Justia U.S. 1st Circuit Court of Appeals Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in U.S. 1st Circuit Court of Appeals
Ortiz-Graulau v. United States
After a jury trial in federal district court, Petitioner was convicted of child pornography and sentenced to 180 months’ imprisonment. The First Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed Petitioner’s conviction and sentence. Petitioner subsequently filed a petition under 28 U.S.C. 2255 collaterally attacking his conviction on four grounds. The district court rejected the petition. The First Circuit affirmed the district court’s denial of Petitioner’s petition for collateral relief, holding (1) because Petitioner did not show any prejudice, his ineffective assistance of counsel claim failed; (2) any error that the district court made in excluding certain testimony did not have a substantial and injurious effect on the jury’s verdict; (3) the conduct underlying Petitioner’s conviction was not constitutionally protected; and (4) Petitioner’s argument that he was actually innocent failed. View "Ortiz-Graulau v. United States" on Justia Law
Hicks v. Napolitano
Plaintiff, an African-American woman who was serving in the United States Coast Guard Housing Office at Air Station Cape Cod, filed an employment discrimination action against the Secretary of Homeland Security, asserting that the Secretary failed to promote her to the position of housing manager because of her race and gender. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of the Secretary, concluding that Plaintiff failed to generate a genuine issue of material fact as to whether the Secretary’s non-discriminatory reason for choosing another candidate was pretextual. The First Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed, holding (1) the district court acted within the bounds of its discretion in denying Plaintiff’s motion to reopen discovery shortly after retaining counsel; and (2) the Secretary was entitled to summary judgment because Plaintiff failed to generate a genuine issue of material fact on the issue of pretext. View "Hicks v. Napolitano" on Justia Law
Hensley v. Roden
After a jury trial in Massachusetts state court, Appellant was convicted of the first-degree murder of his estranged wife under both the theory of deliberate premeditation and extreme atrocity or cruelty. The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court (SJC) affirmed on appeal. Appellant subsequently filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus in the federal district court, alleging (1) his constitutional right to confrontation was violated when the testimony of the chief medical examiner in Massachusetts was admitted, and (2) his attorney provided ineffective assistance by failing to introduce certain mental health related evidence. The district court denied the petition. The First Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed, holding (1) the SJC’s rejection of Appellant’s Confrontation Clause argument was not contrary to governing Supreme Court precedent; and (2) the SJC did not unreasonably apply Strickland or commit clear factual error when it concluded that Appellant’s attorney’s performance was not deficient. View "Hensley v. Roden" on Justia Law
Carrero-Ojeda v. Autoridad de Energia Electrica
When an investigation was initiated into corruption at the Puerto Rico Electrical Power Authority’s (PREPA) Aguadilla Technical Office, Plaintiff, an employee of PREPA at the Aguadilla Technical Office, testified and provided information for the investigation. Plaintiff alleged that after she testified, her employer and supervisors retaliated against her by threatening her, unjustly disciplining her, depriving her of benefits owed to her under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), and ultimately firing her. The district court dismissed Plaintiff’s FMLA complaint for failure to state a claim. The First Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the dismissal of Plaintiff’s FMLA claims with prejudice, holding that Plaintiff did not state a plausible claim of FMLA retaliation or FMLA interference based on Defendants’ adverse actions. View "Carrero-Ojeda v. Autoridad de Energia Electrica" on Justia Law
Alejandro-Ortiz v. P.R. Elec. Power Auth.
Orlando Alejandro-Ortiz (Alejandro) was injured by an electric shock during an encounter with a power line owned by Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (PREPA). Alejandro and his wife, Sonia Rodriguez-Jimenez (Rodriguez), sued PREPA. The only claims at issue in this appeal were Rodriguez’s. PREPA moved for judgment as a matter of law under Fed. R. Civ. P. 50, arguing that Rodriguez’s claims were time barred by the relevant one-year statute of limitations. The district court denied the motion but submitted to the jury the question of whether Rodriguez had been reasonably diligent in pursuing her claims. The jury answered the question in the affirmative and found PREPA liable. PREPA then renewed its Rule 50 motion. The district court denied the motion, concluding that there was sufficient evidence for a jury to find that Rodriguez acted diligently in pursuing her claims. The First Circuit Court of Appeals reversed and vacated the award on Rodriguez’s claims, holding (1) the statute of limitations on Rodriguez’s claims had run; and (2) there remained no question for the jury to answer regarding Rodriguez’s claims, and therefore, the jury should never have been led down the path towards deliberation on Rodriguez’s claim. View "Alejandro-Ortiz v. P.R. Elec. Power Auth." on Justia Law
Universal Ins. Co. v. Office of the Ins. Comm’r
In this insurance coverage dispute, the driver involved in an accident filed a claim with the Insurer of the other vehicle involved in the accident. The Insurer denied the claim. The Office of the Insurance Commissioner reviewed the denial and ordered the Insurer to adjust and resolve the claim. The Insurer did not file an appeal and instead filed a complaint for declaratory and injunctive relief in the federal district court. The district court dismissed the federal court action on res judicata grounds. The First Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed, holding that res judicata barred this action and no exceptions to res judicata applied. View "Universal Ins. Co. v. Office of the Ins. Comm'r" on Justia Law
Thayer v. City of Worcester
In 2013, the City of Worcester, Massachusetts adopted the Aggressive Panhandling Ordinance and the Pedestrian Safety Ordinance, which prohibited coercive or risky behavior by panhandlers, other solicitors, and demonstrators seeking the attention of motor vehicle drivers. Two plaintiffs were homeless people who solicited donations from the City’s sidewalks. The third plaintiff was a City school committee member who had customarily displayed political signs near traffic during the campaign season. Plaintiffs brought suit challenging the new ordinances as violating their First and Fourteenth Amendment rights. The district court denied a preliminary injunction against enforcing the ordinances, concluding that Plaintiffs failed to demonstrate a likelihood of success on the merits of any of their constitutional claims. The First Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the district court’s denial of a preliminary injunction as to all provisions of the ordinances except for the Aggressive Panhandling Ordinance’s prohibition against nighttime solicitation, holding that the district court did not abuse its discretion in denying the preliminary injunction. View "Thayer v. City of Worcester" on Justia Law
Reyes-Perez v. State Ins. Fund Corp.
