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

June 2015 Archives

Well, I wish I'd known this earlier. Apparently, you can make a career as a treasure hunter, even in these modern times. Though it's not easy, as the Columbus-America Discovery Group learned when they went into receivership after collecting sunken treasure from the S.S. Central America. Their lawyer -- and I suppose lawyers are a type of treasure hunter as well -- moved to claim some of that gold himself as a reward for his aid in "the continuing salvage of the sunken" treasure fleet.

Sadly, the Fourth Circuit didn't find attorney Richard Robol's contribution to be as worthy as he claimed. His "contribution to the recovery" was largely what was required from him by law and his professional duties -- it was not the voluntary assistance that could afford him salvage rights, the Court found.

The South Carolina Coastal Conservation League's lawsuit to prevent the loss of freshwater marshland on the banks of the Back and Savannah Rivers can't go ahead, the Fourth Circuit ruled today. When a developer sought to flood longstanding freshwater marshes with saltwater, the environmental group argued that doing so would remove important habitat and release contaminants.

Except, after the suit was filed, the developers found that the freshwater marshes were in fact already quite salty. Saltier than the ocean water which would flood them. That rendered the League's suit moot, the Fourth Circuit found, since the injury they claimed can no longer be redressed.

Women seeking to end their pregnancies in North Carolina won't be forced to undergo a state-mandated ultra sound and scripted description of the fetus after the Supreme Court rejected the state's petition for cert Monday. Under the North Carolina law, doctors were required to conduct an ultrasound, describe the characteristics of the fetus, and recite a script before performing an abortion.

The Fourth Circuit invalidated that law in late December, 2014, finding it to be a violation of a woman's right to an abortion and her physician's free speech rights. The Supreme Court's refusal to hear the case means that Fourth Circuit's opinion stands.

Richard Jesus Amos, an immigrant from the Philippines, committed a sexual crime against a minor. After he served his punishment for the crime, the Department of Homeland Security came knocking.

Since the Attorney General has the power to remove any alien "who is convicted of an aggravated felony," the immigration judge heard a strong case against Amos. As might be expected, the judge ordered Amos to be removed and denied motions for reconsideration. When the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) dismissed Amos' appeal, he brought the case to the Fourth Circuit.

Schools in American have faced many challenges over the years. But at least they no longer have to deal with problems like racial segregation. Or, do they?

This month, the 4th Circuit Court ruled in a split decision that Pitt County Schools in North Carolina are officially desegregated. Although good news for the school district, this comes as a failure for the plaintiffs, who included African-American parents in the community.

Courts must fully resolve issues around the existence of an arbitration agreement, including conducting an evidentiary hearing if there are factual disputes, the Fourth Circuit ruled last Friday.

In a case involving online payday loans, a district court ruled that several banks had failed to meet their burden in showing the existence of an arbitration agreement. When the banks provided further evidence, the court refused to reconsider, finding the issue was already decided. That was wrong, according to the Fourth, who ruled that the court must determine whether arbitration was required.