Articles Posted in U.S. 1st Circuit Court of Appeals

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Appellant, a seaman, was diagnosed with aplastic anemia, a blood condition that preventing him from continuing to work. Appellant brought a personal injury action against his employer, alleging negligence under the Jones Act and maritime claims of unseaworthiness and maintenance and cure. The district court granted summary judgment for the employer. On appeal, Appellant challenged only the dismissal of his cause of action for maintenance and cure, arguing that he was entitled to that remedy until he “reaches maximum medical recovery.” The First Circuit vacated the district court’s ruling, holding that Appellant adduced sufficient evidence to support a finding that his aplastic anemia arose or became aggravated during his service on the ship and, hence, triggered the duty of maintenance and cure. Remanded. View "Ramirez v. Carolina Dream, Inc." on Justia Law

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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

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After an oil drilling rig owned by BP Exploration & Production, Inc. and BP America Production Company (collectively, BP) sank of the Gulf Coast of Louisiana and caused a massive oil spill, Packagen, a manufacturer of packaging products, sought to sell containment boom to BP. Packagen began producing boom after the oil spill, but BP never paid for any of the boom manufactured by Packagen. Packagen filed a five-count complaint against BP in federal district court, invoking diversity jurisdiction and alleging various state-law claims. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of BP. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that the district court did not err in granting summary judgment on Packagen’s negligent and intentional misrepresentation claims, breach of contract claim, unjust enrichment and quantum meruit claim, and promissory estoppel claim. View "Packgen v. BP Exploration & Prod., Inc." on Justia Law

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Katie Graf was injured on the premises of Fat Cat Bar & Grill. Graf was awarded $500,000 in damages and $111,124 in prejudgment interest against Torcia & Sons, Inc, the owner of Fat Cat. Torcia was insured by Hospitality Mutual Insurance Company under a liquor liability insurance policy. Hospitality disclaimed liability for the prejudgment interest portion of the award. Consequently, Graf was granted a writ of attachment on Torcia’s liquor license to secure the excess payment. Graf and Torcia sought payment from Hospitality for the cost of a bond to release the attachment. When Hospitality refused, the parties entered into a settlement agreement under which Graf discharged the attachment of the liquor license and Torcia assigned its rights against Hospitality to Graf. Graf sued Hospitality. A federal judge granted Hospitality’s motion to dismiss, concluding (1) the $500,000 damages award represented the full extent of recoverable proceeds under the policy, and (2) to require Hospitality to pay for the cost of the bond would have expanded Hospitality’s liability in contravention of the terms of the policy. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that the policy unambiguously obligated Hospitality to pay the cost of bonds only for bond amounts that, together with any other liabilities, fell within the liability cap of $500,000. View "Graf v. Hospitality Mut. Ins. Co." on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs filed a putative class action in the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts, invoking federal diversity jurisdiction, alleging that Defendant, Raytheon Company, negligently exposed Plaintiffs and others similarly situated to beryllium. Plaintiffs’ principal theory of liability was that the beryllium exposure caused subcellular change. Plaintiffs alternatively argued that a cause of action for medical monitoring under Massachusetts law does not require a showing of subcellular or other physiological change. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of Defendant. The First Circuit affirmed, holding (1) because no named Plaintiff or any class member had as yet contracted beryllium sensitization, the first manifestation of subcellular change resulting from beryllium exposure, Plaintiffs’ first claim failed; and (2) Plaintiffs did not preserve a claim under their alternative theory. View "Genereux v. Raytheon Co." on Justia Law