When control of the Puerto Rican government changes parties, the political party assuming office often terminates the employment of public employees affiliated with the party going out of power and fills the vacancies with its own members. Plaintiff, a Popular Democratic Party (PDP) activist, was employed with a trust position at Puerto Rico’s State Insurance Fund Corporation (SIFC) while the PDP was in power. Plaintiff was moved into a career position at the SIFC when it became clear the opposing party would win an upcoming election. Had Plaintiff remained in a trust position, his employment could have been terminated without violating the First Amendment. A subsequent audit of employees performed by the new administration revealed that Plaintiff’s appointment did not conform with Puerto Rican law. Plaintiff’s reclassification to a career position was subsequently annulled, and he was dismissed. Plaintiff filed suit against SIFC and other defendants, alleging that he was terminated because of his political association in violation of the First and Fourteenth Amendments. The district court concluded that Defendants were entitled to summary judgment under the Mt. Healthy doctrine. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that Plaintiff failed to produce any evidence that undermined Defendants’ proffered nondiscriminatory reasons for his reclassification and later termination. View "Reyes-Perez v. State Ins. Fund Corp." on Justia Law
CE Design, Ltd. v. Am. Economy Ins. Co.
Plaintiff filed a class action suit in an Illinois circuit court against Ernida, LLC alleging that Ernida had faxed unsolicited advertisements to Plaintiff and more than thirty-nine other recipients without first obtaining their permission. Ernida’s insurer, American Economy Insurance Company (American), took up Ernida’s defense in Illinois. While the Illinois action was ongoing, Plaintiff filed suit in federal district court against American, asserting diversity jurisdiction and seeking a declaration that American had a duty to defend Ernida in the Illinois action and had a responsibility to indemnify and pay any judgment in that action. The district court granted American’s motion to dismiss, concluding that Plaintiff had not presented a justiciable controversy. On appeal, American claimed that Plaintiff’s claim did not meet the amount-in-controversy requirement for diversity jurisdiction since Plaintiff had expressly waived any right to recover anything over $75,000 in its Illinois complaint. The First Circuit Court of Appeals vacated the district court’s order dismissing the case for lack of standing and remanded with instructions to dismiss for lack of subject-matter jurisdiction, as the matter in controversy did not not exceed the sum or value of $75,000. View "CE Design, Ltd. v. Am. Economy Ins. Co." on Justia Law
Cascade Yarns, Inc. v. Knitting Fever, Inc.
Cascade Yarns, Inc. (“Cascade”) sued Knitting Fever, Inc. (“KFI”) in federal district court in Washington asserting that KFI made false representations about the cashmere content of its yarns. During discovery, Cascade subpoenaed documents from a nonparty to the action, Cashmere and Camel Hair Manufactures Institute (“CCMI”), in Massachusetts. CCMI is a nonprofit corporation that offers confidential tests of the fiber content of cashmere samples to retailers and suppliers of cashmere and camel hair goods. Cascade sought CCMI’s correspondence with KFI and documents related to yarn distributed by KFI. Unsatisfied with the redacted documents CCMI produced, Cascade moved to compel CCMI’s compliance with the subpoena in Massachusetts federal district court. A magistrate judge denied the motion to compel, and the district court affirmed. The First Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed, holding that Cascade failed to overcome the high hurdle of showing the discovery order was both plainly wrong and resulted in substantial prejudice. View "Cascade Yarns, Inc. v. Knitting Fever, Inc." on Justia Law