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

July 2012 Archives

Fourth Circuit Refuses to Apply CFAA to Employee Data Breach

Mike Miller resigned from his position as Project Director for WEC Carolina Energy Solutions, Inc. (WEC). Twenty days later, he made a presentation to a potential WEC customer on behalf of WEC's competitor, Arc Energy Services, Inc. (Arc). The customer ultimately chose to do business with Arc.

WEC contends that before resigning, Miller, acting at Arc's direction, downloaded WEC's proprietary information and used it in making the presentation. WEC sued Miller, his assistant Emily Kelley, and Arc for, among other things, violating the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA). The district court dismissed WEC's CFAA claim, holding that the CFAA provides no relief for an employee data breach.

This week, the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed that decision.

Misstated Maximum? Defendant Not Entitled to Lesser Sentence

The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals held this week that a defendant is not bound by his appeal waiver if he was incorrectly told that his maximum sentence would be shorter than the mandatory minimum sentence.

But that doesn't mean that a court must adjust the defendant's sentence.

4th Cir Asks W. Va. Supreme Court to Weigh in on Mining Lawsuits

The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled this week that the West Virginia Supreme Court should decide whether Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) inspectors can be held liable for coal miners' deaths, reports CBS News.

The appellate court characterized the issue as "a pure question of state law, which has not been squarely addressed," and noted that it was "a matter of exceptional importance for West Virginia."

N.C. Man Wins Civil Commitment Appeal

The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals hears a number of civil commitment proceedings appeals, thanks largely to the fact that the Federal Correctional Institute in Butner, North Carolina (FCI-Butner) already had an established sex offender treatment program in 2006 when the civil commitment procedure was adopted as part of the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act.

Civil commitment proceedings are not simply a rubber-stamp process; the government must prove through clear and convincing evidence that an offender is a sexually dangerous person who would have serious difficulty refraining to sexually-violent conduct if released. The result, according to USA Today, is that sexual predators are rarely committed through the process.

Fourth Circuit Adopts Economic Unit Approach to Household Size

Family law matters can complicate a Chapter 13 bankruptcy proceeding when determining the debtor's household size.

So how should a debtor determine her household size when she shares custody of her children? In the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, she should use a fractional, "economic unit" approach.

Va. Inmates Fail to Make Parole Case Under Iqbal-Twombly Standard

Virginia inmates seeking parole encountered a setback this week as the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals refused to reinstate their case against the Virginia Parole Board.

In a split panel decision, the Fourth Circuit concluded that the inmates had not satisfied the Iqbal-Twombly standard for pleading.

Beneficiary Can Seek Equitable Relief Remedies Under ERISA

The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled this week that equitable relief remedies are available to a life insurance beneficiary to redress violations of Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) or ERISA plans.

The Fourth Circuit panel vacated its earlier stance this week after rehearing the case.

Fourth Circuit Upholds S.C. Released-Time Programs

Last week, the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a South Carolina program that allows high school students to earn elective credits for off-campus religious education, reports The Associated Press. South Carolina is the only state that specifically permits credits for religious released-time programs.

The Freedom from Religion Foundation and the parents of two Spartanburg High students sued the school district, claiming that the policy impermissibly endorses religion and entangles church and state, in violation of the Establishment Clause.