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Aerial surveillance of the curtilage of a private residence conducted for the purposes of detecting criminal activity thereupon qualifies as a “search” within the meaning of Haw. Const. art. I, 7. In this case, three helicopter flyovers of Defendant’s residence led to a police officer’s naked eye observation of two rows of potted marijuana plants growing in the curtilage of Defendant’s house. Defendant filed a motion to suppress, arguing that the aerial search violated his reasonable expectation of privacy. The circuit court denied the motion to suppress. The intermediate court of appeals (ICA) vacated the circuit court’s order denying Defendant’s motion to suppress evidence, concluding that the circuit court erred in concluding that Defendant did not have a reasonable expectation of privacy in the area surrounding his house from aerial surveillance. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the police officer conducted unconstitutional, warrantless searches in contravention of Defendant’s rights under Haw. Const. art. I, 7; and (2) therefore, the evidence obtained during the execution of the search warrant, which was based on the officer’s observations during his aerial reconnaissance missions, was the fruit of the poisonous tree. View "State v. Quiday" on Justia Law

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After Melvin Lawhorn was fatally shot by police, his personal representative filed suit under 42 U.S.C. 1983 and various state laws against the county, the sheriff's office, and others. In this case, an officer leaned inside the passenger-side window to grab Lawhorn when Lawhorn successfully shifted the truck into drive and the truck began moving forward. The officer shot Lawhorn. The court affirmed the district court's grant of qualified immunity to defendants, holding that existing law did not clearly establish that an officer leaning into the window of a moving truck violated the Fourth Amendment by using deadly force. The court also affirmed the district court's fee sanction award that was imposed for defendants' discovery misconduct. View "Brown v. Elliot" on Justia Law

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Janice Dickinson filed suit against William H. Cosby, Jr. and his attorney, Martin Singer, for defamation and related causes of action after Singer issued a letter demanding media outlets not to repeat Dickinson's allegedly false accusations of rape against Cosby, and a press release characterizing Dickinson's rape accusations as a lie. The Court of Appeal held that the trial court erred in striking Dickinson's first amended complaint, as it pertained only to a party, Singer, who had not filed an anti-SLAPP motion; the trial court erred in granting the anti-SLAPP motion with respect to the demand letter; and the court correctly denied the anti-SLAPP motion with respect to the press release. Accordingly, the court affirmed in part and reversed in part. View "Dickinson v. Cosby" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit affirmed the district court’s dismissal of Plaintiffs’ suit challenging the Social Security Administration’s (SSA) termination of tier disability benefits for lack of subject matter jurisdiction based on Plaintiffs’ failure to have exhausted their administrative remedies. After the SSA terminated the disability benefits that Plaintiffs had been receiving, Plaintiffs challenged that decision administratively. Before they had exhausted the administrative review process, however, Plaintiffs filed suit in federal court seeking various kinds of relief based presumably on the same grounds as the claims that had presented to the SSA in seeking to continue to receive their benefits. The district court granted the government’s motion to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction, concluding that Plaintiffs failed to exhaust their administrative remedies. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that Plaintiffs failed to show that they could not obtain a restoration of their benefits through the administrative review process, despite evidence suggesting that they would have a substantial chance of doing so. View "Justiniano v. Social Security Administration" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit affirmed the judgment of the district court granting summary judgment for Defendants in this action filed by Plaintiff claiming that Defendants discriminated against her based on her gender and sexual preference and exposed her to a hostile work environment and retaliation in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and various provisions of Puerto Rico law. The district court ultimately dismissed all of the claims. On appeal, Plaintiff argued that the district court erred in concluding that Plaintiff failed to show a genuine factual dispute as to whether she experienced a hostile work environment based on gender and retaliatory motivation and erred in finding those claims to be untimely. The Supreme Court affirmed the grant of summary judgment for Defendants on Plaintiff’s hostile work environment claims under both federal and Commonwealth law, holding that Plaintiff failed to meet her burden to produce competent evidence showing that any of the work conditions she encountered within the statute of limitations period amounted to harassment on the basis of the improper motivations she alleged. View "Maldonado-Catala v. Municipality of Naranjito" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court held that the district court did not err in dismissing Defendant’s motion to dismiss the State’s petition to revoke her suspended sentence on the ground that there had been a four-year delay in executing the arrest warrant. In 2009, the district court issued a “Montana only” warrant for the arrest of Defendant, who was on probation. Thereafter, Defendant was convicted of another offense in Colorado, where, several times, Defendant was paroled and then her sentence was revoked. Defendant discharged her Colorado sentences in 2013. That same year, Defendant was arrested on the 2009 warrant. Defendant moved to dismiss the petition to revoke her suspended sentence, arguing that the State violated her right to due process by failing to bring her to court without unnecessary delay. The district court concluded that Defendant had not suffered a deprivation of due process and then determined that Defendant had violated the terms of her original sentence. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the district court did not err in denying Defendant’s motion to dismiss the revocation petition. View "State v. Koon" on Justia Law

