U.S. Fourth Circuit: August 2010 Archives
U.S. Fourth Circuit - The FindLaw 4th Circuit Court of Appeals Opinion Summaries Blog

August 2010 Archives

Universal Furniture Int'l Inc. v. Collezione Europa USA, Inc., 07-2180, concerned a challenge to the district court's judgment that plaintiff possessed valid copyrights in its furniture designs and that defendant had infringed those copyrights, that defendant acted in contravention of both the Lanham Act and the UDTPA, and an award of more than $11 million in damages to plaintiff, in a copyright suit between competing furniture companies.

 

Pethtel v. Ballard, 09-6075

Pethtel v. Ballard, 09-6075, involved a defendant's request for habeas relief from his convictions for sexual assault, filming a minor, burglary, and other various crimes, claiming that the 'anti-shuttling' provision of the Interstate Agreement on Detainers Act (IADA) was violated when he was transferred to West Virginia and then back to Ohio, before his West Virginia case was finished.  In affirming the district court's denial of defendant's petition, the court held that a violation of the trial before return provision of the IADA is not cognizable on habeas review.  The court further held that defendant has waived his due process claim.

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US v. Johnson, 08-5098, concerned a challenge to a conviction of defendant for conspiracy to possess with the intent to distribute cocaine.  In reversing, the court remanded the matter in holding that the district court abused its discretion in admitting a DEA agent's testimony as a lay witness under Rule 701, and this error was not harmless.  The court also held that the district court erred in admitting the testimony of a prior, alleged drug customer, under Rule 404(b), and despite the district court's limiting instruction, this error was not harmless.

Conviction of Defendants for Kidnapping Resulting in Death Affirmed

US v. Wilson, 06-4180, concerned a challenge to a defendant's conviction for conspiracy to kidnap, a sentence of life imprisonment, and district court's denial of defendant's post-sentencing motions for a new trial.

In affirming, the court held that given the strength of the government's case, the extensive evidence of defendant's guilt, the prosecution's limited use of challenged evidence during the trial, and the court's cautionary instructions to the jury, the erroneous introduction of a shooting did not affect the jury's verdict.  The court also held that the prosecution's closing arguments did not misstate the law of conspiracy or otherwise mislead the jury, nor did it prejudice defendant's trial so as to deny him due process.  Also, defendant's written statement was admissible, and the district court did not err in using it in determining defendant's sentence.  Lastly, the court held that the district court did not abuse its discretion in denying defendant's motion for a new trial based on the government's failure to turn over a statement to defendant prior to trial, and that the district court did not abuse its discretion in denying defendant's motion for  a new trial.

US v. Lighty, 06-6, was a companion case to US v. Wilson, concerning a federal prosecution of defendants for kidnapping resulting in death and related crimes.  In affirming the district court's imposition of a life sentence upon one defendant and a sentence of death upon the other defendant, the court held that, while the actions of the Assistant United States Attorneys handling the defendants' joint trial unnecessarily introduced error into it, such error is not reversible, as both defendants each received a fair trial.

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Georgia Pac. Consumer Prod., LP. v. Von Drehle Corp., 09-1942

Georgia Pac. Consumer Prod., LP. v. Von Drehle Corp., 09-1942, involved a plaintiff's suit against one of its competitors for violation of various federal and state laws, for marketing and selling to distributors an inferior paper toweling specifically manufactured by defendant for use in plaintiff's trademarked paper towel dispensers.

The court held that plaintiff has proffered sufficient evidence for a reasonable jury to find, by a preponderance of the evidence, in favor of plaintiff with respect to each element of plaintiff's contributory trademark infringement and unfair competition claims under the Lanham Act and its unfair competition claim under North Carolina common law. Thus, the court vacated and remanded the district court' grant of summary judgment in favor of defendant with respect to those claims. The court also vacated and remanded district court's grant of summary judgment in favor of defendant with respect to plaintiff's tortious interference with contract claim with limiting instructions since, because the record cannot support a finding that plaintiff had contractual relationships with the end-user customers, this claim is limited to whether defendant tortiously interfered with plaintiff's contractual relationships with distributors.  Lastly, the court affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment in favor of plaintiff with respect to its claim , under the North Carolina Unfair and Deceptive Trade Practices Act

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Colleton Preparatory Acad. Inc. v. Hoover Universal. Inc., 09-1480

Colleton Preparatory Acad. Inc. v. Hoover Universal. Inc., 09-1480, concerned a challenge to the district court's entry of default judgment against defendant, in plaintiff's suit for negligence and for violation of the South Carolina Unfair Trade Practices Act, arising from alleged damages to the roof on several of plaintiff's buildings allegedly caused by fire-retardant substances produced and sold by the defendants or their predecessors in interest.