Justia Civil Procedure Opinion Summaries

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 finding that Defendant had committed fraud in connection with a contract for dredging work to be performed in Massachusetts and in awarding Plaintiff $148,626 in damages, holding that the district court did not err.The jury's finding of fraud in this case was based on Massachusetts law. On appeal, Defendant argued that the court erred in determining at summary judgment that Massachusetts law applied to the fraud claim. The First Circuit affirmed, holding (1) the district court was plainly correct that Massachusetts law applied; (2) there was sufficient evidence to support the conviction; and (2) the arbitration clause in the contract between the parties' businesses did not bar this lawsuit. View "Hisert v. Haschen" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit dismissed Appellant's appeal from the ruling of the district court granting in part and denying in part Avon Products, Inc.'s motion for the district court to tax costs, holding that the appeal was moot.In a previous appeal, the First Circuit affirmed judgment for Avon on three claims brought by Appellant. After the Court's mandate issued, Avon sought to recover some of its expenses by moving the district court to tax costs. After the district court granted the request in part, Appellant appealed. Thereafter, the parties settled the case for the purpose of avoiding litigation costs. The First Circuit dismissed the appeal and denied, without prejudice, the parties' request that the Court vacate the district court's costs order, holding that the appeal was moot, with the parties to be a their own appellate costs and fees, but that this decision was without prejudice to pursuit of vacatur relief in the district court. View "Villeneuve v. Avon Products, Inc." on Justia Law

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The First Circuit dismissed for lack of appellate jurisdiction Defendant's appeal from the order of the district court granting Plaintiff's motion for summary judgment on its diversity action seeking a declaratory judgment specifying its property rights in a commercial complex in San Juan, Puerto Rico, holding that the district court never issued a final decision.After granting Plaintiff's motion for summary judgment and denying Defendant's motion for summary judgment, the district court directed Plaintiff to submit a proposed declaration for the Court's consideration and instructed the Clerk of Court to enter judgment as to Defendants. After Defendant filed a notice of appeal Plaintiff submitted its proposed declaration. The district court, however, stayed the proceedings pending the outcome of this appeal. The First Circuit dismissed Defendant's appeal for lack of appellate jurisdiction, holding that, without a final declaratory judgment, this Court lacked appellate jurisdiction. View "WM Capital Partners 53, LLC v. Barreras, Inc." on Justia Law

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The First Circuit dismissed Appellant's appeal from a grant of summary judgment to Ocwen Loan Servicing, LLC in her suit in the District of Massachusetts against Ocwen and the Government National Mortgage Association (GNMA) for lack of appellate jurisdiction, holding that this court lacked jurisdiction under the circumstances of this case.In her notice of appeal, Appellant sought review of only the grant of summary judgment to Ocwen on Count III of her complaint. The First Circuit issued an order to show cause stating that the orders appealed from did not appear to be final or appealable on an interlocutory basis and that the Court did not appear to have jurisdiction absent certification pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 54(b). Thereafter, Appellant filed a notice of voluntary dismissal of her claims against GNMA, but the district court did not enter any further orders or judgments, and Appellant did not file a new notice of appeal. Appellant then filed a response to the show cause order. The First Circuit dismissed the appeal for lack of jurisdiction, holding that Appellant filed the notice of appeal before the decision below was final and did not correct her mistake. View "Donahue v. Federal National Mortgage Ass'n" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit vacated the decision of the district court dismissing Plaintiff's breach of contract claim, holding that the court erred in concluding that Plaintiff did not assert a breach of contract claim and abused its discretion when it employed the Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6) standard in dismissing the breach of contract claim instead of the summary judgment standard.Plaintiff filed a breach of contract action and asserted a secondary theory of liability related to deceit or "dolo." Defendant moved for summary judgment. The district court granted summary judgment for Defendant but dismissed the breach of contract claim under Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6) for failure to state a claim to relief that was "plausible on its fact." Applying the test for deceit in the formation of the contract, the court found that Plaintiff was not entitled to relief. The First Circuit vacated the judgment in part, holding that the district court (1) erred in concluding that Plaintiff did not assert a breach of contract claim and abused its discretion when it evaluated Defendant's motion for summary judgment with respect to the claim as if were a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss; and (2) did not err in granting summary judgment as to Plaintiff's fallback theory of dolo. View "Feliciano-Munoz v. Rebarber-Ocasio" on Justia Law

