Justia U.S. 1st Circuit Court of Appeals Opinion Summaries

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In this lawsuit alleging that Verizon Wireless violated the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA), 47 U.S.C. 227, the First Circuit affirmed the district court's denial of Verizon's motion to compel arbitration but reversed the court's grant of summary judgment in Verizon's favor, holding that the district court erred in concluding that Plaintiff's TCPA claims failed as a matter of law because her telephone number was not assigned to a cellular telephone service. In her complaint, Plaintiff claimed that Verizon's unauthorized, automated calls to her cellular telephone violated the TCPA. The district court concluded that Plaintiff's telephone number was not assigned to a cellular telephone service within the meaning of the relevant provision of the TCPA and granted summary judgment to Verizon. The First Circuit reversed, holding (1) the district court correctly denied Verizon's motion to compel arbitration; but (2) in concluding that Plaintiff's number was not assigned to a cellular telephone service the district court failed to consider the hybrid nature of Plaintiff's telephone service with Republic Wireless and erred in treating other facts as dispositive. View "Breda v. Cellco Partnership" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit denied Petitioner for review of a Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) order affirming the immigration judge's (IJ) denial of his applications for asylum, withholding of removal, and protection under the Convention Against Torture (CAT), holding that the BIA did not err in concluding that Petitioner was ineligible for asylum, and Petitioner's remaining claims were likewise unavailing. The IJ concluded that Petitioner was ineligible for asylum because he lacked membership in a cognizable "particular social group." The BIA reached the same conclusion. The First Circuit affirmed, holding (1) the BIA did not err in concluding that Petitioner was ineligible for asylum because he lacked membership in a cognizable "particular social group"; (2) resolution of Petitioner's asylum claim also disposed of Petitioner's withholding of removal claim; and (3) substantial evidence in the record supported the BIA's finding that Petitioner was not entitled to protection under the CAT. View "Ramirez-Perez v. Barr" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit reversed the judgment of the district court dismissing this putative class action alleging a violation of Massachusetts' consumer protection laws for failure to meet the heightened pleading standard of Fed. R. Civ. P. 9(b), holding that Plaintiff's complaint stated a plausible claim for relief. Plaintiff brought this action against Defendant New England Coffee Company, operating as a subsidiary of Reily Foods Company, alleging that she purchased Defendant's "Hazelnut Creme" coffee because she thought that the coffee contained hazelnut. When she discovered that the coffee contained no hazelnut, Plaintiff brought a putative class action arguing that the coffee's labeling violated Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 98A, 2(a). The district court concluded that the complaint failed to pass muster under the relevant pleading standard. The First Circuit reversed, holding (1) the complaint's allegations made it plausible that a fact-finder could reasonably regard the label as having the capacity to mislead; and (2) Plaintiff's claim under chapter 93A was not impliedly preempted by federal law. View "Dumont v. Reily Foods Co." on Justia Law

