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The district court properly placed the burden of proof on a grocery store (Store) in this action brought by Plaintiffs alleging that the Store unlawfully trafficked in Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits. The Food and Nutrition Service (FNS), the bureau within the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) charged with administering the SNAP regime, concluded that the Store had engaged in trafficking and permanently disqualified the Store from SNAP participation. The Store brought an action in Maine’s federal district court challenging the agency’s final decision. The district court granted summary judgment for the USDA. The First Circuit affirmed, holding (1) the burden of proof is imposed on the claimant - here, the Store; and (2) no rational fact-finder could conclude that the Store had demonstrated by a preponderance of the evidence that the finding of trafficking was incorrect. View "Irobe v. United States Department of Agriculture" on Justia Law

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Appellants’ action brought under the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA), 28 U.S.C. 1346(b), 2671-2680, seeking compensatory damages for the allegedly negligent act of a federal employee was time-barred under the FTCA’s statute of limitations. On April 22, 2013, Appellants filed a medical malpractice complaint pursuant to the FTCA against the United States Department of Health and Human Services (USDHHS). The district court granted summary judgment for USDHHS, concluding that the complaint was time-barred for failing to file compulsory administrative claims within the FTCA’s two-year statute of limitations. On appeal, Appellants argued that their claim was timely under the “discovery rule.” The First Circuit affirmed, holding that, at least by March 8, 2010, Appellants knew of sufficient facts for their cause of action to accrue, and therefore, Appellants’ action was time-barred. View "Morales-Melecio v. United States" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit affirmed Appellant’s conviction for marriage fraud in violation of 8 U.S.C. 1325(c), which prohibits knowingly entering into a marriage for the purpose of evading the immigration laws, holding that the evidence was sufficient to support the conviction. Specifically, the Court held (1) the evidence presented in this case amply supported the district court’s conclusion that Defendant duped his wife into marrying him in order to avoid deportation; and (2) the trier of fact could reasonably have concluded that Defendant harbored no intent to establish a life with his wife and instead married her solely to avoid deportation. View "United States v. Akanni" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit affirmed Defendant’s sentence of eighty-four months in prison, followed by five years of supervised release, imposed in connection with Defendant’s straight guilty plea to conspiracy to possess cocaine with the intent to distribute. On appeal, the First Circuit held (1) at sentencing, the government did not mislead the district court as to one of Defendant’s co-defendants who had pleaded guilty pursuant to a negotiated plea agreement; (2) the quantity of cocaine attributable to Defendant was amply supported and unflawed by material error; and (3) Defendant’s argument that district court refused to consider the grand jury testimony cited in Defendant’s sentencing memorandum failed because the district court did consider the information. View "United States v. Flores-Carter" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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In this complaint alleging violation of the Maine Whistleblower Protection Act (WPA), Me. Rev. Stat. Ann. tit. 26, 833, the district court faithfully followed the teachings of the Maine Supreme Judicial Court (the Law Court), correctly applied that court’s new, Maine-specific retaliation paradigm to Appellant’s WPA retaliation claim, and properly granted summary judgment in favor of Appellee. Invoking diversity jurisdiction, Appellant sued Appellee in Maine’s federal district court, alleging that Appellee violated the WPA. The district court granted summary judgment for Appellee. On appeal, Appellant argued that the district court ignored the prescriptions of the Law Court and improperly relied on the McDonnell Douglas framework, see McDonnell Douglas Corp. v. Green, 411 U.S. 792 (1973), in granting summary judgment for Appellee. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that the district court did not rely on the McDonnell Douglas framework but, rather, followed the teachings of the Law Court and properly determined that Appellant had not made out a cognizable claim for retaliation under state law. View "Theriault v. Genesis Healthcare LLC" on Justia Law

