for CSC in an action filed by former executives pursuant to section 1132(a) of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA), 29 U.S.C. 1001 et seq. Plaintiffs alleged denial of benefits under their deferred executive compensation plan after a plan amendment changed the applicable crediting rate, and sought class certification on behalf of all retired plan participants affected by the amendment. The court declined to decide which standards of review applied because the competing standards of review presented a distinction without a difference. Whether the court proceeded under a reasonableness inquiry, an abuse-of-discretion standard, or even de novo review, the 2012 Amendment and CSC's denial of benefits were valid. View "Plotnick v. Computer Sciences Corp." on Justia Law

Posted in: ERISA

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The Fourth Circuit affirmed the district court's decision holding respondent in contempt after she failed to produce certain documents pursuant to an IRS summons. In this case, the IRS was investigating respondent's income tax liability and was seeking various documents. The court held that United States v. Rylander, 460 U.S. 752 (1983), was controlling in this case and that respondent's arguments against Rylander were meritless. The court also held that the district court did not abuse its discretion in finding petitioner in contempt where the IRS established that she had committed at least a constructive violation of the Enforcement Order by failing to produce documents presumptively within her possession or control, and respondent failed to satisfy her burden of demonstrating that she made in good faith all reasonable efforts to comply with the order. View "United States v. Ali" on Justia Law

Posted in: Tax Law

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The Fourth Circuit affirmed defendants' conviction of health care fraud and conspiracy to engage in health care fraud. Assuming that the district court did err in failing to consider materiality expressly when assessing guilt, the court held that such error was harmless because the record conclusively established that insurers would not have paid for the second, more sophisticated tests had they known those tests were not medically necessary and no rational fact finder could conclude otherwise. Furthermore, Universal Health Services, Inc. v. United States ex rel. Escobar, — U.S. —, 136 S. Ct. 1989 (2016), did not compel a different conclusion. The court rejected defendants' remaining arguments, concluding that each lacked merit. View "United States v. Palin" on Justia Law

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The Fourth Circuit vacated the district court's sentence after defendant pleaded guilty to one count of possessing child pornography. The court held that defendant's plea agreement explicitly preserved the government's appellate rights and thus defendant's argument that the appeal was barred by an implied appellate waiver was rejected. On the merits, the court held that the conditions of defendant's autism spectrum disorder only marginally affected his criminal conduct and did not justify relieving defendant from the need for more serious punishment as consistent with the 18 U.S.C. 3553 factors. Therefore, the sentence imposed was substantively unreasonable. The court remanded for resentencing. View "United States v. Zuk" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law