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

Court: Copying Confidential Files Not OK for Title VII Claims

Catherine D. Netter had an unblemished service record for nearly 20 years at the Guilford County Sheriff's Office.

Working as a prison guard, she performed faithfully until one fateful day. She received her first disciplinary sanction, but it disqualified her for a promotion.

That's when everything started going south in Netter v. Barnes. She tried to prove discrimination, and that was the beginning of the end.

Hog Farm Gag Order Went Too Far, 4th Circuit Rules

You can't make silk out of a sow's ear, but the U.S. Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals did its best.

In re. Murphy-Brown, LLC, a trial judge issued a gag order in a case over conditions at hog farms. The appeals court reversed, saying judges can restrain speech only as a last resort.

The judicial panel said the order "hamstrung" the exercise of First Amendment rights.

Manafort to Be Sentenced Feb. 8

Paul Manafort's guilty plea may have put an end to one trial, but he'll have to wait until early next year to find out his fate after the big jury verdict.

On February 8, 2019, the Manafort will be back in the federal district court for his sentencing, likely again in a prison jumpsuit, as his request to be allowed to wear a suit during sentencing was denied. Legal commentators believe he will receive 7 to 10 years as a result of these charges, but may end up with a longer sentence depending on what happens in Robert Mueller's other case against him that resulted in his plea.

For game developers these days, suing YouTubers is becoming more and more of a thing.

The creators of Fortnite, the current game that the whole world seems to be going crazy over, don't seem to have any qualm with going after the Tubers that are helping other gamers cheat. It was recently reported that the company filed a lawsuit against a video game YouTuber that goes by the handle Golden Modz. Apparently, Mr. Modz wasn't just teaching people how to cheat, he sells his cheating services.

The legal complaint was filed by Epic Games in the North Carolina Federal Court.

Court Tosses Mountain Valley Pipeline Permit

A federal appeals court threw out a critical permit for the Mountain Valley Pipeline, sending engineers back to the drawing board.

In Sierra Club v. United States Army Corps of Engineers, the U.S. Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals said the defendants could not substitute one construction standard for another to push the pipeline project.

The decision was a setback for the pipeline and a win for environmentalists, and it didn't take long. The appeals court issued its opinion four days after hearing the parties' arguments.

The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals recently heard oral arguments in Loudoun County (Virginia) Chair Phyllis Randall's request to overturn the federal district court's ruling that her blocking constituent Brian Davison violated the First Amendment.

The case, like others that have been recently decided, raises many questions about whether and when social media becomes a public forum, and what limits government officials have when it comes to censoring constituents and others on various social media platforms.

In a recent Fourth Circuit appellate argument, Judge Roger Gregory explicitly stated his skepticism over a longstanding precedent allowing eminent domain property seizures prior to landowners being compensated.

The case before the appellate panel was brought by landowners in Virginia and West Virginia who are challenging the taking to create the Mountain Valley Pipeline, a 300-plus mile natural gas pipeline. Unfortunately for the landowners, the district court ruled that the construction could move forward and the companies involved could seize the land, before the landowners have been paid.

Discrimination Suit Revived Against Mobile Home Park

A federal appeals court opened the door for Latino residents to sue their mobile home park for requiring them to prove they are legal residents.

In Reyes v. Waples Mobile Home Park, the U.S. Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals said the plaintiffs sufficiently alleged the park discriminated against Latinos. The appeals panel vacated a trial court decision to dismiss the case.

However, the battle is far from over. It's not quite an episode of "Trailer Park Wars," but there was a strong dissent.

Court: Coal Ash Pollution Doesn't Violate Clean Water Act

To the Sierra Club, Hurricane Florence is even more dangerous than has been reported.

That's because the environmentalists are watching coal ash ponds along Elizabeth River and Deep Creek in Virginia. In Sierra Club v. Virginia Electric & Power Company, they argue arsenic is leaching from the ponds into the rivers and groundwater.

The U.S. Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals said that may be true, but it is not a violation of the Clean Water Act. Attorneys for the club say the hurricane will show just how "dangerous and irresponsible" it is.

Meet the 36-Year-Old Pick for 4th Circuit

President Trump has a plan to appoint younger judges, and Allison Jones Rushing fits that plan.

At 36, Rushing is the youngest nominee to a federal appeals court in 15 years. She also fits the generally youthful profile for potential judges who made the president's recent short list for the U.S. Supreme Court.

Rushing will have to put in some years on the U.S. Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals before she makes that list. Of course, she has to make it to the appeals court first.