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

Articles Posted in Contracts

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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 arbitrator's decision in favor of RMS Lifeline, Inc. in this dispute between RMS and Dialysis Access Center (DAC) and the district court's refusal to vacate that decision, holding that the district court was correct in denying DAC's challenge and confirming the award. In this multi-year arbitration-fueled litigation the arbitrator ultimately entered a decision for RMS, awarding it almost $2 million. The district court confirmed the award and dismissed DAC's complaint to vacate and/or modify the arbitration award. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that vacatur of the arbitration award was not warranted and that the district court properly confirmed the award. View "Dialysis Access Center, LLC v. RMS Lifeline, Inc." on Justia Law

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The First Circuit affirmed the judgment of the district court in favor of the Fay School, Inc. and Fay's Head of School as to Appellants' complaint alleging unlawful retaliation for demands for an accommodation for a certain condition of G., a twelve-year-old minor, holding that the district court correctly denied Appellants' claims. G., a former student of the Fay School, and her parents (collectively, Appellants) brought this suit against Fay after the school refused to remove wireless internet from its classrooms to accommodate G.'s alleged electromagnetic hypersensitivity (EHS), a sensitivity to electromagnetic fields. Appellants alleged, among other claims, unlawful retaliation for an accommodation for G.'s condition, in violation of Title V of the Americans with Disabilities Act, 49 U.S.C. 12203(a), breach of contract, and misrepresentation. The First Circuit affirmed, holding (1) damages are not an available remedy for a Title V retaliation claim premised upon an exercise of rights under Title III of the ADA; and (2) Appellants failed to raise triable issues of fact as to their contract and misrepresentation claims. View "G. v. Fay School" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit affirmed the judgment of the district court granting summary judgment in favor of Insurers in this action brought by Appellants claiming that Insurers' refusal to cover certain legal disputes constituted a breach of their insurance contract, holding that the clear and unambiguous language of the specific litigation exclusion barred coverage of the disputed litigation matters. Appellants filed suit against their primary insurance provider and their secondary insurance providers alleging that Insurers breached their contractual duty to reimburse Appellants for defense costs incurred in connection with the disputed matters. The primary insurer argued that the legal disputes fell under a "specific litigation exclusion" clause in the insurance policy that excepted from coverage claims related to prior matters specified therein. The district court granted summary judgment for Insurers, holding that the prior and disputed matters were sufficiently related such that the exclusion clause applied. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that the specific litigation exclusion barred coverage of the disputed matters because they all involved facts, circumstances, or situations alleged in the prior matters. View "UBS Financial Services Inc. v. XL Specialty Insurance Co." on Justia Law

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In this case involving an electronic component, a voltage regulator known as the KA7805, the First Circuit affirmed in part and vacated in part the district court's judgment dismissing Plaintiff's claims against Defendant, holding that the district court erred in dismissing three of Plaintiff's claims. Defendant's subsidiaries manufactured the KA7805. Plaintiff purchased KA7805s from Defendant's agent and then installed them into power supply units (PSU) it subsequently sold. When one of Defendant's subsidiaries began to manufacture a new "shrunk-die" version of the KA7805, problems with the PSUs arose. Plaintiff brought this suit against Defendant and its holding company, asserting several claims. The district court dismissed all claims except those involving breach of implied warranty at the summary judgment stage. After a trial, the district court dismissed the remaining claims. The First Circuit held (1) the district court erred in summarily dismissing Plaintiff's fraudulent misrepresentation claim based on its holding that Plaintiff's reliance on an uncharged part number was unreasonable as a matter of law; and (2) because the district court's basis for dismissal of Plaintiff's fraudulent omission and negligent misrepresentation claim also rested on its erroneous holding, the court erred in dismissing these two claims as well. View "AcBel Polytech, Inc. v. Fairchild Semiconductor International, Inc." on Justia Law

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The First Circuit affirmed in part and vacated in part the judgment of the district court granting injunctive and declaratory relief to NACM-New England, Inc., which does business under the name Business Credit Intelligence (BCI) in this breach of contract action between National Association of Credit Management, Inc. (NACM), a national trade association of credit professionals, and BCI, one of its regional affiliates, holding that the district court violated NACM's Seventh Amendment rights. At issue was the termination date of a 2011 agreement between BCI and NACM. BCI sought an injunction to require NACM to continue to abide by the terms of the 2011 agreement, which it claimed NACM had breached. The district court granted an injunction and a declaratory judgment to BCI, ordering that the 2011 agreement remained in effect because NACM did not properly terminate the agreement. The First Circuit held that the district court (1) abused its discretion when it ordered as part of the injunctive relief that NACM shall continue to honor all its obligations under the 2011 agreement; and (2) erred in entering the declaratory judgment because it did so without submitting BCI's breach of contract claim to a jury. View "NACM-New England, Inc. v. National Ass'n of Credit Management, Inc." on Justia Law

