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The First Circuit reversed the district court’s certification of a class of all purchasers of Asacol, including purchasers who had not suffered any injury attributable to Defendants’ allegedly anticompetitive behavior, holding that the district court’s approach to certifying a class was at odds with both Supreme Court precedent and the law of this circuit. Drug manufacturer Warner Chilcott Limited’s coordinated withdrawal and entry of two drugs, Asacol and the similar drug called Delzicol, precluded generic manufacturers from introducing a generic version of Asacol, which would have provided a lower-cost alternative to Warner’s drugs, Delzicol and Asacol HD. Plaintiffs filed a class action alleging violations of the consumer protection and antitrust laws of twenty-five states and the District of Columbia. The district court certified a class of all Asacol purchasers who subsequently purchased Delzicol or Asacol HD in one of those twenty-six jurisdictions, finding that while ten percent of the class had not suffered any injury, those uninjured class members could be removed in a proceeding conducted by a claims administrator. The First Circuit reversed, holding that where injury-in-fact is a required element of an antitrust action, a class cannot be certified based on an expectation that the defendant will have no opportunity to press at trial genuine challenges to allegations of injury-in-fact. View "Teamsters Union 25 Health Services & Insurance Plan v. Warner Chilcott Limited" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit affirmed Defendant’s sentence of sixty months in prison following his guilty plea to being a felon in possession of a firearm and unlawfully possessing a machine gun, holding that there was no error in the proceedings below. After entered his guilty plea, the district court varied upward and sentenced Defendant to sixty months in prison to be followed by three years of supervised release. The presentence report stipulated a guidelines imprisonment range of thirty to thirty-seven months. On appeal, Defendant claimed that the variant sentence was excessive and thus substantively unreasonable. The First Circuit disagreed, holding that, given Defendant’s offense conduct and his criminal history, the sentence imposed was substantively reasonable and that the variance was lawfully imposed and adequately explained. View "United States v. Hernandez-Ramos" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The First Circuit vacated the judgment of the district court in part ruling in favor of Putnam Investments, LLC and other fiduciaries of Putnam’s defined-contribution 401(k) retirement plan on Plaintiffs’ lawsuit claiming that Defendants breached fiduciary duties to the plan's participants, clarifying several principles for the district court that should guide its subsequent rulings on remand. Plaintiffs, two former Putnam employees who participated in the Plan, brought this lawsuit on behalf of a now-certified class of other participants in the Plan and on behalf of the Plan itself pursuant to the civil enforcement provision of ERISA, see 29 U.S.C. 1132(a)(2), arguing that Defendants offered a range of mutual investments, including Putnam’s mutual funds, without regard to whether such funds were prudent investment options and that Defendants treated Plan participants worse than other investors in Putnam mutual funds. The district court ruled in favor of Defendants. The First Circuit (1) affirmed the district court’s dismissal of Plaintiffs’ prohibited transaction claim under 1106(a)(1)(C), breach of loyalty claim, and disgorgement claim; (2) vacated the court’s dismissal of Plaintiffs’ prohibited transaction claim under 1106(b)(3) and the finding that Plaintiffs failed as a matter of law to show loss; and (3) remanded for further proceedings. View "Brotherston v. Putnam Investments, LLC" on Justia Law

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At issue was whether it is appropriate to use the categorical approach in determining what is a “crime of violence” under 18 U.S.C. 924(c)(3)(b). The First Circuit affirmed the district court’s denial of Appellant’s motion, before he entered a conditional plea of guilty to using, carrying, or brandishing a firearm in relation to a “crime of violence” in violation of 18 U.S.C. 924(c)(1), to dismiss a portion of the charge on the ground that the residual clause at 18 U.S.C. 924(c)(3)(B) is unconstitutionally vague under Johnson v. United States, 135 S. Ct. 2551 (2015), and Sessions v. Dimaya, 138 S. Ct. 1204 (2018). The First Circuit held that section 924(c)(3)(B) is not void for vagueness because the statute reasonably allows for a case-specific approach rather than a categorical approach and because Appellant’s conspiracy to commit a Hobbs Act robbery qualified as a “crime of violence.” View "United States v. Douglas" on Justia Law

