Articles Posted in Civil Procedure

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Plaintiffs filed suit challenging a mobile home park's policy requiring all occupants to provide documentation evidencing legal status in the United States to renew their leases as violating the Fair Housing Act (FHA). The Fourth Circuit vacated the district court's grant of summary judgment for the mobile home park, holding that plaintiffs have made a prima facie case that the policy disparately impacted Latinos in violation of the FHA, satisfying step one of the disparate impact analysis, and that the district court therefore erred in concluding otherwise. The court also held that the district court seriously misconstrued the robust causality requirement described in Tex. Dep't of Housing & Cmty. Affairs v. Inclusive Communities Project, Inc., 135 S. Ct. 2507, 2513 (2015), and erroneously rejected plaintiffs' prima facie claim that the policy disparately impacted Latinos. Accordingly, the court remanded for further proceedings. View "Giron de Reyes v. Waples Mobile Home Park LP" on Justia Law

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The Fourth Circuit vacated the district court's order granting reconsideration, under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 54(b), of a predecessor district judge's order which had granted defendants' petition to substitute the United States as a party defendant under the Westfall Act. Judge Boyle had been assigned the case upon retirement of Judge Fox, and reconsidered his predecessor's order. The court held that Judge Boyle did not properly exercise his discretion to overturn Judge Fox's decision based upon the "clear error causing manifest injustice" exception. First Judge Boyle did not conclude that Judge Fox's decision inflicted clear error causing manifest injustice at all. Second, even if the court were to assume that Judge Boyle implicitly concluded that Judge Fox's decision amounted to clear error causing manifest injustice, it was an abuse of discretion to grant plaintiffs' renewed motion to reconsider on that basis. In this case, the ATF churning memorandum that was offered by plaintiffs as new evidence in support of their renewed motion for reconsideration was not a sufficient basis upon which to affirm Judge Boyle's order. View "U.S. Tobacco Cooperative Inc. v. Big South Wholesale of Virginia, LLC" on Justia Law

Posted in: Civil Procedure

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These appeal arose from the dismissal of three consumer actions based on Virginia state law claims against Hyundai, regarding misrepresentations the company made regarding EPA estimated fuel economy for the Hyundai Elantra. The Western District of Virginia dismissed with prejudice the claims in all three actions, except one claim in the Gentry action. The Fourth Circuit dismissed the Gentry appeal for lack of jurisdiction because one claim remained pending before the district court. The court affirmed the district court's dismissal of the Adbul-Mumit and Abdurahman actions for failure to satisfy federal pleading standards. The court also affirmed the denial of plaintiffs' post-dismissal request for leave to amend their complaints in those actions. View "Adbul-Mumit v. Alexandria Hyundai, LLC" on Justia Law

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The Fourth Circuit held that the political question doctrine barred an action brought by United States military personnel, civilian contractors, and surviving family members against KBR for injuries allegedly caused by KBR's waste management and water services across Iraq and Afghanistan. The court held that the action presented a political question because the military's control over KBR was plenary and actual under the first Taylor v. Kellogg, Brown & Root Servs., Inc., 658 F.3d 402, 408–409 (4th Cir. 2011), factor. The court need not reach the Federal Tort Claims Act preemption issue and thus affirmed in part and vacated in part. View "Metzgar v. KBR, Inc." on Justia Law

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Optometrists across the country noticed that Chase Amazon Visa credit card accounts had been fraudulently opened in their names, using correct social security numbers and birthdates. The victims discussed the thefts in Facebook groups dedicated to optometrists and determined that the only common source to which they had given their personal information was NBEO, where every graduating optometry student submits personal information to sit for board-certifying exams. NBEO released a Facebook statement that its “information systems [had] NOT been compromised.” Two days later, NBEO stated that it had decided to further investigate. Three weeks later, NBEO posted “a cryptic message stating its internal review was still ongoing.” NBEO advised the victims to “remain vigilant in checking their credit.” Victims filed suit under the Class Action Fairness Act, 28 U.S.C. 1332(d)(2). The district court dismissed for lack of standing. The Fourth Circuit vacated. These plaintiffs allege that they have already suffered actual harm in the form of identity theft and credit card fraud; they have been concretely injured by the use or attempted use of their personal information to open credit card accounts without their knowledge or approval. There is no need to speculate on whether substantial harm will occur. The complaints contain allegations demonstrating that it is both plausible and likely that a breach of NBEO’s database resulted in the fraudulent use of the plaintiffs’ personal information. View "Hutton v. National Board of Examiners in Optometry, Inc." on Justia Law

