Saturday, December 20, 2003

False Claims Act, unfiled tax returns, FCRA, gun shots and dischargeability, domain name deals

In Friday's opinions from the Fourth Circuit:

In U.S. ex rel. Harrison v. Westinghouse Savannah River Co., the Fourth Circuit in an opinion by Judge Shedd joined by Judge Williams and Senior Judge Hamilton affirmed a jury award in a qui tam action against a government contractor under the False Claims Act. The Court rejected arguments that the company's false representation to the government was not material, and that it lacked the requisite intent, and that plaintiff's fraud evidence went beyond the pleadings. The Court also rejected the plaintiff's issues regarding the limits of what he was awarded in damages, expenses, and attorneys' fees.

In Moroney v. IRS, the Fourth Circuit in an opinion by Judge Wilkinson, joined by Judge Traxler and District Court Judge Payne, held that the belated and half-hearted efforts of a bankruptcy debtor to file income tax returns were insufficient to allow for a discharge of tax debts.

In Ausherman v. Bank of America Corp., the Fourth Circuit in an opinion by Judge Motz, joined by Judge Traxler and Judge King, held that the defendant have acted negligently or deliberately to violate the Fair Credit Reporting Act. The defendant had no good reason for accessing the plaintiffs' credit reports, but presented evidence that it didn't mean to do it, basically that there was some computer or data entry error between the defendant and the credit reporting agency.

In Parsons v. Parks, the Fourth Circuit in a per curiam opinion for the panel of Judges Williams and Shedd and Senior Judge Hamilton reversed the ruling of Judge Williams of the W.D. Va. and sided instead with the ruling of the bankruptcy court that a judgment against the debtor for shooting a guy three times was not dischargeable in his bankruptcy case. I was about to say that I don't recall other cases where Judge Karen Williams of the Fourth Circuit voted to reverse Judge Glen Williams of the W.D. Va., but come to think of it, I was among a legion of lawyers in one such case, almost 10 years ago.

In Network Solutions, Inc. v. Hoblad, B.V., the Fourth Circuit in a per curiam opinion for the panel of Chief Judge Wilkins and Judges Duncan and Traxler affirmed the trial court's decision in a case about an alleged breach of contract relating to the sale of second-level domain names. The opinion explains that "SLDNs are the names immediately to the left of 'top-level domain' designations such as '.com' and '.org'—for example, the name 'google' in ''" The Court found that the defendants had contractually agreed to jurisdiction in the Rocket Docket of the E.D. Va., and that they had breached their contracts by failing to pay for some 4,000+ SLDNs.

No comments: