The Fourth Circuit has clarified the standard for evaluating a nonparty’s attempt to access sealed summary judgment filings under the First Amendment. In United States ex rel. Oberg v. Nelnet, Inc., — F.4th –, No. 23-1808, 2024 U.S. App. LEXIS 14786 (4th Cir. June 18, 2024) (Op.), the Fourth Circuit examined a nonparty’s ability to obtain documents filed under seal in connection with dispositive summary judgment motions. The Fourth Circuit concluded that “irrespective of whether a district court ever resolves a summary judgment motion, the public has a presumptive First Amendment right to access documents submitted in connection with it.” Op. at 18. But, the presumption is not insurmountable. Id.at 14 n.8. Parties seeking to maintain under seal documents filed in connection with summary judgment motions must show that continued sealing is necessitated by a compelling government interest, narrowly tailored to serve that interest. That the district court never ruled on the summary judgment motions or did not rely on the sealed material in resolving the motion is insufficient to overcome the First Amendment access presumption.

A recent decision by Senior District Judge Robert Payne on a Daubert motion in class action litigation against a pension fund offers some helpful lessons on challenging expert witnesses in the EDVA. Trauernicht v. Genworth Fin., Inc., Civil Action No. 3:22-cv-532, 2024 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 95739 (E.D.Va. May 29, 2024).

Parties involved in contract disputes often desire to avoid contractual limitations on recovery, fostering creative attempts to transform breach of contract claims into tort or other noncontractual causes of action. Such efforts face numerous hurdles, and the recent decision by U.S. District Judge Mark Davis in , Civil Action No. 4:23CV153, 2024 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 83430 (E.D. May 7, 2024), illustrates the difficulty in squeezing the square peg of a breach of contract claim into the round hole of tort or bailment.