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Feb 6, 2020

Criminal – Aggravated offense language in statute is a ‘crime of violence’

Where the statute imposed liability on a defendant convicted for assaulting a postal employee with intent to rob and placing a life in jeopardy by use of a dangerous weapon, that was categorically a crime of violence under the force clause of §924(c)(3)(A). Background In 2010, Terron Lamar Bryant was convicted of assaulting with intent […]

Feb 6, 2020

Civil Practice – Suit dismissed due to inability to join indispensable party

Although a Swiss corporation argued the missing party, a British Islands entity, was not indispensable to resolution of claims involving performance under fuel contracts, its own complaint confirmed the missing party was necessary and indispensable. Because joining the missing party would destroy subject matter jurisdiction, the case was properly dismissed. Background Gunvor SA, a Swiss […]

Feb 6, 2020

Civil Rights – No qualified immunity for officer in dog shooting

An officer who shot a privately owned dog during the course of assisting with an arrest warrant lost his bid for dismissal and qualified immunity. Although the court had not previously held that it is unreasonable for a police officer to shoot a privately owned animal when it does not pose an immediate threat to […]

Feb 6, 2020

Civil Rights – Reasonable suspicion backed strip search

Where corrections officials who were tipped off that an inmate with a history of attempting to smuggle contraband into prison might be planning to do it again stripped searched his visitor, the search was upheld because the officials, who witnessed the visitor making furtive movements, had reasonable suspicion to suspect she might be trying to […]

Feb 6, 2020

Civil Practice – Appeals – Interlocutory – Class Action Certification – Adoption Confidentiality

The circuit court certified a plaintiff class of parents who adopted special-needs children and then had their subsidies reduced by the state. The certification order is not immediately appealable because (1) it is not certain that the children’s confidential adoptive status will be disclosed (the named plaintiffs have been ordered to prepare for the circuit […]

Feb 6, 2020

Prisons & Jails – Parole – Two-Thirds Vote

In 2001, respondent was wrongly requiring the votes of five members of the parole board before it would grant parole; the relevant statute required only a two-thirds vote of the board members present (not two-thirds of the entire seven-member board). The only evidence of the vote count at petitioner’s 2001 parole hearing was that four […]

Jan 29, 2020

Medical Malpractice – Plaintiff’s case doomed by her own expert’s testimony

Where the plaintiff’s own expert during a deposition refused to express her opinion to a reasonable degree of medical certainty that the plaintiff aspirated thin liquids, the defect could not be cured with a later-submitted affidavit. Background In this medical malpractice case, John Walter Riggins, administrator of the estate of Nellie Riggins, appeals rulings of […]

Jan 29, 2020

Trusts & Estates – Challenge to Transactions – Statute of Limitations – Equitable Estoppel/Tolling – Imputed Knowledge

Statute of limitations could not be equitably estopped or tolled where decedent’s attorney had knowledge of the facts underlying the estate’s claim that could be imputed to decedent. We grant defendants’ motion for partial summary judgment based on the statute of limitations. Defendants, in their individual capacities and their capacities as co-trustees and beneficiaries, and […]

Jan 29, 2020

Criminal – Convictions against malware creator upheld

Where the jury was properly instructed, the district court did not err in answering a question from the jury, the defendant was permitted to develop his defense theory through cross-examination of an FBI agent and the jury’s verdict was supported by the evidence, the defendant’s convictions for his role in creating and operating an online […]

Jan 29, 2020

Contract – School board could terminate software contract

Where a multiyear software subscription contract was subject to an “appropriations” clause, and the record showed North Carolina’s Johnston County Board of Education decided not to appropriate money to the contract after the first year, the school board prevailed on the breach of contract claim. Background In this appeal, we review an order dismissing a […]

Jan 29, 2020

Civil Practice – Suit improperly dismissed as attack on state-court decision

Where a suit filed in federal court alleged the defendants engaged in fraudulent conduct in prosecuting defamation suits in state court, it was not an attack on the state-court judgments and, as such, was not barred by the Rooker-Feldman doctrine. Background In April 2006, Lawton Limehouse Sr., and his son, Lawton Limehouse Jr., filed separate […]

Jan 29, 2020

Civil Practice – False Claims action can’t proceed without lawyer

Where an appellant brought a qui tam action pro se, the court joined other circuits in holding a relator cannot bring a pro se qui tam action under the False Claims Act, or FCA, because the federal government could be bound by an adverse judgment, and allowing a pro se relator to pursue a claim […]

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