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

Articles Posted in Personal Injury
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In this appeal arising out of a lawsuit for damages that Plaintiff brought against three defendants in connection with the drowning deaths of her husband and son, the First Circuit reversed the judgment of the district court dismissing the suit based on the doctrine of forum non conveniens, holding that dismissal was not warranted.Plaintiff named as defendants Marriott International, Inc.; Marriott Worldwide Corporation; and Reluxicorp, Inc., the Marriott franchisee in Montreal where the drowning occurred. The United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts found personal jurisdiction over Defendants but dismissed it based on the doctrine of forum non conveniens, concluding that an adequate alternative forum was available in Canada. The First Circuit reversed in part, holding (1) the district court correctly denied Defendants' motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction; but (2) the district court erred in granting Defendant's motion to dismiss on forum non conveniens grounds. View "Nandjou v. Marriott International, Inc." on Justia Law

Posted in: Personal Injury
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The First Circuit affirmed the order of the district court granting summary judgment against Plaintiff, acting as the personal representative of the estate of Ambrosia Fagre (Amber), on claims related to Amber's death, holding that the district court did not err when it granted Trooper Jeffrey Parks's motion for summary judgment on Plaintiff's 42 U.S.C. 1983 claim.Plaintiff's complaint alleged use of excessive force against Amber in violation of the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments under section 1983 and use of excessive force against Amber in violation of Me. Const. art. I, 5 under the Maine Civil Rights Act, failure to protect Amber in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment, and negligence and wrongful death under Maine state law. The district court granted Trooper Parks's motion for summary judgment. The First Circuit affirmed, holding (1) summary judgment on Plaintiff's section 1983 claim was warranted, and Trooper Parks was also entitled to qualified immunity; and (2) the district court did not err by granting summary judgment on Plaintiff's state law claims because Trooper Parks was entitled to immunity under the Maine Tort Claims Act, Me. Stat. Tit. 14, 8111(1). View "Fagre v. Parks" on Justia Law

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In this case, the First Circuit held that a viable substantive due process state-created danger claim was presented against two Maine State Police officers and that the district court erred in granting the officers' summary judgment motion on qualified immunity grounds.This 42 U.S.C. 1983 action arose out of the attacks, murder, and rapes committed in 2015 by Anthony Lord against Brittany Irish and those close to her (Plaintiffs) after actions and inactions by the defendant officers. Plaintiffs sought relief based on the state-created substantive due process danger doctrine, under which officers may be held liable for failing to protect plaintiffs from danger created or enhanced by their affirmative acts. The district court granted summary judgment to the officers on the grounds of qualified immunity. The First Circuit (1) affirmed the district court's ruling that a jury could find that the officers violated Plaintiffs' substantive due process rights; and (2) reversed the grant of Defendants' summary judgment motion on qualified immunity grounds, holding that a reasonable jury could conclude that the facts of this case could give rise to a constitutional violation under the state-created danger doctrine. View "Irish v. Fowler" on Justia Law

Posted in: Personal Injury
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The First Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment on Plaintiff's racial discrimination and retaliation claims against the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA), holding that both challenges were meritless.Plaintiff brought claims of racial discrimination, unlawful retaliation, and negligent infliction of emotional distress against the MBTA. The district court granted summary judgment to the MBTA on all claims. The First Circuit affirmed, holding (1) Plaintiff did not produce sufficient evidence to get to a jury on his claim that he was denied a promotion based on his race; and (2) Plaintiff did not establish a prima facie case of retaliation. View "Henderson v. Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit vacated the decision of the district court granting summary judgment for Defendants and dismissing Plaintiff's 42 U.S.C. 1983 action on the grounds that Plaintiff's claims were time barred, holding that there was no basis for summary judgment on the record.Plaintiff filed suit against the City of Biddeford, Captain Norman Gaudette with the Biddeford Police Department (BPD), and Chief of Police Roger Beaupre, alleging that Gaudette sexually abused him as a teenager in the later 1980s and that the City and Baupre were deliberately indifferent to Gaudette's violation of his constitutional rights when Plaintiff reported the abuse. Defendants argued that the suit was barred by the statute of limitations. In response, Plaintiff asserted that his claims did not accrue until 2015, when he learned that the BPD and Baupre allegedly knew of at least one other report of Gaudette sexually abusing a minor that pre-dated Plaintiff's experience. The district court granted summary judgment for Defendants. The First Circuit reversed, holding (1) a reasonable jury could find that Plaintiff had no duty to diligently investigate his claims against Defendants before 2015; and (2) therefore, the district court erred in concluding as a matter of law that Plaintiff's claims accrued at the time of his injury in the late 1980s. View "Ouellette v. Beaupre" on Justia Law

