Articles Posted in Personal Injury

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The First Circuit dismissed this appeal in part for want of appellate jurisdiction and otherwise affirmed the district court’s dismissal of the underlying action asserting a claim under the Alien Tort Statute (ATS), 28 U.S.C. 1350, and common-law claims for negligence and civil conspiracy, holding that this Court lacked jurisdiction to consider two of Defendant's claims on appeal. Plaintiff’s complaint premised jurisdiction both on the ATS and on diversity of citizenship. Plaintiff also invoked the district court’s supplemental jurisdiction over the state law claims. The district court dismissed the ATS claim for want of subject-matter jurisdiction and declined to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over the state law claims. Defendant appealed. The First Circuit held (1) this Court lacked jurisdiction to consider Defendant’s request to purge certain unflattering comments from the district court’s opinion; (2) judicial estoppel barred Defendant’s argument that the district court, even after dismissing the ATS claim, had an alternative basis for federal subject-matter jurisdiction; (3) the district court did not abuse its discretion in declining to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over Plaintiff’s state-law claim; and (4) this Court lacked jurisdiction to entertain Defendant’s claim that the district court erred in declining to grant his first motion to dismiss. View "Sexual Minorities Uganda v. Lively" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit affirmed the district court’s conclusion that the discretionary function exception to the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA), 28 U.S.C. 1346(b)(1), barred Appellant’s suit under the circumstances of this case. Appellant was seriously injured while participating in the Marine Corps Delayed Entry Program, through which individuals can sign up to join the Marine Corps but delay entry in order to better prepare for basic training. Appellant sued the United States, alleging that his superior’s decision to subject him to an especially arduous workout had caused his physical injuries and disabilities, that those actions were negligent, and that, pursuant to the FTCA, he was entitled to damages. The district court dismissed the case, concluding that Appellant’s claim stemmed from the performance of a discretionary function, and since the United States had not waived sovereign immunity for such claims, the district court lacked subject matter jurisdiction. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that this case must be dismissed for want of jurisdiction because Appellant’s claim was based on a discretionary function. View "Hajdusek v. United States" on Justia Law

Posted in: Personal Injury

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The issues before the First Circuit were (1) the power of a court to impose a prior restraint in the form of a permanent injunction forbidding the publication of words that the court believes have been used to defame the plaintiff in the past and are likely to be repeated; (2) whether the evidence in this case allowed the jury to find Samia El-Moslimany liable for intentional infliction of emotional distress and to find Samia and her mother, Ann El-Moslimany, liable for defamation, tortious interference with contract, and tortious interference with advantageous relations; and (3) whether the damages awarded on those claims were excessive. The First Circuit affirmed the judgment of the district court with respect to the claims of defamation, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and tortious interference with contract, reversed the judgment with respect to the claim for tortious interference with advantageous relations, and vacated the post-trial injunction issued by the district court, holding (1) the permanent injunction does not survive strict scrutiny; and (2) the jury’s findings of liability on most of Plaintiff’s tort claims and corresponding money judgments were proper, but the evidence was insufficient to support the claim for tortious interference with advantage relations claim. View "Sindi v. El-Moslimany" on Justia Law

Posted in: Personal Injury

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Plaintiff was not entitled to relief on her constitutional challenges to Maine’s Wrongful Birth Statute. After she gave birth to a healthy child, Plaintiff brought this lawsuit against Merck & Co., Inc., claiming that a contraceptive implant manufactured by Merck and/or its applicator were defective. Plaintiff also sued the federal government under the Federal Tort Claims Act, alleging that a doctor at a federally-funded community health center unsuccessfully implanted the Merck product. Defendants moved to dismiss the complaint in reliance on Maine’s Wrongful Birth Statute. The district court dismissed Plaintiff’s case, rejecting her constitutional challenges to the Wrongful Birth Statute. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that Plaintiff’s challenges to the constitutionality of the Wrongful Birth Statute under the Maine and United States Constitutions failed. View "Doherty v. Merck & Co., Inc." on Justia Law

