BMHJ Blog: Legal Information, Resources, & News

Fourth Circuit holds that employers can be found liable for customer conduct in hostile work environment case

Jennifer E. White, Esquire
June 6th, 2014
By: Jennifer E. White, Esquire

Last month, a split panel of the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals published an opinion with significant implications for the adjudication of hostile work environment claims under Title VII and Section 1981. The decision, Freeman v. Dal-Tile Corp., No. 13-1481 (4th Cir. Apr. 29, 2014), expands employer liability to include a customer’s actions against an employee and, according to the dissent, without regard for the extent to which the alleged discriminatory conduct permeated the employee’s actual work environment.

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Sophistry and Insurance Policy Interpretation

Stephen A. Horvath, Esquire
March 14th, 2014
By: Stephen A. Horvath, Esquire

Sophistry is a flawed method of arguing. It is a type of argument that appears clever on its face, but it is actually flawed or dishonest. In ancient Greece, Sophists were philosophers or teachers, and early Sophists were well respected. Over time theses Sophists started to charge high fees for their teachings. Plato described Sophists as paid hunters of the young and wealthy, as athletes in a contest of words and purgers of souls. He described them as “the art of contradiction making, descended from an insincere kind of conceited mimicry,…a shadow play of words”.

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Yelp! The return of litigation as a result of internet postings on Yelp.

Patrick Burns, Esquire
March 10th, 2014
By: Patrick Burns, Esquire

The same old story with a surprising result.

A Fairfax County jury reached a surprising decision in late January regarding damages in an online defamation action. The defendant (and counter-plaintiff) hired a Fairfax-based business to make some cosmetic repairs to her property. Dietz Dev., LLC v. Perez, Case No.: 12-16240, (filed October 31, 2012 Fairfax Circuit). After the contractor completed a portion of the work, a disagreement ensued and Ms. Perez, the defendant, allegedly locked the contractor out of the job site. In response, the contractor filed suit to recover for unpaid invoices, but failed to file a court-ordered pleading and lost the matter on summary judgment. Thereafter, Ms. Perez, made a series of allegedly defamatory posts on Yelp and Angie’s List regarding services provided by Dietz. Among other comments posted, Ms. Perez accused Dietz of moral turpitude, causing damage her home, committing trespass, theft and invoicing for work never performed. Dietz claimed such statements cost his business $300,000 in work opportunities, in addition to the damage to his business’s reputation. An injunction prevented Perez from making new statements and $750,000 in damages was requested. In response, Perez filed a counter-claim for defamation against Dietz.

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Think Before You Yelp!

Patrick Burns, Esquire
January 14th, 2014
By: Patrick Burns, Esquire

Online business review websites, such as Yelp and Angie’s List, have become a popular resource when deciding whether to enlist the services of a particular business. In fact, the success and failure of a business can depend on online reviews. It should come as no surprise there have been a number of cases nationwide that allege defamatory postings on Yelp. See, e.g., Yelp, Inc. v. Hadeed Carpet Cleaning, Inc., No. 00116-13-4, 2014 Va. App. LEXIS 1 (Va. Ct. App. Jan. 7, 2014); Sanders v. Walsh, 219 Cal. App. 4th 855 (2013); Wilkerson v. RSL Funding, L.L.C., 388 S.W.3d 668 (Tex. App. Houston 1st Dist. 2011). However, such cases do not prevent negative reviews of businesses, if truthful. On the other hand, individuals should think twice before posting a negative review that contains inaccuracies. Any inaccuracy a business deems harmful could result in a lawsuit with expensive consequences.

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In a Case Arising from the Mass Shooting at Virginia Tech, the Virginia Supreme Court Reaffirmed the High Hurdle (and Foreseeability) to Hold a Property Owner Liable for Crimes of Third Parties.

Dawn E. Boyce, Esquire
Martin Schubert, Esquire
December 17th, 2013
By: Dawn E. Boyce, Esquire and Martin Schubert, Esquire

The facts of Commonwealth v. Peterson, 749 S.E.2d 307, 2013 Va. LEXIS 132 (2013), are readily recognizable. The Plaintiffs were the administrators of two decedents who died in the tragic Virginia Tech mass shooting in 2007. Pursuant to the Virginia Tort Claims Act, the administrators brought a wrongful death action against the Commonwealth of Virginia on the theory that the Commonwealth failed to warn about the potential for criminal acts by third parties.

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Disclaimer

This blog and the information provided has been prepared by Bancroft, McGavin, Horvath & Judkins, P.C. (“BMHJ”) for information purposes only and is not intended nor to be construed as legal advice. This blog may contain the opinions of the members and associates of this firm on various legal issues and is not legal advice. Read More