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The Fourth Circuit affirmed the district court's denial of defendant's pretrial motion to suppress evidence after he was convicted of possession of a firearm and ammunition by a convicted felon. The court held that the warrant affidavit prepared by an officer was sufficient to establish probable cause for the magistrate to issue the search warrant. The court also affirmed the district court's imposition of a sentencing enhancement under the Armed Career Criminal Act (ACCA), holding that defendant's prior offense for criminal domestic violence under South Carolina law categorically qualified as violent felonies. Therefore, defendant had the three predicate convictions for purposes of the ACCA. View "United States v. Drummond" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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After plaintiff was injured while replacing railroad crossties on a bridge spanning navigable waters, he filed a negligence claim against his employer under the Federal Employers' Liability Act (FELA). The Fourth Circuit reversed the district court's grant of the employer's motion to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. The court held that plaintiff's injury did not occur "upon navigable waters," as required by the Longshore and Harbor Workers' Compensation Act, and thus the district court erred in dismissing plaintiff's FELA claim. The court remanded for further proceedings. View "Muhammad v. Norfolk Southern Railway Co." on Justia Law

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J.D., by his father and next friend, filed suit against the restaurant for violating the Americans with Disability Act (ADA), the Rehabilitation Act, and the Virginians with Disabilities Act. The restaurant refused to allow J.D., a child on a strict gluten-free diet, to eat his homemade gluten free meal inside the restaurant, making him eat his meal outside and apart from the rest of his classmates. The Fourth Circuit vacated the district court's grant of summary judgment to the restaurant. The court held that, while the district court correctly determined that J.D. has raised a genuine dispute of material fact as to whether he is disabled within the meaning of the ADA, the district court erred in finding as a matter of law that J.D.'s proposed modification was not necessary to have an experience equal to that of his classmates. In this case, the district court incorrectly overlooked the testimony that J.D. repeatedly became sick after eating purportedly gluten-free meals prepared by commercial kitchens. Therefore, there was a genuine dispute of material fact as to whether the restaurant's proposed accommodation (by making him a gluten-free meal) sufficiently accounts for his disability; whether J.D.'s requested modification was reasonable; and whether granting J.D.'s request would fundamentally alter the nature of the restaurant experience. View "J.D. v. Colonial Williamsburg Foundation" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed suit against Dish Network, alleging that its sales representative, Satellite Systems Network (SSN), routinely violated the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) by calling numbers on the national Do-Not-Call registry. After the district court certified the class, the case went to trial and Dish ultimately lost. The Fourth Circuit affirmed, holding that the district court properly applied the law and prudently exercised its discretion. The court rejected Dish's challenges to class certification and held that the class certified by the district court complied with Article III's requirements; the court rejected Dish's claims of error under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23 and held that the TCPA supported class-wide resolution of this class; and the court rejected Dish's challenges to the jury findings and held that there was ample evidence for the district court's rationales in the record produced at trial. View "Krakauer v. Dish Network" on Justia Law

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The Fourth Circuit affirmed the district court's refusal to dismiss defendant's indictment for illegal reentry. Defendant was indicted more than ten years after the government learned that he had unlawfully reentered the United States. The court held that the record supported the district court's factual finding that defendant was fleeing from justice, thus tolling the statute of limitations under 28 U.S.C. 3290. In this case, defendant's aliases and the circumstances surrounding his skipped court dates together support a plausible narrative that he sought to evade prosecution by giving police false information and then twice failing to appear in court when ordered to do so. View "United States v. De Leon-Ramirez" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Fourth Circuit affirmed the district court's revocation of defendant's term of supervised release and sentence of 36 months in prison. The court held that the district court plainly erred by entering an order revoking defendant's supervised release on the basis that he possessed crack cocaine with intent to distribute it, because the record contained no evidence that the drug involved in the violation was crack cocaine. However, the district court's error did not affect defendant's substantial rights, because his violation for possessing and intending to distribute cocaine—like such a violation for crack cocaine—constituted a Grade A violation of supervised release requiring the district court to revoke his supervised release term. Therefore, the outcome would have been the same, no matter whether the substance was cocaine or crack cocaine. View "United States v. Dennison" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The plain text of 11 U.S.C. 1322(c)(2) authorizes modification of covered homestead mortgage claims, not just payments, including bifurcation of undersecured homestead mortgages into secured and unsecured components. The Fifth Circuit overruled Witt v. United Cos. Lending Corp., 113 F.3d 508 (4th Cir. 1997), which held that Chapter 13 debtors may not bifurcate a narrow subset of undersecured home mortgage loans into separate secured and unsecured claims and cram down the unsecured portion of such loans. Accordingly, the court reversed and remanded for further proceedings. View "Hurlburt v. Black" on Justia Law

Posted in: Bankruptcy

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The Eleventh Circuit granted a petition for review of the BIA's final order denying her all relief from deportation. The BIA upheld the IJ's finding that petitioner, although persecuted because of her membership in a particular social group, had failed to establish that the Salvadoran government was unwilling or unable to protect her from this persecution. The court held, however, that the BIA disregarded and distorted significant portions of the record in reaching this conclusion. In this case, the agency adjudicators repeatedly failed to offer specific, cogent reasons for disregarding the concededly credible, significant, and unrebutted evidence that petitioner provided. Furthermore, the government's reasons were unpersuasive. View "Orellana v. Barr" on Justia Law

Posted in: Immigration Law

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Once a jury has evaluated witness credibility, weighed evidence, and reached a verdict, a litigant seeking to overturn that verdict faces a steep hurdle. Plaintiff filed suit against TWC, alleging that the company fired her based on illegal age discrimination. The jury found in favor of plaintiff and the district court denied TWC's motion for judgment as a matter of law. The Fourth Circuit affirmed, holding that there was sufficient evidence to support the jury's verdict and the district court managed the proceedings fairly. View "Westmoreland v. TWC Administration LLC" on Justia Law

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In the underlying action, a customer purchased a headlamp on Amazon's website from a third party seller and then gave it to friends as a gift. After the headlamp's batteries malfunctioned and ignited the friends' house on fire and caused over $300,000 in damages, the insurer of the house paid the loss and, as subrogee, filed suit against Amazon alleging claims of negligence, breach of warranty, and strict liability tort. The insurer argued that Amazon was liable under Maryland law because it was the "seller" of the headlamp. The district court granted summary judgment to Amazon and held that Amazon was immune from suit. The Fourth Circuit held that, although Amazon was not immune from suit under the Communications Decency Act, 47 U.S.C. 230(c)(1), Amazon was not the "seller" of the headlamp and therefore did not have liability under Maryland law for products liability claims asserted by reason of the product's defective condition. The court explained that insofar as liability in Maryland for defective products falls on "sellers" and manufacturers (who are also sellers), it is imposed on owners of personal property who transfer title to purchasers of that property for a price. In this case, there was no evidence to dispute that when Dream Light shipped its headlamp to Amazon's warehouse in Virginia, it was the owner of the headlamp. Furthermore, when Dream Light transferred possession of the headlamp to Amazon, without Amazon's payment of the headlamp's price or an agreement transferring title to it, Amazon did not, by that simple transfer, receive title. There was also no action or agreement that amounted to the consummation of the sale of the headlamp by Dream Light to Amazon. Accordingly, the court affirmed in part and reversed in part. View "Erie Insurance Co. v. Amazon.com" on Justia Law