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

Articles Posted in Personal Injury
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The First Circuit affirmed the order of the district court exercising its ancillary jurisdiction to enforce a resolution issue by the Puerto Rico Secretary of Justice (Secretary) directing the Municipality of Juana Diaz (Municipality) to indemnify two municipal police officers found liable under Puerto Rico tort law after a federal jury trial for using excessive force resulting in a death, holding that ancillary enforcement jurisdiction was appropriate. Appellee and other family members filed this action after the shooting death of their relative at the hands of police. The jury returned a verdict for Appellee with respect to her negligence claims against two municipal police officers in their personal capacities, and the district court entered judgment against the officers. After the Secretary issued a resolution under a Puerto Rico statute referred to as “Law 9” requiring the Municipality to pay the judgments against its officers, Appellee filed a motion requesting the garnishment of the Municipality’s assets. The district court granted the motion. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that the district court had jurisdiction to enforce the Secretary’s Law 9 resolution against the Municipality. View "Burgos-Yantin v. Municipality of Juana Diaz" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit affirmed the district court’s decision granting Defendants’ motion for summary judgment on Plaintiff’s 42 U.S.C. 1983 claim and dismissing Plaintiff’s Massachusetts state law negligence claim without prejudice, holding that the district court’s judgment was without error. Plaintiff, a pretrial detainee at the Massachusetts Correctional Institute-Framingham, sued Dr. Thomas Groblewski and the Massachusetts Partnership for Correctional Healthcare in federal district court, bringing a state law claim for common law negligence and a federal law claim under section 1983 for a violation of her Eighth Amendment right to be free from cruel and unusual punishment. The district court concluded that no reasonable jury could find that Groblewski acted with deliberate indifference to Plaintiff’s medical needs. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that the district court did not err in granting Defendants summary judgment on Plaintiff’s Eighth Amendment claim. View "Zingg v. Groblewski" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit affirmed the district court’s dismissal of Plaintiff’s suit against Bloomberg News and authors of an article Plaintiff claimed rendered Bloomberg liable for several common-law torts, including defamation, holding that the suit was properly dismissed for Plaintiff's failure to allege sufficient facts to make out his claims. This case concerned an online article and TV interview in which Bloomberg reported that the Securities and Exchange Commission had opened an investigation to determine whether Plaintiff, a priest and hedge fund manager, had intentionally published false material about certain public companies. The district court granted Defendants’ motion to dismiss, concluding (1) Plaintiff was required to plausibly allege actual malice because he was at least a limited-purpose public figure, and Plaintiff failed to do so; and (2) Plaintiff failed to allege sufficient facts to make out a claim of intentional interference with prospective economic advantage. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that Plaintiff’s complaint did not narrate a claim for relief. View "Lemelson v. Bloomberg L.P." on Justia Law

Posted in: Personal Injury
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The First Circuit affirmed the district court’s summary judgment findings, evidentiary rulings, and denials of various motions on claims brought by a member of the rock band BOSTON against a former BOSTON guitarist alleging trademark infringement and breach of contract and on the guitarist’s counterclaims alleging breach of contract and abuse of process. Donald Thomas Scholz sued Barry Goudreau alleging claims related to impermissible inferences that Goudreau had allegedly made regarding his former association with BOSTON. Goudreau counterclaimed. After the district court granted in part the parties’ respective motions for summary judgment, the remaining claims proceeded to trial. The jury found in favor of the respective defendants on the remaining claims. The parties cross-appealed. The First Circuit affirmed the district court and denied the appeals, holding that there was no error or abuse of discretion requiring reversal. View "Scholz v. Goudreau" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit affirmed the district court’s grant of summary judgment in favor of the government on Plaintiff’s claim under the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA) for false imprisonment, holding that while the decision of agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) to prevent Plaintiff and his son from leaving a Puerto Rico post office parking lot was wrong, that decision was reasonable and did not expose the United States to liability. After Plaintiff’s son retrieved some envelopes from the post office Plaintiff and his son began pulling out of the parking lot but were stopped by ATF agents with guns drawn. Plaintiff was removed from the vehicle and handcuffed, and Plaintiff and his son were detained for approximately twenty minutes. ATF agents released Plaintiff and his son when they realized they had stopped the wrong people in searching for the person who had received an illegal shipment of firearms. Based on this incident, Plaintiff filed his complaint. The district court granted the government’s motion for summary judgment. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that even if the agents did not have probable cause to arrest, Puerto Rico would not impose liability for false imprisonment, and, given the vicarious liability premise of the FTCA, the United States was not exposed to liability. View "Soto-Cintron v. United States" on Justia Law

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