Justia Civil Procedure Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in US Court of Appeals for the First Circuit
ST Engineering Marine, Ltd. v. Thompson, MacColl & Bass, LLC, P.A.
In this case, a law firm, Thompson, MacColl & Bass, LLC, P.A. (TM&B), was sued by its former client, ST Engineering Marine, Ltd. (STEM), for professional negligence. STEM owned a vessel that was arrested due to several entities, including Sprague Operating Resources, LLC (Sprague), asserting maritime liens for unpaid services. STEM had sought advice from TM&B to analyze these lien claims. TM&B advised STEM that Sprague's lien was valid and should be paid. Acting on this advice, STEM paid Sprague and subsequently sued TM&B, alleging that TM&B's advice was negligent as it failed to consider the unsettled state of relevant maritime lien law.The United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit affirmed the decision of the United States District Court for the District of Maine, which had found in favor of STEM. The Court of Appeals held that TM&B breached its duty of care to STEM by failing to conduct adequate legal research and by not appropriately counseling STEM about the uncertainty of Sprague's lien claim. The court also found that TM&B's negligence was the actual and proximate cause of STEM's loss, concluding that STEM would have prevailed in contesting Sprague's lien claim but for TM&B's erroneous advice. The court ordered TM&B to pay STEM $261,839.04 in damages. View "ST Engineering Marine, Ltd. v. Thompson, MacColl & Bass, LLC, P.A." on Justia Law
Gibson Foundation, Inc. v. Norris
In this case, the Gibson Foundation, a charitable arm of Gibson Brands, sued Rob Norris and The Piano Mill Group, alleging that they breached a contract and bailment when they refused to return a piano that had been used by entertainer Liberace, upon Gibson Foundation's request. The piano was initially transferred from Gibson Brands to Norris and Piano Mill. The United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit concluded that the breach-of-bailment claim was not time-barred, reversing the lower court's decision. The court explained that a reasonable juror could find that Gibson Brands, the original owner of the piano, and Norris and Piano Mill had a mutual agreement where Gibson Brands would avoid storage costs by leaving the piano with Norris and Piano Mill, who would benefit from using the piano for promotional opportunities. Therefore, the six-year statute of limitations for certain contract claims applied, rather than the three-year limit for tort claims. However, the court affirmed the lower court's decision that a genuine issue of material fact existed as to whether Gibson Foundation, or its predecessor in title, Gibson Brands, owned the piano in question, which is necessary to establish a valid contract or bailment. The court also affirmed the lower court's denial of summary judgment to Gibson Foundation on the breach of contract claim, noting that a reasonable juror could find that Gibson Brands had given the piano to Norris and Piano Mill as a gift. View "Gibson Foundation, Inc. v. Norris" on Justia Law
Wiener v. MIB Group, Inc.
The First Circuit reversed the order of the district court dismissing this case at the pleading stage for lack of standing, holding that Malcom Wiener had Article III standing to sue Defendants, MIB Group, Inc. and its executive vice president, based on additional attorney's fees and costs Wiener insured to respond to Defendants' actions in a separate lawsuit.In 2018, Wiener sued AXA Equitable Life Insurance Company, his former life insurance company, for negligence. After the jury returned a verdict in favor of Wiener the district court granted AXA's motion to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. The court of appeals reversed the decision granting AXA's motion to dismiss. Meanwhile, Wiener brought this suit against Defendants, alleging that he incurred out-of-pocket loss in the form of attorney's fees and costs and to respond to Defendants' actions in the related lawsuit. The district court dismissed the action, concluding that Wiener lacked Article III standing. The First Circuit reversed, holding that a past, out-of-pocket loss is a basis for Article III standing, and therefore, Wiener had standing to bring this suit. View "Wiener v. MIB Group, Inc." on Justia Law
United States v. Davila-Reyes
The First Circuit granted the government's petition for rehearing en banc in these consolidated appeals regarding Defendants' 2016 convictions for violating the Maritime Drug Law Enforcement Act, 46 U.S.C. 70501 et seq. (MDLEA), holding that 46 U.S.C. 70503(e)(1) does not limit the subject matter jurisdiction of federal courts under Article III of the United States Constitution.Defendants pleaded guilty unconditionally to the underlying charges, but a panel of the First Circuit vacated the convictions and ordered the underlying charges dismissed. The government petitioned for rehearing en banc. The First Circuit granted the petition, vacated the panel's ruling, and affirmed Defendant's convictions, holding that section 70503(e)(1) merely limits the substantive reach of the MDLEA and that Defendants' claims on appeal failed. View "United States v. Davila-Reyes" on Justia Law
U-Nest Holdings, Inc. v. Ascensus College Savings Recordkeeping Services, LLC
The First Circuit affirmed the judgment of the district court affirming U-Nest Holdings, Inc.'s motion for relief from judgment in a 2019 federal court action under Fed. R. Civ. P. 60(b)(6), holding that the district court did not err in its ruling.In 2021, U-Nest filed a case in the United States District Court for the District of Rhode Island asserting that it had been fraudulently induced to enter into a prior state court settlement agreement that was embodied in a judgment entered in 2020 in a 2019 federal court action. The federal district court stayed the 2021 action to allow U-Nest to first file a motion for relief from judgment in the 2019 action. U-Nest then filed the motion for relief from judgment, which the district court denied. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that the district court did not err in finding that U-Nest did not support its claim of fraud and/or of misrepresentation. View "U-Nest Holdings, Inc. v. Ascensus College Savings Recordkeeping Services, LLC" on Justia Law
DiCroce v. McNeil Nutritionals, LLC
The First Circuit affirmed the judgment of the district court dismissing Plaintiff's putative class action against McNeil Nutritionals, LLC and Johnson & Johnson Consumer, Inc. challenging certain statements on the packaging of Lactaid products, holding that the district court correctly dismissed the complaint.Plaintiff brought this action claiming that Lactaid's labels violated federal labeling requirements, leading Plaintiff to have been mislead into purchasing Lactaid products, which she claimed were more expensive than other lactase supplements. The district court granted Defendants' second motion to dismiss. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that Plaintiff's claims were impliedly preempted by the statutory enforcement authority of the Food and Drug Administration. View "DiCroce v. McNeil Nutritionals, LLC" on Justia Law
Rivera-Rosario v. LSREF2 Island Holdings, Ltd., Inc.
