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The Fourth Circuit affirmed the district court's finding that defendant was a sexually dangerous person within the meaning of 18 U.S.C. 4247(a)(5). The court held that the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act of 2006 did not require a diagnosis with a paraphilic disorder, and the appellate record supported the district court's conclusion. The court also held that the district court did not clearly err when it found that the government established the criteria for commitment by clear and convincing evidence and ordered defendant committed to the custody of the United States Attorney General. View "United States v. Charboneau" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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Plaintiff filed suit against Propel, alleging violations of the Truth in Lending Act (TILA), the Electronic Funds Transfer Act (EFTA), and the Virginia Consumer Protection Act (VCPA). Plaintiff's action stemmed from a tax payment agreement (TPA) he entered into with Propel under Virginia Code section 58.1-3018. Propel then moved to dismiss the TILA and EFTA claims. The Fourth Circuit affirmed the district court's denial of Propel's motion to dismiss, holding that plaintiff had standing to bring claims under EFTA because the harm that he alleged was a substantive statutory violation that subjected him to the very risks that EFTA, a consumer protection statute, was designed to protect against. The court also held that the TPA was subject to TILA and EFTA because the TPA was a consumer credit transaction. In this case, the TPA was a credit transaction because it provided for third-party financing of a tax obligation. Furthermore, the TPA was a consumer transaction because, as financing of a real property tax debt, it was a voluntary transaction that plaintiff entered into for personal or household purposes. View "Curtis v. Propel Property Tax Funding, LLC" on Justia Law

Posted in: Banking, Consumer Law

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This case stemmed from FERC's approval of Mountain Valley's application to construct a natural gas pipeline through West Virginia and Virginia. Mountain Valley successfully negotiated easements allowing access onto the land of most of the affected landowners, but in order to obtain the rest of the easements it needed, it initiated condemnation proceedings. Three district courts granted partial summary judgment to Mountain Valley and issued preliminary injunctions granting immediate possession of the easements. The Fourth Circuit affirmed the district court's orders and held that East Tennessee Natural Gas Co. v. Sage, 361 F.3d 808 (4th Cir. 2004), squarely foreclosed the Landowners' argument that the district courts lacked the authority to grant immediate possession in a Natural Gas Act condemnation. The court also held that the district courts did not abuse their discretion in granting preliminary injunctive relief to Mountain Valley under the test in Winter v. Natural Resources Defense Council, Inc., 555 U.S. 7, 20 (2008). View "Mountain Valley Pipeline, LLC v. 6.56 Acres of Land" on Justia Law

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Defendant appealed the district court's denial of his 28 U.S.C. 2255 motion to vacate, set aside, or correct his sentence, which was imposed more than ten years ago in 2008. The Fourth Circuit vacated and remanded, holding that defendant's prior South Carolina felony conviction for assaulting, beating, or wounding a law enforcement officer while resisting arrest was not a violent felony predicate under the Armed Career Criminal Act because it could be committed without the use, attempted use, or threatened use of violent physical force. Therefore, defendant did not have the three predicate convictions required to be properly designated as an armed career criminal. View "United States v. Jones" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Fourth Circuit affirmed the district court's summary judgment ruling regarding the protectability of the proposed trademark BOOKING.COM. The court held that the district court, in weighing the evidence before it, did not err in finding that the USPTO failed to satisfy its burden of proving that the relevant public understood BOOKING.COM, taken as a whole, to refer to general online hotel reservation services rather than Booking.com the company. Therefore, the district court did not err in finding that BOOKING.COM is a descriptive, rather than generic, mark. Furthermore, because USPTO did not challenge the district court's finding that BOOKING.COM has acquired secondary meaning where the mark is deemed descriptive, the court affirmed the district court's partial grant of summary judgment finding that BOOKING.COM is protectable as a trademark. Finally, the district court's grant of attorney fees was affirmed under Shammas v. Focarino, 784 F.3d 219, 225 (4th Cir. 2015), where an applicant that decides to challenge the USPTO's ruling in district court must pay all the expenses of the proceeding whether the final decision was in its favor or not. View "Booking.com B.V. v. US Patent & Trademark Office" on Justia Law

