Justia Injury Law Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit
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This case arose from defendants' ownership in a manufacturing facility that used and disposed perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) which contaminated the water supply in the Village of Hoosick Falls, New York. Plaintiff, a construction company operating in the Village and the property owner, filed suit alleging property damage resulting from defendants' negligence in using and disposing of PFOA. On appeal, defendant challenged the district court's denial of defendants' motion under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) to dismiss the claims that defendants' negligence caused the corporate plaintiff to lose revenues and caused the individual plaintiff to suffer devaluation of his land. The Second Circuit held that the district court properly denied the motion to dismiss the claim of the property owner but erred in denying the motion to dismiss the claim of the company. The court saw no error in the district court's conclusion that the principle of 532 Madison Ave. Gourmet Foods, Inc. v. Finlandia Center, Inc., 96 N.Y.2d 8 280, 727 N.Y.S.2d 49 (2001), is inapposite to the claim of the owner, because he alleged physical contamination of his property, and thus is entitled to seek damages not only for that intrusion but also for the diminution in value of the property. Therefore, the motion to dismiss the owner's negligence claim was properly denied. However, the company's negligence claim to recover its purely economic damages should have been dismissed. The court affirmed in part and reversed in part, holding that the remaining claims lacked merit. View "R.M. Bacon, LLC v. Saint-Gobain Performance Plastics Corp." on Justia Law

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This case arose from defendants' ownership in a manufacturing facility that used and disposed perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) which contaminated the water supply in the Village of Hoosick Falls, New York. On appeal, defendants challenged the district court's denial of their motion to dismiss under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). For the reasons discussed in the Second Circuit's opinion issued on the same day in Benoit v. Saint-Gobain Performance Plastics Corp., Nos. 17-3941, etc., which was argued in tandem with the present appeal and involved the same issues, the court rejected defendants' contentions that the district court erred in denying their motion to dismiss plaintiffs' claims of personal injury and requests for medical monitoring as relief for such injuries, and in denying their motion to dismiss plaintiffs' claims of property damage. The court held that the district court's ruling that medical monitoring is available relief for claims solely of property damage is not an order that meets the criteria for immediate review under 28 U.S.C. § 1292(b). Therefore, the court dismissed, as improvidently allowed, so much of the appeal as seeks reversal of that part of the district court's order. View "Baker v. Saint-Gobain Performance Plastics Corp." on Justia Law

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This case arose from defendants' ownership in a manufacturing facility that used and disposed perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) which contaminated the water supply in the Village of Hoosick Falls, New York. On appeal, defendants challenged the district court's order denying their Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) motion, in 16 temporarily consolidated actions, to dismiss plaintiffs' claims. The Second Circuit held that the district court properly denied defendants' motion to dismiss the claims of injury to persons or property, and for medical monitoring with respect to personal injury. In regard to the district court's ruling that costs of medical monitoring can be awarded on the basis solely of injury to property, the court held that because plaintiffs request various types of relief in addition to medical monitoring, the ruling that medical monitoring is available relief for property damage is not one that meets the criteria for immediate review under 28 U.S.C. 1292(b). Therefore, the court dismissed, as improvidently allowed, so much of the appeal as seeks review of that part of the district court's order. View "Benoit v. Saint-Gobain Performance Plastics Corp." on Justia Law

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The Second Circuit affirmed the district court's decision vacating the bankruptcy court's determination concerning whether General Motors assumed liability, through a judicial admission, for claims like appellant's. Appellant filed a wrongful death lawsuit against New GM after his wife was involved in an accident that left her incapacitated. She was driving a 2004 Pontiac Grand Am, a vehicle manufactured by Old GM, which allegedly had a faulty ignition switch. The Second Circuit held that for a statement to constitute a judicial admission, it must be intentional, clear, and unambiguous. In this case, the court held that the inadvertent inclusion of language from an outdated, non-operative version of a sale agreement was not intentional, clear, and unambiguous, and thus was not a judicial admission. Therefore, General Motors was not bound by the language. View "In re Motors Liquidation Co. (Pillars)" on Justia Law

