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At issue was whether the proceeds of a multi-million-dollar sale of certain railroad lines constituted property of the bankruptcy estate. Debtor purchased the assets of several United States and Canadian railways. Debtor obtained loans from the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) and Railway and received funds from Investors. Debtor later proposed to sell 233 miles of track to the State of Maine. To make this possible, Debtor and the FRA amended the existing loan agreement so that the FRA provided a limited waiver of its senior lien over the lines in exchange for a replacement lien on certain of Debtor’s property in Canada. The limited waiver was conditioned on Debtor’s agreement that, upon closing of the sale, Debtor was to pay the FRA, Investors, and Railway certain sums in a “waterfall of disbursements.” After Maine purchased the lines, Debtor distributed the proceeds in accordance with the waterfall provision of the amendment. Debtor subsequently filed a voluntary petition for protection under Chapter 11 of the Bankruptcy Code. The Trustee instituted an adversary proceeding against Railway seeking to avoid its waterfall disbursement as constructively fraudulent under section 5(b) of Maine’s Uniform Fraudulent Transfer Act. The bankruptcy court dismissed the complaint with prejudice for failure to state an actionable claim. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that the waterfall disbursement to Railway did not consist of property of Debtor’s estate because this was a case in which a senior lien holder imposed conditions that precluded Debtor from exercising effective control over the sale proceeds. View "Keach v. Wheeling & Lake Erie Railway Co." on Justia Law

Posted in: Bankruptcy

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At issue was whether the proceeds of a multi-million-dollar sale of certain railroad lines constituted property of the bankruptcy estate. Debtor purchased the assets of several United States and Canadian railways. Debtor obtained loans from the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) and Railway and received funds from Investors. Debtor later proposed to sell 233 miles of track to the State of Maine. To make this possible, Debtor and the FRA amended the existing loan agreement so that the FRA provided a limited waiver of its senior lien over the lines in exchange for a replacement lien on certain of Debtor’s property in Canada. The limited waiver was conditioned on Debtor’s agreement that, upon closing of the sale, Debtor was to pay the FRA, Investors, and Railway certain sums in a “waterfall of disbursements.” After Maine purchased the lines, Debtor distributed the proceeds in accordance with the waterfall provision of the amendment. Debtor subsequently filed a voluntary petition for protection under Chapter 11 of the Bankruptcy Code. The Trustee instituted an adversary proceeding against Railway seeking to avoid its waterfall disbursement as constructively fraudulent under section 5(b) of Maine’s Uniform Fraudulent Transfer Act. The bankruptcy court dismissed the complaint with prejudice for failure to state an actionable claim. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that the waterfall disbursement to Railway did not consist of property of Debtor’s estate because this was a case in which a senior lien holder imposed conditions that precluded Debtor from exercising effective control over the sale proceeds. View "Keach v. Wheeling & Lake Erie Railway Co." on Justia Law

Posted in: Bankruptcy

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The First Circuit affirmed the district court’s grant of summary judgment to Defendant, the owner of the website on which Plaintiff found a tropical villa that did not exist, holding that the district court correctly applied Massachusetts consumer protection law and that Plaintiff’s remaining contentions on appeal were unavailing. Plaintiff was scammed into parting with thousands of dollars to reserve a imaginary vacation rental property in Belize. At the time, Defendant maintained a guarantee that offered a $1000 refund to customers that fell victim to “Internet Fraud.” In his complaint, Plaintiff alleged that the guarantee caused him to lose $46,565 by misleading him into believing that Defendant made reasonable efforts to keep fraudulent listings off its site and that Defendant was liable for common law fraud and for engaging in unfair or deceptive trade practices under Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 93A, 2(a). The district court decided against Plaintiff. The First Circuit affirmed, holding (1) the district court correctly found that the guarantee was not misleading or deceptive under Massachusetts law in the manner alleged by Plaintiff; and (2) nothing about the manner in which the district court proceeded in deciding the summary judgment motion caused Plaintiff any harm. View "Hiam v. Homeaway.com, Inc." on Justia Law