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In this case where Plaintiff's negligence case collapsed halfway through trial due to the exclusion of his only expert witness pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 26 and Fed. R. Evid. 702 the First Circuit reversed the rulings of the district court under Rule 26 and Rule 702, vacated the entry of judgment against Plaintiff, and remanded this matter for further proceedings, holding that the district court erred.Plaintiff was hit by a car while walking in a construction-affected area near Old San Juan, Puerto Rico. Plaintiff filed a negligence lawsuit against several entities. Plaintiff then retained an expert witness to opine on the standard of care owed to pedestrians in construction-affected areas and to explain how Defendants' negligence caused his accident. After a twelve-day Daubert hearing, the trial court excluded Plaintiff's sole expert witness. The district court subsequently entered judgment as a matter of law for Defendants. The First Circuit vacated the lawsuit's dismissal, holding (1) under Rule 26, preclusion was an overly harsh sanction for Plaintiff's discovery violations; and (2) the district court abused its discretion in excluding the expert testimony under Rule 702. View "Lawes v. CSA Architects & Engineers LLP" on Justia Law

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In this qui tam action, the First Circuit affirmed the decision of the district court denying the request of Concilio De Salud Integral De Loiza, Inc. (CSILO), on the eve of trial, to amend the pretrial order to include a discussion of damages CSILO claimed it was due under the False Claims Act, holding that the district court did not abuse its discretion when it denied CSILO's request to amend the pretrial order.CSILO, a non-profit organization in Puerto Rico, brought this action under the FCA against JC Remodeling, Inc. (JCR). Three years into litigation and after the close of discovery, CSILO moved the court for leave to amend the pretrial order to include a discussion of damages. The district court denied the request. After a trial, the jury found that JCR had violated the False Claims Act and entered judgment against JCR and imposed on it a $5,500 civil penalty. CSILO appealed, challenging the denial of its request to amend the pretrial order. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that the district court did not abuse its discretion when it decided that CSILO's request to amend the pretrial order would not have cause it "manifest injustice" and would have instead caused prejudice and hardship to JCR. View "Concilio De Salud Integral De Loiza, Inc. v. JC Remodeling, Inc." on Justia Law

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The First Circuit reversed the judgment of the district court dismissing, for failure to state a claim, Plaintiff's complaint alleging that, by labeling Wesson brand vegetable oil (Wesson Oil) "100% Natural," Conagra Brands, Inc. violated Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 93A, holding that Plaintiff's complaint clearly alleged a Chapter 93A injury for pleading purposes.After learning that Wesson Oil contained genetically modified organisms (GMOs), Plaintiff sued Conagra, the manufacturer and distributor, alleging that, by labeling the oil "100% Natural," Conagra violated Massachusetts's prohibition against unfair or deceptive trade practices. The federal district court dismissed the complaint for failure to state a claim, concluding that Wesson Oil's label was neither unfair nor deceptive because it conformed to the Food and Drug Administration's labeling policy. The First Circuit reversed, holding that Plaintiff's claim may proceed because Plaintiff plausibly alleged that a reasonable consumer might think that the phrase "100% Natural" means that a product contains no GMOs, and then base her purchasing decision on that belief. View "Lee v. Conagra Brands, Inc." on Justia Law

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In this class action lawsuit stemming from the 2011 nuclear disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant (FNPP) in Japan, the First Circuit affirmed the judgment of the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts dismissing Plaintiffs' suit under the doctrine of forum non conveniens, holding that the district court did not abuse its discretion in finding that an adequate alternative forum was available in Japan.Plaintiffs were individuals and business entities who suffered property damage and/or economic harm as a result of the FNPP disaster. Plaintiffs filed suit against General Electric Company (GE) alleging that GE negligently designed the FNPP's nuclear reactors and safety mechanisms, both of which were implicated in the explosions. Plaintiffs alleged that venue was proper in the District of Massachusetts because GE maintained its corporate headquarters and principal place of business in Boston, Massachusetts. The district court dismissed the suit under the doctrine of forum non conveniens, determining that an adequate alternative forum was available to Plaintiffs in Japan and that dismissal was in the private and public interest. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that Japan satisfied the forum availability requirement despite the jurisdictional idiosyncrasies presented in this case. View "Imamura v. General Electric Co." on Justia Law

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The First Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal of the complaint in this case for want of jurisdiction, holding that personal jurisdiction could not constitutionally be exercised over Defendant in Massachusetts.Defendant was an education institution incorporated in Alabama having its principal place of business there. Plaintiff, who had enrolled in Defendant's doctoral program in sports management, sued Defendant in a Massachusetts state court alleging breach of contract, unfair and deceptive business practices, unjust enrichment, and fraudulent inducement. Defendant removed the case to the federal district court then moved to dismiss the complaint for want of personal jurisdiction. The district court granted the motion, concluding that the court lacked general and specific jurisdiction over Defendant. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that the district court appropriately determined that neither general jurisdiction nor specific jurisdiction may constitutionally be exercised over Defendant in Massachusetts. View "Chen v. United States Sports Academy, Inc." on Justia Law