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Opinion Digests

EDVA: “We buy houses” trademark generic, unenforceable (access required)

A company that obtained a trademark for the phrase “we buy houses” cannot enforce it, because the phrase was used extensively by industry participants to describe a class of services rather than any particular service provider. Background Plaintiff Express Homebuyers ...

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EDVA: Widow’s foreclosure claims don’t show breach of contract (access required)

A plaintiff allegedly trying to assume the loan obligations on a home owned by her late husband did not plausibly allege facts to support her breach-of-contract claims against the lender. The entity that conducted the foreclosure sale was dismissed as ...

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4th Cir.: Free expression not chilled by school’s initial inquiry (access required)

A university did not restrict or chill students’ speech by seeking their response to complaints that they had harassed others. The students, who’d sought and obtained university approval for a campus “Free Speech Event,” met with an official to discuss ...

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4th Cir.: Sentence-reduction motion was in feds’ discretion (access required)

By the unambiguous terms of a plea agreement, the government had discretion to determine whether the defendant had complied with his obligation under the agreement to give full and complete testimony when asked. Given this discretion, it was not required ...

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4th Cir.: No late substitute for unconstitutional predicate (access required)

After U.S. Supreme Court precedent invalidated one of the defendant’s three predicate convictions mandating a sentence enhancement under the Armed Career Criminal Act, his sentence could not be sustained by a “substitute” conviction that appeared on his pre-sentence report but ...

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WDVA: Despite firing harasser, employer could be liable (access required)

A plaintiff’s hostile-work-environment claim against his employers can proceed to trial. The plaintiff presented evidence of severe and pervasive harassing conduct based on sex, with no response by their supervisor. Despite firing both the harasser and the supervisor, the defendants ...

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CAV: Baby’s bathtub death supports dad’s loss of rights years later (access required)

The circuit court did not err in terminating the parental rights of a father of six based on his conviction for involuntary manslaughter six years earlier. The offense arose from the death of his infant daughter when he left her ...

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WDVA: Complaint served 227 days post-filing can proceed (access required)

As amended in 2015, Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 4(m) doesn’t require dismissal of a complaint served late, even with good cause not shown. Here, extending the service deadline better served the interests of justice, since it wouldn’t prejudice the ...

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WDVA: Jury should decide all three of worker’s FMLA claims (access required)

On reconsideration, an auto worker’s FMLA retaliation claim can go to trial after all. Having already found fact issues material to his other claims, the court concluded it would be inconsistent not to send the retaliation claim to the jury ...

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