Posted in: Constitutional Law

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The First Circuit affirmed the sentence imposed upon Defendant, a convicted fraudster, particularly the restitution order entered pursuant to the Mandatory Victims Restitution Act (MVRA), 18 U.S.C. 3663A, in the amount of $581,880, holding that the district court satisfied the requirements of the MVRA. Defendant pleaded guilty to seven counts of mail fraud and two counts of visa fraud. The government sought a total of $581,880 in restitution on behalf of 368 victims. The district court adopted the government’s calculations and ordered restitution accordingly. The First Circuit affirmed, holding (1) both the district court and the First Circuit had jurisdiction over the matter; and (2) there was no abuse of discretion in the order of restitution. View "United States v. Naphaeng" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The First Circuit affirmed Defendant’s sentence of 276 months in prison for conspiracy to commit kidnapping, holding that the sentence was neither procedurally flawed nor substantively unreasonable. After Defendant pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit kidnapping, the district court imposed a below-guidelines sentence. On appeal, Defendant challenged the sentence’s procedural and substantive reasonableness. The First Circuit affirmed the sentence, holding (1) the ransom-demand enhancement under section 2A4.1(b)(1) of the guidelines was not plain error; (2) Defendant’s arguments regarding the judge not expressly ruling on his objections to the presentence report’s inclusion of a two-level obstruction-of-justice enhancement and rejection of a two-level minor-role reduction did not amount to procedural unreasonableness; and (3) Defendant’s sentence was substantively reasonable. View "United States v. Romero" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The First Circuit affirmed the district court’s judgment in favor of Stephen Elliott on his suit against American Capital Energy, Inc. (ACE) and its two principals (collectively, Appellants) claiming breach of contract and violations of the Massachusetts Wage Act, holding that Ellicott’s compensation constituted “wages” under the Wage Act and that the statute of limitations for his Wage Act claim was properly tolled. Elliott filed suit against Appellants seeking compensation for unpaid sales commissions. The jury found all three Appellants liable under the Wage Act and ACE liable for breach of contract. The First Circuit affirmed, holding (1) the jury could reasonably conclude that Ellicott’s sales commissions constituted wages under the Wage Act; (2) tolling the statute of limitations so as to allow Ellicott’s Wage Act claims against one of the principals was justified; and (3) the district court did not abuse its discretion in granting Ellicott’s motions in limine excluding evidence about whether Elliott had agreed to split his sales commissions. View "Ellicott v. American Capital Energy, Inc." on Justia Law

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The First Circuit affirmed the district court’s decision upholding the determination of the Massachusetts Bureau of Special Education Appeals (BSEA) ruling against all of Plaintiff’s claims seeking placement for her minor child in a school outside of the Boston Public Schools (BPS) system, holding that there was no basis in which to reverse the district court’s decision. Plaintiff, on behalf of her minor child, initiated this proceeding pursuant to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), 20 U.S.C. 1400 et seq. A hearing officer denied relief. The district court affirmed the BSEA’s decision. On appeal, Plaintiff raised a number of claimed errors during the hearing. The First Circuit affirmed, holding (1) the district court applied the proper standard in evaluating the minor child’s education progress; and (2) Plaintiff’s challenges to the conduct of the hearing itself did not warrant reversal of the district court’s decision. View "Johnson v. Boston Public Schools" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit denied Petitioner’s application seeking permission to file a successive motion under 28 U.S.C. 2255 to vacate her conviction and sentence for possessing a destructive device during and in relation to and in furtherance of a crime of violence, holding that Petitioner’s application did not meet the requirements for certification of a successive section 2255 motion. Petitioner sought to file this successive motion in 2016 following the Supreme Court’s decision in Johnson v. United States, 135 S. Ct. 2551 (2015). Petitioner then supplemented her motion after Sessions v. Dimaya, 138 S. Ct. 1204 (2018), was decided. Petitioner hoped to argue in the district court that the rule announced in Johnson and reiterated in Dimaya rendered the definition of “crime of violence” under which she was convicted unconstitutionally void for vagueness. The First Circuit denied the application, holding that Johnson’s rule, reaffirmed in Dimaya, did not extend to Petitioner’s conviction under 924(c)’s residual clause. View "Brown v. United States" on Justia Law

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In this case arising from the fatal shooting of an armed civilian by a state trooper, the First Circuit affirmed the district court’s grant of summary judgment to Defendant, holding that Defendant was entitled to qualified immunity. Qualified immunity protects public officials, including police officers such as Defendant, from civil liability while acting under color of state law, with the exception of officials who act incompetently or in disregard of clearly established legal principles. The district court concluded that, under the facts of this case, Defendant was entitled to qualified immunity. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that, under the totality of the circumstances, the district court’s entry of summary judgment in Defendant’s favor on the basis of qualified immunity was correct. View "Conlogue v. Hamilton" on Justia Law