Justia U.S. 1st Circuit Court of Appeals Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in Consumer Law
Sharp v. Hylas Yachts, LLC
The First Circuit affirmed a judgment entered by the district court against Hylas Yachts, LLC and in favor of Plaintiffs in the amount of $663,774 plus interest and costs in this case alleging numerous defects in a brand-new yacht that Hylas custom built and sold to Plaintiffs. The court held (1) the trial court did not abuse its discretion in allowing Plaintiffs to offer their evidence of damages for the jury’s evaluation; (2) the district court was not required to dismiss the case or give an adverse-inference instruction concerning spoliation of evidence; (3) the district court did not err in dismissing Hylas’s indemnification claim against the boom supplier; (4) there was no error in the jury instructions; (5) the jury’s verdict was not inconsistent; and (6) Plaintiffs were not entitled as a matter of law to multiple damages and attorneys’ fees under Massachusetts state law. View "Sharp v. Hylas Yachts, LLC" on Justia Law
Mulder v. Kohl’s Department Stores, Inc.
The First Circuit affirmed the district court’s dismissal of Plaintiff’s claims against Kohl’s Department Stores, Inc. alleging that the “comparison prices” on Kohl’s price tags were entirely fictional and selected to mislead consumers about the quality of the products sold by Kohl’s. Plaintiff filed suit alleging that Kohl’s had improperly obtained money from her and other Massachusetts consumers in violation of Massachusetts statutory and common law. Plaintiff requested that a court order Kohl’s to restore this money and enjoin the store from continuing to violate Massachusetts law. The First Circuit (1) affirmed the dismissal of Plaintiff’s claims for damages and injunctive relief and her common law claims for fraud, breach of contract, and unjust enrichment for the reasons stated in Shaulis v. Nordstrom, Inc., No. 15-2354, slip op. at 5-32 (1st Cir. July 26, 2017), also decided today; and (2) affirmed the district court’s denial of Plaintiff’s motion for leave to file a second amended complaint, holding that the district court did not err in denying the motion. View "Mulder v. Kohl's Department Stores, Inc." on Justia Law
Shaulis v. Nordstrom, Inc.
The First Circuit affirmed the district court’s motion to dismiss Plaintiff’s complaint against Nordstrom, Inc. alleging that Nordstrom had improperly obtained money from her and other Massachusetts consumers and requesting that a court order Nordstrom to restore this money and enjoin Nordstrom from continuing to violate Massachusetts law. Plaintiff’s claims were based on her purchase of a cardigan sweater for $49.97 at a Nordstrom Rack outlet store in Boston, Massachusetts. The sweater’s price tag listed both the purchase price and a higher “Compare At” price of $218. Plaintiff claimed that the sweater was never sold for $218 but, rather, that Nordstrom uses the “Compare At” price tags to mislead consumers about the quality of its items. On appeal, Plaintiff challenged the dismissal of her Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 93A claim and her common law claims for fraud, breach of contract, and unjust enrichment. The First Circuit affirmed, holding (1) because Plaintiff did not adequately allege that she suffered a legally cognizable injury, her Chapter 93A claims for damages and injunctive relief were both properly dismissed; and (2) the district court did not err in dismissing Plaintiff’s remaining claims. View "Shaulis v. Nordstrom, Inc." on Justia Law
Williams v. American Honda Finance Corp.
Plaintiff defaulted after Defendant loaned Plaintiff money to buy a car. Defendant repossessed the vehicle and sent Plaintiff two notices in connection with its efforts to sell the car and collect any deficiency owed on the loan - a pre-sale notice and a post-sale notice. Plaintiff filed this putative class action claiming that the two notices violated the Uniform Commercial Code and Massachusetts consumer protection laws. Even though the parties did not request it, the First Circuit certified three questions to the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court because the outcome of this case hinged entirely on questions of Massachusetts law that Massachusetts courts have not yet addressed. View "Williams v. American Honda Finance Corp." on Justia Law
Full Spectrum Software, Inc. v. Forte Automation Systems, Inc.
This dispute between two businesses led to Plaintiff filing suit in federal court alleging various claims under Massachusetts law, two of which remained at issue on appeal. Those two claims were for breach of implied contract and violation of the Massachusetts catch-all consumer protection statute, Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 93A. The district court denied Defendant’s motion for judgment as a matter of law on Plaintiff’s implied contract claims and on its chapter 93A claims. The jury found Defendant liable for breach of implied contract and for knowing and willful violation of chapter 93A. The First Circuit affirmed, holding (1) the evidence in the record was sufficient to sustain the jury’s verdict; and (2) Defendant offered no meritorious argument for why the district court erred in submitting Plaintiff’s chapter 93A claim for damages to a jury in federal court. View "Full Spectrum Software, Inc. v. Forte Automation Systems, Inc." on Justia Law
Salvati v. American Insurance Co.
