U.S. Fourth Circuit: September 2009 Archives
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September 2009 Archives

Snyder v. Phelps, No. 08-1026

In a state tort lawsuit brought by plaintiffs arising from defendants' protest against gays in the military near the funeral for plaintiffs' son who had died in the Iraq war, district court's award of $8 million in compensatory damages and $2.1 million in punitive damages against defendant-Baptist church and members is reversed as the judgment attaches tort liability to constitutionally protected speech, and thus, the district court erred in declining to award defendants judgment as a matter of law. 

Read Snyder v. Phelps, No. 08-1026

Appellate Information

Argued: December 2, 2008

Decided: September 24, 2009

Judges

Opinion by Judge King

Counsel

For Appellant:  Margie Jean Phelps.

For Appellees:  Sean E. Summers, Barley & Snyder, LLC

SEC v. Pirate Investor LLC, No. 08-1037

In a securities fraud action, district court's order of disgorgement of appellants' profits from the sales of a stock tip, imposition of civil penalties, and injunction against future violations of section 10(b) of the Securities Exchange Act and Rule 10b-5 is affirmed where:  1) the district court correctly found that appellants' conduct constituted a violation of Section 10(b) and thus, appellants cannot avoid application of the statute by invoking constitutional concerns because the text and purpose of the section admit of no exception for disinterested publishers; 2) appellants' First Amendment claim fails as punishing fraud, whether it be common law fraud or securities fraud, simply does not violate the First Amendment; and 3) the injunction does not constitute an unlawful prior restraint because it only enjoins appellants from engaging in securities fraud which is unprotected speech.

Read SEC v. Pirate Investor LLC, No. 08-1037

Appellate Information

Argued: December 2, 2008

Decided: September 15, 2009

Judges

Per Curiam Opinion

Counsel

For Appellant:  Bruce D. Brown, Baker & Hostetler, LLP., of Washington, DC.

For Appellees:  Michael Conley, United States Securities & Exchange Commission, Washington, DC.

Alvaro A. Inigo, Zunka, Milnor, Carter & Ingo, Ltd., Charlottesville, VA