by
The Fourth Circuit held that Chapter 313 of Title 18, and 18 U.S.C. 4248 in particular, did not authorize the district court to dismiss the section 4248 proceeding against respondent on the ground that he was found to be mentally incompetent. The court also held that section 4248 does not violate the Due Process Clause and that the risk of an erroneous deprivation of respondent's liberty interest is substantially and adequately mitigated by the broad array of procedures required for a section 4248 commitment, particularly as they apply to incompetent persons. Accordingly, the court reversed the district court's judgment and remanded with instructions that the district court promptly conduct a section 4248 hearing to determine whether respondent is sexually dangerous and therefore must be committed to the custody of the Attorney General. View "United States v. White" on Justia Law

by
Plaintiff filed suit under 42 U.S.C. 1983 alleging that defendant, a police officer, used excessive force in arresting plaintiff after an intense hand-to-hand struggle between the men. The Fourth Circuit reversed the district court's holding on remand that the officer was entitled to qualified immunity as a matter of law. The court held that the district court again based its qualified immunity holding on inferences drawn in favor of the officer, but it was obligated to construe the salient facts in the light most favorable to plaintiff, as the party opposing summary judgment. On plaintiff's version of the disputed facts, construed in the light most favorable to him, the court held that a reasonable jury could find a violation of plaintiff's clearly established Fourth Amendment rights. Therefore, the district court erred in awarding summary judgment to the officer because there remained genuine disputes of fact regarding the officer's entitlement to qualified immunity. View "Harris v. Pittman" on Justia Law

by
The Fourth Circuit granted a petition for review, vacating the denial of petitioner's asylum, withholding of removal, and Convention Against Torture (CAT) claims. The court reversed the agency's determination on the nexus requirement and remanded for further proceedings. The court held that the agency erred in making a determination regarding whether a nexus exists between petitioner's protected status and her persecution. The court also took the further step of retaining jurisdiction over petitioner's appeal while the Board addressed the remaining issues on remand. View "Alvarez Lagos v. Barr" on Justia Law

Posted in: Immigration Law

by
The Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2009 may be constitutionally applied to an unarmed assault of a victim engaged in commercial activity at his place of work. In this case, defendant admitted to physically and violently assaulting a coworker preparing packages for interstate sale and shipment because of the coworker's sexual orientation. After defendant was convicted by a jury for violating the Act, the district court granted defendant's motion for judgment of acquittal based on the grounds that the Act, as applied to defendant's conduct, exceeded Congress's authority under the Commerce Clause. The Fourth Circuit reversed and held that, as applied to defendant's conduct, the Act easily fell under Congress's broad authority to regulate commerce. In this case, the victim was assaulted while preparing packages for interstate sale and shipment at an Amazon fulfillment center. Therefore, defendant's assault of the victim interfered with commercial or other economic activity in which the victim was engaged at the time of the conduct. View "United States v. Hill" on Justia Law

by
Intervenor alleged that she was terminated by Northrop in violation of the whistleblower protection provision of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act (SOX). The Fourth Circuit held that intervenor did not qualify for whistleblower protection under 18 U.S.C. 1514A, because she did not engage in protected activity. In this case, neither of intervenor's complaints about Northrop's arbitration policy nor her complaints about violations of section 1514A(e) involved any of the basic elements of shareholder fraud. Furthermore, her beliefs were not objectively reasonable. Therefore, the court vacated the administrative orders and remanded the case with instructions for the dismissal of intervenor's complaint and entry of judgment for Northrop. View "Northrop Grumman Systems Corp. v. US Department of Labor" on Justia Law

