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Wrong claim on wrongful computer use (access required)

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Authorized access to a computer for an alleged unlawful purpose does not give rise to liability under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals held on July 26, joining the Ninth Circuit in a growing split among the circuits and a possible showdown before the U.S. Supreme Court next term.

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Priest’s victim still trying to collect $100M judgment (access required)

After more than two years of trying to get what a South Carolina trial court judge says he’s owed for his suffering, Allan C. Ranta still hasn’t collected one dime of a whopping $100 million civil judgment against the priest who raped him as a boy. And chances are he won’t ever see that money, unless he and his attorneys can convince the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to reverse itself and do something that it has never done before: rule that a liability insurance policy covers acts of sexual abuse. Ranta’s argument has fallen flat so far at the 4th Circuit, which on July 24 upheld a lower court’s ruling that the Catholic Mutual insurance company was not on the hook for the actions of defrocked and disgraced priest Wayland Y. Brown (pictured).

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No way on the highway (access required)

The notion of a bypass around U.S. 74 from Charlotte into Union County had been kicking around for years before the newly formed Turnpike Authority in 2007 proposed the construction of a 20-mile toll road that would run parallel to U.S. 74, skirt Monroe and connect to the I-485 beltway southeast of Charlotte. Under the supervision of the Federal Highway Administration, the state Department of Transportation moved ahead with the project, the Monroe Connector, and appeared to be on track to begin construction — until May 3.

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Blogger’s comment wasn’t libel, then it was (access required)

In politics, it’s known as the non-apology apology. Political strategist Ed Rapp offered one in the wake of an accusation he posted on his blog about Brunswick County Superior Court Judge Ola M. Lewis. But it didn’t help: The Court of Appeals ruled that while Rapp couldn’t be sued for his initial mistake, he committed libel per se when he stuck to his accusation in the apology, even knowing he was wrong.

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Small fence racks up big fine from HOA (access required)

The difference between plain old hardheadedness and refusing to back down on principle is often illusory. Luckily, the courts are around to help clear the fog of subjective righteousness and settle disputes when both sides of an argument are unwilling to bend, no matter the cost. In one such case, the stakes are high for a pair of homeowners who are going up against a neighborhood association in an affluent area of North Carolina’s coast. They built an $800 fence to hide some garbage cans in their backyard without first seeking the association’s approval and then refused to take the fence down, choosing instead to sue.

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Drug maker immunity bill tossed back to legislative committee (access required)

A Senate subcommittee has finished studying a bill that would make it virtually impossible for North Carolinians injured by federally approved medications to sue pharmaceutical manufacturers. The pharmaceutical liability subcommittee tossed the proposed law back to a Senate judiciary committee without suggesting changes. Now, the question of whether the bill will be introduced to the General Assembly when it convenes May 16 hinges on the pending recommendation of subcommittee chair Sen. Thom Goolsby.

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Defense claim helps plaintiff hang onto larger share (access required)

Making a defense theory work for your plaintiff is sound strategy, especially when it helps your client hang on to a bigger chunk of a $480,000 settlement award. Attorney David Ventura negotiated a settlement with Flowe Grading Co.’s insurance company, Cincinnati Insurance Co., after his client was injured in an accident involving one of Flowe’s drivers. The plaintiff, a herbicide technician with the N.C. Department of Transportation, suffered back injuries that required a spinal implant and lumbar fusion surgery.

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