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Judge J. Harvie Wilkinson III

May 23, 2023

College prevails on professor’s retaliation claims

Where a college professor argued she was terminated for unlawful reasons, but the record showed the decision was because she was not a good fit for the college and because of reports of threatening and unprofessional behavior, the college prevailed on the retaliation claims. Background In 2017, Summer Lashley signed a one-year contract to teach […]

May 9, 2023

Amtrak employee’s Title VII claims must be arbitrated

Where an Amtrak employee alleged that she was subjected to discrimination made unlawful under Title VII, but her claims necessitated the “interpretation or application” of a collective bargaining agreement, they were subject to arbitration under the Railway Labor Act. Background Congress enacted the Railway Labor Act, or RLA, to curb disruption of the rail yards, […]

Apr 25, 2023

Challenge to judges’ appointments fails

Where claimants for disability benefits argued their administrative law judges, or ALJs, were improperly appointed, because the Social Security Administration’s Acting Commissioner was ineligible for her position at the time she ratified the judges’ appointments, this argument failed. The Acting Administrator was properly serving in that role at the time. Background In December 2016, President[...]

Mar 28, 2023

Parent fails to show IDEA hearing was flawed

Where a parent argued the findings of an administrative law judge, or ALJ, who presided over a hearing on whether a school district complied with the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, or IDEA, were not entitled to deference, primarily for lack of detail, her argument was rejected. The ALJ demonstrated her “careful consideration” by making […]

Mar 7, 2023

Injunction properly issued against Dutch company

Where a Dutch entity based in the Netherlands argued the North Carolina district court impermissibly applied United States and North Carolina law extraterritorially when it preliminarily enjoined certain conduct, but the injunction addressed conduct affecting American customers, the argument failed. Background dmarcian Inc., or dInc, is headquartered in North Carolina. In 2016, it negotiated an [&[...]

Feb 13, 2023

Sentencing argument doomed by acquiescence

Where a defendant argued that the government failed to establish his prior conviction for criminal domestic violence, or CDV, was imposed “upon adjudication of guilt,” but he did not make any showing in the district court that this information in his pre-sentence report, or PSR, was incorrect and instead waived all objections to the PSR […]

Feb 5, 2023

Insurer waived argument that Connecticut law applied

Where an insurer sued for allegedly reporting false medical information about a man, causing him to become uninsurable, litigated the entire case under the substantive law of North Carolina, it waived any argument that Connecticut law applied to the dispute. The district court thus erred when it decided, after a jury found for the man, […]

Man communicating in sign language
Jan 23, 2023

Deaf man’s suit over hospital’s lack of interpreter reinstated

A deaf man who sued a hospital after it failed to provide him with an interpreter during his wife’s childbirth had his disability discrimination lawsuit reinstated by the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. The Fourth Circuit reversed the decision by the district court to dismiss the man’s claims after finding he “has plausibly pled […]

Jan 5, 2023

Deaf plaintiff’s suit against hospital reinstated

Where a deaf man alleged that hospital employees knew of a substantial likelihood that he would be unable to communicate without an appropriate auxiliary aid during his child’s birth, yet still made a conscious choice not to provide one, his disability discrimination lawsuit should not have been dismissed. Background Neil Basta, a deaf man, sought […]

Dec 21, 2022

Application for flavored e-cigarettes denied

Although the manufacturer of flavored electronic cigarettes argued that the Food and Drug Administration, or FDA, changed the standard and the types of evidence required for approval, the court joined the majority of circuits in finding that FDA neither changed the standard nor the types of evidence required. Instead, the FDA rejected the application due […]

Dec 8, 2022

Court can’t reclassify felony as misdemeanor

Where the defendant moved under the First Step Act to have his felony conviction reclassified as a misdemeanor so that he could escape the collateral consequences of the felony conviction, his motion was denied. The text of the First Step Act makes clear that it operates on extant sentences, not the classification of completed offenses […]

Dec 5, 2022

Securities claims can’t be based on puffery, boasting

Where a company offered no quantitative metrics, qualitative comparisons or other specifics to bolster its claims of “competency” and “flexibility,” those boasts reflected the natural role that puffery can play in contract formation and did not support a claim for securities fraud. Background This securities fraud lawsuit arises from a series of statements made by […]

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