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

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The First Circuit reversed the judgment of the district court denying arbitration requested by two unions - the United Steel, Paper and Forestry, Rubber, Manufacturing, Energy, Allied Industrial and Service Workers International Union and the United Steelworkers Local 12203 (collectively, Union) - on behalf of former two employees of the Boston Gas Company (Company) as to their claims for pension benefits, holding that this matter called for arbitration.The Union represented the two members in filing grievances regarding their underpaid pensions. The Union submitted the grievances to the Joint Pension Committee, which was unable to resolve the dispute. The Union subsequently sought arbitration over the grievances, but the Company refused to arbitrate. The First Circuit reversed, holding that it was up to an arbitrator, not a court, to determine the matters at issue in this case. View "United Steelworkers v. National Grid" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit affirmed the judgment of the district court granting Defendant's motion to dismiss this case brought against him by Plaintiff, his previous employer, for lack of personal jurisdiction, holding that the district court did not err.Plaintiff brought this lawsuit against Defendant in the District of New Hampshire, alleging that he breached his employment contract and violated a non-solicitation of employees clause by encouraging three of Defendant's employees to quit their employment and join him at his new company. The district court dismissed the case for lack of personal jurisdiction. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that the requirements for personal jurisdiction were not met in this case. View "Vapotherm, Inc. v. Santiago" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit affirmed the district court's judgment dismissing Plaintiffs' lawsuit asserting race-based discrimination and retaliation in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, holding that the district court did not err in dismissing the suit for failure to state a claim.Plaintiffs represented a putative class of employees employed by Whole Foods and Amazon who were disciplined for wearing face masks with the message "Black Lives Matter." In their lawsuit, Plaintiffs alleged that the manner in which their employers enforced a previously unenforced dress code policy constituted race-based discrimination and retaliation in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The district court dismissed all claims. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that Plaintiffs did not adequately plead claims for racial discrimination and retaliation under Title VII. View "Frith v. Whole Foods Market, Inc." on Justia Law

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The First Circuit vacated the judgment of the district court sentencing Defendant to the statutory maximum of two years' imprisonment for violating two conditions of his supervised release, holding that the written judgment rendered unreliable this Court's assumption that the district court excluded from its consideration the comments it made before formally explaining its sentence.Specifically, the First Circuit held that the written judgment rendered unreliable the Court's otherwise controlling assumption that the trial court excluded from its consideration the express comments it made shortly before formally explaining its sentence. The Court remanded the case to a new district court judge for prompt resentencing. View "United States v. Serrano-Berrios" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law
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The First Circuit affirmed Defendant's conviction of two counts of criminal copyright infringement and one count of mail fraud and his sentence of concurrent prison terms of thirty-six months for the copyright counts and sixty months for the mail fraud count, holding that Defendant's arguments on appeal were unavailing.On appeal, Defendant argued that the evidence failed to show that he willfully committed the copyright violations and that his sentence must be adjusted because the district court erred in its guideline loss calculation. The First Circuit affirmed, holding (1) it was within the bounds of reason for the jury to find Defendant's actions willful; and (2) there was no plain error in the court's loss calculation. View "United States v. Gordon" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law
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The First Circuit vacated the judgment of the trial judge denying Defendants' motion for a new trial based on improper comments by the prosecutor, holding that the district court's denial of the new trial motions was plain error.Defendants Edward Canty, III and Melquan Jordan were prosecuted on charges that they had conspired to distribute and possess with intent to distribute both heroin and cocaine base. During their criminal trial, the prosecutor made four types of improper comments during the opening and closing statements and at rebuttal, to which Defendants did not object. After they were convicted Defendants moved for a new trial based on the improper comments by the prosecutor. The trial judge denied the motions under plain error review. The First Circuit vacated the decision below, holding that the fairness, integrity, and public reputation of the proceedings were seriously affected, requiring remand for a new trial. View "United States v. Canty" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit affirmed Defendant's conviction and sentence for one count of possession of child pornography, holding that Defendant suffered no prejudice from any claims deficient performance of his trial counsel.Pursuant to a plea agreement, Defendant pleaded guilty to one count of possession of child pornography. The trial court sentenced him to an under-Guidelines-range sentence of forty-six months. Defendant appealed, arguing that he received ineffective assistance of counsel during his sentencing proceedings because counsel failed to object to the four-level enhancement under U.S.S.G. 2G2.2(b)(4)(B) on constitutional grounds. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that Defendant's claims of ineffective assistance of counsel were unavailing. View "United States v. Messner" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit affirmed the judgment of the district court rejecting Appellants' argument that the Financial Oversight and Management Board for Puerto Rico acted arbitrarily and capriciously in objecting to four laws enacted by the Puerto Rico legislature, holding that there was no error or abuse of discretion.In legislation addressing Puerto Rico's fiscal crisis, the Board was given the authority to object to and block the implementation of local laws that are "significantly inconsistent" with efforts to the Commonwealth to fiscal solvency. The Commonwealth filed suit in 2020 seeking a declaration that, for each of the four laws in question, the Commonwealth had complied with federal compliance certification requirements. The Board filed counterclaims requesting injunctive relief barring the implementation and enforcement of each law. The district court upheld the laws. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that the Board did not act arbitrarily and capriciously in exercising its authority under the Puerto Rico Oversight, Management, and Economic Stability Act. View "Pierluisi v. Financial Oversight & Management Board for Puerto Rico" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit affirmed the judgment of the district court entering summary judgment in favor of Defendant Thomas Wakefield and dismissing Plaintiff Pleasantdale Condominiums LLC's claims alleging nondisclosure of material information under a Maine statute, holding that Defendant was entitled to summary judgment as a matter of law.After it purchased an apartment complex Plaintiff sued Defendant, the seller, alleging claims for fraud and negligent misrepresentation. Both counts were based on the alleged violation of Me. Rev. Stat. Ann. tit. 33, 173(5). The district court concluded that Defendant was entitled to summary judgment on both counts. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that Defendant was entitled to summary judgment as a matter of law on Plaintiff's claim for fraud in the nature of active concealment. View "Pleasantdale Condominiums, LLC v. Wakefield" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit vacated the district court's grant of summary judgment in this mortgage dispute, holding that the district court abused its discretion in denying Appellants' motion to defer the adjudication of a pending motion for summary judgment and proceeding to grant summary judgment.At is on appeal in this dispute that stretched over more than a decade and implicated several lawsuits was whether the district court abused its discretion in denying Appellants' motion for discovery under Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(d) and then granting summary judgment against them. The First Circuit answered the question in the affirmative, holding that the district court abused its discretion in denying Appellants' Rule 56(d) motion in its totality. The Court remanded this case for further proceedings. View "Emigrant Residential LLC v. Pinti" on Justia Law