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The Second Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment in favor of the United States in a trip-and-fall case. Plaintiff tripped at a TSA checkpoint at JFK Airport when her suitcase's wheels locked up as she attempted to roll it over a thick mat that TSA placed in the flow of foot traffic. The court held that, under New York's trivial defect doctrine, any identified defect in the condition or placement of the mat was trivial and hence non-negligent as a matter of law. In this case, the presence of a floor mat placed on the floor, even a one-inch thick black mat on a black floor, is—under the triviality doctrine—simply not a sufficiently dangerous condition to constitute negligence. View "Coyle v. United States" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs appealed the district court's dismissal of their state tort claims against defendants, alleging intentional infliction of emotional distress, tortious interference with contract, and negligent supervision or retention. Plaintiffs' claims stemmed from the actions of Fox News employees after their son, Seth Rich, was murdered during a botched robbery. A Fox News Reporter, Malia Zimmerman, and a Fox News commentator, Ed Butowsky, recruited a contributor to infiltrate the Rich family in order to find information to give credence to a conspiracy theory that Seth had leaked DNC emails to WikiLeaks and was assassinated for doing so. Applying de novo review, the Second Circuit held that the allegations in the complaint sufficiently stated a claim for intentional or reckless "extreme and outrageous" conduct against the Riches on the part of defendants; the complaint plausibly alleged that defendants tortiously interfered with the contract between the Riches and the contributor, who the Riches hired as a private investigator to look into the circumstances of Seth's death; and an amended complaint could likely cure any defect in plaintiffs' claim of negligent supervision or retention regarding the employment relationship between Fox News and Zimmerman and Wheeler. The court vacated and remanded for further proceedings. View "Rich v. Fox News Network, LLC" on Justia Law

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The Second Circuit held that the district court violated the mandate the court issued in a previous decision instructing it not to send the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act (FSIA) claims to trial, and that the district court violated the law of the case by finding that 650 Fifth Avenue Company is a foreign state under the FSIA. Without reaching the merits of the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act (TRIA) claims, the court held that the district court abused its discretion by precluding two of defendants’ witnesses from testifying at trial. Finally, the court held that TRIA section 201 litigants lack the right to a jury trial in actions against a state sponsor of terrorism, including its agencies or instrumentalities. Accordingly, the court affirmed in part, reversed in part, vacated in part, and remanded for a new trial on section 201 claims. View "Havlish v. 650 Fifth Avenue Co." on Justia Law

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The Second Circuit held that Assa must turn over substantial real and financial property interests to hundreds of terrorism victims holding default judgments against the Islamic Republic of Iran. The court held that the district court had subject matter jurisdiction under the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act (FSIA) because Assa is an alter ego of Iran. The court also held that the district court had subject matter jurisdiction under the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act (TRIA) because Assa is both an alter ego and agency or instrumentality of Iran and its property constituted blocked assets. Therefore, the court held that the district court correctly held that Assa’s property is subject to attachment and execution under section 201 of the TRIA. View "Kirschenbaum v. Assa Corp." on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs, victims or representatives of victims in terrorist attacks in Amman, Jordan, filed suit alleging that defendants aided and abetted the attackers, in violation of the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act by providing banking services to Al Rajhi Bank, Saudi Arabiaʹs largest commercial bank, which was thought by some to have ties to al‐Qaeda in Iraq, the terrorist organization responsible for the November 9 attacks. The Second Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of defendants' motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim. The court held that plaintiffs' civil aiding and abetting claim failed because plaintiffs failed to adequately allege that HSBC was generally aware of its role as part of an overall illegal or tortious activity at the time that it provided the assistance, and that HSBC knowingly and substantially assisted the principal violation. View "Siegel v. HSBC North America Holdings, Inc." on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs, U.S. citizens of Hamas terrorist attacks in Israel, appealed the district court's dismissal of their federal civil antiterrorism and Israeli law claims against Facebook, alleging that Facebook unlawfully assisted Hamas in the attacks. Plaintiff argued that Hamas used Facebook to post content that encouraged terrorist attacks in Israel during the time period of the attacks. The DC Circuit affirmed the district court's judgment as to the federal claims, holding that 42 U.S.C. 230(c)(1) bars civil liability claims that treat a provider or user of an interactive computer service as a publisher or speaker of any information provided by another information content provider. In this case, plaintiffs' claims fell within Facebook's status as the publisher of information within the meaning of the statute, and Facebook did not develop the content of the postings at issue. Therefore, section 230(c)(1) applied to Facebook's alleged conduct in this case. The court also held that applying section 230(c)(1) to plaintiffs' claims would not impair the enforcement of a federal criminal statute; the Anti-Terrorism Act's civil remedies provision, 18 U.S.C. 2333, did not implicitly narrow or repeal section 230(c)(1); and applying section 230(c)(1) to plaintiffs' claims would not be impermissibly extraterritorial. Finally, in regard to the foreign law claims, the court declined to exercise supplemental jurisdiction sua sponte to cure jurisdictional defects and therefore dismissed these claims. View "Force v. Facebook, Inc." on Justia Law