Justia Civil Procedure Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in US Court of Appeals for the First Circuit
Imamura v. General Electric Co.
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
Chen v. United States Sports Academy, Inc.
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
Norton v. Rodrigues
The First Circuit dismissed this interlocutory appeal for lack of appellate jurisdiction and remanded the matter to the district court, holding that Appellant's challenge to the district court's denial of summary judgment was not a final, appealable order.Plaintiff, an inmate at Souza Baranowski Correctional Center (SBCC), brought this lawsuit alleging that Appellant, an SBCC prison official, and other SBCC officials failed to protect him from a substantial risk of serious harm in violation of his constitutional rights. Appellant and the remaining defendants filed for summary judgment on grounds of qualified immunity. The district court granted summary judgment to all SBCC officials except Appellant. Appellant filed a timely interlocutory appeal, alleging that the district court erred because the undisputed material facts showed Appellant was not deliberately indifferent to a substantial risk of harm to Plaintiff. The First Circuit dismissed the appeal, holding that Appellant's challenge rested on factual, rather than legal, grounds, and therefore, this Court lacked appellate jurisdiction. View "Norton v. Rodrigues" on Justia Law
Amrhein v. eClinical Works, LLC
The First Circuit affirmed the judgment of the district court finding that Plaintiffs, patients whose healthcare providers used eClinicalWorks, LLC (ECW) software to record and store their medical records, lacked standing to bring this case, holding that, without further injury, Plaintiffs lacked standing to bring this case.Plaintiffs were the estates of two deceased patients whose medical records were kept and stored by healthcare providers using ECW. Plaintiffs alleged that ECW's system was riddled with bugs that showed healthcare providers false and incomplete data about patients' medical problems and treatments and that ECW hid the glitches from government regulators. Plaintiffs brought several state common-law claims and sought to represent a class of millions of other similarly-situated patients. The district court dismissed the case under Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(1). The First Circuit affirmed, holding that the arguments as presented sought redress based on a moot risk of misdiagnosis or mistreatment that no statute or common-law claim makes suable. Therefore, Plaintiffs lacked standing to bring this case. View "Amrhein v. eClinical Works, LLC" on Justia Law
Union of Concerned Scientists v. United States Environmental Protection Agency
In this case arising from a directive issued by the EPA that prohibits EPA grant recipients from sitting on the EPA's twenty-two scientific advisory committees the First Circuit reversed in part the judgment of the district court dismissing the complaint for a lack of justiciability and failure to state a claim, holding that EPA's challenged directive was judicially reviewable under the Administrative Procedure Act (APA), 5 U.S.C. 551 et seq.In 2017, the EPA former director issued the directive. The complaint alleged that the new directive disqualified thousands of scientists affiliated with academic and not-for-profit institutions. Count I alleged that the directive violated the APA's reasoned decision-making standard. Count II alleged that the directive conflicted with directives issued by the General Services Administration and regulations of the Office of Governmental Ethics. Counts III and IV alleged violations of the Federal Advisory Committee Act's requirements for advisory committees. The district court dismissed all counts, concluding that they raised questions unreviewable under the APA and, alternatively, that the first and second counts failed to state a claim on the merits. The First Circuit reversed the district court's decision on Counts III and IV, holding that the challenged directive was judicially reviewable under the APA. View "Union of Concerned Scientists v. United States Environmental Protection Agency" on Justia Law
Johnson v. Johnson
In this appeal concerning whether a settlement contract under Rhode Island law was formed after a personal injury lawsuit was filed the First Circuit certified to the Rhode Island Supreme Court the question of what is the definition of 'civil action' in R.I. Gen. Laws 27-7-2.2.Horace Johnson was the driver and Carlton Johnson was the sole passenger in a car accident. The accident occurred in Rhode Island. Both men were seriously injured. Horace was insured by Arbella Mutual Insurance Company. Arbella accepted Carlton's demand to settle for the policy limit of $100,000. Thereafter, Carlton filed a lawsuit against Horace, Arbella, and other defendants. A federal district court granted summary judgment for Defendants. The district court rejected Carlton's argument that Rhode Island's Rejected Settlement Offer Interest Statute, section 27-7-2.2, applied to the case. Carlton appealed, arguing that the statute rendered the settlement contract unenforceable because Arbella failed to accept his settlement offer within the timetable set forth by the statute. At issue was whether the court correctly determined that the statute's "[i]n any civil action" language requires that a legal proceeding in court needs to be underway to trigger the statute's application. The First Circuit certified to the Rhode Island Supreme Court a question concerning the definition of "civil action." View "Johnson v. Johnson" on Justia Law
