Articles Posted in U.S. 1st Circuit Court of Appeals

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Pinpoint and Atlas filed federal court actions against each other based on a 2009 contract between them. Two months after answering and counterclaiming Pinpoint in the Virginia action, Atlas filed for bankruptcy under Chapter 7 of the Bankruptcy Code. Atlas's filing automatically stayed the Virginia and Puerto Rico actions. At issue was Pinpoint's appeal from the Bankruptcy Appellate Panel's judgment dismissing Pinpoint's challenge to the bankruptcy court's no-stay-relief order. The court rejected the blanket-rule approach and, like the Third Circuit, held that it was possible that in some cases an order denying stay relief may lack finality. Because the order denying stay relief in this case was not final, the court dismissed Pinpoint's appeal for lack of jurisdiction. View "Pinpoint IT Services, LLC v. Atlas IT Export, Corp." on Justia Law

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Maribel Vazquez-Robles (Plaintiff) commenced a civil action in a federal district court against CommoLoCo, Inc. (Defendant), her former employer, alleging workplace discrimination claims. Plaintiff served the summons and complaint on Prentice-Hall Corporation System Puerto Rico, which she believed to be Defendant’s registered agent for service of process. When no answer was filed, Plaintiff obtained an entry of default, and a jury awarded Plaintiff nearly $1 million in damages. Plaintiff procured a writ of execution, and the full amount of the judgment was seized from Defendant’s bank account. Defendant immediately moved to vacate the judgment as void, arguing that Prentice was not its registered agent and that it had no prior knowledge of the action. The district court denied the motion. The First Circuit vacated the judgment of the district court, holding that, in this case, the district court never acquired jurisdiction over Defendant, as Prentice was not Defendant's registered agent at the time the service of process was attempted by Plaintiff. View "Vazquez-Robles v. CommoLoco, Inc." on Justia Law

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In this insurance coverage dispute, the driver involved in an accident filed a claim with the Insurer of the other vehicle involved in the accident. The Insurer denied the claim. The Office of the Insurance Commissioner reviewed the denial and ordered the Insurer to adjust and resolve the claim. The Insurer did not file an appeal and instead filed a complaint for declaratory and injunctive relief in the federal district court. The district court dismissed the federal court action on res judicata grounds. The First Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed, holding that res judicata barred this action and no exceptions to res judicata applied. View "Universal Ins. Co. v. Office of the Ins. Comm'r" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed a class action suit in an Illinois circuit court against Ernida, LLC alleging that Ernida had faxed unsolicited advertisements to Plaintiff and more than thirty-nine other recipients without first obtaining their permission. Ernida’s insurer, American Economy Insurance Company (American), took up Ernida’s defense in Illinois. While the Illinois action was ongoing, Plaintiff filed suit in federal district court against American, asserting diversity jurisdiction and seeking a declaration that American had a duty to defend Ernida in the Illinois action and had a responsibility to indemnify and pay any judgment in that action. The district court granted American’s motion to dismiss, concluding that Plaintiff had not presented a justiciable controversy. On appeal, American claimed that Plaintiff’s claim did not meet the amount-in-controversy requirement for diversity jurisdiction since Plaintiff had expressly waived any right to recover anything over $75,000 in its Illinois complaint. The First Circuit Court of Appeals vacated the district court’s order dismissing the case for lack of standing and remanded with instructions to dismiss for lack of subject-matter jurisdiction, as the matter in controversy did not not exceed the sum or value of $75,000. View "CE Design, Ltd. v. Am. Economy Ins. Co." on Justia Law