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Plaintiff worked in a luggage factory in France that was owned by Samsonite. Samsonite was controlled by an investment group led by Bain Capital, LLC. Bain wanted to shut down the factory, and to avoid paying millions of dollars in post-termination benefits to the laid-off employees of the factory, Bain and Samsonite hired a third party, HB Group, to buy the factory. In 2007, a French court ordered the judicial liquidation of the factory. Because HB Group had no resources to pay Plaintiff and her coworkers, Plaintiff commenced this putative class action in 2012 seeking to hold Bain liable for losses suffered by the factory’s workers as a result of the sale and liquidation. The district court dismissed the complaint as untimely under the relevant three-year statute of limitations. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that there was no basis to conclude that the statute of limitations was tolled in this case. View "Abdallah v. Bain Capital, LLC" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff sued the United States under the Federal Tort Claims Act, alleging that personnel at the Fort Buchanan Post Exchange Store in Puerto Rico had been negligent in failing to both prevent and clean up a spill on the floor, which Plaintiff slipped on, causing her to be injured. After a bench trial, the district court entered judgment in favor of the United States based on Plaintiff’s failure to establish Defendant’s actual or constructive knowledge of the spill. The First Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed, holding that the district court correctly found that Plaintiff failed to carry her burden of making a clear and specific determination on negligence where Plaintiff did not establish that Defendant had either actual or constructive knowledge of the dangerous condition that caused her injuries. View "Calderon-Ortega v. United States" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff sought insurance coverage for gastric lap band surgery. Defendant, a health-care insurer that covered Plaintiff by virtue of Plaintiff’s husband’s employment with the federal government, refused to cover the full cost of the surgery. Plaintiff brought tort and breach of contract claims against Defendant in the Puerto Rico Court of First Instance. Defendant removed the action to the federal district court, asserting, inter alia, that the Federal Employees Health Benefits Act of 1959 (FEHBA) completely preempted Plaintiff’s local-law claims, thus conferring original jurisdiction on the federal court. Defendant then moved to dismiss the case, arguing that the FEHBA demanded exhaustion of administrative remedies. Plaintiff, in the meantime, requested that the district court remand the case to the Court of First Instance. The district court (1) denied Plaintiff’s motion to remand, holding that the FEHBA completely preempted Plaintiff’s claims and, thus, federal jurisdiction attached; and (2) dismissed the action for Plaintiff’s failure to exhaust administrative remedies. The First Circuit Court of Appeals reversed the district court’s judgment of dismissal and its order denying remand, holding that the court erred in concluding that the FEHBA afforded complete preemption. View "Lopez-Munoz v. Triple-S Salud, Inc. " on Justia Law

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In 2000, Plaintiff, a former scallop fisherman, was prosecuted by an enforcement arm of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (“NOAA”). The ALJ sustained all charges against Plaintiff. The district court sustained findings of liability on two charges of fishing in a prohibited area, vacated a false statement charge against Plaintiff, and remanded. On remand, Plaintiff reached a settlement with the government. In 2012, Plaintiff filed a complaint alleging that his prior prosecution by the NOAA constituted malicious prosecution and abuse of process under the Federal Tort Claims Act (“FTCA”). The district court dismissed Plaintiff’s claims. The First Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed, holding (1) the actions of federal prosecutors are immune from this type of suit under the FTCA, but there can be FTCA recovery for the actions of investigative or law enforcement officers who have committed the wrongful acts specified; and (2) Plaintiff failed to state a claim that any law enforcement officer wrongfully induced a malicious prosecution or acted to abuse process. View "Yacubian v. United States" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff purchased property with a mortgage from Countrywide Home Loans, Inc. In October 2006, Plaintiff took out a loan from Countrywide to cure his breach of a divorce agreement. In December 2006, Plaintiff took out a home equity loan from Countrywide. Because Plaintiff was not able to make payments on his October 2006 loan, Countrywide foreclosed on his property. In May 2009, Plaintiff filed a complaint alleging claims of unjust enrichment, rescission/equitable relief, breach of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing, violations of Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 93A, and negligence. Countrywide removed the case to federal court. The district court resolved certain claims as a matter of law and, after a bench trial on the remaining claims, entered judgment in favor of Countrywide. The First Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed, holding that no grounds exited for reversing any of the district court’s decisions. View "Frappier v. Countrywide Home Loans, Inc." on Justia Law