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The First Circuit affirmed the judgment of the district court dismissing this federal securities class action under the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act (PSLRA), 15 U.S.C. 78a-4, for failing adequately to plead scienter, holding that Plaintiffs failed to plead facts such that one could draw the "strong inference" of scienter required by the PSLRA. Plaintiffs brought this suit against Biogen Inc. and three Biogen executives alleging that Defendants committed fraud in violation of regulations promulgated by the Securities and Exchange Commission pursuant to the Securities and Exchange Act, 15 U.S.C. 78a et seq., by falsely stating that Tecfidera, Biogen's product, was safer and more widely used than it was. The district court granted Defendants' motion to dismiss for failing to plead facts "giving rise to a strong inference" of scienter, 15 U.S.C. 78a-4(b)(2)(A). The First Circuit affirmed, holding that the district court properly ruled that, under the PSLRA, Plaintiffs failed adequately to plead scienter for purposes of surviving a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim. View "Metzler Asset Management GMBH v. Kingsley" on Justia Law

Posted in: Securities Law

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The First Circuit affirmed the judgment of the magistrate judge rejecting Anne Kaczmarek's motion to dismiss this 42 U.S.C. 1983 action on grounds of absolute immunity, holding that Kaczmarek, a former Massachusetts Assistant Attorney General, was not entitled to absolute government attorney immunity. Plaintiff filed this action against seventeen defendants after the dismissal of his Massachusetts criminal conviction for drug distribution. Plaintiff alleged that Kaczmarek unlawfully withheld exculpatory evidence from Plaintiff's counsel, from the district attorney, and from the state court. The magistrate judge rejected Kaczmarek's motion to dismiss on grounds of absolute immunity. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that Kaczmarek did not enjoy absolute prosecutorial immunity from Plaintiff's suit on any of her theories. View "Penate v. Kaczmarek" on Justia Law

Posted in: Civil Rights

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The First Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment in favor of the Federal National Mortgage Association (Fannie Mae) in this case regarding the allegedly invalidity of a foreclosure, holding that the Merrill doctrine, which requires a showing of actual authority as a basis for holding a federal instrumentality vicariously liable for the acts of its agents, applied to Fannie Mae. Appellant took out a loan secured by a mortgage on his residence. The lender assigned the mortgage loan to Fannie Mae, and the loan was serviced by Ditech Financial LLC. After the home was foreclosed on, Appellant filed suit. Appellant asserted common-law claims alleging that Fannie Mae was vicariously liable for deceit and negligent misrepresentation committed by Ditech employees. Fannie Mae moved for summary judgment claiming that its liability was pretermitted by the Merrill doctrine. See Federal Crop Insurance Co. v. Merrill, 332 U.S. 380 (1947). The district court agreed and granted summary judgment. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that the Merrill doctrine barred Appellant's suit. View "Faiella v. Federal National Mortgage Association" on Justia Law

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In this Title III adversary proceeding the First Circuit affirmed the judgment of the district court dismissing Ambac Assurance Corporation's constitutional and statutory challenges to measures the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico has taken to block payments to holders of Puerto Rico Highways and Transportation Authority (HTA) bonds, holding that the Title III court lacked the authority to grant the declaratory and injunctive relief that Ambac sought. Ambac, a financial guaranty insurer and individual holder of HTA bonds, commenced this adversary action in the so-called Title III court within the context of HTA's debt-adjustment proceedings pursuant to the Puerto Rico Oversight, Management, and Economic Stability Act. Ambac brought Contracts Clause, Takings Clause, Due Process Clause, preemption, and statutory challenges to the Commonwealth's actions and sought a negative injunction preventing the Commonwealth from continuing to impair the flow of HTA revenues to bondholders. The Title III court dismissed the complaint with prejudice. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that the Title III court was barred from granting Ambac declaratory or injunctive relief in this case. View "Ambac Assurance Corp. v. Commonwealth of Puerto Rico" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit affirmed the judgment of the district court concluding that transfers of assets by individuals age sixty-five or older into "pooled special needs trusts" are among those transfers that the Medicaid statute counts against eligibility for long-term care benefits, holding that when a beneficiary who is age sixty-five years or older gives up her assets for less than fair market value to a pooled special needs trust, there has been a transfer that triggers a temporary period of ineligibility. Following Yvonne Richardson's deposit of funds into her Maine Pooled Disability Trust (MPDT) account, the Maine Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) issued a notice threatening to suspend Medicaid coverage. Richardson and MPDT filed this lawsuit seeking a declaration that her transfer of assets into a pooled special needs trust was not a transfer that affected Medicaid eligibility. The district court dismissed the complaint, concluding that MDHHS correctly applied the governing statute in reaching its conclusion. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that the district court's judgment granting MDHHS's motion to dismiss rested on a reasonable interpretation of the statute. View "Maine Pooled Disability Trust v. Hamilton" on Justia Law

