Justia U.S. 1st Circuit Court of Appeals Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in Civil Procedure
Gustavsen v. Alcon Laboratories, Inc.
The First Circuit held that federal law requires prior FDA approval for a manufacturer of prescription eye drops to change the medication’s bottle so as to alter the amount of medication dispensed into the eye, and therefore, state law claims challenging the manufacturers’ refusal to make this change are preempted. Plaintiff sued in federal court on their own behalf and on behalf of a putative class of prescription eye solution purchasers, asserting that Defendants deliberately designed their dispensers to emit unnecessarily large drops. Plaintiffs alleged that Defendants’ practice was “unfair” under Massachusetts state law and twenty-five other states and allied claims for unjust enrichment and for “money had and received.” The district court dismissed the complaint without ruling on the merits, finding that FDA regulations preempted Plaintiffs’ suit. The First Circuit affirmed, holding (1) changing a product bottle so as to dispense a different amount of prescription eye solution is a “major change” under 21 C.F.R. 314.70(b); and (2) therefore, Plaintiffs’ state law claims were preempted. View "Gustavsen v. Alcon Laboratories, Inc." on Justia Law
Harry v. Countrywide Home Loans, Inc.
In this action filed by Plaintiffs seeking to enjoin their property’s foreclosure sale, the First Circuit affirmed the district court’s dismissal of Plaintiffs’ complaint under Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6) and the denial of Plaintiffs’ request for injunctive relief, holding that the district court did not abuse its discretion in concluding that the statute of limitations applied to the bulk of Plaintiffs' claims. Plaintiffs obtained a loan from Countrywide Home Loans, Inc. to refinance their Massachusetts property. After Plaintiffs defaulted on their loan they initiated this action to void their transaction and enjoin their property’s foreclosure sale. The district court granted Defendants’ motion to dismiss the bulk of Plaintiffs’ claims as time-barred and denied Plaintiffs’ request for injunctive relief. The First Circuit affirmed, holding (1) the district court properly found that the statute of limitations applied to the majority of Plaintiffs’ claims; and (2) the remainder of Plaintiffs’ arguments were meritless. View "Harry v. Countrywide Home Loans, Inc." on Justia Law
Sexual Minorities Uganda v. Lively
The First Circuit dismissed this appeal in part for want of appellate jurisdiction and otherwise affirmed the district court’s dismissal of the underlying action asserting a claim under the Alien Tort Statute (ATS), 28 U.S.C. 1350, and common-law claims for negligence and civil conspiracy, holding that this Court lacked jurisdiction to consider two of Defendant's claims on appeal. Plaintiff’s complaint premised jurisdiction both on the ATS and on diversity of citizenship. Plaintiff also invoked the district court’s supplemental jurisdiction over the state law claims. The district court dismissed the ATS claim for want of subject-matter jurisdiction and declined to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over the state law claims. Defendant appealed. The First Circuit held (1) this Court lacked jurisdiction to consider Defendant’s request to purge certain unflattering comments from the district court’s opinion; (2) judicial estoppel barred Defendant’s argument that the district court, even after dismissing the ATS claim, had an alternative basis for federal subject-matter jurisdiction; (3) the district court did not abuse its discretion in declining to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over Plaintiff’s state-law claim; and (4) this Court lacked jurisdiction to entertain Defendant’s claim that the district court erred in declining to grant his first motion to dismiss. View "Sexual Minorities Uganda v. Lively" on Justia Law
Lawless v. Steward Health Care System, LLC
In this case brought pursuant to the Massachusetts Wage Act, the First Circuit affirmed the judgment of the district court granting summary judgment in favor of Plaintiff. Plaintiff brought an action against Defendant, which owned and operated the hospital at which Plaintiff worked, under the Massachusetts Wage Act. Plaintiff alleged that, at the time she was discharged, she was owed thousands of dollars in paid time off and extended sick leave. Defendant removed the case to the federal court on the basis of Labor Management Relations Act (LMRA), 29 U.S.C. 185(a), preemption. The district court granted summary judgment for Plaintiff, awarding her damages and reasonable attorneys’ fees and costs. The First Circuit affirmed, holding (1) federal subject-matter jurisdiction existed at the time of removal because there was then a colorable claim of complete preemption under LRMA, and even after that colorable federal question evaporated during pretrial discovery, the district court retained authority to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over the case; and (2) the district court properly found that Plaintiff was entitled to summary judgment. View "Lawless v. Steward Health Care System, LLC" on Justia Law
Gillis v. Chase
