Justia Injury Law Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit
Fountain v. Karim
Plaintiff filed suit for damages against a government employee and the government under the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA), 28 U.S.C. 1346(b), 2671-80, and New York law. The claims arose out of a traffic accident involving the employee that seriously injured plaintiff. The district court dismissed all claims against the government for lack of subject matter jurisdiction under Fed. R. Civ. Pro. 12(b)(1), and declined to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over the remaining state‐law claims against the employee, after finding that the employee was not acting within the scope of his employment at the time of the accident. The court concluded that although such a finding would warrant dismissal in an action under the Act, dismissal was premature in this case in light of an unresolved factual dispute over whether the employee used the vehicle with implied permission. Accordingly, the court vacated and remanded for further proceedings. View "Fountain v. Karim" on Justia Law
Sokolow v. Palestine Liberation Org.
Eleven American families filed suit against the PLO and the PA under the Anti-Terrorism Act (ATA), 18 U.S.C. 2333(a), for various terror attacks in Israel that killed or wounded plaintiffs or their families. A jury awarded plaintiffs damages of $218.5 million, an amount that was trebled automatically pursuant to the ATA, 18 U.S.C. 2333(a), bringing the total award to $655.5 million. Both parties appealed. The court concluded that the minimum contacts and fairness analysis is the same under the Fifth Amendment and the Fourteenth Amendment in civil cases. On the merits, the court concluded that, pursuant to the Supreme Court's recent decision in Daimler, the district court could not properly exercise general personal jurisdiction over defendants. The court also concluded that, because the terror attacks in Israel at issue here were not expressly aimed at the United States and because the deaths and injuries suffered by the American plaintiffs in these attacks were “random [and] fortuitous” and because lobbying activities regarding American policy toward Israel are insufficiently “suit-related conduct” to support specific jurisdiction, the court lacks specific jurisdiction over these defendants. Therefore, the court vacated the judgment and remanded for the district court with instructions to dismiss the case for want of jurisdiction. The court did not consider defendants' other arguments on appeal or plaintiffs' cross-appeal, all of which are now moot. View "Sokolow v. Palestine Liberation Org." on Justia Law
Licci v. Lebanese Canadian Bank
Plaintiffs filed suit under the Alien Tort Statute (ATS), 28 U.S.C. 1350, seeking to hold LCB, a Lebanese bank headquartered in Beirut, liable for providing international financial services to Hezbollah that they claim facilitated Hezbollah’s 2006 attacks that injured them or killed family members. The district court dismissed the ATS claims under Kiobel v. Royal Dutch Petroleum Co., reasoning that plaintiffs failed to displace the presumption against extraterritorial application of the ATS. The court concluded, however, that plaintiffs have surpassed the jurisdictional hurdle set forth in Kiobel II where the complaint alleges conduct by LCB that touched and concerned the United States, and that the same conduct, upon preliminary examination, states a claim for aiding and abetting Hezbollah’s violation of the law of nations, with sufficient force to displace the presumption against extraterritoriality. Nevertheless, Kiobel I forecloses plaintiffs’ claims against LCB where corporations are immunized from liability under the ATS. Accordingly, the court affirmed in part the judgment of the district court. View "Licci v. Lebanese Canadian Bank" on Justia Law
Georges v. United Nations
