Docket – March 18, 2019

4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals

Spencer v. Va. State Univ. (P), 4th Cir. (Richardson) from EDVA at Richmond (Hudson).

The district court properly granted summary judgment to Virginia State University as to a professor’s claim that she was paid less because of her sex and then retaliated against for complaining.

The plaintiff earned about $70,000 per year — a median salary when compared to the male professors in her department. But she proposes comparing her pay to that of two former university administrators, who each earned over $100,000 per year as professors in other departments. But unrebutted evidence shows that the university based their higher pay on their prior service as university administrators, not their sex. The university pays administrators 9/12ths of their previous salary. Just as this practice satisfies the Equal Pay Act’s “factor other than sex” affirmative defense, it qualifies as a legitimate, nondiscriminatory explanation under Title VII. The plaintiff supplies no evidence that this explanation is merely a pretext for invidious discrimination.


U.S. District Court – Virginia Western

Von Bremen v. Lamie, WDVA at Abingdon (Jones).

In this bankruptcy case dating back to 1931, the 1928 federal judgment statute should apply in order to restore the appellants as unsecured creditors to the position they would have occupied absent the bankruptcy proceeding.

In 2013, a dispute arose regarding the current ownership of natural gas estates in Virginia, which the Yellow Poplar Lumbar Company – declared bankrupt in the 1930s – had owned. The bankruptcy case was reopened, a substitute trustee was appointed, and the parties settled ownership in 2017. The Yellow Poplar estate received approximately $2 million from escrowed gas royalties, and the gas wells continue to produce and generate revenue. To administer and distribute these new funds, Yellow Poplar’s 1928 bankruptcy case was referred to the bankruptcy court. The trustee proposed an interest rate of 2.4 percent. But this rate didn’t allow for compounding interest, as required by 28 U.S.C. § 1961(b).

In light of the equities in this case, it was error to apply this more recent version of the federal judgment statute was error. The 1928 federal judgment statute should apply, and an interest rate of 7 percent is not inequitable here. It reflects the initial expectations of both the creditors, who made loans with the expectation that they would be fully repaid, and the debtor’s shareholders, who invested for better or worse.

Reversed and remanded.

Virginia Circuit Courts

Parada-Segova v. Barlow, Fairfax (Carroll).

The defendant, an employee of Fairfax County, is entitled to sovereign immunity as to the plaintiff’s claim of simple negligence.

The suit arises from the plaintiff’s allegations that the defendant struck her with his vehicle while she was crossing an intersection as a pedestrian. The defendant, a heavy-equipment operator, was driving a county-owned front-end loader vehicle to collect garbage, within the scope of his employment.

Refuse collection is a traditional public function in service of the government’s strong interest in keeping the county clean and safe. Here, the defendant was on a route between designated trash pickup destinations at the direction of the County, using his judgment and discretion as to whether to continue collection or dump his load. Accordingly, the defendant is entitled to sovereign immunity for simple negligence.

Plea in bar sustained.

Categories: Daily Dockets

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