Articles Posted in US Court of Appeals for the First Circuit

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The First Circuit affirmed the district court’s grant of Bill Cosby’s motion to dismiss this defamation case brought by an actress who earlier accused Cosby of raping her. Kathrine McKee accused Bill Cosby in a 2014 interview published in the New York Daily News of raping her. McKee later sued Bill Cosby for defamation after the contents of an allegedly confidential letter written to the paper by Cosby’s attorney in Cosby’s defense was reported on by news outlets and websites worldwide. The district court dismissed McKee’s complaint for failure to state a claim. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that the challenged statements were not actionable. View "McKee v. Cosby" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit affirmed the grant of summary judgment in favor of Kenneth Currier in this action brought by Mark Reenstierna alleging defamation and other torts. Reenstierna, a real estate appraiser, was brought before the New Hampshire Real Estate Appraisal Board for a disciplinary hearing. During the hearing, the Board considered as evidence a report on Reenstierna’s work written by Currier at the Board’s request. Reenstierna later filed suit against Currier alleging that Currier knowingly and purposely submitted a false report to the Board and that the purported deficiencies cited against Reenstierna in Currier’s report constituted material misrepresentations of fact. The district court concluded that New Hampshire’s absolute witness immunity doctrine precluded the use of Currier’s report to establish liability on Reenstierna’s claims. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that Currier’s statements in his reported were shielded in this action by New Hampshire’s absolute witness immunity doctrine as set forth in Provencher v. Buzzell-Plourde Associates, 711 A.2d 251, 255 (N.H. 1998). View "Reenstierna v. Currier" on Justia Law

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In these consolidated appeals, the First Circuit affirmed the district court’s decision to (1) dismiss Plaintiffs’ claims under Massachusetts law for libel and intentional interference with prospective contractual relations, (2) bar portions of Plaintiffs’ Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 93A claim from going forward, and (3) award attorney’s fees and costs to Defendant. These consolidated appeals concerned a lawsuit that involved a number of claims arising under federal copyright law, state tort law, and chapter 93A. Defendant operated a website called RipoffReport.com. Plaintiffs were a Massachusetts attorney, a corporate entity that the attorney created, and Christian DuPont. Plaintiffs’ claims pertained to a dispute arising from two reports that DuPont authored and posted on the Ripoff Report and that were highly critical of the attorney. The First Circuit affirmed the district court’s partial grant of Defendant’s motion to dismiss, the district court’s grant of summary judgment in favor of Defendant, and the district court’s fees award order for the reasons stated above. View "Small Justice LLC v. Xcentric Ventures LLC" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit affirmed the district court’s dismissal of Plaintiff’s suit against the United States under the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA), holding that the FTCA’s discretionary function exception applied and, therefore, that the government had not waived its sovereign immunity. In her suit, Plaintiff alleged that the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) negligently supervised the use of its surveillance equipment by her then-husband, an FBI agent. The district court dismissed the suit for want of subject-matter jurisdiction. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that because Plaintiff did not plead sufficient specific facts to show that the challenged conduct did not involve a discretionary function, she was not entitled to the FTCA’s waiver of sovereign immunity. View "Gordo-Gonzalez v. United States" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit affirmed in part and vacated in part the summary judgment granted to Defendants as to all of Plaintiffs’ claims. Plaintiff, a Massachusetts property owner, brought this lawsuit against three police officers challenging the owner’s arrest for actions that he took in connection with his objection to the clearing of vegetation on his property by the work crew for an electrical utility that held an easement on the owner’s property. Specifically, the First Circuit (1) affirmed the entry of summary judgment as to the officers on Plaintiff’s intentional infliction of emotional distress claim and the claims brought under 42 U.S.C. 1983 and Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 12, 11I; (2) affirmed the entry of summary judgment as to one of the officers on the malicious prosecution and false arrest claims; and (3) vacated the entry of summary judgment as to two of the officers on the malicious prosecution and false arrest claims and as to all three officers on the false imprisonment claim and remanded with instructions that the district court remand those claims to state court, holding that contested state law issues prevented summary judgment. View "Wilber v. Curtis" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs filed this diversity action against Fundacion Damas, Inc. and Banco Popular de Puerto Rico alleging (1) Fundacion was the owner and operator of Hospital Damas, (2) Fundacion committed medical malpractice under Articles 1892 and 1803 of the Puerto Rico Civil Code, and (3) Fundacion and Banco Popular committed negligence by mismanaging funds of a trust. The district court granted Banco Popular’s motion to dismiss count three and Fundacion’s motion for summary judgment on counts one and three. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that Plaintiffs failed to present the court with a developed argument that was convincing enough to disturb the judgment of the district court. View "Vargas-Colon v. Fundacion Damas, Inc." on Justia Law

