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The Fourth Circuit affirmed the grant of summary judgment to the defendant in a copyright infringement claim brought by a Charlotte, NC architecture firm (Building Graphics, Inc.) against a multi-state building company (Lennar Corp.) and an architecture firm hired by that company (Drafting & Design, Inc.). The appellate court concluded that the plaintiff firm had not “marshaled sufficient evidence to support a finding that there exists a reasonable possibility that [the defendants] had access to its copyrighted plans.” Judge Davis wrote the opinion for the court in Building Graphis v. Lennar Corp., in which Judge Keenan and Judge Gibney (EDVA) joined. (For those who are interested in the potential similarities, an appendix to the opinion includes floor plans and pictures of the houses.)

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A divided Fourth Circuit panel yesterday affirmed the grant of summary judgment to an employer who refused to rehire to the same position an employee who went on disability leave. The decision turned on the application of Cleveland v. Policy Mgmt. Sys. Corp., 526 U.S. 795 (1999), in which the Supreme Court addressed how courts should assess an ADA claim brought by an individual who has applied for and received Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits.

Judge O’Grady (EDVA, sitting by designation) authored the unpublished opinion for the court in EEOC v. Greater Baltimore Medical Center, Inc., in which Judge Keenan joined. Judge Gregory wrote a dissenting opinion.

Although unpublished, the decision appears to be the first in which the Fourth Circuit has held that the Supreme Court’s decision in Cleveland applies not only to actions brought by individuals who have applied for and received SSDI, but also to actions brought by the EEOC on behalf of such individuals.

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The Fourth Circuit today unanimously affirmed a grant of summary judgment in favor of the United States on the claim of activist photojournalist Isis for money damages under the Privacy Protection Act. Chief Judge Traxler wrote the published opinion in Sennett v. United States, which was joined in by Judge Motz and Judge Keenan.

The claim arises out of a lawless protest by anti-IMF activists at the Four Seasons hotel in Washington D.C. in 2008. Isis asserts that she went to the hotel around 2:30 a.m. one morning after receiving an anonymous tip about an impending demonstration. She proceeded to video a protest in the hotel lobby that involved firecrackers, smoke-generating pyrotechnic devices, and paint-filled balloons, causing more than $200,000 in property damage. The police tracked her down, searched her residence, and hauled away a lot of her gear. She never was charged with a crime. She sued under the Privacy Protection Act and lost on summary judgment. The Fourth Circuit affirmed. The decision involves an extended analysis of the “suspect exception” in the PPA.

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