Decisions In Environmental, Employment & Challenge to Virginia's Privacy Act - U.S. Fourth Circuit
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Decisions In Environmental, Employment & Challenge to Virginia's Privacy Act

State of North Carolina ex rel. Cooper v. Tennessee Valley Auth., 09-1623, concerned a challenge to the district court's entry of an injunction requiring immediate installation of emissions controls at four Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) electricity generating plants in Alabama and Tennessee.  In reversing, the court held that, where TVA's plants cannot logically be public nuisances under Alabama and Tennessee law where TVA is in compliance with EPA National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS), the corresponding State Implementation Plan (SIPs), and the permits that implement them, as these standards impose more stringent requirements than source state nuisance law.

Sloas v. CSX Transp. Inc., 09-1249, concerned a challenge to the district court's judgment in favor of the plaintiff in a sheetmetal worker's suit against his employer for sustaining on-the-job injuries, pursuant to Federal Employers Liability Act (FELA).  In affirming the judgment in favor of the plaintiff, the court held that, the RRA benefits, including those under Tier II, are a collateral source that may not be considered in determining a FELA award; and 2) the district court did not err in submitting the matter of contributory negligence to the jury.

Ostergren v. Cuccinelli, 09-1723, concerned a First Amendment challenge to Virginia's Personal Information Privacy Act, which prohibits intentionally communicating another individual's social security number to the general public. In affirming in part, the court held that the First Amendment does reach plaintiff's publication of Virginia land records containing unredacted SSNs. The court also affirmed the district court's August 22, 2008 decision, as enforcing section 59.1-443.2 against plaintiff for the Virginia land records posted on her website would violate the First Amendment as Virginia's failure to redact SSNs before placing land records online means that barring plaintiff's protected speech would not be narrowly tailored to Virginia's interest in protecting individual privacy.  Further, there is a lack of jurisdiction to consider whether the First Amendment prohibits Virginia from enforcing section 59.1-443.2 against plaintiff for publishing non-Virginia public records containing unredacted SSNs.  However, the court reversed the district court's June 2, 2009 decision entering a permanent injunction, as the district court abused its discretion by not tailoring the scope of the remedy to fit the nature and extent of the constitutional violation.

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