Posted in: Business Law

by
The Fourth Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal of plaintiffs' claims stemming from failed investments in an electric vehicle startup, GreenTech. Plaintiffs are a group of 27 Chinese investors who invested $500,000 each in a partnership that loaned their money to GreenTech. Plaintiffs claimed that false statements were made relating to the partnership's fundraising efforts, as well as relating to GreenTech's sell of vehicles and business plans. Plaintiffs now seek to recover losses from their failed investments. The court held that the amended complaint failed to adequately allege justifiable reliance, instead relying on general and conclusory allegations. Even if plaintiffs had properly described who relied on each misstatement and how that person heard of it, they failed to plead justifiable reliance because the written offering documents controlled and contradicted the sorts of stray media statements attributed to GreenTech and the partnership. The court held that there was no plausible allegation in the complaint that defendants diverted plaintiffs from conducting a prudent and objectively reasonable investigation before investing. View "Xia Bi v. McAuliffe" on Justia Law

Posted in: Business Law

by
Plaintiff filed suit on behalf of his mother's estate against WellDyne and Exactus, asserting claims for negligence, negligence per se and breach of the implied warranty of fitness for a particular purpose against both defendants. Plaintiff also alleged Exactus was vicariously liable for the actions of WellDyne under agency and joint venture theories. In this case, plaintiff's mother died shortly after a hospital stay stemming from her ingestion of prescription medications that were erroneously mailed to her by WellDyne. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of WellDyne and Exactus as to all counts, finding that plaintiff's mother was contributorily negligent as a matter of law which completely barred her recovery in North Carolina. The court reversed the district court's judgment insofar as it granted summary judgment on the basis of contributory negligence and causation, remanding for the district judge to conduct a Daubert analysis of the expert opinions proffered by plaintiff to determine whether taking some of the misdirected medications was the cause of the mother's injuries and death. The court affirmed summary judgment to Exactus; affirmed summary judgment to WellDyne as to the claim for implied warranty of a particular purpose; and remanded. View "Small v. Welldyne, Inc." on Justia Law

by
The Fourth Circuit affirmed the district court's denial of defendant's motion to vacate his sentence under 28 U.S.C. 2255. The court held that defendant's prior Maryland conviction for assault with intent to murder qualified as a violent felony under the force clause of the Armed Career Criminal Act (ACCA). In this case, assault with intent to murder constituted a statutory aggravated form of assault and, coupled with a specific intent to murder, fell within the ACCA's definition of a violent felony and was a predicate offense for purposes of the ACCA. View "United States v. Battle" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

by
The Department sought interlocutory review of the district court's decision that the state waived Eleventh Amendment immunity with respect to claims under Maryland's Fair Employment Practices Act (FEPA). The Fourth Circuit exercised its jurisdiction under the collateral order doctrine and held that the state has not waived the protection of the Eleventh Amendment. In this case, the state did not waive its Eleventh Amendment immunity as to plaintiff's FEPA claims through a statutory consent to suit provision in Md. Code. Servs. 20-903. In the absence of the state's express consent to suit in federal court, the Department was entitled to the protection of the Eleventh Amendment with respect to the FEPA claims. View "Pense v. Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services" on Justia Law

by
Plaintiffs appealed the district court's grant of summary judgment to Serco in an action alleging numerous claims arising out of a failed business relationship. Plaintiffs alleged that Serco conspired with Jaxon Engineering to "rig" a bidding process related to work for the Air Force, and thus interfered with plaintiffs' reasonable business expectancy in that work. The Court of Appeal held that the district court properly awarded summary judgment to Serco on the claims of tortious interference with business expectancy, because those claims failed as a matter of law. However, the court held that the district court erred in awarding summary judgment to Serco with respect to plaintiffs' conspiracy claims, because they were not time-barred and, in the alternative, the evidence that plaintiffs were the sole providers of HEMP-related services to Serco for several years was sufficient to create a dispute of material fact regarding whether plaintiffs had a valid business expectancy in the task orders awarded to Jaxon. In regard to the Colorado Organized Crime Control Act (COCCA) claims, the court agreed with the district court that the two year statute of limitations applied to the claims but remanded for the district court to determine as a factual matter the particular limitations period for each of the COCCA claims. Therefore, the court affirmed in part, vacated in part, and remanded for further proceedings. View "L-3 Communications Corp. v. Serco, Inc." on Justia Law