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

Recently in Injury & Tort Law Category

Baltimore's State Attorney Marilyn Mosby was sued by five officers that were charged in the Freddie Gray murder case. Unfortunately for the prosecutor, she had to file an appeal to get the case tossed out as a district court judge was actually going to let the case proceed despite the strong doctrine and public policy in favor of prosecutorial immunity.

In case you forgot, or didn't know, in 2015, Freddie Gray suffered a severe injury and died while in custody. Mosby was the state prosecuting attorney that brought the charges against the officers. After three of the officers' cases were dismissed after a jury trial, the remaining charges were dropped. However, five of the officers that faced charges decided to sue their prosecutor for malicious prosecution.

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.

The company behind an implantable transvaginal mesh medical device, Boston Scientific Corporation, failed to convince the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals that the lower district court helped the jury make the wrong decision.

The appeal was over four cases that were consolidated into one action due to the commonality of the cause of plaintiffs' injuries. The plaintiffs' injuries all involved Boston Scientific's transvaginal mesh implant. Notably, one of the component manufacturers clearly labeled their product in the Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) to avoid use in permanent or long term implantable devices. Nevertheless, Boston Scientific used the component, and not surprisingly, many individuals suffered complications as a result.

Insurance Won't Cover Injury Due to 'Playing Around' With Gun

In a decision that probably won't surprise many, the Fourth Circuit found that an employer-insurer was under no duty to indemnify a gunshot wound to a third party after the employee "play[ed] around" with his gun. The decision is important because it gives a little bit more clarity to both employers and employees as to what actions are covered under the "work related" language of insurance policies.

Practitioners should note, however, that the ruling is unpublished and does not yet have precedential effect. Nonetheless, the cases cited within appear to be strong and good law for those within the Fourth Circuit. And it appears that shooting your friend in your apartment is not work related.

4th Cir. Sidelines College Football Player Who Survived Heatstroke

Gavin Class, the Towson University football lineman who underwent a staggering 14 surgeries after he nearly died of heatstroke during practice will not be returning to the field, ruled the Court of Appeals.

The 4th Circuit ruled that it was required to defer to Towson University's policies and judgment regarding whether or not Class could be cleared to play. Despite the setback, the court praised Class for his accomplishments and declared that he "can be proud to tell his story."

ACLU Appeals School's Bathroom Ban on Transgender Student

The ACLU has filed an appeal to the Fourth Circuit in a case involving Gavin Grimm, a transgender student who has sought to overturn a ban against his use of the boys' bathroom at his school. The Gloucester County Public Schools (GCPS) in Virginia put into practice a rule that has the effect of keeping Grimm out of the boys' bathroom, even though he identifies as male.

The ACLU has described the practice as a discriminatory bathroom policy, and has also claimed that the policy is in violation of Equal Protection and Title IX of the U.S. Education Amendments of 1972.

Charles Harris worked on the sixth floor of the Black Bear Preparation Plant which, sadly, was a coal loading facility, not a bear manufacturing facility. One day, Norfolk Southern railroad, owners of the trains and track receiving coal, backed a train along a corroded section of track. The train derailed, with train cars crashing into the Black Bear loading facility's support beams and sending it, and Harris, crashing to the ground.

Harris sued, alleging that Norfolk Southern was, through its negligence, liable for its injuries. While the railroad had failed to inspect the track as required by federal regulations, that failure alone wasn't enough to establish proximate cause as a matter of law, the Fourth Circuit ruled last week.

Security Services of America is not liable for damages caused by its security guard who burned down a subdivision he was charged with protecting, the Fourth Circuit ruled last Friday. A state law, the Maryland Security Guard Act, did not expand the company's liability beyond traditional doctrines of respondeat superior.

Aaron Speed was working as a security guard with SSA when he and several accomplices committed one of the largest arsons in Maryland history, burning down 10 under-construction houses and damaging 16 others. The racially motivated arson, committed in 2004, caused $10 million in damage. Speed had been hired by SSA to guard the construction site.

Teen's Controversial Penis Pic Prosecution Spawns Defamation Suit

This was already one of the most ridiculous criminal cases to ever come out of Virginia, and now, it has spawned an equally ridiculous civil lawsuit.

Regular readers might recall the case from earlier this year, where Virginia police obtained a warrant to bring a teen to a hospital and photographed his erect penis, using an injection to induce the erection if necessary. The ridiculous warrant was part of an equally ridiculous prosecution of a 17-year-old kid who sent a picture of his penis to his 15-year-old girlfriend. Both send nude pics, but only he was charged.

4 From the 4th: Bank Robber, False Claims Act Qui Tam Case SOL?

We quipped that the Tenth Circuit's two SCOTUS-bound cases were the most boring you'd hear all year long. Apparently, we were wrong. Meet the case that has twin issues: a "first to file" limit on related qui tam actions, as well as a six-year-statute of limitations that bars claims ... except maybe, when we're in wartime. Kellogg Brown & Root Services, Inc. v. United States ex rel. Carter is not a case you'll want to read before operating heavy machinery.

Fortunately, the final case in the Fourth Circuit's four-pack is Whitfield v. U.S., an attempted bank robbery case that includes a botched indictment, a lady who was frightened to death, and a wee bit of statutory interpretation. The second case, folks, is fascinating.