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Judge T.S. Ellis III

Jan 18, 2016

No SOX Claim for Paid Time-Off Cash-Out

A former payroll director did not engage in protected activity under the Sarbanes-Oxley whistleblower statute by reporting to her company’s corporate controller a purportedly unauthorized $856 cash payout for paid time off to a company employee; no reasonable juror could conclude the payroll director reasonably believed the payout violated internal financial controls and the Alexandria […[...]

Jan 12, 2016

Suit for Installment Payments Not Time-Barred

Although a default provision in plaintiff sellers’ installment contract for their business shows an intent that the contract is indivisible, the provision is an unenforceable penalty under Virginia law and the contract is divisible and not all of plaintiffs’ breach of contract claims are time-barred, says an Alexandria U.S. District Court. Plaintiffs allege they contracted […]

Jan 12, 2016

Applicant Must Exhaust Remedies for Nine-Year Delay

An Alexandria U.S. District Court denies a naturalization applicant’s suit for injunctive relief or a writ of mandamus as he has failed to exhaust his administrative remedies and there is no factual or legal basis for a writ of mandamus; although the federal circuits have split on the issue, this court says there is no […]

Jan 8, 2016

Unenforceable clause saves contract case

The seller of a cell phone business could not enforce a default clause that called for the buyer to return the property in the event of a default. But that clause saved the sellers’ suit to collect on the contract when an Alexandria federal court ruled the default provision was not valid. Because the default […]

Dec 9, 2015

Jury To Decide Hobbs Act ‘Crime of Violence’

A Richmond U.S. District Court denies defendant’s motion to dismiss two firearms charges under 18 U.S.C. § 924(c)(1)(A)(ii) based on his argument that the two charged Hobbs Act robberies, of a McDonald’s and a Radio Shack, were not “crimes of violence” under § 924(c)(3); the question whether the commission of a particular Hobbs Act robbery […]

Dec 9, 2015

No ‘Prevailing Party’ from Dismissal

A defendant accused of illegally downloading adult content films from plaintiff’s website was not a “prevailing party” entitled to attorney’s fees under federal copyright law because the parties entered a joint stipulation of dismissal without judicial involvement; the Alexandria U.S. District Court denies defendant’s motion. The Supreme Court has addressed the meaning of “prevailing p[...]

Dec 4, 2015

No Standing for NSA Surveillance Claims

Plaintiff organizations that communicate over the Internet, including lead plaintiff Wikimedia Foundation, do not have standing to sue for violation of First and Fourth Amendment rights by defendants, including the National Security Agency, through a program of “Upstream” surveillance that allegedly allows the government to collect, copy and review communications as they transit the Internet [[...]

Oct 29, 2015

Breast Cancer Survivor Denied LTD Benefits

A plaintiff who claims her employer’s benefits director mistakenly told plaintiff she was not, as a four-year breast cancer survivor, eligible for the company’s long-term disability benefit plan, cannot bring her state law claims for constructive fraud and negligence in federal court; her claims are completely preempted by ERISA, and the Alexandria U.S. District Court […]

Oct 29, 2015

‘Legal Advice’ No Excuse for Late Tax Payment

Executors of their mother’s estate cannot rely on an email communication from their mother’s lawyer regarding the general length of time needed to complete the estate tax return process to assert they had “reasonable cause” to excuse their late filing of a million-dollar estate tax payment; the Alexandria U.S. District Court says the executors cannot […]

Oct 29, 2015

Email was not ‘advice’ on tax deadline

Confusion over who was responsible for filing an estate tax return on a $5 million estate left three siblings paying interest and penalties and contemplating a malpractice action against the lawyer who had represented their mother prior to her death. After the siblings, who served as executors for their mother’s estate, were late in paying […]

Oct 26, 2015

Inmate’s Complaint Certifies Med-Mal Expert

An Alexandria U.S. District Court declines to dismiss plaintiff inmate’s medical malpractice suit for failure to timely certify that he obtained a written expert opinion in compliance with Va. Code § 8.01-20.1, as defendant has shown no prejudice from the three-week delay; plaintiff’s amended complaint includes the necessary certification and the court need not conduct […]

Oct 7, 2015

Business Tort Suit Back to State Court

A government contractor that is suing a competitor for a U.S. State Department security contract on state law claims for tortious interference, misappropriation of trade secrets and fraudulent inducement in its settlement of a suit over the competitor’s hiring of plaintiff contractor’s former employee, wins remand of its suit back to state court; however, the […]

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