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After plaintiff was arrested for flying his glider plane over a nuclear plant, he filed suit under 42 U.S.C. 1983, alleging that defendants had violated his civil rights under color of state law, denying him the "freedom of movement, freedom from arrest and detention, and freedom to conduct a lawful activity," in violation of the Fourth, Fifth, and Fourteenth Amendments. Plaintiff also alleged state law claims of false imprisonment, false arrest, negligence, and civil conspiracy. The Fourth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment, holding that the district court did not err in determining that the release-dismissal agreement was enforceable and thus plaintiff waived his right to sue the Darlington County Sheriff's Office, the Sheriff, and the deputies; that Duke Energy and its vice president were private actors not operating "under color of" state law as required for liability under section 1983; and plaintiff's state law claims were preempted by federal law's exclusive regulation of nuclear safety. View "Cox v. Duke Energy" on Justia Law

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A plaintiff is entitled to punitive damages under the New York City Human Rights Law (NYCHRL) where the wrongdoer’s actions amount to willful or wanton negligence, or recklessness, or where there is a “conscious disregard of the rights of others or conduct so reckless as to amount to such disregard.” Plaintiff, a physical therapy aide, sued her former employer and two supervisory employees for sex and pregnancy discrimination under the NYCHRL and Title VII. At trial, the court applied to the NYCHRL the standard for punitive damages found in Title VII. The jury found Defendants liable for pregnancy discrimination and awarded $10,500 in compensatory damages and $50,000 in pain and suffering. Plaintiff appealed, arguing that the district court erred in importing the Title VII standard. The Second Circuit certified to the Court of Appeals a question regarding the standard for finding a defendant liable for punitive damages under the NYCHRL. The Court of Appeals answered as set forth above. View "Chauca v. Abraham" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court denied Garland DeCourcy’s petition for writ of prohibition seeking to prohibit the circuit court from proceeding in this action brought by William Williams to recover a computer, telephone system, and keys to a vehicle from DeCourcy. After a bench trial in magistrate court, DeCourcy was ordered to return certain property to Williams. DeCourcy appealed and filed a motion to dismiss the case on the grounds that Williams could not meet his burden of proof because the evidence should be limited to the evidence presented to the magistrate court. The circuit court ruled that a trial de novo authorized it to consider additional evidence, including witness testimony not presented in magistrate court. DeCourcy then filed this petition for writ of prohibition. The Supreme Court denied the writ, holding (1) an appeal of a civil action tried before a magistrate without a jury under W. Va. Code 50-5-12(b) shall be a trial de novo, meaning a new trial in which the parties may present new evidence including witness testimony not presented in magistrate court; and (2) the circuit court did not err in its determination that new evidence, including witness testimony, was proper in this appeal from magistrate court. View "State ex rel. DeCourcy v. Honorable Jennifer P. Dent" on Justia Law

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After deputies shot and killed David Hensley outside of his home, plaintiffs filed suit against the deputies in their individual and official capacities under 42 U.S.C. 1983 and North Carolina law. The Fourth Circuit affirmed the district court's denial of summary judgment to the deputies based on qualified immunity and state defenses. The court held that a jury could conclude that Hensley never raised his gun, never threatened the deputies, and never received a warning command. Under these circumstances, the deputies were not in any immediate danger and were not entitled to shoot Hensley. Therefore, the deputies were not entitled to qualified immunity. In regard to plaintiffs' state law claims, the district court correctly concluded that plaintiffs' assault claim could proceed as a matter of law. Furthermore, the deputies were not entitled to public official immunity under North Carolina law on plaintiffs' negligent infliction of emotional distress claim because they acted contrary to their duty to use deadly force only when reasonably necessary. View "Hensley v. Price" on Justia Law