Posted in: Contracts

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The First Circuit affirmed the judgment of the district court granting judgment to U.S. Bank Trust, N.A. in the amount of $226,458.28 on U.S. Bank's complaint against Julia Jones alleging breach of contract and breach of promissory note, holding that the district court did not err by admitting into evidence a computer printout, marked as Exhibit 8, that contained an account summary and a list of transactions related to the loan. On appeal, Jones argued that admitting Exhibit 8 violated the Federal Rules of Evidence. At issue was whether the records were "reliable enough to be admissible." The First Circuit answered in the affirmative, holding (1) the district court did not abuse its discretion in finding Exhibit 8 reliable enough to admit under Fed. R. Evid. 803(6); (2) the district court's admission of Exhibit 8 did not violate Fed. R. Evid. 901, 1001, or 1002; and (3) the district court did not err by awarding U.S. Bank approximately $23,000 in charges for escrow, title fees, and inspections that were not recoverable under the terms of the promissory note. View "U.S. Bank Trust, N.A. v. Jones" on Justia Law

Posted in: Banking, Contracts

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The First Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment to AXIS Reinsurance Company (AXIS) on Plaintiffs' complaint seeking to enforce a directors and officers insurance policy with AXIS, holding that the district court did not err in granting summary judgment in favor of AXIS and in denying Plaintiffs' motion for partial summary judgment. Plaintiffs were BioChemics, Inc., a pharmaceutical company based in Massachusetts, and John Masiz, its president and chief executive officer. Plaintiffs sought damages for what they claimed was AXIS's breach, under the relevant policy, of its duty to defend them in connection with an investigation conducted by the Securities and Exchange Commission against BioChemics and its officers. In its motion for summary judgment, AXIS argued that it did not breach its duty to defend under the policy because Plaintiffs were seeking to enforce that duty in relation to a claim that was first made before the policy took effect and thus was not covered by the policy. The district court granted the motion. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that the district court did not err in granting summary judgment to AXIS. View "Biochemics, Inc. v. Axis Reinsurance Co." on Justia Law

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The First Circuit affirmed the judgment of the district court granting Defendant's motion to dismiss this suit brought by the insurer (Insurer) of a chicken products manufacturer seeking damages from the manufacturer's chicken supplier (Supplier) for claims under Maine law of breach of warranty and strict product liability, holding that the district court did not err in dismissing the claims. Insurer sought to recoup the money it paid to the manufacturer for the losses the manufacturer incurred when its products were recalled following a salmonella outbreak. Insurer's complaint against Supplier alleged that the manufacturer received raw chicken from Supplier that was contaminated with salmonella and was therefore defective under Maine law. The district court dismissed all claims, concluding that the allegations in the complaint did not plausibly allege that the raw chicken sent by Supplier to the manufacturer was defective and that the strict liability claim was independently barred by the economic loss doctrine. The First Circuit affirmed, holding (1) as to the breach of warranty claims, Insurer failed to plausibly allege that the raw chicken at issue was contaminated with a type of salmonella that would persist despite proper cooking; and (2) Insurer's strict liability claim was properly dismissed because the complaint failed to allege facts that could suffice to show that the chicken was defective. View "Starr Surplus Lines Insurance Co. v. Mountaire Farms Inc." on Justia Law

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The First Circuit affirmed the decision of the district court granting Defendant’s motion to dismiss this putative class action in favor of arbitration of Plaintiff’s claim in his individual capacity after concluding that the parties had a valid and enforceable agreement to arbitrate, holding that the arbitration clause was enforceable because it was conscionable under Massachusetts law. Plaintiff drove for Lyft, Inc., the defendant. Plaintiff tapped “I accept” on his iPhone when presented with Lyft’s terms of service agreement, which contained a provision requiring that disputes between the parties be resolved by arbitration. In this putative class action Plaintiff alleged that Lyft misclassified its Massachusetts drivers as independent contractors under the Massachusetts Wage Act. Left removed the case to federal court and moved to dismiss in favor of individual arbitration. The district court granted the motion. The First Circuit affirmed, holding (1) Plaintiff waived his contract-formation argument; and (2) the arbitration clause was not substantively unconscionable and was thus enforceable. View "Bekele v. Lyft, Inc." on Justia Law