Interesting and Useful Cases in Torts and Insurance
Nexsen Pruet attorney Marc Manos, a member of the SC Bar Torts and Insurance Practice Section Council, sheds light on a few recent cases from the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, focused in the area of Torts & Insurance.
Below are summaries of the cases selected for December 2017 and January 2018.
Talbot 2002 Underwriting Capital Ltd. v. Old White Charities, Inc.
No. 17-1180 (4th Cir. Dec. 20, 2017) (Unpublished) INSURANCE: Insurers who issued policy agreeing to pay $100,000 hole-in-one prize at charity golf tournament brought declaratory judgment seeking ruling of no coverage. Insurance policy required a minimum distance of 170 yards from tee to hole. Two players made holes-in-one, but from tees placed at 137 yards from the hole. Old White paid out the $200,000 in prize money and demanded reimbursement from its insurers. Summary judgment for the insurers affirmed.
Mead v. Shaw
No. 17-1677 (4th Jan. 11, 2018) (Unpublished) CIVIL RIGHTS: Plaintiff sued for Fourth Amendment malicious prosecution under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. District Court granted summary judgment finding that the intervening arrest warrants issued by a magistrate and grand jury bills of indictment insulated the defendants from liability. The Fourth Circuit affirmed, finding that in the absence of evidence the defendants acted maliciously or conspired to give false information to the magistrate or grand juries, there can be no liability.
Glass v. Anne Arundel County
No. 17-1899 (4th Jan. 11, 2018) (Unpublished) CIVIL RIGHTS: Plaintiff brought a Fourth Amendment claims for unreasonable detention arising out of a traffic stop. District Court granted judgment as a matter of law at trial. The Fourth Circuit reviewed de novo. A traffic stop, no matter how brief, constitutes a seizure under the Fourth Amendment. In order to avoid liability, the stop must be (1) justified at inception and (2) the officer’s actions, including length of seizure, must reasonably relate to the basis for the stop. The evidence established the Plaintiff used his horn after the deputy’s car pulled out of the parking lot and turned, thus a stop for improper horn use was objectively reasonable. The officer took 10 minutes to verify license and registration, an appropriate activity, and Plaintiff then demanded a supervisor come to the scene. The arrival of the supervisor and conversation with the seizing deputy took 15 minutes, this was at plaintiff’s request and not unreasonable. Judgement affirmed.
Bell v. Landress
No. 17-6908 (4th Jan. 11, 2018) (Unpublished) PRISONER CIVIL RIGHTS: Pro se prisoner sued guard alleging guard slammed his hand and arm in food slot and then sprayed him in face with pepper spray when prisoner requested a supervisor. Prisoner attached guard’s incident report to complaint. District Court found that it must consider the attached report as true and part of the complaint, and since guard denied acts, dismissed with prejudice. The Fourth Circuit reversed, holding that reviewing the complaint as a whole, plaintiff did not adopt the report as true by attaching to the complaint.
Jackson v. Home Depot USA, Inc.
No. 17-1627 (4th Jan. 22, 2018) (Published) UNFAIR AND DECEPTIVE TRADE PRACTICES, CLASS ACTION FAIRNESS ACT: Citibank instituted a debt collection action against Plaintiff in state court for failure to pay for a water treatment system purchased from Home Depot. Plaintiff counterclaimed and brought in Home Depot as a counterclaim defendant on unfair trade practices claims related to sale of system on behalf of a class of purchasers. Home Depot removed under the Class Action Fairness Act (“CAFA”). The Fourth Circuit affirmed finding that while CAFA eliminated certain requirements found in the general removal statutes, it still required the removing party to be a defendant, and a counterclaim defendant did not qualify for removal jurisdiction.
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