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

Articles Posted in Personal Injury
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The First Circuit vacated the judgment of the district court entering summary judgment in favor of an airline and dismissing an airline passenger's personal injury complaint, holding that the district court erred in granting summary judgment in favor of the airline.The passenger in this case was injured after falling while disembarking from an aircraft via a mobile staircase made of a last step that was steeper than the earlier steps. At issue was whether Plaintiff's injuries resulted from an "accident" within the meaning of the Montreal Convention. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of the airline, determining that the passenger's injuries were not the result of an accident within the meaning of the Montreal Convention. The First Circuit vacated the judgment, holding that it is for a jury to decide whether the passenger's injuries resulted from an accident within the meaning of the Montreal Convention. View "Moore v. British Airways PLC" on Justia Law

Posted in: Personal Injury
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The First Circuit vacated the order of the district court dismissing this action, holding that the court erred in characterizing the forum selection clause in this case as mandatory.Plaintiff Zuleyka Rivera, a former Miss Universe, sued Kress Stores of Puerto Rico, Inc. and Mark Berezdivin in federal district court alleging breach of contract and tort claims in connection with an agreement between the parties granting Kress Stores exclusive rights to use Plaintiff's name, pageant title, image, and likeness for the development and promotion of branded items of apparel and fragrances. When Kress Stores failed to pay Plaintiff the stipulated annual stipend she sued in federal district court. The district court granted Kress Stores' motion to dismiss, concluding that the suit was brought in contravention of the agreement's forum selection clause. The First Circuit vacated the judgment below, holding (1) the agreement's forum selection clause did not by its terms exclude jurisdiction in another court; and (2) therefore, the district court erred in dismissing the action based on the forum selection clause. View "Rivera v. Kress Stores of Puerto Rico, Inc." on Justia Law

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The First Circuit affirmed the judgment of the district court granting summary judgment in favor of Defendants and dismissing this lawsuit alleging various Massachusetts law claims based on a purported manufacturing defect in a Kawasaki motorcycle owned and ridden by Junior Williams, holding that there was no error.Junior Williams suffered severe injuries, including second- and third-degree burns, when his 2007 Kawasaki motorcycle collided with a Jeep and a fire resulted. Williams brought this lawsuit against the designer and manufacturer and the distributor of Kawasaki brand motorcycles. The district court granted summary judgment for the Kawasaki defendants and against Williams, concluding that the opinions of Williams's proffered liability expert as to defect and causation should be excluded, and therefore Williams lacked expert testimony on these topics. The First Circuit affirmed on other grounds, holding that even assuming that the expert opinion testimony was admissible, Williams failed to satisfy his burden of proving causation by a preponderance of the evidence. View "Williams v. Kawasaki Motors Corp., U.S.A." on Justia Law

Posted in: Personal Injury
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The First Circuit affirmed the judgment of the district court dismissing Plaintiff's defamation complaint, holding that the district court properly dismissed the complaint.Plaintiff brought this action against Defendant, a moderator of of a neighborhood online forum who had copied the forum's discussion threats and reposted them to a new online platform. Plaintiff sued for defamation under Massachusetts law and copyright infringement. The district court granted Defendant's motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that the district court properly ruled that Defendant established two affirmative defenses to Plaintiff's claims: (1) as to the defamation claim, immunity from liability under section 230 of the Communications Decency Act; and (2) as to the copyright claim, fair use. View "Monsarrat v. Newman" on Justia Law

Posted in: Personal Injury
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The First Circuit affirmed the order of the district court entering summary judgment in favor of Defendant and dismissing Plaintiff's claims for fraud, civil conspiracy, breach of fiduciary duty, and unjust enrichment, holding that Plaintiff failed to make a sufficient showing on essential elements of her case.In 2014, Plaintiff sold her special limited partnership interests in an affordable housing property for $1.5 million. In 2016, the property sold for $11.7 million. Plaintiff brought this lawsuit alleging claims for civil conspiracy, fraud, unjust enrichment, and breach of fiduciary duty, alleging that she was fraudulently led to believe that Defendant had power over the property and would block any attempt to sell or refinance it. The district court entered summary judgment for Defendant. The First Circuit affirmed, holding (1) Plaintiff failed to establish that Defendant intentionally misrepresented the value of the property and Plaintiff's special interest; and (2) Plaintiff's remaining causes of action were unsuccessful in the absence of wrongdoing or foreseeable damages. View "Katz v. Belveron Real Estate Partners, LLC" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit reversed the judgment of the district court finding that Electric Boat Corp. had failed to satisfy the requirements of 28 U.S.C. 1442(a)(1) for federal officer removal, holding that Electric Boat established the statutory requirements for removal.During the late-1960s, Michael Moore was allegedly exposed to asbestos during construction of a submarine, the USS Francis Scott Key, where he worked as an electronics officer. Moore and his wife (collectively, Moore), brought suit against Electric Board and others, alleging several state claims. Electric Boat removed the case to federal court under the federal officer removal statute, 28 U.S.C. 1442. Moore filed a motion to remand to state court, which the district court granted after finding that Electric Boat had failed to satisfy the requirements for federal officer removal under section 1442(a)(1). The First Circuit reversed, holding (1) the district court interpreted section 1442(a)(1) in a manner inconsistent with the 2011 congressional amendment to the statute; and (2) Electric Boat satisfied the standard for federal officer removal under section 1442(a)(1). View "Moore v. Electric Boat Corp." on Justia Law

