Articles Posted in Personal Injury

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This appeal arose out of the state prosecution of Vladek Filler for five counts of gross sexual assault and two counts of assault. After two trials and two appeals Filler was convicted only of one misdemeanor assault count. Filler subsequently filed a civil action against several defendants under 42 U.S.C. 1983 for malicious prosecution, including a claim against the prosecuting attorney, Mary Kellett, for malicious prosecution. Kellett filed a motion to dismiss Filler’s malicious prosecution claim for failure to state a claim pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6), alleging, among other claims, that she was entitled to absolute prosecutorial immunity. The district court concluded that Kellett was entitled to absolute immunity for actions associated with the judicial phase of the criminal process but denied the rest of Kellett’s motion to dismiss. Kelley brought an interlocutory appeal from the district court’s order. The First Circuit dismissed the appeal for lack of jurisdiction, holding that that, while Filler’s claim against Kellett was not clearly foreclosed by absolute immunity, the court had no jurisdiction to entertain the immunity issue. View "Filler v. Kellett" 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 district court properly granted summary judgment in favor of Defendant in this design defect and failure to warn action. Bernardino Santos-Rodriguez was riding in a boat when a corroded rod end that was part of the boat’s steering mechanism failed, resulting in a loss of steering and ejecting Santos from the boat. Santos sustained extensive injuries. Santos and four relatives sued Seastar Solutions, the manufacturer of the boat’s steering mechanism, alleging a design defect and a failure to warn. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of Seastar. The First Circuit affirmed, holding (1) Santos could not prove that any failure to warn or design defect in the steering rod caused his injuries; and (2) because the district court properly granted summary judgment on Santos’s underlying claims, his relatives’ derivative claims cannot succeed. View "Santos-Rodriguez v. Seastar Solutions" on Justia Law

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A corrections officer used the name of Joel Diaz-Nieves to shield his identity when participating in a controlled buy of fake cocaine. Joel lived with his parents and brother when FBI agents executed an arrest warrant at his home. After the indictment against Joel was dismissed, Joel and his family filed a complaint alleging that, as a result of Joel’s arrest, they suffered damages and injuries compensable under the Federal Tort Claims Act. The district court granted partial summary judgment in favor of the United States and dismissed Joel’s false arrest, false imprisonment, and malicious prosecution claims. The court further dismissed the derivative and independent tort claims of Joel’s relatives under Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(c). The First Circuit affirmed, holding that the district court did not err in granting partial summary judgment for the government and entering judgment on the pleadings. View "Diaz-Nieves v. United States" on Justia Law

Posted in: Personal Injury

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Annalia Montany, a student in the University of New England’s (UNE) occupational therapy master’s degree program, injured her back when Scott McNeil, an instructor playing the role of a mock patient, feigned a fall while Montany attempted to assist him in transferring from a wheelchair into a bed. Because of her back problem she failed a practical exam and did not receive a passing grade for the course. Montany was subsequently dismissed from the program. Montany filed suit against UNE and McNeil, alleging negligence and breach of contract. The district court entered summary judgment in favor of Defendant. The First Circuit affirmed, holding (1) contrary to Montany’s assertion, expert testimony was required in this case; and (2) Montany’s breach of contract claims failed. View "Montany v. University of New England" 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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Patrick Camerano died after suffering a fall while on a “respite/nursing stay” at a facility operated by East Boston Neighborhood Health center (EBNHC). Plaintiff, Patrick’s son, sent a letter styled as a “claim” to the United States Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) alleging state common law and federal statutory violations and seeking $1,700,000 in damages for Patrick’s alleged wrongful death. The district court granted summary judgment to the government, concluding (1) Plaintiff’s tort claims against EBNHC are considered tort claims against the United States, which was subject to a two-year limitations period; and (2) Plaintiff did not file his administrative complaint with HHS until more than two years after learning that his father had suffered a fatal injury caused by a fall. The First Circuit affirmed, holding (1) Plaintiff’s arguments that his claim did not accrue until his newly retained counsel was able to ascertain the name of the respite/nursing home where his father’s accident happen failed; (2) Plaintiff’s argument that the two-year limitations period should be equitably tolled also failed; and (3) the district court did not commit procedural error in granting summary judgment to the government. View "Camerano v. United States" on Justia Law

Posted in: Personal Injury

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Lisa Tam Chung, a Texas high school senior, purchased a vacation package through StudentCity.com for a trip to Cancun, Mexico, adding an optional snorkeling excursion. The snorkeling trip ended with the vessel taking on water and Lisa being pulled under the water. Lisa died as a result of her injuries. Lisa, through her parents, brought a wrongful death claim against StudentCity. During discovery, the district court, with the acquiescence of the parties, limited pretrial discovery to specific issues. The district court ultimately granted summary judgment in favor of StudentCity. The First Circuit reversed, holding that because the district court entered summary judgment on an issue not briefed and on which discovery had not been allowed, the district court’s shift in focus exceeded its authority. Remanded. View "Chung v. StudentCity.com, Inc." on Justia Law

Posted in: Personal Injury

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Plaintiff was injured while receiving treatment at a federally funded healthcare facility. Plaintiff later filed an administrative claim with the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) using a Standard Form 95 (SF 95). Plaintiff, however, failed to fill out the box for a sum certain. HHS denied Plaintiff’s claim. Thereafter, Plaintiff sued the United States seeking damages under the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA). The United States moved to dismiss the case for lack of subject matter jurisdiction on the basis of Plaintiff’s failure to provide a timely sum-certain demand. The magistrate judge treated the motion as one for summary judgment and recommended that judgment enter for the United States, concluding that Plaintiff did not timely satisfy the FTCA’s requirements. The district judge adopted the magistrate judge’s recommendation on de novo review. The First Circuit affirmed, arguing that, where Plaintiff’s SF 95 did not include a sum certain, none of Plaintiff’s arguments for reversal had merit. View "Holloway v. United States" on Justia Law

Posted in: Personal Injury

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Erasmo Rodriguez-Vazquez (Rodriguez) successfully worked to obtain the reversal of several wrongfully convicted individuals. Those individuals and/or their heirs or assigns brought two suits, consolidated into this case, against the police officers and prosecutors who were involved in their prosecutions. The parties reached a settlement. The district court issued a report that the parties and the district court have treated as a gag order barring the parties from disclosing the terms and conditions of the settlement. Rodriguez subsequently made statements about the settlement to the press. The district court held Rodriguez in contempt and referred him to the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico’s Supreme Judicial Court for disciplinary review. The First Circuit reversed the district court’s decision and vacated the contempt and sanctions order, holding that the district court’s contempt finding and sanction were based on clearly erroneous findings of fact because Rodriguez did not violate what the parties all treat as a confidentiality order issued by the district court. View "Rodriguez-Vazquez v. Solivan Solivan" on Justia Law