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The First Circuit vacated in part the district court’s grant of summary judgment in Defendants’ favor on Plaintiffs’ claims seeking compensatory damages, declaratory relief, a permanent injunction, and expungement of disciplinary proceedings from a student’s university records. John Doe was accused of sexually assaulting a fellow Boston College student. In 2012, Boston College held disciplinary proceedings against Doe, and an Administrative Hearing Board found Doe responsible for the lesser offense of indecent assault and battery. In 2014, Boston College conducted an independent review of the disciplinary proceedings and determined that the Board’s finding was proper. Doe and his parents filed a lawsuit against Trustees of Boston College and several university officials. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of Defendants on all counts. The First Circuit (1) affirmed the district court’s grant of summary judgment as to Plaintiffs’ breach of contract claim for the 2014 review and Title IX, negligence, and negligent infliction of emotional distress claims; and (2) vacated the grant of summary judgment as to Plaintiffs’ breach of contract claim for the 2012 disciplinary proceedings, where there were genuine issues of material fact on this claim, and basic fairness claim, where the grant of summary judgment on this claim rested on the court’s analysis as to Plaintiffs’ breach of contract claim. View "Doe v. Trustees of Boston College" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit affirmed the judgment of the district court declaring that AIG Property Casualty Company had a duty to defend William H. Cosby, Jr. In 2014 and 2015, nine of the women who had, over the past decade, accused Cosby of sexual assault, filed three separate actions claiming that Cosby had defamed them by publicly denying their accusations. At the relevant times, Cosby held two insurance policies issued by AIG. Under each policy, AIG had a duty to defend lawsuits alleging defamation. AIG sought a declaration that the policies’ “sexual misconduct” exclusions barred coverage because the underlying defamation claims “arose out of” Cosby’s alleged sexual assaults. The district court granted judgment on the pleadings for Cosby, concluding that the sexual-misconduct exclusions were ambiguous. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that the “arising out of” language in the policies rendered the pertinent sexual-misconduct exclusions ambiguous as to the question in this case, requiring judgment for Cosby, the policyholder. View "AIG Property Casualty Co. v. Cosby" on Justia Law

Posted in: Personal Injury

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The First Circuit affirmed the district court’s grant of summary judgment for the proprietor of a self-service gas station (Defendant) on a customer’s (Plaintiff) negligence claim. Plaintiff filed suit in a Massachusetts state court claiming that Defendant was negligent because the presence of positive limiting barriers (PLBs), which are required by Massachusetts law, in the concrete surrounding Defendant’s gas pumps constituted a hazardous condition and that Defendant failed to warn of that hazard. Defendant removed the action to the federal district court. The district court concluded that the PLBs, if dangerous, presented an open and obvious danger so that Defendant had no duty to warn customers about that danger. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that because there was no question that the PLBs were open and obvious, Defendant had no duty to warn visitors about them, and that Plaintiff’s remaining claims of error were unavailing. View "Potvin v. Speedway LLC" on Justia Law

Posted in: Personal Injury

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At issue here was cross-claims arising out of a bail bondsman’s attempt to seize a bailed man who had failed to appear for a court hearing. Rodriguez, the bailed man, left New Jersey to return to his home in Puerto Rico in violation of the bail agreement. When Rodriguez missed a court date in New Jersey, the bail bond was declared forfeited. Agents acting for Speedy Bail Bonds seized Rodriguez in Puerto Rico. Rodriguez filed suit against Speedy seeking damages for his seizure and detention. Rodriguez’s mother as co-plaintiff claimed mental anguish. Speedy counterclaimed for breach of the bail agreement. The jury returned a verdict in favor of Speedy. The First Circuit affirmed the damages award on the counterclaim but remanded the case to the district court for further proceedings on the question of whether the jury instructions as to the tort claims accurately reflected Puerto Rico law because the question of Puerto Rico law and out-of-state bounty hunters had not been briefed. View "Rodriguez-Tirado v. Speedy Bail Bonds" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit affirmed the district court’s judgment in favor of Defendant after this Court remanded the case, holding that any error in the district court’s evidentiary rulings was harmless and that the district court did not commit prejudicial error when it found that Plaintiffs waived their negligence claim. Plaintiffs Barbara and Michael Bradley filed a second amended complaint alleging medical negligence, battery, and the failure to obtain informed consent. The district court granted summary judgment on the battery claim. After a trial, the jury returned a verdict in Defendant’s favor. The First Circuit vacated the judgment and remanded for a new trial on account of an error in excluding the testimony of Plaintiffs’ proffered expert witness. After a second trial, the jury again returned a verdict in favor of Defendant. The First Circuit affirmed, holding (1) assuming, without deciding, that the district court erred in admitting an entry from Barbara’s diary and in admitting an excerpt from Barbara’s medical records from a different hospital, these errors were harmless; and (2) the district court did not commit prejudicial error in finding Plaintiffs to have waived their medical negligence claim. View "Bradley v. Sugarbaker" on Justia Law

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At issue was whether the mailing of a claim filed pursuant to the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA) for wrongful death was timely presented to the appropriate federal agency where Plaintiffs mailed the notice through the United States Postal Service (USPS) via certified mail and USPS attempted delivery on the last day of the two-year period. The district court dismissed the FTCA suit on the grounds that Plaintiffs had not first timely presented their claim to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) because ICE did not come into actual possession of Plaintiffs’ mailed notice of their claim until after the two-year period had run. The First Circuit vacated the dismissal, holding that this case must be remanded for consideration of Plaintiffs’ contention that Plaintiffs’ claim had been timely presented by virtue of the fact that USPS arrived at ICE with notice of the tort claim on the last day of the two-year statutory period. View "Ortiz-Rivera v. United States" on Justia Law

Posted in: Personal Injury