Gerardo Salvati died from injuries he sustained while doing maintenance work. Gerardo’s wife, Lucia (hereinafter referred to as Salvati) filed a lawsuit seeking damages for wrongful death and loss of consortium. The underlying defendants had a primary policy through Western World Insurance Company in the amount of $1 million and an excess policy through the American Insurance Company (AIC) in the amount of $9 million. AIC refused to provide coverage to the underlying defendants. Salvati and the underlying defendants eventually reached a $6 million settlement agreement. In exchange for tendering the full $1 million of the Western World primary insurance policy, the agreement released Western World and the underlying defendants from any further liability and assigned all rights held by the underlying defendants against AIC to Salvati. Thereafter, Salvati filed a complaint against AIC, alleging, inter alia, breach of contract and seeking a declaratory judgment that she was entitled to collect $5 million from AIC under the excess policy. The district court dismissed the complaint for failure to state a claim. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) Salvati failed to show that the settlement agreement triggered AIC’s duty to indemnify; and (2) Salvati may not bring a claim under Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 176D, and therefore, none of her causes of action survived. View "Salvati v. American Insurance Co." on Justia Law
Turner v. Hubbard Systems, Inc.
Hubbard Systems, Inc. (HSI) was in the business of developing, marketing, and selling a debt collection software program titled “Collection Partner.” In 1992, Gregory Turner entered into a rent-to-own agreement with HSI in which he was granted a temporary rental license for the use of Collection Partner. Turner made the final installment payment in 1996, after which Turner owned a permanent license to the software. In April 2011, HSI sent Turner a new license key to reflect an update in the software. The license expired on May 31, 2011. On June 1, 2011, HSI sent Turner a new license key that permitted him uninterrupted access to the software. In 2012, Appellant brought suit, alleging that HSI violated the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act when it issued a license key that expired on May 31, 2011, despite the fact that he owned a permanent license to the Collection Partner software. The district court accepted and adopted the magistrate judge’s report and recommendation, denied Turner’s motion to strike, and granted summary judgment in favor of HSI. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that the district court did not err in granting HSI’s motion for summary judgment and denying Turner’s motion to strike. View "Turner v. Hubbard Systems, Inc." on Justia Law
Posted in: Consumer Law
Kaufman v. CVS Caremark Corp.
Plaintiff purchased CVS-brand Vitamin E 400 International Units Softgels at a CVS in Plainview, New York. The bottle containing the product bore a label that advertised the product as supporting “heart health.” Plaintiff filed a putative class action complaint, claiming that there were no scientifically valid studies supporting the “heart health” statements. In her complaint, Plaintiff asserted a violation of the New York Consumer Protection Act (NYCPA) and a piggy-back common law claim of unjust enrichment. The district court dismissed Plaintiff’s complaint for failure to state a claim, concluding that federal law preempted Plaintiff’s effort to maintain this action under New York’s consumer protection law. The First Circuit reversed, holding (1) neither federal nor state law posed any bar to recovery under NYCPA to the extent that recovery was predicated on a failure by CVS to comply with the requirements of Federal Food Drug and Cosmetic Act section 343(r); and (2) the complaint adequately alleged that the label’s statements were misleading in a manner that violated the requirements of section 343(r), and therefore, the unjust enrichment count was also not preempted. View "Kaufman v. CVS Caremark Corp." on Justia Law
Young v. Wells Fargo Bank, N.A.
After seeking a mortgage modification under the Home Affordable Modification Program Plaintiff filed a complaint against Wells Fargo Bank, N.A. and Homeward Residential Inc., claiming breach of contract, unfair debt collection under Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 93A, and derivative equitable relief. A federal district court dismissed Plaintiff’s action in its entirety. The First Circuit vacated and remanded, holding that Plaintiff’s complaint sufficiently alleged that Defendants failed to offer her a mortgage modification in a timely manner and that Plaintiff had sufficiently pled damages for her Chapter 93A claim. On remand, the district court granted summary judgment in favor of Defendants. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that Plaintiff’s breach of contract and Chapter 93A claims failed, and therefore, her derivative claim for equitable relief failed as well. View "Young v. Wells Fargo Bank, N.A." on Justia Law
Walsh v. Teltech Systems, Inc.
TelTech Systems, Inc.’s SpoofCard service, a prepaid minutes-based calling service, enables customers to disguise the phone number from which they place calls. In 2009, a customer placed several phone calls to Appellant using SpoofCard and, posing as someone else, made a series of sexually harassing comments to Appellant. Appellant sued TelTech under Massachusetts’s consumer protection statute. The district court granted summary judgment for TelTech, concluding that no reasonable jury could find that TelTech’s actions caused Appellant’s injuries. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that the district court did not err in ruling that, on this record, TelTech was entitled to summary judgment on Appellant’s state law claim. View "Walsh v. Teltech Systems, Inc." on Justia Law