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The Fourth Circuit granted a petition for review of an order of removal, holding that the BIA applied the wrong standard of review. The court held that, whether petitioner established that the government would acquiesce in his torture under 8 C.F.R. 1208.16(c)(2) was a mixed question of law and fact, and the IJ's determination that the evidence did not meet the relevant standard was a legal judgment subject to de novo review by the Board. Accordingly, the court remanded for the Board to review the IJ's determination under the proper standard. View "Cruz-Quintanilla v. Whitaker" on Justia Law

Posted in: Immigration Law

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The EEOC filed suit against McLeod for alleged violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), because McLeod required a longtime employee with a disability to undergo a work-related medical exam and then wrongfully discharged her based on her disability. The Fourth Circuit reversed the district court's grant of summary judgment to McLeod, and held that a reasonable jury could conclude that it was unreasonable for McLeod to believe that the employee was medically unable to navigate its campuses without posing a direct threat to her own safety. Therefore, McLeod was not entitled to summary judgment on the illegal exam claim. Furthermore, it was not certain that navigating to and within McLeod's campuses was essential to the employee's job. Accordingly, McLeod was not entitled to summary judgment on the wrongful discharge claim. View "EEOC v. McLeod Health, Inc." on Justia Law

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The temporary, ex parte emergency order presented by plaintiff did not qualify as a predicate state court custody order for the special immigrant juvenile application. The Fourth Circuit affirmed the district court's judgment and held that it properly concluded that the USCIS did not impose an ultra vires requirement for permanent custody orders within the SIJ application process. Therefore, the agency did not act arbitrarily, capriciously or contrary to law, or abuse its discretion in determining that plaintiff failed to present a qualifying predicate order in support of his SIJ petition. Finally, the court held that the Full Faith and Credit Act was inapplicable under the facts presented in this case. View "Perez v. Cissna" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff and the union he represents filed suit under 42 U.S.C. 1983, alleging First and Fourteenth Amendment claims, seeking to reinstate privileges that granted them special access to restricted Maryland Transit Administration (MTA) property. The Fourth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment to the transportation officials, holding that the MTA's actions against the union did not amount to unconstitutionally adverse behavior. In this case, plaintiff and the union's interest in maintaining access to restricted MTA property was slight when compared to the government's interest in regulating such access. Therefore, MTA's access policies were not sufficiently adverse to support a First Amendment retaliation claim. The court rejected the Fourth Amendment claims, holding that the police acted reasonably when it escorted plaintiff from MTA property. In this case, plaintiff's lawful purpose did not give him carte blanche to access restricted MTA offices, and the MTA had explicitly barred him from entering its restricted property without permission. Therefore, the police had probable cause to believe that plaintiff was violating the law. Finally, there was no reversible error in denying plaintiff and the union's discovery requests. View "McClure v. Ports" on Justia Law

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Petitioner sought habeas relief under 28 U.S.C. 2254 after he was convicted of crimes related to the murder of his ex-girlfriend and sentenced to death. The district court denied or stayed all of petitioner's claims, except Ground Six, which asserted a claim of ineffective assistance of counsel resulting from trial counsel's failure to investigate potentially mitigating evidence of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS). The Fourth Circuit affirmed and held that counsel's investigation into potentially mitigating evidence of FAS failed to meet an objective standard of reasonableness. Therefore, the postconviction relief court erred in concluding that petitioner had failed to establish deficient performance by counsel. Furthermore, the district court correctly determined that petitioner had established prejudice under Strickland v. Washington. Therefore, the postconviction relief court's prejudice determination was contrary to or an unreasonable application of Supreme Court precedent, or an objectively unreasonable factual determination. View "Williams v. Stirling" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law