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 summary judgment to Defendant on Plaintiff’s complaint brought under Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 149, 148B for employee misclassification. A Georgia state court concluded that Plaintiff was an employee of Defendant under Massachusetts law. The Georgia court of appeals reversed, concluding that Plaintiff was not an employee of Defendant for purposes of Section 148B. At the same time the case was making its way through the Georgia state-court system, a separate Massachusetts case was being litigated in the federal district court involving the same facts and the same parties. Ultimately, the district court judge granted preclusive effect to the Georgia decision and granted summary judgment for Defendant as to the Section 148B claim. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that the federal courts were bound by the Georgia court judgment under the doctrine of res judicata. View "Depianti v. Jan-Pro Franchising International, Inc." on Justia Law

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The First Circuit reversed the district court’s order denying Appellant’s motion to intervene in an adversary proceeding arising within the Commonwealth’s debt adjustment case under Title III of the Puerto Rico Oversight, Management, and Economic Stability Act (PROMESA), 48 U.S.C. 2161-2177, holding that 11 U.S.C. 1109(b) provides an “unconditional right to intervene” within the meaning of Fed. R. Civ. P. 24(a)(1). Appellant, the Official Committee of Unsecured Creditors (UCC), intervened in an adversary proceeding initiated by Plaintiffs within a larger case brought by the Financial Oversight and Management Board on behalf of the Commonwealth. The Board had commenced quasi-bankruptcy proceedings to restructure the Commonwealth’s debt under a part of PROMESA referred to as Title III. The district court denied the UCC’s motion to intervene with respect both to intervention as of right and to permissive intervention. The First Circuit reversed, holding that section 1109(b) provided the UCC with an unconditional right to intervene in the adversary proceeding. View "Assured Guaranty Corp. v. Official Committee of Unsecured Creditors" on Justia Law

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On July 5, 2014, the First Circuit issued an opinion affirming the district court’s decision to grant Petitioner’s motion pursuant to 28 U.S.C. 2255. One week later, Respondent informed the court that Petitioner had died before the opinion issued and filed a motion for the withdrawal of the July 5, 2017 opinion. The First Circuit chose to exercise its discretion to grant Respondent’s motion for withdrawal of the July 5, 2017 because the case is now moot in light of Petitioner’s death. Thus, the opinion issued on July 5, 2017 is withdrawn and the judgment vacated as moot. The court remanded the case to the district court with instructions to dismiss the habeas petition. View "United States v. Bennett" on Justia Law

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In this action seeking to, among other things, quiet title to certain property, the district court did not err in granting judgment on the pleadings in favor of Defendants. After he was informed that his loan secured by a mortgage on his Massachusetts property was in default, Plaintiff sued Ocwen Loan Servicing, LLC and US Bank, N.A. (collectively, Defendants), seeking unclouded title to the property, an injunction against foreclosure, and damages. The district court granted Defendants’ motion for judgment on the pleadings and dismissed all counts of Plaintiff’s complaint. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that Defendants were entitled to judgment on the pleadings because Defendant failed to plead any set of facts that would entitle him to relief. View "Rezende v. Ocwen Loan Servicing, LLC" on Justia Law

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Ronald Brenner sought to amend his late wife’s putative class action complaint in order to name himself as lead plaintiff. Jacqueline Brenner filed the complaint against Williams-Sonoma, Inc., alleging that the company’s practice of collecting customers’ zip codes constituted unjust enrichment and violated Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 93, 105(a). Ronald never became a party to the action. After Jacqueline died, Ronald moved pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 15(a)(2) to leave to amend the complaint to add himself as a plaintiff in his individual capacity. The district court ruled that the amendment would be futile. Ronald appealed. The First Circuit dismissed Ronald’s appeal for lack of jurisdiction, holding (1) Ronald did not become a party below and there was no equitable reason to allow the appeal; and (2) Ronald was not a member to this action and lacked standing to appeal. View "Brenner v. Williams-Sonoma, Inc." on Justia Law

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This case concerned defects in the execution of two life insurance annuity polices that the decedent purchased through National Western Life Insurance Co. Plaintiffs, the decedent’s wife and children, sued National Western seeking a declaration that the policies were void and a return of the premiums paid by the decedent. National Western filed a motion to dismiss because Plaintiffs failed to join a necessary party - the decedent’s brother, who was named under both policies as the sole beneficiary - even though National Western had already paid him. The district court denied the motion, ruling that the beneficiary at issue was not “required to be joined if feasible” under Fed. R. Civ. P. 19(a). The court then granted summary judgment for Plaintiffs. The First Circuit vacated the judgment of the district court, holding that the sole beneficiary of the annuities was required to be joined if feasible under rule 19(a). The court remanded the case to the district court to determine whether it was equitable for the case to proceed without him. View "Maldonado-Vinas v. National Western Life Insurance Co." on Justia Law

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The Autoridad de Energia Electrica de Puerto Rico (PREPA) executed six contracts for the delivery of fuel oil. Vitol, Inc. was a party or assignee to the six contracts, each of which included a choice of law and forum selection clause stating that disputes concerning the contract shall be litigated in Puerto Rico state courts. After PREPA learned that Vitol, S.A. had pled guilty to first degree grand larceny it filed a complaint in a Puerto Rico Court against Vitol, Inc. and Vitol, S.A. alleging that two oil supply contracts it held with Vitol, Inc. were null due to Law No. 458 of December 29, 2000 and the Puerto Rico Civil Code. Invoking diversity jurisdiction, Defendants removed the claim to federal court. PREPA then filed a second complaint in a Commonwealth court regarding four additional oil supply contracts. The two cases were consolidated in federal court. The district court remanded the case to the Commonwealth court, concluding that the forum selection clauses applied to the dispute and, therefore, that the unanimity requirement of 28 U.S.C. 1446(b)(2)(A) could not be satisfied. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that remand was proper because the forum selection clauses were enforceable, and therefore, the unanimity requirement could not be met. View "Autoridad de Energia Electrica v. Vitol, Inc." on Justia Law

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In this design-defect product-liability case, the district court did not abuse its discretion in dismissing the case for Plaintiff's failure to prosecute and to comply with scheduling orders. Plaintiff brought this action against Defendants. Plaintiff served no discovery before the discovery deadline, and Plaintiff’s counsel did not at the outset retain an expert. Defendants filed a motion for summary judgment arguing that the absence of any expert testimony was fatal to Plaintiff’s case. The district court subsequently granted Plaintiff’s request to reopen discovery, set a new expert-disclosure deadline and other requests for time extensions without any sanction. After the extended deadline for filing an opposition to the motion for summary judgment came without Plaintiff’s opposing the motion, the district court dismissed the case for failure to prosecute and failure to comply with scheduling orders. The district court denied Plaintiff’s motion for reconsideration. The First Circuit affirmed. View "McKeague v. One World Technologies, Inc." on Justia Law