Articles Posted in Civil Procedure

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The Autoridad de Energia Electrica de Puerto Rico (PREPA) executed six contracts for the delivery of fuel oil. Vitol, Inc. was a party or assignee to the six contracts, each of which included a choice of law and forum selection clause stating that disputes concerning the contract shall be litigated in Puerto Rico state courts. After PREPA learned that Vitol, S.A. had pled guilty to first degree grand larceny it filed a complaint in a Puerto Rico Court against Vitol, Inc. and Vitol, S.A. alleging that two oil supply contracts it held with Vitol, Inc. were null due to Law No. 458 of December 29, 2000 and the Puerto Rico Civil Code. Invoking diversity jurisdiction, Defendants removed the claim to federal court. PREPA then filed a second complaint in a Commonwealth court regarding four additional oil supply contracts. The two cases were consolidated in federal court. The district court remanded the case to the Commonwealth court, concluding that the forum selection clauses applied to the dispute and, therefore, that the unanimity requirement of 28 U.S.C. 1446(b)(2)(A) could not be satisfied. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that remand was proper because the forum selection clauses were enforceable, and therefore, the unanimity requirement could not be met. View "Autoridad de Energia Electrica v. Vitol, Inc." on Justia Law

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In this design-defect product-liability case, the district court did not abuse its discretion in dismissing the case for Plaintiff's failure to prosecute and to comply with scheduling orders. Plaintiff brought this action against Defendants. Plaintiff served no discovery before the discovery deadline, and Plaintiff’s counsel did not at the outset retain an expert. Defendants filed a motion for summary judgment arguing that the absence of any expert testimony was fatal to Plaintiff’s case. The district court subsequently granted Plaintiff’s request to reopen discovery, set a new expert-disclosure deadline and other requests for time extensions without any sanction. After the extended deadline for filing an opposition to the motion for summary judgment came without Plaintiff’s opposing the motion, the district court dismissed the case for failure to prosecute and failure to comply with scheduling orders. The district court denied Plaintiff’s motion for reconsideration. The First Circuit affirmed. View "McKeague v. One World Technologies, Inc." on Justia Law

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The First Circuit held that the five-day grace period outlined in 20 C.F.R. 422.210(c) does not apply to final decisions on remand where the individual does not file any written exceptions to the administrative law judge's decision and the Appeals Council does not assume jurisdiction of the case. Plaintiff applied for Title II disability benefits with the Social Security Administration. On remand, an ALJ issued a partially favorable decision on Plaintiff’s claim. Plaintiff did not file any written exceptions to the ALJ’s decision, and the Appeals Council did not review the ALJ’s decision. Therefore, the ALJ’s decision became the final decision of the Commissioner of Social Security. Plaintiff then filed a civil action challenging the ALJ’s decision on remand. The Commissioner moved to dismiss Plaintiff’s claim as untimely. The district court ruled against Plaintiff and dismissed her complaint for being untimely filed. Plaintiff appealed, asking the First Circuit to hold that the five-day grace period outlined in section 422.210(c) applies to final decisions on remand. The First Circuit declined Plaintiff’s request, holding that Plaintiff cannot apply the five-day grace period under section 422.210(c) to save her civil claim from being untimely. View "Walker-Butler v. Berryhill" on Justia Law

