Articles Posted in U.S. 4th Circuit Court of Appeals

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Crane, one of the many defendants in this asbestos litigation, removed this case to federal court, asserting a federal defense to plaintiff's state tort claims. Plaintiff amended his complaint, eliminating the claims underlying that federal defense, and the district court remanded to state court. Crane appealed. The court concluded that it had jurisdiction over the appeal because this case was originally removed under the federal officer removal statute. The court affirmed the district court's decision to remand where Crane complained that it should have been given the opportunity to assert a new basis for federal jurisdiction but it had declined to do so in a timely fashion. View "Wood v. Crane Co." on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed suit against the EPA seeking declaratory relief in connection with its administrative enforcement proceedings against her. CBF moved to intervene but the district court denied the motion as untimely. The court concluded that when CBF moved to intervene, the proceedings had already reached a relatively advanced stage. Further, CBF conceded that its belated intervention would cause some delay and would require plaintiffs to expend "extra effort." CBF's deliberate forbearance understandably engendered little sympathy. Accordingly, the court concluded that the district court did not abuse its discretion in denying the motion to intervene. View "Chesapeake Bay Foundation v. Alt" on Justia Law

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Flying Pigs filed suit in state court against RRAJ to enforce an equitable lien against certain trademarks and associated goodwill now owned by RRAJ. RRAJ removed to federal court and the district court denied Flying Pigs's motion to remand to state court and then granted RRAJ's Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss the complaint with prejudice. The court concluded that the "necessarily raised" requirement for a "significant" federal issue had not been satisfied. Flying Pigs has not filed a complaint arising under federal law; it had initiated a foreclosure proceeding in state court to enforce an equitable lien under North Carolina law. Accordingly, the court vacated the judgment and remanded for the return of the litigation to state court. View "Flying Pigs, LLC v. RRAJ Franchising, LLC" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs, foreign nationals, alleged that they were tortured and otherwise mistreated by American civilian and military personnel while detained at Abu Ghraib. CACI, a corporation domiciled in the United States, contracted with the United States to provide private interrogators to interrogate detainees at Abu Ghraib. Plaintiffs alleged that CACI employees instigated, directed, participated in, encouraged, and aided and abetted conduct towards detainees that clearly violated federal and international law. The court concluded that the Supreme Court's decision in Kiobel v. Royal Dutch Petroleum Co. does not foreclose plaintiffs' claims under the Alien Tort Statute, 28 U.S.C. 1350, and that the district court erred in reaching a contrary conclusion. In light of Kiobel, the court held that plaintiffs' claims "touch and concern" the territory of the United States with sufficient force to displace the presumption against extraterritorial application of the Alien Tort Statute. Because the court was unable to determine whether the claims presented nonjusticiable political questions, the court did not reach the additional issue of the district court's dismissal of plaintiffs' common law claims. The court vacated the district court's judgment with respect to all plaintiffs' claims and remanded. View "Al Shimari v. CACI Premier Technology, Inc." on Justia Law

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The district court entered a Rule 60(a) clarifying order imposing sanctions on plaintiffs' attorney, Peter A.T. Sartin. Sartin hired the McNair Firm to represent him and to appeal the clarifying order, but the McNair Firm filed the notice of appeal two days late. The appeal was voluntarily abandoned. Sartin then filed a malpractice suit against the McNair Firm and the district court granted the Firm's motion for summary judgment. The court concluded that the district court's original intent was to impose sanctions on Sartin individually and, therefore, that the district court did not abuse its discretion in giving effect to that intent in its Rule 60(a) clarification order. Because the court concluded that the district court's earlier case properly employed Rule 60(a), the court affirmed the district court's conclusion in this case that the McNair Firm's failure to appeal the earlier Rule 60(a) clarification order caused Sartin no injury. The court disposed of Sartin's remaining arguments and affirmed the judgment of the district court. View "Sartin v. McNair Law Firm PA" on Justia Law

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Norfolk Southern appealed the district court's order remanding to state court a claim brought against it under the Federal Employers' Liability Act (FELA), 45 U.S.C. 51-60. Norfolk also petitioned for a writ of mandamus vacating the district court's order and either dismissing the case, or alternatively, remanding to the district court to address the merits of its federal defense to the FELA claim. The court concluded that 28 U.S.C. 1447(d) barred review of the district court's order by appeal or via mandamus; Norfolk Southern has not established entitlement to mandamus relief because it has not shown a clear and indisputable right to such relief; and, accordingly, the court dismissed Norfolk Southern's appeal and deny its mandamus petition. View "In re: Norfolk Southern Railway Co." on Justia Law

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GEICO appealed the district court's order granting partial summary judgment against them on the issue of liability in an action asserting denial of overtime pay under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), 29 U.S.C. 201 et seq. Plaintiffs cross-appealed an order granting partial summary judgment against them on several issues relating to the remedy to be awarded. With no final decision to review, the court concluded that it lacked jurisdiction to consider the appeals before it. Accordingly, the court dismissed the appeals. View "Calderon v. GEICO General Ins. Co." on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs filed suit against Colgate and others, asserting that each of the defendants' products had at some point exposed them to asbestos. Colgate removed to federal court on the basis of diversity citizenship. The district court remanded to federal court. The federal removal statute immunizes from review any order remanding to state court a case removed to federal court, with an exception for certain civil rights cases or suits against federal officers. Colgate argued that a federal court may strike a remand order and retrieve a remanded case from its state cousin as a sanction against plaintiffs' counsel for making misrepresentation to the federal court related to the existence of subject-matter jurisdiction. In the face of Congress' explicit direction to federal courts that an order remanding a case for lack of subject-matter jurisdiction after it has been removed "is not reviewable on appeal or otherwise, " 28 U.S.C. 1447(d), the court rejected Colgate's collateral attack on the remand orders and affirmed the order of the district court insofar as it ruled that it lacked jurisdiction. View "Barlow v. Colgate Palmolive Co." on Justia Law

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Respondent filed suit in state court against multiple defendants alleging various construction defects in her home. Petitioners, a subset of defendants, filed a petition in federal court to compel respondent to arbitrate her claims against them based on an arbitration clause in the warranty. The court remanded to the district court with directions to dismiss the petition for want of subject matter jurisdiction because petitioners failed to join necessary and indispensable parties, some of which were non-diverse from resopndent, under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 19. View "Home Buyers Warranty Corp. v. Hanna" on Justia Law