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Plaintiff, a pedestrian who was injured in a car accident, sued the vehicle’s driver and the driver’s insurance company, alleging negligence. The jury returned a verdict in favor of Defendants, finding that Plaintiff failed to prove that the driver was negligent in his driving and that his negligence proximately caused damage to Plaintiff. The district court denied Plaintiff’s motion for a new trial. The First Circuit affirmed, holding (1) the verdict was not against the weight of the evidence; (2) Plaintiff’s challenges to certain statements by defense counsel were without merit; and (3) the district court’s refusal to give a particular jury instruction was not reversible error. View "Mejias-Aguayo v. Doreste-Rodriguez" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit affirmed the dismissal of plaintiffs' claims challenging the development of an offshore wind farm near Block Island, Rhode Island. The court held that Rhode Island's three-year personal injury statute of limitations applied to plaintiffs' claims, and plaintiffs' claims were barred by the applicable statute of limitations because they accrued after the three-year period. View "Riggs v. Curran" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs were prevented from building a new home by the Cohasset Conservation Commission. Plaintiffs brought this action against Defendant, a Florida landscape design firm that was hired by the attorney representing the neighborhood association formed to oppose the construction of Plaintiffs’ proposed home. Defendant assisted in the association’s opposition by producing and presenting renderings of Plaintiffs’ proposed home to the Commission. The federal district court ruled in Defendant’s favor on all counts, granting Defendant’s special motion to dismiss under the Massachusetts anti-SLAPP statute and also granting, in the alternative, Defendant’s motion to dismiss under Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6). The First Circuit certified a question to the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court regarding whether Defendant could avail itself of the special motion provision under Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 231, 59H. The court then held that, if the anti-SLAPP statute applies to Defendant, then Plaintiffs’ negligence, gross negligence, and Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 93A claims must also be dismissed under the special motion, leaving only Plaintiffs’ defamation claim for further consideration by the district court under the special motion. View "Steinmetz v. Coyle & Caron, Inc." on Justia Law

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This appeal arose out of the state prosecution of Vladek Filler for five counts of gross sexual assault and two counts of assault. After two trials and two appeals Filler was convicted only of one misdemeanor assault count. Filler subsequently filed a civil action against several defendants under 42 U.S.C. 1983 for malicious prosecution, including a claim against the prosecuting attorney, Mary Kellett, for malicious prosecution. Kellett filed a motion to dismiss Filler’s malicious prosecution claim for failure to state a claim pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6), alleging, among other claims, that she was entitled to absolute prosecutorial immunity. The district court concluded that Kellett was entitled to absolute immunity for actions associated with the judicial phase of the criminal process but denied the rest of Kellett’s motion to dismiss. Kelley brought an interlocutory appeal from the district court’s order. The First Circuit dismissed the appeal for lack of jurisdiction, holding that that, while Filler’s claim against Kellett was not clearly foreclosed by absolute immunity, the court had no jurisdiction to entertain the immunity issue. View "Filler v. Kellett" on Justia Law