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The district court held Early Education in contempt and awarded Rainbow School $60,000, plus attorney's fees and costs, after Early Education violated the terms of a consent judgment and permanent injunction. The Fourth Circuit affirmed and held that the district court did not clearly err in finding multiple violations of the injunction; Early Education's violations harmed the Rainbow School; and the district court did not abuse its discretion by awarding damages and attorney's fees and costs. The court dismissed Early Education's appeal from the order requiring it to undergo an audit based on lack of appellate jurisdiction. The court held that the question of whether Early Education should initially pay for an audit was neither inextricably linked nor a necessary precursor to the issues presented in the appeal from the district court's prior order, which made a determination of contempt and had nothing to do with paying for an audit. View "Rainbow School, Inc. v. Rainbow Early Education Holding LLC" on Justia Law

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The district court held Early Education in contempt and awarded Rainbow School $60,000, plus attorney's fees and costs, after Early Education violated the terms of a consent judgment and permanent injunction. The Fourth Circuit affirmed and held that the district court did not clearly err in finding multiple violations of the injunction; Early Education's violations harmed the Rainbow School; and the district court did not abuse its discretion by awarding damages and attorney's fees and costs. The court dismissed Early Education's appeal from the order requiring it to undergo an audit based on lack of appellate jurisdiction. The court held that the question of whether Early Education should initially pay for an audit was neither inextricably linked nor a necessary precursor to the issues presented in the appeal from the district court's prior order, which made a determination of contempt and had nothing to do with paying for an audit. View "Rainbow School, Inc. v. Rainbow Early Education Holding LLC" on Justia Law

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The Fourth Circuit held that it lacked jurisdiction over plaintiff's appeal from the district court's dismissal with prejudice of her complaint. Like the plaintiff in Microsoft Corp. v. Baker, 137 S. Ct. 1703, 1712-15 (2017), plaintiff secured a voluntary dismissal of her complaint in order to seek an immediate appeal from an otherwise interlocutory order. The court found Justice Ginsburg's opinion in Microsoft instructive, where Justice Ginsburg characterized the appeal in that case as arising from a voluntary-dismissal tactic that contravened the final-judgment rule embodied in 28 U.S.C. 1291. In this case, plaintiff also sought to transform an otherwise interlocutory order into a section 1291 final decision. Therefore, the court held that the dismissal order secured by plaintiff was not an appealable final decision under section 1291 and the court lacked appellate jurisdiction. View "Keena v. Groupon, Inc." on Justia Law

Posted in: Civil Procedure

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Plaintiffs filed a putative class action against Saber, alleging that defendants failed to deliver contractually promised care and failed to comply with certain state law requirements. After removal to federal court, the district court granted plaintiffs' motion to remand to state court based on the forum selection clause in plaintiffs' contracts. The Fourth Circuit vacated and remanded for further proceedings and factual development on the question of whether all of the defendants were bound by the forum selection clause contained in the contracts executed by plaintiffs. In this case, although the plain language of the forum selection clause precluded removal, a question remains as to whether all of the defendants were alter egos or otherwise bound by the clause. View "Bartels v. Saber Healthcare Group, LLC" on Justia Law

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The Fourth Circuit granted the Government's motion to dismiss defendant's appeal because his appeal was time-barred. The court rejected defendant's argument that the Government was tardy in filing the motion to dismiss and that delay effectively cures any failure to observe the requirements of the Federal Rules of Appellate Procedure on his part. The court held that the Government's motion to dismiss was timely and thus, the Government's motion to dismiss defendant's untimely appeal should be granted. In this case, defendant did not address the application of Local Rule 27(f) in his briefs and he never identified any prejudice he suffered by virtue of the timing of the Government's motion to dismiss. View "United States v. Hyman" on Justia Law

Posted in: Civil Procedure