Justia Injury Law Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in US Court of Appeals for the First Circuit
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The First Circuit reversed in part the magistrate judge's grant of summary judgment for Defendants and dismissing Plaintiff's civil rights action, holding that the magistrate judge erred by granted summary judgment on the claims that police officers unlawfully searched Defendant's property and falsely arrested Defendant and that a jury could find that one police officer and the chief of police violated Defendant's Fourth Amendment rights. Defendant was arrested for theft after police officers obtained a warrant to search Defendant's home for certain property. Defendant later brought this action alleging that there was no probable cause for his arrest. A magistrate judge dismissed all of Defendant's claims on summary judgment. The First Circuit reversed in part, holding (1) the magistrate judge erred by granting summary judgment on the claims under the federal and state civil rights acts that the officers unlawfully searched Defendant's property; (2) the magistrate judge erred in granting summary judgment on Defendant's federal and state civil rights claims for false arrest; and (3) Defendant alleged sufficient facts that a jury might reasonably find the chief of police and one police officer liable on the Fourth Amendment claims, and the Court declined to affirm the judgment on qualified immunity grounds. View "Jordan v. Town of Waldoboro" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit affirmed the judgment of the district court entering summary judgment in favor of Brown University on Jane Doe's claims alleging several contract and tort claims arising from the university's sanctions against her for her second violation of the university's Code of Academic Conduct, holding that the district court did not err. Specifically, the Court held (1) the district court did not err in entering summary judgment with respect to Doe's claims alleging breach of contract, breach of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing, promissory estoppel, negligence, and negligent misrepresentation; and (2) the district court did not err in denying Doe's request for additional discovery under Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(d) on the grounds that Doe failed to show how the information to be obtained would have defeated summary judgment. View "Doe v. Brown University" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit affirmed the district court's entry of summary judgment in favor of Defendant in this defamation case, holding that no reasonable jury could find that Defendant, a psychiatrist, abused the conditional privilege under which Defendant disseminated an allegedly libelous report to an employer about an employee's fitness to return to work after medical leave. Plaintiff took medical leave from work due to stress purportedly caused by derogatory remarks about Plaintiff's age. The Human Resources department required Plaintiff to undergo a psychiatric evaluation to determine his fitness to return to work. Defendant issued a written report concluding that Plaintiff would be unfit to return to work for at least three months. Plaintiff filed this complaint arguing that the report contained at least two libelous statements. The district court entered summary judgment in favor of Defendant, concluding that the challenged statements were conditionally privileged and that there was insufficient evidence to show that Defendant abused the conditional privilege. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that the district court properly found Defendant's statements in the report conditionally privileged and that Plaintiff failed to establish sufficient evidence to show any abuse of that privilege. View "Zeigler v. Rater" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit affirmed the judgment of the district court dismissing Plaintiff's complaint against three Maine prison officials and denying Plaintiff's motion for leave to amend, holding that the district court did not abuse its discretion in rejecting as futile Plaintiff's motion for leave to file her amended complaint. Plaintiff's complaint alleged federal constitutional violations, a civil rights conspiracy, and supplementary state law claims. The district court dismissed the complaint, concluding that the complaint did not state any plausible claims against the defendants. Plaintiff then moved for reconsideration and for leave to amend. The district court denied both motions and entered a final judgment in favor of Defendants, concluding that allowing the motion to amend would be futile because the proposed amended complaint failed to state any plausible claims for relief. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that the facts alleged in Plaintiff's proposed amended complaint were insufficient to make out plausible claims of either supervisory liability or civil rights conspiracy against Defendants. View "Parker v. Landry" on Justia Law

