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

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The First Circuit denied Petitioner's petition for review of a Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) decision affirming an immigration judge's (IJ) denial of his claims for asylum, withholding of removal, and protection under the Convention Against Torture (CAT), holding that there was substantial evidence supporting the BIA's affirmance of the IJ's decision. In ordering the removal of Petitioner, a native and citizen of Ecuador, the IJ found that Petitioner was not a credible witness and that Petitioner had not met his burden for any relief. The BIA affirmed. Before the First Circuit, Petitioner argued that the BIA failed to consider all the evidence and erred in determining that he had not meaningfully challenged the adverse credibility finding. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that there was substantial evidence supporting the BIA's affirmance of the IJ's decision. View "Loja-Paguay v. Barr" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit affirmed the judgment of the district court dismissing the complaint filed by Hoff Stauffer on behalf of the estate of Carlton Stauffer, his father, against the Internal Revenue Services (IRS) alleging that the IRS improperly denied his April 2013 for his father's 2006 tax refund as untimely, holding that the Estate's arguments on appeal were unavailing. Before the district court, the Estate argued that the applicable statute of limitations for the filing of a tax refund claim was tolled due to Carlton's financial disability. The district court disagreed, concluding that because Hoff held a durable power of attorney (DPA) authorizing him to act on behalf of Carlton in financial matters the limitations period was not tolled. The First Circuit affirmed, holding (1) the DPA qualified Hoff as a person authorized to act on behalf of Carlton in financial matters for the purposes of I.R.C. 6511(h)(2)(B); and (2) there was no clear error in the court's factual finding that Hoff never renounced the DPA. View "Stauffer v. Internal Revenue Service" on Justia Law

Posted in: Trusts & Estates

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The First Circuit denied Petitioner's petition for judicial review of a final order of the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) ordering Petitioner removed to his homeland of Cape Verde and denying his motions to terminate removal proceedings, holding that the BIA's order of removal was in accordance with law. On appeal, Petitioner argued that because the notice to appear (NTA) that initiated the removal proceedings against him did not include the date and time of his contemplated hearing, it was a defective charging instrument and thus ineffectual to commence removal proceedings. Consequently, Petitioner argued, the immigration court did not acquire jurisdiction over his removal proceedings and the agency's final order of removal was a nullity. The First Circuit disagreed, holding (1) Petitioner's NTA complied with the regulations as reasonably interpreted by the BIA, and therefore, the NTA was effective to confer jurisdiction upon the immigration court; (2) Petitioner's motions to terminate his removal proceedings were properly denied; and (3) the BIA's final order of removal was lawful. View "Goncalves Pontes v. Barr" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit reversed in part and affirmed in part the decision of the district court dismissing with prejudice Plaintiff's claims of alleging that he was denied the fruits of a profitable exclusive-seller agreement for the sale of a Ferrari when Defendant caused the breach of that agreement by threatening economic harm to the other party to the contract, holding that Plaintiff plausibly pleaded his claim of tortious interference with an existing contract. Plaintiff brought suit against Defendant alleging claims of tortious interference with an advantageous business relationship, tortious interference with an existing contract, and violations of Massachusetts's Consumer Protection Law, Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 93A, 11. The district court dismissed the suit, concluding that Plaintiff had failed plausibly to allege any impermissible motive or means of interference with Plaintiff's business relationships or existing contracts. The First Circuit reversed in part, holding (1) Plaintiff plausibly pleaded that Defendant harmed Plaintiff by tortiously interfering with the contract; and (2) the district court correctly dismissed Plaintiff's remaining claims. View "Hamann v. Carpenter" on Justia Law

Posted in: Consumer Law, Contracts

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The First Circuit affirmed the judgment of the district court concluding that the denial of Plaintiff's disability benefits claim violated the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA), 29 U.S.C. 1001 et seq., holding that Aetna Life Insurance Company's decision to deny Plaintiff's benefits claim was arbitrary and capricious. Plaintiff employed for benefits under his employer's long-term disability benefits plan, which Aetna administered and funded, after Plaintiff was diagnosed with malignant melanoma. Aetna denied the application under the plan's exclusion for disabilities caused by pre-existing conditions. Plaintiff subsequently brought this action. The district court entered judgment for Plaintiff and awarded him back benefits, interest, fees, and costs. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that an unconflicted fiduciary would likely have found coverage. The Court remanded the case for any further proceedings that may be necessary. View "Lavery v. Restoration Hardware Long Term Disability Benefits Plan" on Justia Law

