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

Articles Posted in Labor & Employment Law
by
The First Circuit affirmed the judgment of the district court determining that couriers who deliver goods from local restaurants and retailers are transportation workers engaged in interstate commerce such that they are exempt from the Federal Arbitration Act (FAA), 9 U.S.C. 1, holding that the district court did not err or abuse its discretion.Plaintiffs, who worked as couriers for Defendants making deliveries in the greater Boston area, filed suit in a Massachusetts state court on their own behalf and on behalf of a putative class of similarly situated couriers, alleging that Defendant had misclassified them as independent contractors rather than employees and that they were entitled to employee benefits and protections under Massachusetts law. The district court concluded that Plaintiffs were not exempt from the FAA, compelled arbitration of the dispute, and dismissed the lawsuit. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that the district court did not err in compelling arbitration and dismissing the underlying complaint. View "Immediato v. Postmates, Inc." on Justia Law

by
The First Circuit affirmed the determination of the district court that Plaintiffs lacked standing under Article III to bring this action alleging a violation of the Massachusetts Wage Act, Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 149, 148 et seq. but vacated the federal district court's judgment dismissing this case, holding that remand was required for a determination as to whether remand to state court was appropriate.Plaintiffs, who worked as delivery drivers for a service provider for FedEx Ground Package System, Inc., brought this action alleging that their supervisor told them he was withholding part of their weekly pay for tax remittance to federal and state tax authorities and that he never sent the deducted amounts to those tax authorities. Plaintiffs sued FedEx for violating the Wage Act in Middlesex County Superior Court. FedEx invoked diversity jurisdiction and removed the action to federal district court, which dismissed the case on that basis that Plaintiffs lacked standing. The First Circuit remanded the case to the district court, holding that while Plaintiffs lacked Article III standing remand was required for the district court to order supplemental briefing on whether remand to state court was appropriate. View "Plazzi v. FedEx Ground Package System, Inc." on Justia Law

by
The First Circuit affirmed the judgment of the district court granting summary judgment in favor of Employer and dismissing Employee's claims alleging age discrimination and retaliation against a protected activity, holding that there was no error or abuse of discretion.After he was terminated, Employee brought this action stating that the grounds for his firing were pretextual. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of Employer, dismissing Employee's complaint in its entirety. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that the district court (1) did not err in granting summary judgment to Employer on Employee's age discrimination and retaliation claims; and (2) did not err in denying Employee's evidentiary motions. View "Dusel v. Factory Mutual Insurance Co." on Justia Law

by
The First Circuit affirmed the judgment of the district court awarding plaintiff Elba I. Falto De Roman only nominal damages against the Municipal Government of Mayguez and against its mayor, Jose Guillermo Rodriguez, on her complaint filed after was terminated from her position without having been afforded a due process hearing, holding that there was no error.Plaintiff brought this action alleging, among other things, that Defendants violated her Fourteenth Amendment right to due process by terminating her without a hearing. After a trial on the issue of whether Plaintiff was entitled to damages as a result of not receiving a hearing, the jury found Defendants not liable for damages and awarded nominal damages of $1 in favor of Plaintiff. The district court denied Plaintiff's subsequently-filed motion for judgment as a matter of law or, alternatively, for a new trial. The First Circuit affirmed, holding (1) Plaintiff waived her challenge to the district court's denial of her motion for judgment; and (2) Plaintiff did not meet the high bar for a new trial. View "Falto-de Roman v. Municipal Government of Mayaguez" on Justia Law

by
The First Circuit affirmed the judgment of the district court dismissing this case for lack of subject matter jurisdiction, holding that, as to counts I-IV, Plaintiffs ran afoul of the Rooker-Feldman doctrine and that count V failed due to a lack of standing.Appellants, approximately fifty members of a class of retired Rhode Island public employees, brought this action under 42 U.S.C. 1983 alleging constitutional violations in the changes to Rhode Island's retirement benefits scheme (counts I-IV) and in a class action settlement agreement (count V) reached following litigation in state court, in which each appellant was a party. The district court dismissed the action, holding that Appellants' claims were barred by res judicata, a lack of Article III standing, and the Rooker-Feldman doctrine. The First Circuit affirmed, holding (1) Appellants' due process, takings, and Contracts Clause claims were barred by the Rooker-Feldman doctrine; and (2) Appellants' First Amendment claims were nonjusticiable. View "Efreom v. McKee" on Justia Law