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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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The First Circuit affirmed the judgment of the district court in this diversity tort claim, holding that the district court did not err in finding that Defendant could not be found liable because Plaintiff was hurt by the very hazard he was required to remedy. Plaintiff sustained a severe knee injury when he slipped on fluid at an auto dealership owned by Defendant that Plaintiff's company had been hired to clean. The district court granted summary judgment for Defendant, finding that Defendant neither had a duty to warn Plaintiff of the puddle nor acted negligently in failing to address it. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that the facts of this case fell squarely within the carve-out in Massachusetts law for injury to an independent contractor resulting from a risk inherent in the job he was hired to perform. See Poirier v. Town of Plymouth, 372 N.E.2d at 227 (Mass. 1978). View "Lapointe v. Silko Motor Sales, Inc." on Justia Law

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The First Circuit reversed the order of the district court dismissing Plaintiff's complaint against Canada for lack of jurisdiction after concluding that Canada was immune from the suit under the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act (FSIA), 28 U.S.C. 1602 et seq., holding that the FSIA did not prohibit Plaintiff's suit. Plaintiff, who was injured in the course of her employment at the Canadian consulate in Boston, Massachusetts, sued Canada for damages in the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts pursuant to the Massachusetts Workers' Compensation Act, Mass. Gen. Laws chapter 152. The district court dismissed the complaint for lack of jurisdiction. The First Circuit reversed, holding that Plaintiff's claim was not barred by FSIA. View "Merlini v. Canada" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit affirmed the decision of the district court denying Appellants' motions for judgment as a matter of law or, alternatively, for a new trial after the district court entered judgment against Appellants on their claims that Defendant, a hotel, was negligent in relation to a slip and fall Appellant suffered on the hotel premises, holding that the district court did not err or abuse its discretion. In denying Appellants' motions, the district court found that the jury's verdict was reasonably supported by the evidence and that Appellants' motion did not provide basis for either a judgment as a matter of law or a new trial. The First Circuit affirmed, holding (1) the evidence presented at trial could lead a reasonable jury to conclude that Defendant's failure to meet its duty of care was not the proximate cause of Appellant's injuries; and (2) the district court did not abuse its discretion in finding that the weight of the evidence supported the jury's verdict. View "Blomquist v. Horned Dorset Primavera, Inc." on Justia Law

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In this removed diversity suit, the First Circuit affirmed the judgment of the district court granting Defendant's motion to dismiss for insufficient timely service of process, holding that Defendant did not evade service or conceal the defect in service and that the court did not abuse its discretion in concluding that Plaintiff had not shown good cause. Mass. R. Civ. P. 4(j) requires a plaintiff to effect service of process within ninety days of filing suit. Plaintiff failed to meet that deadline when bringing her claims for negligence and wrongful death. The district court granted Defendant's motion to dismiss and denied Plaintiff's motion to extend time to perfect service of process under Mass. R. Civ. P. 6(b). The First Circuit affirmed, holding that the district court properly granted Defendant's motion to dismiss and Defendant's motion for an extension of time to perfect service of process. View "Crossetti v. Cargill, Inc." on Justia Law

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In this personal injury action, the First Circuit affirmed the judgment of the district court granting Defendant’s motion for judgment on the pleadings under Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(c) after treating it, under Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(d), as a motion for summary judgment, holding that the district court properly found that Plaintiff expressly consented by contract to assume the risk of injury caused by Defendant’s negligence. Plaintiff was injured after colliding with unmarked snowmaking equipment while skiing at a New Hampshire resort. Plaintiff brought this action against Defendant, the resort’s owner. The district court ruled for Defendant on the basis of the liability release printed on Plaintiff’s lift ticket. The First Circuit affirmed, holding (1) the district court correctly rejected Plaintiff’s contention that the question of whether there was a “meeting of the minds” with respect to the release was for the jury to resolve; (2) the scope of the release was not so limited as to not bar Plaintiff’s suit; (3) the liability release was not unenforceable on public policy grounds; and (4) Plaintiff failed to provided a basis upon which a jury could supportably find Defendant to have been reckless. View "Miller v. Sunapee Difference, LLC" on Justia Law