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Appellant entered into a mortgage contract with Pawtucket Credit Union (PCU) for the purchase of real property in Rhode Island. The mortgage agreement included a private contractual remedy, authorized by R. I. Gen. Laws 34-11-22, that allowed PCU, in the event Appellant defaulted on her loan payments, to accelerate its loan and invoke its statutory power of sale. PCU later declared Appellant in default, invoked its statutory power of sale, and began the foreclosure process. Appellant filed suit against PCU in federal district court, alleging that foreclosure pursuant to section 34-11-22 violated her federal and state due process rights. The district court dismissed the case for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. The First Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed, holding that none of the statutory bases cited in Appellant’s complaint conferred federal jurisdiction. View "Grapentine v. Pawtucket Credit Union" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs, a class of investors, brought a securities fraud action against Genzyme Corporation, an international pharmaceutical company, and several of Genzyme’s executives, alleging that Defendants violated the Securities Exchange Act by making false or misleading statements to investors. The district court dismissed the complaint for failure to state a claim upon which relief could be granted and subsequently denied Plaintiffs’ post-judgment motion to amend the complaint. The First Circuit affirmed, holding (1) the district court did not err in concluding that the complaint failed to meet the formidable pleading standard for securities fraud claims; and (2) the district court did not abuse its discretion in denying Plaintiffs’ post-judgment motion to amend the complaint. View "Deka Int'l S.A. Luxembourg v. Genzyme Corp." on Justia Law

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Corizon, Inc. was a private independent contractor that provided healthcare services to inmates at Cumberland County Jail (CCJ) under a contract with the jail. After Paul Galambos, died from self-inflicted injuries that he sustained while he was a pretrial detainee at CCJ, Galambos’s estate brought a 42 U.S.C. 1983 action alleging that three employees of Corizon were deliberately indifferent to Galambos’s serious medical needs. Defendants moved for summary judgment, claiming that they were entitled to qualified immunity. The magistrate judge denied Defendants’ motions, concluding that material and disputed issues of fact existed that precluded the grant of immunity. Defendants appealed. The First Circuit dismissed the appeal for want of appellate jurisdiction under Johnson v. Jones because the district court’s denial of immunity turned on findings that there remained disputed issues of material fact and inference. View "Cady v. Cumberland County Jail" on Justia Law

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Appellant-property owner filed a Chapter 13 petition for bankruptcy and subsequently filed a third amended reorganization plan proposing to bifurcate Appellee-mortgagee’s claim into secured and unsecured portions. The bankruptcy court denied confirmation of the plan and ordered Appellant to file an amended plan. Appellant appealed and also filed a motion for leave to appeal the bankruptcy court’s interlocutory order. The Bankruptcy Appellate Panel (BAP) granted the motion and affirmed the bankruptcy court’s denial of confirmation. Appellant subsequently filed a notice of appeal and motion for certification of the appeal, which the BAP denied. The First Circuit Court of Appeals issued an order to show cause why the case should not be dismissed for lack of jurisdiction because the BAP’s order affirming the denial of the confirmation did not appear to be a final order. The First Circuit dismissed Appellant’s appeal, holding (1) an intermediate appellate court’s affirmance of a bankruptcy court’s denial of confirmation of a reorganization plan is not a final order if the debtor may still propose an amended plan; and (2) therefore, the Court lacked jurisdiction to hear this appeal. View "Bullard v. Hyde Park Savings Bank" on Justia Law

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In 2006, Michael Wilson, a former Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. (“BMS”) sales presentative, filed a complaint alleging that BMS engaged in off-label promotion of certain drugs, and that these actions caused false claims to be submitted to the government in violation of the False Claims Act (“FCA”). Wilson subsequently entered in a partial settlement agreement with BMS that concluded part of the case. In 2009, Wilson filed a second amended complaint expanding upon his earlier, not settled, allegations against BMS and adding Sanofi-Aventis, U.S., LLC as a defendant. In 2013, the district court dismissed Wilson’s federal FCA claims relating to Plavis and Pravachol because they violated the FCA’s first-to-file rule based on two complaints that were filed before Wilson filed his original complaint. Wilson appealed from the dismissal as well as from the denial of his motion to file a third amended complaint and from denial of his follow-up motion to reconsider. The First Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed, holding (1) the district court properly dismissed the remaining FCA claims because they ran afoul of the first-to-file rule; and (2) the district court was correct in rejecting the third amended complaint. View "United States ex rel. Wilson v. Bristol-Myers Squibb, Inc. " on Justia Law