by
The First Circuit affirmed the judgment of the district court granting summary judgment in favor of Family Medicine Associates (FMA) and one of its members (together, Defendants) and dismissing this lawsuit alleging breach of contract, breach of the implied covenant of good faith and nonpayment of wages, holding that Plaintiff's claims on appeal were unavailing.Plaintiff, a licensed physician, brought this lawsuit against his former employer nearly three years after his employment relationship was terminated. In his complaint, Plaintiff alleged that Defendants' breached their oral promise of a partnership that was never committed to writing. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of Defendants on all counts. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that Plaintiff failed to put forth sufficient evidence to survive summary judgment. View "Guldseth v. Family Medicine Associates LLC" on Justia Law

by
The First Circuit affirmed the order of the district court granting summary judgment in favor of Defendants and dismissing Plaintiffs' hybrid breach of contract and fair representation claim, their Takings Clause claim, and their claim for declaratory relief, holding that there was no error or abuse of discretion.Plaintiffs, five sergeants in the City of Cranston Police Department, brought this lawsuit against the City of Cranston, the International Brotherhood of Police Officers, Local 301 (the Union), and Matthew Josefson. Plaintiffs were promoted to the rank of sergeant during the time period between Josefson's demotion and reinstatement and then, after Josefson's reinstatement, moved down one position in sergeant rank seniority. Plaintiffs brought suit, alleging several claims. The district court granted summary judgment for Defendants on all claims. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that Plaintiffs' claims failed. View "Barth v. City of Cranston" on Justia Law

by
The First Circuit affirmed the judgment of the district court in favor of an employee's widow in this insurance dispute, holding that the employee did not lose life insurance coverage under his employer's group policy after he developed a brain tumor that disrupted his usual work.Plaintiff, the employee's widow, submitted a statement to Insurer claiming approximately $1 under her late husband's life insurance policy. Insurer denied the claim. Plaintiff then sued, alleging wrongful denial of benefits under section 502(a) of ERISA, 29 U.S.C. 1132(a)(1)(B), (a)(3). The insurance company denied life insurance coverage on the grounds that the employee's coverage under the policy had lapsed. The district court granted summary judgment for Plaintiff. The First Circuit affirmed, holding (1) because the policy language invoked by Insurer in this case was less than clear the rule that ambiguous terms in an insurance policy should be read in favor of coverage applied; and (2) the employee was covered at the time of his demise. View "Ministeri v. Reliance Standard Life Insurance Co." on Justia Law

by
The First Circuit affirmed the judgment of the district court finding Defendants liable for failing to pay all of the wages owed to Plaintiff, their former employee, holding that there was no error in the district court's evidentiary decisions.On appeal, Defendants argued that the district court erred in excluding evidence that Plaintiff was accused of rape just months before he began to pursue the wage claims at issue and that the district court erred in admitting testimony, along with documentary evidence, from one of Plaintiff's former colleagues. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that the challenged evidentiary decisions at issue - one to exclude evidence and the other to admit evidence - were proper and did not require remand for a new trial. View "Gonpo v. Sonam's Stonewalls & Art, LLC" on Justia Law

by
The First Circuit reversed the order of the district court denying Defendant's motion for summary judgment as to Plaintiff's whistleblower retaliation claim brought under section 1514A of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, holding that Plaintiff could not satisfy his burden of bringing a claim for whistleblower retaliation under section 18 U.S.C. 1514A.Plaintiff, a former employee of Defendant, sued Defendant for whistleblower retaliation under section 1514A, but his particular whistleblower claim was based on an alleged violation of 15 U.S.C. 78m(b)(2), (5). Defendant moved for summary judgment following the completion of discovery, arguing that Plaintiff's action did not fall within any of the definitions of protected activity under section 1514A. The district court denied the motion as to the whistleblower retaliation claim. The First Circuit reversed and remanded with instructions to enter summary judgment in favor of Defendant, holding that Plaintiff's conduct was not "protected activity" under section 1514A. View "Baker v. Smith & Wesson, Inc." on Justia Law