Articles Posted in US Court of Appeals for the First Circuit

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The First Circuit affirmed the judgment of the district court dismissing this defamation action for lack of personal jurisdiction. The Deal, LLC posted to a subscriber-only website an attached to email newsletters three articles written by William Meagher that allegedly defamed Scottsdale Capital Advisors Corp. and John Hurry (collectively, Plaintiffs). Plaintiffs filed suit in New Hampshire. The only connection any of the parties had with New Hampshire was that Dartmouth College, one of The Deal’s institutional subscribers, was located there. The district court dismissed the complaint for lack of personal jurisdiction, concluding that Plaintiffs would have no reasonable basis upon which to establish that anyone in New Hampshire saw any of the articles as a result of the Dartmouth subscription. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that nothing in the record indicated that Plaintiffs’ only injury, reputational harm, arose in any way from Defendants’ only contacts with Plaintiffs’ chosen forum. View "Scottsdale Capital Advisors v. The Deal, LLC" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs within the zone of danger may recover for negligent infliction of emotional distress under the general maritime law. Plaintiffs brought this maritime action against Defendant, which they hired to ferry three construction vehicles and their drivers from Rockland, Maine to North Haven, Maine, after two of the vehicles tipped over onto the vessel’s port bulwark during rough seas. Plaintiffs claimed that the ship captain was negligent and seeking damages for property loss and emotional distress. The district court found in favor of Plaintiffs and awarded $257,154 in damages, including $100,000 for emotional distress. The First Circuit affirmed the judgment of the district court in substantial part, vacating only one element of the damages award, holding (1) the district court properly found that the weather conditions that caused the incident were foreseeable; (2) the district court’s award for damaged plywood panels rested on a clearly erroneous view of the facts, but the remainder of the damages award was not in error; (3) maritime plaintiffs within the “zone of danger” can recover for negligent infliction of emotional distress in the First Circuit; and (4) the district court did not clearly err in determining that Plaintiffs were within the zone of danger and that they experienced physical consequences of emotional distress. View "Sawyer Brothers, Inc. v. Island Transporter, LLC" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit reversed the district court’s order granting summary judgment to Appellee Omni Hotels Management Corporation (“Omni”) in this negligence action brought by Appellant Henry Mu. Mu was assaulted by an unidentified group of individuals in the lobby of the Omni Providence Hotel, which Omni operated. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of Omni, ruling that Omni owed Plaintiff no legal duty, Plaintiff failed to make out the relevant standard of care and show a breach of that standard, Plaintiff failed to show causation, and Plaintiff’s allegations of evidentiary spoliation did not warrant a negative inference in his favor. The First Circuit disagreed, holding that Plaintiff’s negligence claim was sufficient to survive summary judgment. View "Mu v. Omni Hotels Management Corp." on Justia Law

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The First Circuit reversed the district court’s order granting summary judgment to Appellee Omni Hotels Management Corporation (“Omni”) in this negligence action brought by Appellant Henry Mu. Mu was assaulted by an unidentified group of individuals in the lobby of the Omni Providence Hotel, which Omni operated. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of Omni, ruling that Omni owed Plaintiff no legal duty, Plaintiff failed to make out the relevant standard of care and show a breach of that standard, Plaintiff failed to show causation, and Plaintiff’s allegations of evidentiary spoliation did not warrant a negative inference in his favor. The First Circuit disagreed, holding that Plaintiff’s negligence claim was sufficient to survive summary judgment. View "Mu v. Omni Hotels Management Corp." on Justia Law

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In this case alleging violations of 42 U.S.C. 1983 and tort claims, the First Circuit affirmed the district court’s grant of summary judgment in favor of Defendants following Plaintiffs’ failure to oppose the motion with the timeframe set by the court. Almost one month after Plaintiffs’ opposition to Defendants’ summary judgment motion was due, the district court granted Defendants’ unopposed motion for summary judgment. Two days later, Plaintiff filed a motion for relief from judgment pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 60(b)(1) on the ground of excusable neglect. The district court denied relief, determining that Plaintiffs’ failure to oppose the summary judgment motion was not excusable. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that the district court acted within its discretion in concluding that Plaintiff failed to demonstrate excusable neglect. View "Skrabec v. Town of North Attleboro" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit affirmed the district court’s grant of summary judgment in this action filed by the Town of Westport against Monsanto Company, Solutia, Inc., and Pharmacia Corporation alleging that Phamacia was liable for “property damage” caused by polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) contamination at Westport Middle School (WMS). When WMS was built in 1969, the contractor used caulk that contained PCBs. Monsanto did not make the caulk but sold plasticizers, a component of caulk, to the third-party manufacturer who did. On appeal, Westport challenged the entry of judgment against its breach of warranty and negligent marketing claims. The First Circuit affirmed, holding (1) Monsanto did not breach the implied warranty of merchantability because it was not reasonably foreseeable in 1969 that there was a risk PCBs would volatilize from caulk at levels requiring premeditation; and (2) as a matter of Massachusetts state law, a negligent marketing claim cannot be maintained independent of a design defect claim on these facts. View "Town of Westport v. Monsanto Co." on Justia Law

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The federal government’s sovereign immunity, as exemplified by the discretionary function exception, pretermitted Appellant’s effort to recover damages under the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA) for the loss of twenty-five of his shade trees. Appellant instituted this FTCA action alleging that twenty-five of his maple trees had been chopped down without his permission. The trees were removed by the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) pursuant to a quarantine order entered by the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) in an effort to combat a bug infestation. The magistrate judge entered summary judgment in favor of the government, concluding that the discretionary function exception to liability under the FTCA barred Appellant’s lawsuit. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that APHIS’s decision to cut down Appellant’s trees without first securing his permission constituted a policy-driven exercise of discretion and therefore fell under the discretionary function exception. View "Evans v. United States" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit affirmed the district court’s grant of Defendants’ motion to strike many of the facts set forth in Plaintiff’s statement of facts in support of his summary judgment motion, as well as the district court’s grant of summary judgment to Defendants in this personal injury lawsuit. Plaintiff and the driver of a tractor trailer were involved in a vehicle collision. Plaintiff bought this negligence suit against the driver and the company that owned the vehicle and hired the driver. The district court granted Defendants’ motion to strike Plaintiff’s statement of facts and then granted summary judgment to Defendants. The First Circuit affirmed, holding (1) the district court properly struck the expert reports attached to Plaintiff’s opposition to Defendants’ motion for summary judgment; and (2) summary judgment was properly granted for Defendants. View "Amoah v. McKinney" on Justia Law

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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