Posted in: Consumer Law

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The First Circuit affirmed in all respects Defendant’s conviction of distribution and possession of child pornography and his sentence of seventeen years of imprisonment followed by ten years of supervised release. The Court held (1) Defendant waived his argument that the district court erred in denying his motion to suppress the evidence seized as a result of a search warrant; (2) the district court did not err in denying Defendant’s motion to suppress (i) statements he made to the police during his arrest because his statements were not the product of an interrogation, (ii) statements he made during a police interview at the station house because Defendant’s Miranda waiver and consent were knowing and intelligent and made voluntarily, and (iii) statements he made during an interview because Defendant did not unambiguously request counsel; (3) the district court did not err in admitting certain evidence under Fed. R. Evid. 414(a); (4) the district court’s decision to give an aiding and abetting instruction was not in error; and (5) Defendant’s sentence was constitutional. View "United States v. Sweeney" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit affirmed Defendant’s convictions for one count of conspiracy to convert government property, fourteen counts of conversion of government property, and one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering and Defendant’s sentence to a term of imprisonment of fifty-four months. Defendant’s convictions stemmed from his role in using bank accounts that he owned or controlled in order to negotiate fraudulently-obtained federal tax refund checks. The First Circuit held (1) Defendant’s argument that the district court erred in permitting a prior settlement with the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office to be used at trial failed; (2) the district court did not err in permitting the government to introduce expert testimony at trial regarding the Massachusetts rules about Interest on Lawyers’ Trust Accounts (IOLTA) accounts for attorneys; and (3) the district court did not err in imposing three sentencing enhancements in calculating Defendant’s sentencing range under the Sentencing Guidelines. View "United States v. Cohen" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The First Circuit affirmed Defendant’s convictions for one count of conspiracy to convert government property, fourteen counts of conversion of government property, and one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering and Defendant’s sentence to a term of imprisonment of fifty-four months. Defendant’s convictions stemmed from his role in using bank accounts that he owned or controlled in order to negotiate fraudulently-obtained federal tax refund checks. The First Circuit held (1) Defendant’s argument that the district court erred in permitting a prior settlement with the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office to be used at trial failed; (2) the district court did not err in permitting the government to introduce expert testimony at trial regarding the Massachusetts rules about Interest on Lawyers’ Trust Accounts (IOLTA) accounts for attorneys; and (3) the district court did not err in imposing three sentencing enhancements in calculating Defendant’s sentencing range under the Sentencing Guidelines. View "United States v. Cohen" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The First Circuit reversed the decision of the Tax Court ruling that Appellants owed an excise tax for contributions made to their Roth individual retirement accounts (Roth IRAs) in violation of contribution limits, holding that a transaction Appellants entered into to reduce their federal taxes violated neither the letter nor purpose of the relevant statutory provisions. Specifically, the Tax Court found that the Commissioner of Internal Revenue appropriately recharacterized the transaction at issue under the common-law substance over form doctrine because the transaction’s sole purpose was to “shift[] millions of dollars into Roth IRAs in violation of the statutory contribution limits.” The First Circuit reversed, holding that the Commissioner did not have the power to call Appellants’ transaction a violation of the Tax Code where the transaction did not violate the plain intent of the relevant statutes. View "Benenson v. Commissioner of Internal Revenue" on Justia Law

Posted in: Tax Law

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The First Circuit reversed the decision of the Tax Court ruling that Appellants owed an excise tax for contributions made to their Roth individual retirement accounts (Roth IRAs) in violation of contribution limits, holding that a transaction Appellants entered into to reduce their federal taxes violated neither the letter nor purpose of the relevant statutory provisions. Specifically, the Tax Court found that the Commissioner of Internal Revenue appropriately recharacterized the transaction at issue under the common-law substance over form doctrine because the transaction’s sole purpose was to “shift[] millions of dollars into Roth IRAs in violation of the statutory contribution limits.” The First Circuit reversed, holding that the Commissioner did not have the power to call Appellants’ transaction a violation of the Tax Code where the transaction did not violate the plain intent of the relevant statutes. View "Benenson v. Commissioner of Internal Revenue" on Justia Law

Posted in: Tax Law

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The First Circuit affirmed the district court’s ruling that the “set-off rule” announced by the United States Secretary of Health and Human Services (Secretary) in the form of answers to Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) posted on medicaid.gov represented a substantive policy decision that could not be adopted without notice and comment. In 1981, Congress authorized the payment of sums in addition to Medicaid payments hospitals that treat indigent patients receive in order to cover the full costs of care. Congress later passed a law seeking to cap those payments at each hospital’s “costs incurred.” At issue was to what extent “costs incurred” equals the total costs of service rather than the costs net of payments from sources such as Medicare and private insurance. With two exceptions, Congress stated that “costs incurred” are “as determined by the Secretary.” In 2010, the Secretary made its FAQs announcement that the payments to be offset against total costs in calculating “costs incurred” also included reimbursements received from Medicare and private insurance. The First Circuit held that the Secretary’s rule was procedurally improper for having failed to observe the notice-and-comment procedures prescribed by the Administrative Procedure Act. View "New Hampshire Hospital Ass’n v. Hargan" on Justia Law

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The district court did not err in dismissing Plaintiffs’ first amended complaint (FAC) for failure to state a claim or in denying Plaintiffs leave to file their proposed second amended complaint (PSAC) in this litigation in which Plaintiffs brought securities fraud claims against Sarepta Therapeutics, Inc. (Sarepta), Sarepta’s chief executive officer and Sarepta’s chief scientific officer (collectively, Defendants). Plaintiffs sought to represent a class of purchasers of securities that Sarepta issued between April 21, 2014 and October 27, 2014. Plaintiffs alleged that Defendants knowingly or recklessly misled investors about their target date for submitting an application to the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for approval of the drug eteplirsen. The district court dismissed the FAC and denied Plaintiffs leave to file the PSAC. The First Circuit affirmed, holding (1) the district court did not err in dismissing the FAC for failure to state a claim because Plaintiffs did not adequately plead scienter in the FAC; and (2) and even assuming that the PSAC was not futile, the district court did not abuse its discretion in denying the PSAC on undue delay grounds. View "Kader v. Sarepta Therapeutics, Inc." on Justia Law