Plaintiffs, citizens of the United States and Haiti, filed suit against the UN, asserting various causes of action sounding in tort and contract, seeking to hold defendants responsible for injuries directly resulting from the cholera epidemic in the Republic of Haiti in 2010. Principally at issue on appeal is whether the UN’s fulfillment of its obligation under Section 29 of the Convention on the Privileges and Immunities of the United Nations (CPIUN), Apr. 29, 1970, 21 U.S.T. 1418, to “make provisions for appropriate modes of settlement of . . . disputes arising out of contracts or other disputes of a private law character to which the [UN] is a party,” as well as “disputes involving any official of the [UN] who by reason of his official position enjoys immunity, if immunity has not been waived by the Secretary‐General,” is a condition precedent to its immunity under Section 2 of the CPIUN, which provides that the UN “shall enjoy immunity from every form of legal process except insofar as in any particular case it has expressly waived its immunity.” The court held that the UN’s fulfillment of its Section 29 obligation is not a condition precedent to its Section 2 immunity. Accordingly, the court affirmed the district court's dismissal against named defendants for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. View "Georges v. United Nations" on Justia Law
Kirschenbaum v. 650 Fifth Avenue and Related Properties
Plaintiffs, victims of terrorist acts linked to the Islamic Republic of Iran, contend that they are entitled to enforce unsatisfied money judgments against defendants under the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act (FSIA), 28 U.S.C. 1602 et seq., and the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act (TRIA), 28 U.S.C. 1610 note. The court concluded that defendants in this case do not equate to the “foreign state” of Iran for purposes of the FSIA or the TRIA; defendants cannot be deemed “agencies or instrumentalities” of Iran under the FSIA, but defendants’ status as “agencies or instrumentalities” of Iran under the TRIA and their properties’ status as “blocked assets” under that statute is not foreclosed as a matter of law; but, nonetheless, the court identified questions of fact that prevent either of these TRIA questions from being decided on summary judgment. Accordingly, the court vacated the award of summary judgment for plaintiffs and remanded for further proceedings. View "Kirschenbaum v. 650 Fifth Avenue and Related Properties" on Justia Law
In re Motors Liquidation Co.
After Old GM filed for bankruptcy, New GM emerged. This case involves one of the consequences of the GM bankruptcy. Beginning in February 2014, New GM began recalling cars due to a defect in their ignition switches. Many of the cars in question were built years before the GM bankruptcy. Where individuals might have had claims against Old GM, a ʺfree and clearʺ provision in the bankruptcy courtʹs sale order barred those same claims from being brought against New GM as the successor corporation. Various individuals nonetheless initiated class action lawsuits against New GM, asserting ʺsuccessor liabilityʺ claims and seeking damages for losses and injuries arising from the ignition switch defect and other defects. The bankruptcy court enforced the Sale Order to enjoin many of these claims against New GM. The court concluded that the bankruptcy court had jurisdiction to interpret and enforce the Sale Order; the ʺfree and clearʺ provision covers pre‐closing accident claims and economic loss claims based on the ignition switch and other defects, but does not cover independent claims or Used Car Purchasersʹ claims; the court found no clear error in the bankruptcy court's finding that Old GM knew or should have known with reasonable diligence about the defect, and individuals with claims arising out of the ignition switch defect were entitled to notice by direct mail or some equivalent, as required by procedural due process; because enforcing the Sale Order would violate procedural due process in these circumstances, the bankruptcy court erred in granting New GMʹs motion to enforce and these plaintiffs cannot be bound by the terms of the Sales Order; and the bankruptcy courtʹs decision on equitable mootness was advisory. Accordingly, the court affirmed in part, reversed in part, vacated in part, and remanded. View "In re Motors Liquidation Co." on Justia Law
Reginella v. Target Corp.
