Friday, January 02, 2004

Union not liable for claims of laid-off airline workers

In Jeffreys v. Communication Workers of America, the Fourth Circuit in an opinion by Judge Wilkinson joined by Judge Traxler and District Judge Payne upheld the dismissal of the appellants' claims that their union failed to fulfill its duty of fair representation in connection with layoffs by their employer USAir.

Interestingly, William B. Poff of the Woods Rogers firm in Roanoke appeared for the 15 laid-off workers, so I would say they were more than fairly represented before the Court of Appeals.

Maryland firm dips too far into Virginia to avoid comp liability

In Mark Five Construction Co. v. Gonzalez, the Court of Appeals in an opinion by Judge Benton for a panel including Chief Judge Fitzpatrick and Judge Clement held that a Maryland contractor had enough connection to Virginia to be subject to Virginia's worker's compensation laws for the claimant's injuries.

Court of Appeals splits on administrative law issues about gas tank fund

In 7-Eleven, Inc. v. Department of Environmental Quality, the en banc Court of Appeals reversed an earlier panel decision, concluding that the DEQ erred in its determination of how much money 7-11 was entitled to receive in reimbursement from a state fund for leaking gas storage tanks, after 7-11 settled a claim with Home Depot for damage to the Home Depot property. The majority, in an opinion by Judge Benton (the lone dissenter on the original panel, joined by six members of the en banc Court), ruled that 7-11 by not including the settlement as recoverable costs. The dissenters Judge Humphreys (joined by Judge Bumgardner) and Judge Annunziata were the majority from the panel, and they complain, among other things, about the majority's lack of deference to the agency's view of the case, in violation of established administrative law principles.

I suspect that this case will be taken up further by the Commonwealth, having suffered a reversal of fortune before the en banc court of appeals.

Judge Jones upholds joinder of DirecTV defendants

In DirecTV v. Adkins, Judge Jones of the W.D. Va. denied the motions of some of the local defendants sued by DirecTV to be severed from the rest of the bunch. The opinion notes that different districts have taken different views on this issue. Compare, e.g., DIRECTV v. Loussaert, 218 F.R.D. 639, 642-43 (S.D. Iowa 2003) (requiring severance of defendants), with DIRECTV, Inc. v. Hosey, No. CIV.A.03-2278-GTV, 2003 WL 22463055, at *2 (D. Kan. Sept. 11, 2003) (denying severance).
I would suspect that the Court revisit this issue if other and better facts were presented - e.g., if DirecTV admits that it got the plaintiffs' names in different ways, and the proof as to different defendants will involve widely different stories. On the other hand, if all the Southwest Virginia names came from the same source, maybe joinder/consolidation is the right thing.

Whites from Southwest Virginia eligible for money from Tech

In this article ("Money to help prepare students for doctoral studies," 1/1/04) about Virginia Tech's receipt of some $2.7 million from the federal government to help people pursue graduate studies in the biomedical sciences, Tech officials emphasized that persons eligible to receive the funds are not limited to racial minorities: "For example, white residents from Southwest Virginia who are first-generation college students could easily fall under the program's umbrella, said Larry Moore, one of VT-PREP's co-directors."

Wednesday, December 31, 2003

Were there Republicans checking out Boucher's website?

This story ("Boucher has to rethink links," 12/31/03) from the Richmond paper says that somebody figured out that there were two improper links on Congressman Boucher's campaign website, improper in that they went to pages on his official House website. A Republican spokesman declared, more or less, that because of these links, people should not vote for Boucher.

I wish I was around when my old friend Mark Graham heard about this story.

Tax amnesty yields $98.3 million for Virginia

The Richmond paper reports here ("Va. gets tax evaders bonanza," 12/30/03) on the greater-than-expected proceeds from Virginia's tax-amnesty program.

DUI costs $20,000?

This article ("Drunken driving is expensive," 12/30/03) from the Richmond paper describes the real costs of a drunk-driving conviction in Virginia.

Atkins still on death row

This AP article describes the ongoing proceedings surrounding the death sentence given to Virginia inmate Daryl Atkins, whose case led to the Supreme Court's ruling that retarded persons cannot be executed.

Spammers take round in AOL case

This article describes a victory for spammers in a ruling by Judge Hilton in the E.D. Va. in a case brought by AOL in Virginia against bulk e-mailers in Florida. Despite allegations of conspiracy, the court concluded there was no Virginia jurisdiction over the defendants.

Monday, December 29, 2003

Allowing non-drinkers to carry guns in Tennessee bars

From back before Christmas, this report ("Law allowing carrying concealed gun in bar proposed," 12/19/03) in the Bristol paper describes a legislative proposal in Tennessee to allow bar patrons to carry their concealed weapons into the bars with them. The article says that "[t]he proposed law would allow people with permits to carry concealed weapons to take their guns into restaurants or bars as long as they did not consume alcohol."

Ah, a seizure-less malicious prosecution case brought under section 1983

Some time ago, I was ruminating over case law about the relationship between malicious prosecution and constitutional claims under section 1983. It looks like lawyers Tim McAfee and Henry Keuling-Stout are fighting over one now, as the plaintiff who has filed suit for being summonsed for not paying the landfill fee in Wise County was not arrested, according to this report in the Coalfield Progress.

The article says that Judge Williams denied the defense motion to dismiss and converted the motion to one for summary judgment, so we'll have to see whether he has anything to say on this question.

No appeal in BSG annexation case

The Town of Big Stone Gap will not appeal its ignominious defeat in the recent annexation case, according to this report in the Coalfield Progress, which also reports here that the town's legal fees were just over $500,000, mostly to the Richmond law firm of Troutman Sanders.

Southwest Virginia cops who won't eat donuts

The Roanoke Times has this report ("Doughnuts and cops - you gotta laugh," 12/26/03) on Southwest Virginia policemen who refuse to be seen eating doughnuts while in uniform.

Virginia inmates reform dogs

The Washington Post has this story ("In Prison, Reclaiming Forsaken Lives - Va. Inmates Help Antisocial Dogs Become Adoptable," 12/27/03) on a program in which Virginia inmates teach dogs to behave.

Opposing views on the Malvo verdict

The Baltimore Sun opined here that the Malvo verdict was just, while the writer of a letter to the editor posted here says the Malvo verdict was so bad, Saddam Hussein will want his case heard in Virginia.

Verizon looks for local phone deregulation in Virginia

The Times-Dispatch reports here ("Verizon set to seek deregulation plan," 12/27/03) that Verizon, the largest provider of telephone service in Virginia, will seek new laws from the General Assembly deregulating local telephone service. In the article, an State Corporation Commission official says that under existing law, Verizon could make a pitch before the SCC for relief from the regulations where it can show competition.

Cold Mountain locals bummed by Cold Mountain the movie

The locals in Western Carolina think their home is nothing like Romania, where Cold Mountain was filmed, according to this report ("Left out in the cold," 12/28/03) in the Knoxville paper.

Schapiro plays Santa

Jeff Schapiro offered this Christmas list for Virginia politicians.

Still at-will in Virginia

In this story ("Employers Have the Right to Fire Away", 12/28/03) the Washington Post says that in Virginia, employment at-will remains the rule, rather than the exception.