Posted in: ERISA

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The First Circuit affirmed Appellants' convictions for drug trafficking under the Maritime Drug Law Enforcement Act (MDLEA), 46 U.S.C. 70501-70508, holding that the protective principle of international law permitted the United States to arrest and prosecute Appellants even if, as they argued, their vessel possessed Costa Rican nationality. Appellants were on a small speed boat in the western Caribbean Sea when they were interdicted by the U.S. Coast Guard and subsequently arrested. Appellants moved to dismiss their indictment under the MDLEA, which allows U.S. law enforcement to arrest foreign nationals for drug crimes committed in international waters, arguing that the statute exceeds Congress's authority under Article I of the Constitution and violates the Due Process Clause. The district court denied the motion to dismiss, and Appellants pleaded guilty. On appeal, Appellants again challenged the constitutionality of the MDLEA, arguing that their vessel was not properly deemed stateless. The First Circuit affirmed, holding (1) the protective principle of international law, as applied by the First Circuit, permits prosecution under the MDLEA even of foreigners on foreign vessels; and (2) there was no abuse of discretion in the sentence imposed. View "United States v. Davila-Reyes" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit vacated the decision of the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) denying Petitioner's motion to reopen as untimely, holding that the grounds that the BIA gave for rejecting Petitioner's arguments were not sustainable and thus could not support the BIA's decision to reject Petitioner's motion as untimely. Petitioner, a Guatemalan national who entered the United States without inspection, faced the prospect of removal on the basis of a 2010 BIA decision denying her asylum, withholding of removal, and relief under the Convention Against Torture. Years later, Petitioner filed a motion to reopen and sought to excuse the untimeliness of the motion on the basis of changed country conditions in Guatemala. The BIA denied the motion as untimely. The First Circuit vacated the BIA's decision and remanded, holding that sufficient evidence did not support the BIA's grounds for rejecting Petitioner's changed country arguments, and therefore, the BIA erred in rejecting Petitioner's motion as untimely. View "Perez-Tino v. Barr" on Justia Law

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In this federal whistleblower case, the First Circuit granted Petitioner's petition for review of the determination of the Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB) dismissing Petitioner's Individual Right of Action appeal under the Whistleblower Protection Act (WPA), 5 U.S.C. 1214(a)(3), holding for the first time in this circuit that the WPA only requires that a complainant include sufficient factual basis to enable an agency to investigate. Petitioner alleged that his supervisors retaliated against him because he delivered a document to a colleague that the colleague later used to support his own whistleblower case against the agency. Before the MSPB, Petitioner argued (1) he suffered reprisal for "lawfully assisting" the coworker in the coworker's exercise of his rights under the WPA, and (2) even if he did not engage in a protected activity, he was perceived by the agency and his supervisors to have done so and, as a result, suffered reprisal. The MSPB concluded that Petitioner's actions had been too minimal to constitute actual assistance under the WPA and that Petitioner had failed to exhaust his perceived assistance claim. The First Circuit remanded the case for further proceedings, holding that Petitioner satisfied the WPA's exhaustion requirement as to his perceived assistance claim. View "Mount v. U.S. Department of Homeland Security" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit vacated Defendant's conviction of conspiracy to provide material support to ISIS but affirmed his remaining convictions, holding that the court erred in instructing the jury on the conspiracy to provide material support to ISIS count and that the error was not harmless. Defendant was conviction of conspiracy to provide material support to ISIS (Count One), conspiracy to obstruct justice (Count Two), obstruction of justice (Count Three), conspiracy to commit acts of terrorism transcending national boundaries (Count Four), and obstruction of justice (Count Five). The First Circuit vacated the conviction on Count One and affirmed the remaining convictions, holding (1) the instruction as to count one with respect to the definition of "coordination" constituted legal error, and the error was not harmless; and (2) Defendant was not entitled to reversal on his remaining convictions. View "United States v. Wright" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The First Circuit denied Petitioner's petition for judicial review of the decision of the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) affirming the immigration judge's (IJ) denial of Petitioner's application for refugee status, holding that substantial evidence supported the findings of the immigration court. Petitioner, a native of El Salvador, entered the United States unlawfully. Petitioner sought asylum, withholding of removal, and relief under the Convention Against Torture, asserting that he was abused and threatened as a child by family and purported gang members in El Salvador. The IJ denied Petitioner's application for refugee status and ordered his removal to El Salvador. The BIA dismissed Petitioner's appeal and affirmed the IJ. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that substantial evidence supported the immigration court's findings. View "Miranda-Bojorquez v. Barr" on Justia Law