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Civil Rights

Civil Rights – Lawyer Fee Reduced for ‘Paltry’ Jury Award

McAfee v. Boczar The 4th Circuit reduces an attorney’s fee award of $322,340.50 to a flat fee of $100,000, in this suit in which the plaintiff won a jury award of $2,943.60 for her claim that defendant deputy sheriff violated her Fourth Amendment rights by arresting her without probable cause to believe the plaintiff had violated a Virginia statute requiring disclosure of the location of a dog who bit plaintiff.

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Civil Rights – Deputy Wins $1.1M for Free Speech Violation

Durham v. Jones The 4th Circuit upholds a $1.1 million jury award to a deputy sheriff who was fired in retaliation for reporting to state and local officials and the news media that superior officers threatened and then terminated the deputy for his refusal to change his internal reports about his use of pepper spray and physical force to subdue a fleeing motorcyclist, which his superiors feared might lead to a lawsuit against the sheriff’s office.

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Civil Rights – Fee Cap Upheld for Inmate Assault Suit

Wilkins v. Officer Gaddy The 4th Circuit rejects plaintiff prisoner’s constitutional challenge to a provision of the Prison Litigation Reform Act of 1995 that caps recovery of attorney’s fees for an inmate’s successful civil rights claims, and upholds a district court’s award of $1.40 of plaintiff’s asserted $92,306 in attorney’s fees for his recovery of $1.00 in nominal damages for winning his suit alleging injuries from a beating by a prison guard.

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Civil Rights – Search & Seizure – Tort/Negligence – Slander

Grimmett v. Hamilton Even though the complaint alleges that a domestic dispute had occurred, plaintiff alleges that he was the victim; however, defendants arrested plaintiff, allegedly without probable cause. Since defendants did not file any evidence in support of their motion for summary judgment, their conclusory statements are insufficient to entitle them to summary judgment on the ground of qualified immunity.

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Civil Rights – Rehearing Denied in Reporter Shield Case

U.S. v. Sterling The 4th Circuit denies rehearing en banc of its July 19 decision that a news reporter does not have a First Amendment or common law shield to protect him from testifying at the criminal prosecution of a former CIA agent on trial for disclosure of national defense information, allegedly used in the reporter’s book.

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Civil Rights – Constitutional – Fourth Amendment Seizure – Excessive Force Claim – Taser – Tort/Negligence – Assault & Battery

Gilyard v. Benson Where plaintiff did not comply with a deputy sheriff’s directives, walked towards the deputy, took a combative body stance, and said, “Stun me” in response to the deputy’s taser warning, a reasonable officer could have believed force would be necessary to place handcuffs on plaintiff.

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