Posted in: Public Benefits

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In this case involving an electronic component, a voltage regulator known as the KA7805, the First Circuit affirmed in part and vacated in part the district court's judgment dismissing Plaintiff's claims against Defendant, holding that the district court erred in dismissing three of Plaintiff's claims. Defendant's subsidiaries manufactured the KA7805. Plaintiff purchased KA7805s from Defendant's agent and then installed them into power supply units (PSU) it subsequently sold. When one of Defendant's subsidiaries began to manufacture a new "shrunk-die" version of the KA7805, problems with the PSUs arose. Plaintiff brought this suit against Defendant and its holding company, asserting several claims. The district court dismissed all claims except those involving breach of implied warranty at the summary judgment stage. After a trial, the district court dismissed the remaining claims. The First Circuit held (1) the district court erred in summarily dismissing Plaintiff's fraudulent misrepresentation claim based on its holding that Plaintiff's reliance on an uncharged part number was unreasonable as a matter of law; and (2) because the district court's basis for dismissal of Plaintiff's fraudulent omission and negligent misrepresentation claim also rested on its erroneous holding, the court erred in dismissing these two claims as well. View "AcBel Polytech, Inc. v. Fairchild Semiconductor International, Inc." on Justia Law

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In this action to recover what were alleged to be unpaid overtime wages the First Circuit affirmed the judgment of the district court finding that Employer's sleep-time policy was unlawful and awarding back wages and treble damages to Plaintiffs, holding that there was no error in the district court's judgment. This action was brought as a Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), 29 U.S.C. 201 et seq., collective action and as an individual action under analogous Maine labor laws. Under its sleep-time policy, Employer did not pay employees like plaintiff David Giguere for eight hours each night even though its employees were no duty during that time. The district court found that the policy was unlawful and awarded back wages to the collective action plaintiffs and treble damages to Giguere. The First Circuit affirmed, holding (1) the district court did not err in finding that Employer's sleep-time policy violated the FLSA; and (2) the district court properly awarded Giguere treble damages as a remedy for Employer's Wages Act violation. View "Giguere v. Port Resources Inc." on Justia Law

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After a divided panel of the First Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal of Mark Eves's equitable claims against Paul LePage and dismissed his 42 U.S.C. 1983 damages claims on the basis of qualified immunity, the First Circuit granted Eves's petition for rehearing en banc and held that LePage was entitled to qualified immunity. In 2016, the panel affirmed the district court's dismissal of the First Amendment retaliation suit brought by Eves, then-speaker of Maine's House of Representatives, against LePage, then-Governor of Maine, in which Eves alleged that LePage leveraged discretionary state funding in a yet unpasted state budget to coerce an organization to terminate Eves's upcoming employment as its president. In his en banc petition, Eves pursued only his damages claim against LePage for alleged political affiliation discrimination. The First Circuit en banc court held that, under the facts of this case, LePage was entitled to qualified immunity because a reasonable governor in the position of LePage could have believed Eves's position as the new president of the organization to be a policymaking position for which political affiliation was relevant. The Court then reinstated in part its prior panel opinion and affirmed the dismissal of this action. View "Eves v. LePage" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit affirmed the judgment of the district court granting summary judgment for Insured on Insurer's complaint seeking a declaratory judgment that it had no duty to defend Insured against an underlying class action alleging that Insured had engaged in misconduct that resulted in customers receiving higher bills than Insured had represented that they would be, holding that summary judgment was properly granted. The complaint sought class-wide damages for a variety of Maine common law claims and for claims under the federal Rackeeter Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO), 18 U.S.C. 1962, 1964; and the Maine Unfair Trade Practices Act, Me. Rev. Stat. Ann. tit. 5, 207. In its complaint, Insurer argued that the complaint in the underlying action failed to allege that Insurer engaged in conduct that qualified as an "occurrence" or that caused any "bodily injury" under the relevant policy. The district court entered judgment for Insured. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that there was no genuine issue of material fact in dispute and that the district court's conclusions were correct as a matter of law. View "Zurich American Insurance Co. v. Electricity Maine, LLC" on Justia Law

Posted in: Insurance Law

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The First Circuit affirmed the sentence imposed by the district court in connection with Defendant's conviction of being a felon in possession of a firearm and ammunition, holding that the sentence was neither procedurally nor substantively unreasonable. The district court sentenced Defendant to an incarcerate sentence of sixty months, nineteen months above the upper end of the advisory guidelines sentencing range. On appeal, Defendant argued that the sentence (1) was procedurally unreasonable because the district court failed to consider all of the 18 U.S.C. 3553(a) factors, and (2) was substantively unreasonable because it was too harsh. The First Circuit court affirmed, holding (1) there was no clear or obvious error in the sentencing court's explication of the factors that it considered; and (2) Defendant failed to show that the sentencing court abused its discretion in imposing an upwardly variant sentence. View "United States v. Mendez-Baez" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law