Evelyn Gustafson, plaintiff's decedent, filed suit against Target after she was injured from a fall in a Target bathroom. Gustafson alleged that Target was negligent in maintaining the bathroom door, which closed with excessive speed and force. The district court granted Target's motion for summary judgment based on insufficient evidence of causation. Although the reports of plaintiff's experts show a possibility of a defect with the door and that such defect could be dangerous to elderly or disabled users of the facility such as Gustafson, and there is evidence that the facility was expressly available to elderly and disabled users, these reports do not purport to assert that such a defect, if present, was in fact likely to be the cause of Gustafson's accident. In this case, the only direct evidence with respect to accident causation before the court on summary judgment are four statements made by Gustafson shortly after her accident and a video that, although it does not rule out the possibility, does not show that Gustafson’s fall was caused by being hit by the restroom door. The court concluded that the link between defendant’s purported negligence and Gustafson’s injury is too weak to permit a jury to conclude that Target’s asserted negligence caused Gustafson’s fall and injury. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment. View "Reginella v. Target Corp." on Justia Law
Rentas v. Ruffin
Plaintiff, a former inmate on Rikers Island, filed suit against several correction officers and prison officials, as well as the City, claiming that the officers used excessive force against him and then fabricated evidence, leading to his prosecution and prolonged detention. The court concluded that the district court erred by dismissing plaintiff's malicious prosecution claim on summary judgment where, as here, actual malice can be inferred when a plaintiff is prosecuted without probable cause. Therefore, the court vacated the district court's dismissal of the malicious prosecution claim and remanded for further proceedings. The court concluded that the district court erred in excluding the officers' reports from evidence where plaintiff offered the reports into evidence to show that defendants submitted false reports in an effort to justify their use of force and deny plaintiff a fair trial; the reports were not cumulative; and the district court's error was not harmless. Therefore, the court vacated the judgment as to the fair trial, excessive force, and failure to intercede claims, remanding for a new trial. The court need not consider plaintiff's remaining arguments, but provided guidance to the district court with regards to further trial proceedings. In regard to Captain Ruffin's cross-appeal, the court affirmed the district court's denial of the Rule 50 motion on his claim of intentional infliction of emotional distress. View "Rentas v. Ruffin" on Justia Law
Malmberg v. United States
Plaintiff filed suit against the United States under the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA), 28 U.S.C. 2675(a), after surgery at a VA medical center rendered him quadriplegic. The district court found the VA liable for plaintiff's injuries and awarded him $4,468,859.91 in damages. Both parties appealed. The court vacated the district court's decision insofar as it offset the award for future medical care and supplies, holding that federal law does not require that a veteran injured as a result of the VA’s malpractice be forced to continue under VA care or lack of financial resources and be subject to a concomitant offset, and New York state law does not warrant such an offset. The court also held that the district court failed to provide adequate analysis to support both its denial of plaintiff’s motion to increase the ad damnum and its decision to set the award for past and future pain and suffering at $2 million, and the court remanded with directions that the district court consider anew plaintiff’s motion to increase the ad damnum, taking into account the testimony of plaintiff's treating physician, and determine damages without an offset for future receipt of medical care and supplies from the VA, consistent with this opinion. Finally, the court affirmed the district court’s decision not to further offset the award for future home health services on the ground that the provision of such services going forward is not reasonably certain. View "Malmberg v. United States" on Justia Law
Brown v. Lockheed Martin Corp.
Plaintiff filed suit against Lockheed and others for injuries suffered by her father as a result of asbestos exposure sustained by him during his work as an Air Force mechanic in locations in Europe and around the United States, but not in Connecticut. Lockheed, a major aerospace company with a worldwide presence, is both incorporated and maintains its principal place of business in Maryland. The district court dismissed the suit against Lockheed. The court agreed with the district court that the district court did not have general jurisdiction over Lockheed. By applying the due process principles of Daimler AG v. Bauman, and Goodyear Dunlop Tires Operations, S.A. v. Brown, the court concluded that Lockheed’s contacts with Connecticut, while perhaps “continuous and systematic,” fall well below the high level needed to place the corporation “essentially at home” in the state. Further, upon the court's examination of Connecticut law, the court concluded that by registering to transact business and appointing an agent under the Connecticut statutes - which do not speak clearly on this point - Lockheed did not consent to the state courts’ exercise of general jurisdiction over it. The court noted that a more sweeping interpretation would raise constitutional concerns prudently avoided absent a clearer statement by the state legislature or the Connecticut Supreme Court. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment. View "Brown v. Lockheed Martin Corp." on Justia Law