Category Archives: Court Case

Private Arbitration Agreements Preclude Employee Class Actions

In Epic Systems Corp. v. Lewis, employees sued their employer in a class action for violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act. Those employees each had signed an agreement to arbitrate employment disputes under the Federal Arbitration Act, and the employer invoked those agreements to preclude the class actions. The employees argued that the National Labor Relations Act triggered... Read More >

Prior Precedents Did Not Preclude Tribal Sovereign Immunity In A Property Dispute

After the Upper Skagit Indian Tribe purchased a 40-acre parcel of land in Washington State, a survey of that parcel revealed that approximately an acre of it lay on the other side of a boundary fence, which the Tribe’s new neighbors, the Lundgrens, believed they had owned for decades. The Lundgrens file a quiet title action, and the Tribe asserted... Read More >

Complaints Of Use Of Full Restraints Moot After Criminal Cases Ended

A group of criminal defendants challenged the policy of the United States District Court for the Southern District of California, which permitted officers to put in-custody defendants in full restraints for nonjury proceedings in court. The district court denied the claims, but while the appeal before the Ninth Circuit was pending all of the cases involving those defendants resolved. The... Read More >

Drivers Have A Reasonable Expectation Of Privacy In A Car Rented By Another

In Byrd v. United States, Terrence Byrd was pulled over while driving a car rented by Latasha Reed, although the rental agreement did not list Byrd as an authorized driver. The police searched Byrd’s car and discovered 49 bricks of heroin in the trunk. Byrd moved to suppress the evidence as fruits of an unlawful search, but the district... Read More >

Court Rejects Facial-Insufficiency Challenge To Overbroad Wiretap Orders

A federal judge is only authorized to issue a wiretap order for wiretaps conducted within his or her jurisdiction. In Dahda v. United States, a Kansas federal judge issued wiretap orders authorizing wiretaps in Kansas, but also contained language permitting wiretaps in Missouri. Federal investigators conducted the wiretaps in Missouri, and the evidence they gathered led to Los and... Read More >

Court Strikes Down Federal Law Banning Sports Betting

In a 7-2 opinion by Justice Alito, the Court reversed the Third Circuit and held that the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act was unconstitutional for violating the “anticommandeering rule” inherent in the Tenth Amendment, as it impermissibly sought to regulate state regulation of sports betting. The Act in question forbid states from authorizing betting schemes based on competitive sporting... Read More >

Sixth Amendment Permits Defendant To Insist On Not Conceding Guilt For First-Degree Murder

Robert McCoy was charged with first-degree murder for killing his estranged wife’s mother, stepfather, and son. The evidence was damning, but McCoy insisted that he was innocent. His attorney at trial, Larry English, decided that the best strategy in the face of the evidence was to admit to the jury that McCoy committed the murders, but argue that his mental... Read More >

Court Strikes Portion Of Immigration and Naturalization Act as Void for Vagueness

In one of Justice Scalia’s last majority opinions before his death, the Court held that part of a federal law defining “violent crime” was unconstitutionally void for vagueness in Johnson v. United States, 576 U.S. --- (2015). The Immigration and Nationality Act similarly provided that a person could be deported for committing an “aggravated felony,” which included a “crime of... Read More >

Court Awards Qualified Immunity To Officer Who Shot Woman Claiming Excessive Force

In Kisela v. Hughes, officers reporting to a call of a woman acting erratically with a large knife discovered Ms. Hughes emerging from her house with a knife in her hand, heading toward another woman, Ms. Chadwick, who it turned out was Hughes’ roommate. Hughes stopped six feet from Chadwick, and the officers drew their firearms and told Hughes... Read More >

Service Advisors Are Exempt From Fair Labor Standards Act Overtime-Pay Requirement

The Fair Labor Standards Act exempted “any salesman, partsman, or mechanic primarily engaged in selling or servicing automobiles” from overtime-pay requirements under the Act. In Encino Motorcars, LLC v. Navarro, a group of service advisors sued for overtime pay under the Act when the Department of Labor decided in 2011 that they were excluded from the exemption. The Court... Read More >

D.C. Court of Appeals: TOPA Extensions Must Be Defined To Preserve Tenant Rights

In an important new ruling construing the Tenants Opportunity to Purchase Act (“TOPA”), the D.C. Court of Appeals held on September 23, 2015, that extensions of the deadlines for a seller and a tenant association to negotiate a sales contract must be express and contain a definite end-date to... Read More >

Conservation Lawsuit Revived—Whether Act Is Inconsistent With Another Law Does Not Deprive Court Of Jurisdiction

The Fourth Circuit again reversed dismissals under Rule 12(b) in Goldfarb v. Mayor and City Council of Baltimore, in a case regarding contamination claims brought under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, 42 USC sec. 6901, et seq. The City of Baltimore gave a parcel of land near the Patapsco River, formerly used for... Read More >

U.S. Supreme Court: Same-Sex Marriage Is a Right

[caption id="attachment_315" align="alignright" width="150"] Photo Credit: US Rep. Mark Pocan Twitter[/caption] Coincidentally timed on the anniversary of the decisions in Lawrence v. Texas and U.S. v. Windsor, two prior gay-rights cases, Justice Kennedy announced the majority opinion in Obergefell v. Hodges, in which the five-person majority held that the Fourteenth Amendment requires all... Read More >

Maryland Court of Appeals: Breeding v. Koste

The Maryland Court of Appeals held in Breeding v. Koste that the “woodlands exception” applied in cases involving prescriptive easements also applies to adverse possession where the land at issue is unimproved or otherwise in a general state of nature. The exception holds that in such circumstances, there is a legal presumption that the claimant’s use is by... Read More >

MD Court of Special Appeals: Greentree Series V, Inc. v. Hofmeister

In a matter of first impression, the Maryland Court of Special Appeals held in Greentree Series V, Inc. v. Hofmeister that the word “or” in Md. Rule 14-305(g) was to be read literally to give a trial court an either/or option, thus precluding the trial court from granting both options in relief. The Rule in question states that when a... Read More >

DC: Defect in notice of foreclosure did not create substantial risk of misleading record owner

 In Dennis T. Comer v. Wells Fargo Bank, NA, No. 13-CV-1025 (D.C. Jan. 29, 2015), the D.C. Court of Appeals was called upon to review whether the trial court had properly dismissed counts of an amended complaint in connection with a wrongful disclosure In 2008, Mr. Comer was approved for... Read More >

DC: Filing a lis pendens may expose filer to claim if the underlying lawsuit was filed in bad faith

In Havilah Real Property Services, LLC v. VLK, LLC, et al., the D.C Court of Appeals recently addressed the merits of litigation and the privilege associated with the recordation of lis pendens in a lengthy dispute between Havilah and VLK that was directly related to a personal dispute between... Read More >

DC: L&T Insufficiency of Service of Process and Insufficient Intent to Occupy to Terminate Leasehold

Landlord’s claim to occupy premises for “immediate” use fails because the intent to occupy is in the future and claim of “occupancy” also fails because Landlord only intends to occupy the property sporadically, which falls short of constituting “occupancy”. Service upon a spouse in a residence without further inquiry by process server does not constitute service upon the defendant... Read More >