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Federal subject-matter jurisdiction over this dispute involving claims of defamation and other causes of action was premised on a diversity of citizenship. Hearts With Haiti Inc. and Michael Geilenfeld sued Paul Kendrick. Although a jury found for the plaintiffs, the First Circuit remanded the case to address the question of whether federal subject-matter jurisdiction was lacking. The district court dismissed the action for lack of subject matter jurisdiction because Geilenfeld was domiciled in Haiti and thus was not a citizen of a state for the purposes of diversity jurisdiction. The First Circuit affirmed, holding (1) as a stateless American citizen domiciled abroad, Geilenfeld did not satisfy the requirements of diversity jurisdiction; and (2) the district court did not abuse its discretion in refusing to cure the jurisdictional defect by dismissing Geilenfeld from the action. View "Hearts With Haiti, Inc. v. Kendrick" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed a complaint against Defendants, her former employer and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, alleging that Defendants violated her rights under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), discriminated against her on the basis of a covered impairment, illegally required her to participate in prohibited political activity, and wrongfully terminated her with actual malice. The district court granted Defendants’ motion to dismiss the case under Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(1) and 12(b)(6). Plaintiff appealed the portion of the district court’s order dismissing certain FMLA claims against her former employer under Rule 12(b)(6). The First Circuit affirmed, holding that the facts pleaded in Plaintiff’s complaint did not plausibly allege that her supervisor fired her because she sought leave protected by the FMLA. View "Germanowski v. Harris" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff and two other named plaintiffs filed a putative class action suit against defendants in a Massachusetts state court. Defendants successfully sought removal of the suit to a federal district court. The district court granted Defendants’ motion for summary judgment as to most, but not all, of Plaintiff’s claims. At Plaintiffs’ urging, the court remanded the case to state court. Plaintiff filed a notice appealing the remand order, followed by a brief devoted to challenging the interlocutory order that dismissed most of his claims. The First Circuit dismissed the appeal, holding that Plaintiff waived his right to appeal because, if the order of remand was a final judgment, it was a final judgment to which Plaintiff affirmatively acquiesced without clearly reserving the right to appeal any ruling that may have merged into that judgment. View "Doran v. J. P. Noonan Transportation, Inc." on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed filed a qui tam action against a corporation and its subsidiary, both of whom manufacture and market medical devices, alleging that Defendants violated the False Claims Act in selling two particular medical devices to hospitals that seek reimbursement from the federal government through, for example, the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Through two subsequent amendments, both with permission of the court, Plaintiff added several defendants and retooled his claims. Plaintiff then requested leave to amend fourth amended complaint. The district court applied the “good cause” standard from Fed. R. Civ. P. 16(b) to that request and struck the amended complaint. The First Circuit originally held that the district court should have evaluated Plaintiff’s fourth amended complaint under the standard set forth in Fed. R. Civ. P. 15(a). On remand, the district court concluded that Plaintiff’s desired amendment failed under that standard. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that Plaintiff’s request for leave to file his fourth amended complaint was properly denied as futile because none of the claims in Plaintiff’s fourth amended complaint was adequately pled. View "D'Agostino v. EV3, Inc." on Justia Law

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Appellant brought a qui tam action against Cyberonics, Inc. alleging that Cyberonics violated the False Claims Act (FCA) and related state statutes by promoting medically unnecessary replacements of batteries in nerve stimular devices, which resulted in patients and medical providers filing false claims for reimbursement from government health care programs. The district court dismissed all but two of Appellant’s claims, including the FCA allegations, for failure to state a claim. Thereafter, the district court denied Appellant’s request for leave to file a second amended complaint on the basis of undue delay. The First Circuit affirmed, holding (1) Appellant’s first amended complaint did not satisfy Fed. R. Civ. P. 9(b)’s particularity requirement, and therefore, the district court did not err in dismissing the first amended complaint; and (2) Appellant did not meet his burden of providing a valid reason for his delay, and the district court did not abuse its discretion in denying Appellant’s motion for leave to amend. View "Hagerty v. Cyberonics, Inc." on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs, a group of construction-industry employers’ associations and employers, sought relief from a broad category of enforcement actions that may be brought under the Massachusetts Earned Sick Time Law (ESTL). Plaintiffs did so before any action to enforce the ESTL had been filed against any employer who was a party to a collective bargaining agreement (CBA). Plaintiffs argued that the ESTL was preempted by section 301 of the Labor-Management Relations Act with respect to those employers in the state who are parties to CBAs. Plaintiffs sought a judgment, inter alia, prohibiting the Massachusetts Attorney General from granting private rights of action to employees who are members of collective bargaining units. The district court dismissed the suit for failure to state a claim insofar as it constituted a facial, preemption-based challenge to the ESTL, and for lack of jurisdiction insofar as it represented an as-applied preemption-based challenge that was not ripe for adjudication. The First Circuit dismissed the suit for want of jurisdiction, holding that Plaintiffs’ request for pre-enforcement relief was not ripe for adjudication. View "Labor Relations Division of Construction Industries of Massachusetts, Inc. v. Healey" on Justia Law

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A Massachusetts district court awarded damages to Dawn Irish arising out of her divorce from Craig Irish and the separation agreement filed in their divorce proceeding. Dawn later filed a complaint in federal district court based on diversity jurisdiction, alleging various contract, tort, and fraud claims against Craig for Craig’s alleged failure to fully disclose his assets or deal in good faith during the negotiation of the parties’ separation agreement. The federal court exercised jurisdiction over the claims, and Craig appealed. The First Circuit vacated the judgment, holding that the district court lacked subject matter jurisdiction pursuant to the domestic relations exception to federal diversity jurisdiction. Remanded for dismissal of the action, with prejudice as to federal jurisdiction and without prejudice as to the assertion of claim in an appropriate state court. View "Irish v. Irish" on Justia Law