The First Circuit affirmed the district court’s dismissal of a complaint filed by George Gillis against William Chase in this third complaint against Chase, Gillis III, seeking to reopen Gillis I. Gillis was operating a truck at a construction site when he struck and fatally injured Edward Hansen. Gillis was charged with motor vehicle homicide in state court but was acquitted after a trial. Gillis then sought vindication by filing lawsuits. Gillis I asserted that William Chase, the police chief when Hansen’s death occurred, violated his constitutional rights by knowingly charging him with a crime without probable cause. The district court dismissed the case for failure to state a claim. In Gillis II, Gillis sued two different defendants, and the case was dismissed on summary judgment. Gillis III, against Chase alone, sought to reopen Gillis I. Gillis argued that Chase conspired to charge Gillis in the criminal case as the result of undue influence exerted by a defendant in Gillis II. The district court found that Gillis III was time barred and failed to state a claim. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that the district court’s judgment was not in error. View "Gillis v. Chase" on Justia Law
Blattman v. Scaramellino
The First Circuit reversed the district court’s denial of Eric Blattman’s motion to compel Thomas Scaramellino to respond to questions regarding certain documents in this appeal arising out of a civil action brought in a Delaware federal court concerning a corporate merger between Efficiency 2.0 LLC (E2.0) and C3, Inc. As part of the Delaware action, Blattman attempted to depose Scaramellino, the founder of E2.0. At the deposition, Scaramellino refused to answer questions about the documents at issue by asserting attorney-client privilege and work-product protection. Blattman filed a motion to compel Scaramellino to respond to his questions regarding the documents. The district court denied the motion to compel based on Scaramellino’s assertion of the work-product protection. The First Circuit reversed, holding that the district court erred in ruling that Scaramellino was entitled to assert the work-product protection to defeat Blattman’s motion to compel. View "Blattman v. Scaramellino" on Justia Law
Sullivan v. Republic of Cuba
The First Circuit affirmed the federal district court’s denial of Plaintiff’s motion for a default judgment against the Republic of Cuba seeking to enforce a Maine Superior Court’s default judgment of $21 million for the “extrajudicial killing” of Plaintiff’s father, a purported covert United States agent. The district court denied Plaintiff’s motion and dismissed her suit for lack of subject matter jurisdiction under the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act (FSIA), 28 U.S.C. 1330, 1602-1611, which generally bars suits against foreign sovereigns. The district court held that it lacked subject matter jurisdiction over the suit because of Plaintiff’s failure to show that the terrorism exception to foreign sovereign immunity applied. Specifically, the district court disagreed with the Maine Superior Court’s determination that Plaintiff’s father was “extrajudicially killed” by Cuba for purposes of the FSIA. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that Plaintiff failed to provide any evidence that Cuba committed an extrajudicial killing, and therefore, Plaintiff could not establish that the terrorism exception to the FSIA applied. View "Sullivan v. Republic of Cuba" on Justia Law
APB Realty, Inc. v. Georgia-Pacific LLC
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
Kader v. Sarepta Therapeutics, Inc.
The district court did not err in dismissing Plaintiffs’ first amended complaint (FAC) for failure to state a claim or in denying Plaintiffs leave to file their proposed second amended complaint (PSAC) in this litigation in which Plaintiffs brought securities fraud claims against Sarepta Therapeutics, Inc. (Sarepta), Sarepta’s chief executive officer and Sarepta’s chief scientific officer (collectively, Defendants). Plaintiffs sought to represent a class of purchasers of securities that Sarepta issued between April 21, 2014 and October 27, 2014. Plaintiffs alleged that Defendants knowingly or recklessly misled investors about their target date for submitting an application to the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for approval of the drug eteplirsen. The district court dismissed the FAC and denied Plaintiffs leave to file the PSAC. The First Circuit affirmed, holding (1) the district court did not err in dismissing the FAC for failure to state a claim because Plaintiffs did not adequately plead scienter in the FAC; and (2) and even assuming that the PSAC was not futile, the district court did not abuse its discretion in denying the PSAC on undue delay grounds. View "Kader v. Sarepta Therapeutics, Inc." on Justia Law
Teixeira v. Town of Coventry
A trial court that wishes to us the McDonnell Douglas framework, see McDonnell Douglas Corp. v. Green, 411 U.S. 792, 802-804 (1973), as part of its jury instructions should translate it into everyday parlance and fit it to the facts and circumstances of a particular case. In this case alleging violations of federal and state law, including the Family and Medical Leave Act and the Rhode Island Civil Rights Act, the First Circuit affirmed the judgment of the district court entering a take-nothing verdict in favor of Defendants. Plaintiff moved for a new trial, arguing, among other things, that the district court erred in employing the McDonnell Douglas framework in its jury instructions. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that the district court’s jury instructions as a whole were satisfactory. View "Teixeira v. Town of Coventry" on Justia Law