Posted in: Consumer Law

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The First Circuit affirmed the judgment of the district court denying class certification in this suit alleging violations of Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), 42 U.S.C. 12131-12134, and the court's grant of judgment on the pleadings as to Parent/Professional Advocacy League (PPAL) and Disability Law Center (DLC), holding that PPAL and DLC lacked standing to pursue the claims in the complaint. S.S., a student at the Springfield Public Day School (SPDS), brought this suit on his own behalf and on behalf of a class of all student with a mental health disability who were or had been enrolled at SPDS, alleging that the City of Springfield, Massachusetts, and Springfield Public Schools violated Title II by segregating students with mental health disabilities in SPDS, a separate and inferior school. Associations PPAL and DLC joined S.S. as plaintiffs. The district court denied class certification. The court then ruled that the associations had standing but dismissed their claims for failure to exhaust. The First Circuit held (1) class certification was correctly denied; and (2) the associations lacked standing to bring this suit. View "Parent/Professional Advocacy League v. City of Springfield" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal of Plaintiff's complaint in part and otherwise vacated the judgment, holding that the University of Massachusetts at Amherst violated Plaintiff's federal constitutional right to due process in suspending him for five months without prior notice or a fair hearing but did not violate his rights in expelling him after providing a fair expulsion hearing. After the university suspended and then expelled Plaintiff, Plaintiff brought this action seeking compensatory damages, declaratory relief, and an injunction preventing the university from enforcing the expulsion. The district court entered summary judgment in favor of Defendants. The First Circuit (1) affirmed the district court's dismissal of Plaintiff's 42 U.S.C. 1983 claims challenging the adequacy of his expulsion hearing, Plaintiff's section 1983 claims for money damages against the university officials acting in their official capacities, and Plaintiff's Title IX claim; but (2) vacated for the entry of nominal monetary damages the dismissal of Plaintiff's section 1983 claims challenging the constitutionality of the manner in which the university suspended Plaintiff without prior notice or an adequate hearing. The Court then remanded the case for further proceedings. View "Haidak v. University of Massachusetts-Amherst" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit affirmed Defendant's sentence of ninety-five-month incarcerate terms on each of sixty-three bank fraud counts and sixty-month incarcerate terms on the two remaining counts of which Defendant was convicted, with all sentences to run concurrently, and the order of restitution in the amount of $815,496.27, holding that Defendant's sentence was neither procedurally nor substantively flawed. Defendant pleaded guilty to sixty-three counts of bank fraud, one counts of use of an unauthorized device, and one count of tax evasion. The district court found that the government had shown by a preponderance of the evidence that Defendant had attempted to obstruct justice for his feigned incompetency and, therefore, an obstruction-of-justice enhancement was appropriate. The enhancement supported an upward offense-level adjustment under U.S.S.G. 3C1.1. The First Circuit affirmed, holding (1) the district court did not err in applying the obstruction-of-justice enhancement on the basis of Defendant's feigned incompetency; and (2) the court did not err in refusing the shrink Defendant's offense level for acceptance of responsibility. View "United States v. Nygren" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The First Circuit affirmed Defendants' convictions of violating the Violent Crimes in Aid of Racketeering (VICAR) statute, a statute banning the use or carry of a firearm in relation to a crime of violence, and other gang-related crimes, holding that Defendants were not entitled to reversal of their convictions. Defendants, "La ONU" gangbangers, were convicted of helping murder a "La Rompe ONU" gangbanger and other crimes. Defendants later filed a motion for a new trial, claiming newly-discovered evidence on allegations that the gangbanger died at the hands of La Rompe, not La ONU. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that the trial judge applied the correct legal standard and that there was no abuse of discretion in denying Defendant's motion for a new trial. View "United States v. Laureano-Salgado" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The First Circuit affirmed Defendants' convictions of conspiring to violate the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act; aiding and abetting violent crimes in aid of racketeering, namely murder or attempted murder under Puerto Rico law; conspiring to engage in drug trafficking; and other offenses, holding that Defendant's challenges to their convictions were unavailing. The three defendants in this case were members of a vicious Puerto Rican gang called La ONU. Defendants appealed their convictions, bringing a variety of claims. The First Circuit affirmed, holding (1) the district court did not err in denying a motion to suppress a cache of guns and drugs seized during a warrantless search of a house; (2) the judge did not err in finding that no courtroom closure occurred during the proceedings; (3) the judge did not err in denying Defendants' motion for a mistrial; and (4) the remainder of Defendants' arguments on appeal did not entitle them to reversal of their convictions. View "United States v. Lanza-Vazquez" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit affirmed the judgment of the district court convicting Defendant of transportation of a minor with the intent to engage in criminal sexual activity and travel with the intent to engage in illicit sexual conduct and sentencing him to life imprisonment, holding that the district court did not err or abuse its discretion. Specifically, the Court held (1) the district court did not err in denying Defendant's Fed. R. Crim. P. 29 motion because the evidence was sufficient to support the two convictions; (2) the district court did not abuse its discretion in making its evidentiary rulings challenged by Defendant; and (3) the district court did not err in sentencing Defendant. View "United States v. Gaudet" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The First Circuit reversed the decision of the district court entering summary judgment in favor of the Steward Holy Family Hospital and vacating an award entered by an arbitrator regarding a dispute between the Hospital and the union of one of the Hospital's former nurses, Maureen Bean, holding that the arbitrator did not exceed his authority under the parties' collective bargaining agreement (CBA). After Hospital terminated Bean her union (Union) initiated grievance procedures, arguing that there was not just cause for her termination under the CBA. The arbitrator established that Bean had engaged in misconduct providing just cause for discipline but nevertheless concluded that Bean's termination was unwarranted and ordered her reinstatement. The Hospital bought this action to vacate the award. The district court concluded that the arbitrator exceeded his authority under the CBA. The First Circuit reversed, holding that the arbitrator did not exceed the scope of his authority in ordering a lesser form of discipline in accordance with the CBA and the Hospital's own disciplinary policies. View "Steward Holy Family Hospital, Inc. v. Massachusetts Nurses Ass'n" on Justia Law