Articles Posted in US Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit

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After the merger of RCA and AFIN, RCA shareholders filed suit alleging that the proxy statement was false and misleading under federal securities laws. In this case, the shareholders alleged that the proxy statements and omissions regarding (A) the AFIN NAV; (B) the sale of the Merrill Lynch properties; (C) SunTrust Bank; and (D) the AFIN Standalone Projections were materially misleading. The Fourth Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal of the claims, holding that the statements the shareholders complained of were not false or misleading and the alleged omissions were addressed by narrowly tailored warning language. View "Paradise Wire & Cable Defined Benefit Pension Plan v. Weil" on Justia Law

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Trana, a developer of technology that could help find new drugs to treat HIV, filed suit against Southern, a contract research organization, for fraud and negligent representation. Trana alleged that Southern failed to identify certain promising compounds as potential HIV treatments (false negatives results) and Southern falsely identified other compounds as potential treatments when in fact they were not (false positives results). The Fourth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment for Southern, holding that Trana's false negatives theory represented an attempt to shoehorn a claim for professional negligence or breach of contract into one for negligent misrepresentation. Furthermore, in regard to the false positives theory, Trana has not presented any theory that explains the reasonableness of pursuing patents on compounds that it knew had no commercial value. Therefore, Trana's reliance on the false positives was unreasonable. View "Trana Discovery, Inc. v. Southern Research Institute" on Justia Law

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Verisign filed suit against XYZ, alleging false advertising based on a false "gold rush" scheme involving domain names. The district court ultimately granted summary judgment for XYZ, but denied it attorney fees under the Lanham Act, 15 U.S.C. 1117(a). The Fourth Circuit held that a prevailing party need only prove an exceptional case by a preponderance of the evidence, rather than by clear and convincing evidence. The court further clarified that a prevailing party need not establish that the losing party acted in bad faith in order to prove an exceptional case. Therefore, the court remanded for the district court to consider the motion under the appropriate legal and evidentiary standards. View "Verisign, Inc. v. XYZ.Com LLC" on Justia Law

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Verisign filed suit against XYZ, alleging false advertising based on a false "gold rush" scheme involving domain names. The district court ultimately granted summary judgment for XYZ, but denied it attorney fees under the Lanham Act, 15 U.S.C. 1117(a). The Fourth Circuit held that a prevailing party need only prove an exceptional case by a preponderance of the evidence, rather than by clear and convincing evidence. The court further clarified that a prevailing party need not establish that the losing party acted in bad faith in order to prove an exceptional case. Therefore, the court remanded for the district court to consider the motion under the appropriate legal and evidentiary standards. View "Verisign, Inc. v. XYZ.Com LLC" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs filed suit against Cadrillion, Legacy North Carolina, and James Yuhas, alleging claims for breach of contract, conversion, abuse of process, and unfair and deceptive trade practices. The Fourth Circuit held that, by failing to pay the Call Price owed under the Agreement, Cadrillion breached a duty it assumed only as a result of that contract. Therefore, the economic loss rule applied and Cadrillion and Yuhas were entitled to judgment as a matter of law on plaintiffs' conversion claim. Because the court reversed as to the conversion claim, leaving plaintiffs with only a breach of contract claim, the court must also reverse the punitive damages award. Because the court reversed on the conversion claim and remanded for a new trial on contract damages, the results obtained and extent to which plaintiffs prevailed may substantially change. Therefore, the court vacated the district court's grant of attorneys' fees and remanded for the district court to reassess the proper amount of fees. The court also held that the district court did not err in granting judgment as a matter of law in favor of Cadrillion and Yuhas on the abuse of process claim. Finally, the court affirmed the district court's judgment on the abuse of process and unfair and deceptive trade practices claim. View "Legacy Data Access, Inc. v. Cadrillion, LLC" on Justia Law

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The district court granted DIRECTV’s motion to reverse pierce the corporate veil, finding that Randy Coley's limited liability companies were alter egos of Mr. Coley and were therefore subject to execution of DIRECTV's judgment against him. At issue was whether application of Delaware law in this case permitted the remedy of reverse piercing a corporate veil of an LLC, when the LLC has been determined to be the alter ego of its sole member. The Fourth Circuit affirmed the district court's decision to allow this remedy, based on the court's consideration of existing Delaware law and of the overwhelming evidence that the LLCs at issue were alter egos of Mr. Coley. The court also affirmed the balance of the district court's judgment. View "Coley v. DIRECTV, Inc." on Justia Law

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Plaintiff Simply Wireless, Inc. appealed a district court order dismissing its complaint against Defendants T-Mobile US, Inc. and T-Mobile USA, Inc. (collectively, “T-Mobile”). Upon determining that the parties’ business relationship was governed by a written agreement containing a mandatory arbitration clause, the district court went on to determine that the scope of that arbitration clause included all of Simply Wireless’s claims against T-Mobile. After review, the Fourth Circuit concluded the district court erred in determining the scope of the parties’ arbitration clause, as the parties "clearly and unmistakably" intended for an arbitrator to resolve all arbitrability disputes. Nonetheless, because the parties intended for an arbitrator to resolve all arbitrability disputes, the district court’s ultimate dismissal of Simply Wireless’s complaint in favor of arbitration was proper. Accordingly, the Fourth Circuit affirmed the district court’s dismissal, but on alternate grounds. View "Simply Wireless, Inc. v. T-Mobile US, Inc." on Justia Law

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The Fourth Circuit affirmed the Board's holding that Frontier-Kemper was responsible for the payment of benefits to a coal miner under the Black Lung Benefits Act (BLBA), 30 U.S.C. 901 et seq. Frontier Constructors and Kemper Construction formed a partnership that worked on heavy construction projects. The Partnership later reorganized into a newly-formed corporation, Frontier-Kemper. The court agreed with the Board that Frontier-Kemper was a successor operator and that the miner's employment with both Frontier-Kemper and the Partnership could be combined in determining Frontier-Kemper's potential liability; there was no retroactive effect in applying the expanded definition of "operator" to the Partnership for the purpose of combining the miner's employment there with his later work at Frontier-Kemper; and the ALJ correctly found that the miner worked for Frontier-Kemper and the Partnership cumulatively for at least one year. View "Frontier-Kemper Constructors, Inc. v. DOWCP" on Justia Law

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OpenRisk filed suit against MicroStrategy after MicroStrategy continued to provide services to OpenRisk's ex-employees after they had left and formed a new company. The Fourth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment to MicroStrategy and held that the federal Copyright Act preempted OpenRisk's computer fraud claims under the Virginia Computer Crimes Act (VCCA). The court explained that the core of OpenRisk's VCCA claims was the unauthorized copying and transfer of its data, and that claim was "equivalent to" a copyright infringement action and was thus preempted. The court also held that MicroStrategy was entitled to summary judgment on OpenRisk's remaining claims of computer trespass, tortious interference, and conspiracy. View "OpenRisk, LLC v. MicroStrategy Services Corp." on Justia Law