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Appellant’s challenge to the sufficiency of his prior convictions to serve as Armed Career Criminal Act (ACCA) predicates failed because no intervening law alters the validity of the First Circuit’s prior decisions concerning ACCA predicate offenses. Appellant pleaded guilty to being a felon in possession of a firearm and possession with intent to distribute heroin. Because Appellant had previously been convicted of at least three qualifying ACCA predicate offenses the Probation Office for the district of Massachusetts determined that he was subject to a mandatory minimum sentence of fifteen years in prison under the ACCA. The First Circuit affirmed Appellant’s sentence, holding that the district court did not err in relying on Appellant’s previous drug convictions in applying the ACCA sentencing enhancement and properly subjected Appellant to the fifteen-year mandatory minimum sentence. View "United States v. Lopez" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The First Circuit affirmed Defendant’s convictions for conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute five kilograms or more of cocaine and an unspecified amount of oxycodone and using and maintaining a drug-involved premises and Defendant’s sentence of eleven years’ imprisonment. The Court held (1) even if the district court erred in allowing “interpretative testimony” of various wiretapped calls, the admission did not affect Defendant’s substantial rights; (2) the Government presented sufficient evidence to support the conspiracy conviction; (3) the district court did not err in refusing to give Defendant’s proposed “multiple-conspiracy” jury instruction; (4) the Government’s closing statement characterizing the law regarding withdrawal was far from model, but there was no error when the judge gave what was arguably a curative instruction; and (5) even if the district court erred in calculating Defendant’s sentence, any error would be harmless. View "United States v. Belanger" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The First Circuit affirmed Defendant’s convictions of drug offenses and failure to appear for arraignment, holding that, contrary to Defendant’s argument on appeal, Defendant’s counsel did not suffer from a conflict of interest arising from violation of attorney-client privilege and a local rule of professional conduct. The Court held that, under the rules set forth in Cuyler v. Sullivan, 446 U.S. 335, 348 (1980), and United States v. Soldevila-Lopez, 17 F.3d 480, 486 (1st Cir. 1994), Defendant failed to show an actual conflict of interest that adversely affected his lawyer’s performance. Further, “any tension in the lawyer’s mind between client loyalty and professional self-preservation” would have been addressed by a stipulation joined by Defendant, and the following colloquy demonstrated that Defendant understood his rights and the consequences of proceeding as he chose to do. View "United States v. Tirado" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit vacated the judgment of the district court dismissing APB Realty, Inc.’s complaint against Georgia-Pacific alleging breach of contract stemming from the failure of a proposed deal concerning the purchase of rail freight cars. The district court dismssed the complaint for failure to state a claim upon which relief could be granted, finding that no contract had been formed between the parties. The First Circuit disagreed, holding that the complaint alleged facts from which the Court could plausibly infer the making and breaking of a contract. The Court remanded the cause for further proceedings. View "APB Realty, Inc. v. Georgia-Pacific LLC" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit vacated in part the district court’s grant of summary judgment in favor of Defendants in this lawsuit alleging violations of the Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act (EMTALA) and claiming medical malpractice. Plaintiffs sued Hospital Pavia Hato Rey, APS Healthcare of Puerto Rico (APS), and two doctors. In granting summary judgment, the district court held that the action could not in “equity and good conscience” proceed without two necessary parties but that the parties could not be feasibly joined under Fed. R. Civ. P. 19. The judge found that complete diversity of citizenship of each plaintiff from each defendant was not met on the federal-EMTALA claim, and because no diversity jurisdiction existed, the court declined to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over the local-law claims. The First Circuit vacated the summary judgment for Hospital Pavia on the EMTALA claim and dismissed the local law claims, holding (1) the trial judge Fed. R. Civ. P. 19 analysis could not be sustained; and (2) this Court’s vacating part of the judge’s summary judgment ruling on the federal EMTALA claim undercut the analysis behind his supplemental jurisdiction decision. View "Delgado-Caraballo v. Hospital Pavia Hato Rey, Inc." on Justia Law