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


Maryland Drug-Pricing Law Overturned

Lawrence Hogan, Jr. is not a lawyer, but he knows a bad law when he sees one.

Hogan, the rare Republican governor of Maryland, told state legislators that he would not sign their bill because it was unconstitutional. It became law without his signature, but that was not the end of it.

The end came two years later when the U.S. Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals struck the law against price-gouging sales of prescription drugs. It's unconstitutional, the appeals court said.

The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals has an easy lesson for those individuals looking to set up fantastically named shell companies to funnel their money and lives through: You can still get reverse pierced just like It's Thundertime LLC.

Reverse piercing of the veil applies to situations where a third party is seeking to hold the corporation liable for the member's action. As the owner of It's Thundertime LLC learned the hard way, if you commingle, then the courts will pierce it, in forward or reverse. Direct TV's case against Randy Coley, aka, the owner of It's Thundertime, had a $2.3 million judgment that reverse pierced the veil upheld on appeal.

Groupon Defeats Class Action Strategy

Half the battle is having a strategy to win; the other half is winning the battle.

Erin Keena's lawyers had a strategy to get around an order to arbitrate. It was to request dismissal of their client's complaint, and then appeal from the final judgment.

The strategy may have worked in the past, but not in Keena v. Groupon. The U.S. Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals said it didn't have jurisdiction because the plaintiff voluntarily dismissed her case.

The federal district court in Maryland has ruled that the case against President Donald Trump's hotel in Washington, D.C., alleging unfair competition and violation of the emoluments clause, can proceed.

Fortunately for the president, the court did limit the case only to the Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C. That means Mar-a-Lago and other Trump properties cannot be included in the lawsuit. Although a similar case out of New York had been dismissed for a lack of standing, the Maryland federal district court found that both D.C. and Maryland had standing to sue over the Trump International Hotel in D.C.

Sunken Pirate Ship Raised in Copyright Case

Bloody Blackbeard and his ship perished off the coast of North Carolina, but they nearly appeared before the U.S. Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals.

Judge Paul Niemeyer summoned up the notorious pirate during oral arguments about underwater footage of his wreck, Queen Anne's Revenge. The vessel sunk in Beaufort Inlet, the scene of the ship's last voyage.

At one point, the judge said he checked the internet for the disputed images of Blackbeard and his ship but couldn't find them. Oddly, it may determine whether the lawsuit lives or dies.

'Disturbing' Law Seeks to Protect Students

Judges are not supposed to read the newspapers in making their decisions, but it's hard to ignore the news.

According to reports, there has been an average of one school shooting each week in 2018. The number of student victims is even more sobering.

In the U.S Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, the judges had to look beyond the news when considering a "disturbing schools law." Nobody was close to being shot in Kenny v. Wilson, but apparently lawmakers were not sure about how to keep the troublemakers away.

Teenager's Privacy Rights Search Warrant Case Goes Back to Court

There is no happy ending to this story, but someday Trey Sims may find closure to his disturbing case.

In 2014, police forced the then-teenager to masturbate in front of them ostensibly as part of an alleged sex crime investigation. The boy had texted sexually explicit photos and video of himself to his 15-year-old girlfriend, and they wanted to see if his penis matched the photos.

Sims served probation, then sued the police for violating his privacy. Before his case got to trial, however, the lead detective committed suicide as police came to arrest him for molesting two other boys.

ProTip: If you plan on breaking the law in the exact same way as one of your favorite rap lyrics describes (or any rap lyric that you are aware of; it doesn't have to be a favorite), just don't. And definitely don't post the lyric to your Facebook page unless you want it to be used against you at your criminal trial.

How can people think it's okay to quote songs or make up lyrics on Facebook -- or while sitting in a jail cell -- that perfectly describe the crimes they're being accused of? Seriously? One case from 2006 (cited by Fourth Circuit) details a defendant that sang "I shot the sheriff, but in my case it was the deputy" while in jail awaiting sentencing for shooting a sheriff's deputy.

'Peace Cross' Conflict Continues

An appeals court battle over Maryland's 40-foot 'Peace Cross' is over, but the conflict will go on.

The U.S. Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals refused en banc to hear American Humanist Association v. Maryland National Capital Park and Planning Commission. A three-judge panel ruled last year that the World War I memorial had the "primary effect of endorsing religion and exclusively entangles the government in religion."

The en banc court, split by multiple dissenters, declined to reconsider that decision. In the meantime, the "Peace Cross" supporters are taking their fight to the next level.

Court: Manufacturer Not Liable for WaveRunner Injury

When you see youngsters racing by on motorcycles, you might wonder if they make it to adulthood.

Chances are they do, but it helps if they have a helmet, boots and other protective clothing. Now think about those kids skimming across the ocean on those water motorcycles.

They may not need helmets, but they definitely need protective wear. Deborah Meek Hickerson didn't think so in Hickerson v. Yamaha Motor Corporation, U.S.A.