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In this insurance coverage dispute, the First Circuit vacated the decision of the district court holding that United Rentals, Inc. was entitled to defense costs from Scottsdale Insurance Company as an additional insured and that the Scottsdale policy afforded additional insured coverage to United Rentals for its direct and vicarious liability but that this coverage was excess above United Rentals' own coverage under its policies with ACE American Insurance Company, holding that the district court erred in part.Gomes Services, Inc. contracted with United Rentals to rent an electric boom lift. While operated by a Gomes employee, the lift struck and injured Guy Ayotte. Ayotte sued United Rentals and Gomes. At the time of the accident, Gomes was insured by Scottsdale under a policy that extended coverage to any party that Gomes was required by written contract to add as an "additional insured." United Rentals requested that Scottsdale defend and indemnify United Rentals. After the district court made its ruling both parties appealed. The First Circuit held (1) Scottsdale had a duty to indemnify United Rentals in the Ayotte action for both its direct and vicarious liability; and (2) United Rentals' relevant policies did not qualify as "valid and collectible insurance," and therefore, the Scottsdale policy afforded coverage to United Rentals. View "Scottsdale Insurance Co. v. United Rentals, Inc." on Justia Law

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The First Circuit affirmed the judgment of district court dismissing Plaintiff's case against the City of Boston and several of its police officers, holding that the district court did not abuse its discretion in dismissing the case with prejudice.Plaintiff filed suit in superior court under 42 U.S.C. 1983 and the Massachusetts Tort Claims Act, alleging, among other things, false arrest and imprisonment, excessive force, and intentional infliction of emotional distress. After a lengthy history of delay, the district court gave Plaintiff fourteen days to serve an amended complaint on two defendants. Plaintiff never properly served one of the defendants. The district court dismissed the defendant not properly served. The court then dismissed the other defendant, concluding that Plaintiff's failure to meet a deadline for service did not constitute excusable neglect. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that the district court acted within its discretion in dismissing the case with prejudice. View "Tubens v. Doe" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit affirmed the judgment of the district court dismissing this case for lack of subject matter jurisdiction under the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA), holding that the FTCA's discretionary-function applied in this case and that the district court lacked jurisdiction over Plaintiffs' claims.While delivering mail for the Postal Service, an employee for Eagle Support, Inc. driving an Eagle truck rear-ended a school bus, severely injuring two minor passengers. Plaintiffs sued the Postal Service under the FTCA, alleging negligence for failing to inspect Eagle's vehicles for safety purposes. The Postal Service filed a motion to dismiss for lack of subject-matter jurisdiction under the discretionary-function exception. The judge dismissed Plaintiffs' complaint. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that the discretionary-function exception divested the federal courts of jurisdiction over Plaintiffs' suit. View "Reyes-Colon v. United States" on Justia Law

Posted in: Personal Injury
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The First Circuit affirmed the judgment of the district court granting summary judgment for Defendants and dismissing Plaintiff's tort action stemming from the death of Dr. George Holland while he was vacationing at a hotel located in Fajardo, Puerto Rico, holding that there was insufficient evidence to establish the causation element of Plaintiffs' tort claim.Plaintiffs, Dr. Holland's wife and their children, asserted a tort claim under Article 1802 of the Puerto Rico Civil Code against the hotel, its insurer and other entities stemming from Dr. Holland's death while he was snorkeling close to an island near the hotel. The district court granted Defendants' motion for summary judgment in its entirety. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that Appellants did not point to evidence in the record from which a reasonable jury could rule in their favor as to the causation element of their tort claim, and therefore, summary judgment was appropriate. View "Baum-Holland v. Hilton El Con Management, LLC" on Justia Law

Posted in: Personal Injury
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In this case where Plaintiff's negligence case collapsed halfway through trial due to the exclusion of his only expert witness pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 26 and Fed. R. Evid. 702 the First Circuit reversed the rulings of the district court under Rule 26 and Rule 702, vacated the entry of judgment against Plaintiff, and remanded this matter for further proceedings, holding that the district court erred.Plaintiff was hit by a car while walking in a construction-affected area near Old San Juan, Puerto Rico. Plaintiff filed a negligence lawsuit against several entities. Plaintiff then retained an expert witness to opine on the standard of care owed to pedestrians in construction-affected areas and to explain how Defendants' negligence caused his accident. After a twelve-day Daubert hearing, the trial court excluded Plaintiff's sole expert witness. The district court subsequently entered judgment as a matter of law for Defendants. The First Circuit vacated the lawsuit's dismissal, holding (1) under Rule 26, preclusion was an overly harsh sanction for Plaintiff's discovery violations; and (2) the district court abused its discretion in excluding the expert testimony under Rule 702. View "Lawes v. CSA Architects & Engineers LLP" on Justia Law