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

Articles Posted in Personal Injury
by
The First Circuit affirmed the judgment of the district court granting Defendants' motion to dismiss this action for defamation, false light invasion of privacy, and intentional and negligent infliction of emotional distress, holding that Plaintiffs did not plausibly allege defamation under principles of the First Amendment and that there was otherwise no error.Dana Cheng and Epoch Group sued Dan Neumann and Maine People's Alliance in Maine federal court alleging defamation based on statements in an article written by Neumann and published by Maine People's Alliance entitled "Maine GOP hosts speaker present at Jan. 6 Capitol assault." The district court granted Defendants' motion to dismiss under Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6) and New York's anti-SLAPP statute. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that the challenged statements were non-actionable opinions and that Plaintiffs' remaining challenges were waived. View "Cheng v. Neumann" on Justia Law

by
The First Circuit reversed the judgment of the district court denying Appellants' denial of their pre-discovery motions for summary judgment on grounds of qualified immunity, holding that Appellants were entitled to qualified immunity as a matter of law.Appellants - two members of the FBI's joint terrorism task force - shot and killed a suspected terrorist. Plaintiff, the representative of the decedent's estate, brought this action alleging that Appellants' actions violated the decedent's Fourth Amendment rights and asserting state law tort claims. The district court denied Appellants' motions for summary judgment on the grounds of qualified immunity. The First Circuit reversed, holding that the officers were entitled to qualified immunity under each aspect of the "clearly established" prong of the defense. View "Estate of Rahim v. Doe 1" on Justia Law

by
The First Circuit affirmed the judgment of the district court granting summary judgment in favor of the County of York and various County officials in this case alleging violation of Plaintiff's civil right, false arrest, false imprisonment, malicious prosecution, and defamation per se, holding that there was no error.Specifically, the First Circuit held (1) no reasonable jury could find facts that would lead to a determination that the officers lacked probable cause to arrest Plaintiff, and Plaintiff likewise developed no argument that his false imprisonment claims could survive a finding that probable cause existed to arrest him; (2) Plaintiff failed to raise a triable issue as to his federal and state malicious prosecution claims; (3) none of Plaintiff's constitutional claims against the officers could survive summary judgment; and (4) the district court properly rejected Plaintiff's defamation claims. View "Charron v. County of York" on Justia Law

by
The First Circuit affirmed the judgment of the district court granting summary judgment to Defendants and dismissing Plaintiff's complaint alleging that he contracted paralytic shellfish poisoning (PSP) after eating a contaminated shrimp at a Puerto Rican restaurant, holding that the district court properly granted summary judgment to Defendants.Plaintiff and several members of his family sued the Puerto Rican restaurant at which he ate and the food distributors that handled the shrimp before its approval at the Restaurante El Nuevo Amanecer in Barranquitas, Puerto Rico, caused his severe illness, which led to him developing complete quadriplegia. The district court granted summary judgment for Defendants, concluding that Plaintiff had failed to present sufficient evidence to establish that his illness was connected to Defendants' acts or omissions. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that the district court properly granted summary judgment in favor of Defendants. View "Gonzalez-Caban v. JR Seafood Inc." on Justia Law

Posted in: Personal Injury
by
The First Circuit affirmed the order of the district court granting summary judgment dismissing Plaintiff's federal claims against Brown University and reversed the grant of summary judgment as to Plaintiff's state law claim for intentional infliction of emotional distress, holding that there were triable issues precluding summary judgment.Jane Doe, a white woman, filed a complaint against Plaintiff, an African-American man who was then a freshman at Brown University, alleging sexual misconduct. After a multi-year process leading to Plaintiff's suspension from school and his suicide attempt. A year before he graduated, Plaintiff brought this action in Rhode Island state court alleging that Brown discriminated against him and intentionally inflicted emotional distress upon him. The district court granted summary judgment for Brown. The First Circuit reversed in part, holding that Plaintiff presented evidence that would allow a jury reasonably to conclude that Brown should be held liable for the tortious conduct of its officials in intentionally causing Plaintiff severe emotional distress under Rhode Island common law. View "Doe v. Brown University" on Justia Law

by
The First Circuit vacated in part and reversed in part the judgment of the district court in favor of Defendants in this action brought against the owners of a fishing vessel on which Plaintiff was a seaman alleging that the owners breached a federal common law obligation under admiralty law known as the "duty of cure," holding that the district court's holding rested on an impermissible ground for distinguishing Gauthier v. Crosby Marine Service, Inc., 752 F.2d 1085 (5th Cir. 1985).Plaintiff alleged that Defendants failed adequately to pay him for the costs of the medical care he received after falling ill from an infection he acquired while working on their vessel and that, even if Defendants' various payments to Plaintiff and his private health insurer satisfied their duty of cure, their delay in paying him warranted an award of compensatory damages, punitive damages, and attorney's fees. The district court entered judgment for Defendants. The First Circuit largely vacated the judgment, holding (1) the district court's holding rested on an impermissible ground for distinguishing Gauthier and did not otherwise explain why Gauthier did not apply; and (2) Defendants' proposed alternative ground for affirming the district court's grant of judgment to Defendants on Plaintiff's breach-of-the-duty-of-cure claim failed. View "Aadland v. Boat Santa Rita II, Inc." on Justia Law

by
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
by
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

by
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
by
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