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The First Circuit affirmed the decision of the district court granting summary judgment for Defendants in this personal injury action, holding that the district court properly granted summary judgment as to all claims.This case arose from a car accident in Rhode Island involving Horace Johnson, the driver, and Carlton Johnson, a passenger. Carlton and his mother sued to recover damages for Carlton's injuries. The district court granted summary judgment for Defendants - Horace, his insurer, and the company from which Horace had leased the vehicle. The First Circuit ultimately certified to the Rhode Island Supreme Court a question regarding the definition of "civil action" in Rhode Island's Rejected Settlement Offer Interest Statute, R.I. Gen. Laws 27-7-2.2. After the Rhode Island Supreme Court supplied its answer, this Court affirmed the district court's judgment in its entirety, holding that the district court (1) correctly concluded that section 27-7-2.2 was inapplicable; (2) properly concluded that an enforceable settlement agreement existed; and (3) was right to grant summary judgment as to Carlton's insurer bad faith claims. View "Johnson v. Johnson" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit posed a question of Massachusetts state law to the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court (SJC) in this negligence and failure to warn case, holding that this case met the both the SJC's and this Court's certification standards.Appellants sued Sorin Group USA, Inc. in Massachusetts state court alleging negligence and failure to warn claims predicated on Sorin's not reporting adverse events to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) concerning Mitroflow malfunctions in young patients. Sorin removed the lawsuit to federal court under diversity jurisdiction. The trial court judge granted summary judgment to Sorin, concluding that Appellants' claims were preempted. At issue on appeal was whether Massachusetts law imposes a duty on medical device manufacturers to report adverse events to the FDA that no more than parallel the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act and FDA regulations. The First Circuit certified to the SJC the question of whether a manufacturer's failure to report adverse events to a regular such as the FDA gives rise to liability under Massachusetts law. View "Plourde v. Sorin Group USA, Inc." on Justia Law

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The First Circuit affirmed the district court's entry of summary judgment in favor of BB&S Acquisition Corp. in this case brought by the personal representative of the estate of George Forbes, who was killed in an accident allegedly caused by Wiley Hooks, holding that the district court did not err.Before the accident, Hooks, the employee of Gregory Trucking, had delivered lumber to BB&S, which contracted with Gregory Trucking to transport a separate load of its treated lumber. After Hooks completed Gregory Trucking's contractual obligation to BB&S, Gregory Trucking hit a pick-up truck driven by George Forbes. Plaintiff brought this suit alleging that BB&S had negligently selected Gregory Trucking as an independent contractor to transport its lumber and that BB&S was the "statutory employer" of Hooks under 49 C.F.R. 390.5. The district court granted summary judgment for BB&S. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that the district court did not err in (1) concluding that BB&S could not be liable under Massachusetts common law for the actions of an independent contractor that occurred after the completion of the job; and (2) concluding that BB&S was not the "statutory employer" of Hooks. View "Forbes v. BB&S Acquisition Corp." on Justia Law

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The First Circuit reversed the judgment of the district court granting Defendant's motion to dismiss this action seeking damages for injuries received in a boating accident, holding that this case was allowed to proceed in Plaintiffs' chosen forum.Plaintiffs were ferrying in a small boat when another boat, owned by Defendant, plowed into Plaintiffs' boat and sunk it. The crash also left one of the Plaintiffs with serious personal injuries. Plaintiffs filed suit against Defendant, a U.S. citizen, in Massachusetts, bringing claims for maritime negligence, loss of consortium, and property damages. Defendant moved to dismiss the complaint for forum non conveniens, arguing that Greece was the most appropriate venue for the case. The district court granted the motion and dismissed the case. The First Circuit reversed, holding that the district court abused its discretion in failing to hold Defendant to his burden of showing that the public and private interest factors displaced the presumption weighing in favor of Plaintiffs' initial forum of choice. View "Curtis v. Galakatos" on Justia Law