Capron v. Massachusetts Attorney General
The First Circuit affirmed the decision of the district court granting the Attorney General's motion to dismiss Plaintiffs' complaint alleging that the "Au Pair Program" at issue in this case impliedly preempts Massachusetts from requiring host families to comply with its wage and hour laws and ordering Plaintiff's case dismissed, holding that the district court did not err or abuse its discretion.The United States Department of State (DOS) administers the Au Pair Program, through which foreign nationals may obtain a special visa then provide in-home childcare services to host families in the United States while the foreign nationals pursue post-secondary school studies. Plaintiffs, a DOS-approved private placement agency based on Massachusetts, and two individuals, brought this lawsuit seeking declaratory and injunctive relief and alleging that state law measures are preempted insofar as they protect au pair participants by imposing obligations on their host families as their employer that may be enforced against the host families. The district court found that there was no preemption. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that Plaintiffs did not meet their burden to establish field or conflict preemption. View "Capron v. Massachusetts Attorney General" on Justia Law
Perez-Kudzma v. United States
The First Circuit vacated the decision of the district court dismissing for failure to state a claim this suit challenging the federal government's decision not to waive indefinitely the cabotage provision of the Jones Act for Puerto Rico following the destruction wrought by Hurricane Maria, holding that Plaintiffs lacked standing and dismissal was required on jurisdictional grounds.In this suit, Plaintiffs challenged the provision of the Jones Act, which applies to Puerto Rico and prohibits foreign-flag vessels from transporting merchandise between United States coastwise points. The district court granted Defendants' motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim. The First Circuit vacated the judgment below and remanded for the claims to be dismissed on jurisdictional grounds, holding that Plaintiffs, each of whom owned real estate and/or personal property in Puerto Rico, failed to set forth allegations in their complaint that were sufficient to establish standing. View "Perez-Kudzma v. United States" on Justia Law
Bearbones, Inc. v. Peerless Indemnity Insurance Co.
In this insurance dispute, the First Circuit remanded the case for additional factfinding, holding that where the record was conflicted as to whether there was complete diversity of citizenship when the action was commenced, remand was required.Appellants were two affiliated insureds who owned and operated a commercial bakery in Pittsfield, Massachusetts. Appellee, their insurer, had in effect a commercial business insurance policy covering the bakery. When a pipe erupted in the bakery, causing covered losses, the parties were unable to settle the ensuing insurance claims. Appellants commenced a civil action against Appellee in the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts, invoking federal diversity jurisdiction and alleging that complete diversity existed between the parties. The magistrate judge ultimately granted Appellee's motion for summary judgment. The First Circuit noted a jurisdictional hurdle and remanded the case, holding that remand was required for the district court to determine whether there was complete diversity between the parties at the time the action was commenced. View "Bearbones, Inc. v. Peerless Indemnity Insurance Co." on Justia Law
Gonzalez-Rivera v. Centro Medico del Turabo, Inc.
The First Circuit affirmed the district court's entry of judgment in favor of Defendants on Plaintiff's complaint alleging medical malpractice and negligence against a hospital and several other healthcare providers, holding that the district court did not abuse its discretion by excluding an expert witness as a sanction for Plaintiff's noncompliance with a scheduling order.After Defendants answered the complaint the district court entered a scheduling order setting a deadline for the disclosure of Plaintiff's expert reports. More than a year after the deadline the district court had set for the disclosure of Plaintiff's experts' reports, Defendants moved to dismiss Plaintiff's potential expert witness. The district court granted the motion to exclude. Thereafter, the court granted summary judgment for Defendants on the ground that Plaintiff could not prevail without admissible expert testimony. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that the court below did not abuse its discretion in excluding the potential expert witness as an expert witness. View "Gonzalez-Rivera v. Centro Medico del Turabo, Inc." on Justia Law