Weekly Roundup: 4/2-4/5

By: Holly Ingram & Katherine Wenner

United States v. Corey Townsend

In this case, Appellant challenged the lawfulness of his sentence under the Armed Career Criminal Act. In 2015, the Supreme Court held that the Act’s residual clause was unconstitutionally vague. However, because Appellants’ prior conviction for assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill inflicting serious injury is categorically a violent felony under the force clause of the Act, the Fourth Circuit affirmed the District Court’s dismissal. 

Edwin Burkhart v. Nancy Spencer Grigsby

In this case, the Court considered whether or not a bankruptcy court can strip off valueless liens on a Chapter 13 debtor’s principal residence when no proof of claims has been filed. The bankruptcy court agreed and refused to strip the liens. The district court affirmed.  The Fourth Circuit, however, disagreed. In reversing the lower courts, the Court held that “the liens may be stripped regardless of whether a proof of claim has been filed.” 

United States v. Mark Landersman

In this criminal case, Appellants appealed guilty verdicts for criminal conspiracy and unlawful conversion of government funds. Because of the nature of the case, the Court proceeded under the Classified Information Procedure Act and affirmed Appellants convictions after finding no reversible error in the classified and unclassified proceedings.

United States v. Gerald Wheeler

In this case, Appellant sought to have his habeas corpus petition heard on the merits by the “savings clause” in 28 U.S.C. § 2255(e). The District Court denied Appellants request; however the Fourth Circuit vacated the decision of the District Court and held that the Appellant satisfied the requirements because his applicable mandatory minimum unduly increased, which resulted in a fundamental defect in his sentence. Thus, the case was remanded with instructions to consider Appellants petition on the merits.

Continental Casualty Company v. Amerisure Insurance Company

In this insurance coverage dispute, the Court considered claims in an underlying personal injury suit against two contractors. The insurer, Amerisure, contended that the claims were not covered under the contractors’ policies, denied coverage, and refused to defend the contractors’ claims and participate in the settlement. Continental Casualty Co., which defended the contractors on under a different policy and paid the settlement, sued Amerisure for breach of duty to defend. The Fourth Circuit affirmed the District Court’s holding that Amerisure improperly relied on a policy exclusion to avoid its duty to defend and that Amerisure was liable to pay the full cost of the settlement plus prejudgment interest. However, the Fourth Circuit disagreed with the District Court and held that Amerisure is liable for the full amount of the settlement fees and costs.

Erin Keena v. Groupon, Inc.

In this civil case, Plaintiff sought relief from the District Court ruling that she must arbitrate her claims against Groupon, Inc. After the Court ordered arbitration, Plaintiff sought a provision of the order to dismiss her complaint with prejudice, to which the Court acceded. Plaintiff appealed the dismissal, however, the Fourth Circuit dismissed for lack of jurisdiction since the voluntary dismissal is not an appealable decision under 28 U.S.C. § 1291.

Jairo Sanchez v. Jefferson Sessions III

Here, Mr. Sanchez petitioned the Fourth Circuit for review after the Board of Immigration Appeals affirmed a decision by an Immigration Judge. Mr. Sanchez had been questioned by state police officers, who learned he had immigrated illegally and then transported him to the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (“ICE”). The Immigration Judge rejected Sanchez’s motion to suppress the statements he made to the state officers and ICE and the Fourth circuit denied his petition for review. 

The Walter E. Campbell Company v. United States Fire Insurance

This was a civil insurance coverage dispute where the Walter E. Campbell Company (“WECCO”) appealed the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland’s decision in favor of States Fire Insurance Company and St. Paul Fire & Marine Insurance Company (collectively, “the Insurers”). The issues concerned the scope and limit of the Insurers’ duties to WECCO. WECCO contended that the district court erred in its decision with regard to the Insurers’ duties to defend and indemnify WECCO. However, the Fourth Circuit concluded the decision aligned with existing precedent on the matter and affirmed the lower court’s decision.