Articles Posted in U.S. 4th Circuit Court of Appeals

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Plaintiff filed suit under the West Virginia Unfair Trade Practices Act (WVUTPA), W. Va. Code 33-11-4(9)(f), based on IOF's allegedly unlawful conduct in connection with its handling of her insurance claim. The court held that plaintiff's WVUTPA claim sounds in tort and not in contract; West Virginia governed the underlying lawsuit pursuant to the lex loci delicti approach and the Restatement choice-of-law approach; and, insofar as the Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia has previously entertained questions regarding an action brought under the WVUTPA against an insurer subsequent to settlement, where the cause of action was limited to unfair settlement practices, plaintiff's complaint stated a claim upon which relief could be granted. Accordingly, the court reversed the district court's dismissal of the complaint. View "Kenney v. Indep. Order of Foresters" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs filed suit against MuniMae defendants, alleging that they committed securities fraud by falsely representing that the Company was in full compliance with a new accounting standard enacted in 2003; and concealing the substantial cost of correcting the accounting error. The court affirmed the district court's dismissal of plaintiffs' claims under section 10(b) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, 15 U.S.C. 78j(b), and SEC Rule 10b-5, 17 C.F.R. 240.10b-5, for failing to adequately plead scienter; affirmed the district court's dismissal of plaintiffs' claim under sections 11 of the Securities Act of 1933, 15 U.S.C. 77k(a), as time-barred under section 13's statute of repose; affirmed the district court's dismissal of plaintiffs' claim under section 12(a)(2) of the Securities Act, 15 U.S.C. 77(a)(2), for lack of standing; and affirmed the district court's dismissal of the section 15 claim because plaintiffs failed to adequately plead a primary violation of the Securities Act. View "Yates v. Municipal Mortgage & Equity" on Justia Law

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This case arose from a dispute over Core's interconnection agreement with Verizon. On appeal, Core challenged the district court's grant of summary judgment to Verizon with respect to tort claims pursued by Core under Maryland law. Core also contended that the district court erred when it awarded nominal damages to Core on its related claim for breach of contract (Reconsideration Order). The court concluded that the district court did not abuse its discretion in permitting Verizon to raise the Exculpatory Clause, post-remand, in the summary judgment proceedings; the district court did not err in enforcing the Exculpatory Clause in the consolidated proceedings where the Clause was not void under principles of Maryland contract law; the district court did not err in awarding Verizon summary judgment on Core's state law tort claims for concealment and unfair competition where Core failed to establish that Verizon acted with intent to defraud or deceive; and the district court properly entered judgment on Core's breach of contract claim in the nominal sum of one dollar. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment of the district court. View "Core Communications, Inc. v. Verizon Maryland, Inc." on Justia Law

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Carnell, a "minority-owned" corporation, filed suit against the Housing Authority and Blaine based on claims of race discrimination, retaliation, and breach of contract. The court held that a corporation can acquire a racial identity and establish standing to seek a remedy for alleged race discrimination under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. 2000d, but that the district court properly dismissed one of the defendants from liability on plaintiff's race discrimination claims; the district court abused its discretion in permitting the use of particular impeachment evidence, which should have been excluded as unfairly prejudicial under Federal Rule of Evidence 403; and the district court properly reduced certain damages awarded to plaintiff on its contract claims, but decided that the strict notice requirements of the Virginia Public Procurement Act, Virginia Code 2.2-4300 through 4377, required the court to narrow further the scope of recoverable contract damages. Accordingly, the court affirmed in part, vacated in part, and remanded for further proceedings. View "Carnell Construction Corp. v. Danville RHA" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs filed suit against defendants, companies that contracted with the government to provide certain services at military bases in Iraq and Afghanistan, contending that they suffered harm as a result of the contractors' waste disposal and water treatment practices. The district court dismissed plaintiffs' state tort and contract claims prior to discovery, holding that the claims were nonjusticiable, the contractors were immune from suit, and federal law preempted the state tort laws underlying plaintiffs' claims. Because the district court lacked the information necessary to dismiss plaintiffs' claims on these bases, the court vacated and remanded for further proceedings. View "Metzgar v. KBR, Inc." on Justia Law

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Defendant appealed his sentencing enhancement after pleading guilty to possessing child pornography. At sentencing, the district court determined that, as part of the offense, defendant caused a minor to engage in sexually explicit conduct for the purpose of producing a visual depiction of that conduct. The court agreed with its sister circuits that the cross-reference's purpose requirement was satisfied anytime one of the defendant's purposes was to produce a visual depiction of the sexually explicit conduct. On these facts, the court concluded that the district court did not err in applying the U.S.S.G. 2G2.2(c)(1) cross-reference and that defendant's sentence was reasonable. Accordingly, the court affirmed defendant's sentence. View "United States v. Cox" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed suit challenging his arrests for refusing to obey Officer Early's repeated orders to confine his leafleting to the area designated for protest activities outside the First Mariner Arena in Baltimore. The designated protest area was defined by a written policy of the City and the BCPD. The court held that the policy was facially valid under the First Amendment as a reasonable time, place, and manner restriction. The court found that the district court committed no reversible error as to plaintiff's remaining claims. Accordingly, the court affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment in favor of defendants. View "Ross v. Early" on Justia Law

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Defendant appealed his sentence and conviction for interstate transport of a minor with the intent that the minor engage in prostitution or other criminal sexual activity, in violation of 18 U.S.C. 2423(a). The court concluded that the district court correctly instructed the jury that under section 2423(a), the government was not required to prove that defendant knew that the victim was a minor. The court also concluded that the district court did not abuse its discretion by imposing an upward variance where the district court concluded that the advisory sentencing range neither provided adequate deterrence nor adequately protected the public. Further, the extent of the variance was reasonable. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment of the district court. View "United States v. Washington" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs raised an as-applied challenge to North Carolina's May 17 petition-filing deadline for the formation of new political parties. The court concluded that the district court did not abuse its discretion in denying plaintiffs' Rule 50(d) motion where discovery was not necessary to determine the constitutionality of the deadline. Balancing the character and magnitude of the burdens imposed against the extent to which the regulations advanced the state's interests, the court found that North Carolina's choice of May 17 as the operative deadline outweighed the modest burden imposed on plaintiffs. Therefore, the court held that the May 17 petition-filing deadline was constitutional as applied to plaintiffs. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment of the district court. View "Pisano v. Strach" on Justia Law

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Defendants appealed their convictions for the robbery of P & S Coins and the planned robbery of All American Coins. The court concluded that there was insufficient evidence to convict Defendant Janson of robbing P & S Coins where the evidence of his partial fingerprint on duct tape, a moveable object, used in the robbery and his possession of a gun that had been taken during the P & S Coins robbery, which occurred two months prior, was insufficient to convict him; the district court erred by denying Janson's motion for judgment of acquittal on the charges related to the P & S robbery; the government presented sufficient evidence to sustain the conspiracy and firearm convictions against Janson relating to the All American Coins robbery; and the court remanded Defendant Jimmy's case for resentencing on the brandishing charge arising from the P&S Coins robbery because the district court failed to instruct the jurors that to convict Jimmy of that offense, they needed to find that he brandished a gun. View "United States v. Strayhorn" on Justia Law