The First Circuit affirmed the judgment of the district court dismissing this case on res judicata grounds, holding that Plaintiff's malicious prosecution claim was precluded under the doctrine of res judicata.At issue in this case arising from a dispute related to a foreclosure action was whether a prior dismissal with prejudice of a complaint filed by Plaintiff in 2017 precluded the claim brought in this 2020 case. The district court concluded that because the prior dismissal had been with prejudice, it constituted a final judgment on the merits, therefore having preclusive effect. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that Plaintiff's malicious prosecution claim was barred by res judicata and that Plaintiff was not entitled to relief on his allegations of error. View "Rivera-Rosario v. LSREF2 Island Holdings, Ltd., Inc." on Justia Law
R&D Master Enterprises, Inc. v. Financial Oversight & Management Bd. for P.R.
The First Circuit affirmed the judgment of the district court dismissing this lawsuit against the Financial Oversight and Management Board for Puerto Rico (FOMB) and its executive director challenging the FOMB's alleged failure to review a sale agreement on untimeliness grounds, holding that the dismissal was proper, albeit on standing grounds.Appellants - several Puerto Rico corporations and individuals - brought this action claiming that the FOMB's alleged failure to review a $384 million loan sale agreement between the Economic Development Bank for Puerto Rico (BDE) and a private investment company violated their constitutional rights under the Fourteenth Amendment's Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses, and a statutory violation under the Puerto Rico Oversight, Management, and Economic Stability act . The district court granted the FOMB's motion to dismiss, concluding that the claims were time-barred. The First Circuit affirmed but on different grounds, holding that Appellants lacked standing because their complaint failed to allege that the FOMB's inaction caused their claimed injury. View "R&D Master Enterprises, Inc. v. Financial Oversight & Management Bd. for P.R." on Justia Law
BRT Management LLC v. Malden Storage LLC
The First Circuit vacated the judgment of the trial court against Plaintiff and a third-party defendant, holding that because the parties were unable to establish that no defendant shared state citizenship with any plaintiff remand was required.Plaintiff brought this lawsuit in federal district court, and Defendants counterclaimed. No party presented a possible basis for federal jurisdiction other than diversity jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. 1332. After six years of litigation, a trial was held, and the trial court entered a eight-figure judgment against Plaintiff and a third-party defendant. The First Circuit vacated the judgment, holding that the parties have been unable to establish that no defendant shares state citizenship with any plaintiff, and therefore, remand was required so the parties can demonstrate that there is complete diversity. View "BRT Management LLC v. Malden Storage LLC" on Justia Law
Bonner v. Triple-S Vida, Inc.
The First Circuit affirmed the judgment of the district court granting summary judgment in favor of Triple-S Management Corporation and Triple-S Vida, Inc. (collectively, Triple-S) and dismissing this case brought by Dora Bonner, holding that the district court did not abuse its discretion in denying Bonner's discovery-related motions and did not err in considering the evidence at the summary judgment stage.Bonner brought several claims alleging that Triple-S denied her millions of dollars of proceeds from certain certificates and devised a scheme to defraud her. After denying Bonner's motion to compel discovery and extend the discovery deadline, the district court concluded that Triple-S had established as a matter of law that the persons behind the fraudulent scheme were not related to Triple-S. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that the district court (1) did not abuse its discretion in denying the motion to compel and motion for consideration; and (2) properly granted summary judgment for Triple-S. View "Bonner v. Triple-S Vida, Inc." on Justia Law