Articles Posted in US Court of Appeals for the First Circuit

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The First Circuit reversed the trial judge’s dismissal of counts in an indictment that charged Defendants with dispensing misbranded drugs in violation of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FFDCA). Defendants, Massachusetts-licensed pharmacists, were charged with multiple crimes, including the allegation that Defendants dispensed drugs in violation of the FFDCA. The trial judge granted Defendants’ motions to dismiss the FFDCA charges, ruling that the indictment did not provide fair notice. The First Circuit reversed, holding that the indictment passed muster because it gave Defendants enough information to prepare a defense and to invoke double-jeopardy protections to forestall a later trial on the same charges. View "United States v. Stepanets" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit reversed the district court's denial of Appellant’s petition for a writ of habeas corpus challenging his convictions for armed assault with intent to murder and other offenses, holding that trial counsel’s failure to move to suppress Appellant’s statements to a police officer while in custody constituted ineffective assistance of counsel under clearly established law. In his petition for a writ of habeas corpus, Appellant argued, inter alia, that he was deprived of effective assistance of counsel because trial counsel failed to move to suppress his statements to the police officer. The district court denied the writ. The First Circuit reversed, holding that trial counsel’s deficient performance was sufficiently prejudicial to constitute a violation of Appellant’s Sixth Amendment right to counsel. View "Rivera v. Thompson" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit affirmed the judgment of the district court denying Defendant’s motion to suppress drug evidence found on his person during a traffic stop. A law enforcement officer stopped a vehicle in which Defendant was a passenger for a traffic violation. On appeal from the denial of his motion to suppress, Defendant argued that the officer violated Defendant’s Fourth Amendment rights by unreasonably extending the duration of the traffic stop and that the district court erred in ruling that the inevitable discovery exception to the exclusionary rule applied to the drug evidence found during the resulting patdown search, which the government conceded was unlawful. The First Circuit affirmed, holding (1) the officer did not unlawfully prolong the traffic stop; and (2) the proper scope of a patdown search was exceeded in this case, but the district court properly applied the inevitable discovery rule. View "United States v. Clark" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit reversed the district court’s judgment ruling that Defendant had a reasonable expectation of privacy under the Fourth Amendment in the motel room where he was at the time of a police search of the premises, holding that Defendant, a guest of a guest in the motel room, did not have a reasonable expectation of privacy in the motel room. Defendant was charged with possession with intent to distribute a mixture or substance containing cocaine based and aiding and abetting such conduct. Defendant moved to suppress the evidence seized as a result of the search of the motel room where he had been staying. The district court ruled that the search violated the Fourth Amendment and suppressed the evidence. The First Circuit reversed and remanded, holding (1) the district court properly found that Defendant was the guest of a guest; but (2) Defendant failed to demonstrate an objectively reasonable expectation of privacy in the motel room. View "United States v. Aiken" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit affirmed Appellant’s federal convictions and resulting sentence for five counts of bank robbery. The court held that, contrary to the arguments raised by Appellant on appeal, the district court did not err in denying Appellant’s motions for (1) a hearing pursuant to Franks v. Delaware, 438 U.S. 154 (1978), based on Appellant’s failure to make the requisite preliminary showing, regarding warrants that were issued to install Global Positions System (GPS) tracking devices; (2) the suppression of evidence obtained from the GPS tracking devices installed pursuant to those warrants where the supporting affidavit provided probable cause for the warrants and for the installation of the GPS tracking devices; and (3) the suppression of evidence obtained as the result of Appellant’s arrest where the probable cause standard was met. View "United States v. Patterson" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit affirmed the judgment of the district court dismissing Plaintiff’s complaint against the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation challenging its decision to terminate his employment for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. The district court concluded that Plaintiff did not have a “mixed” case because of his failure to reinstate or prosecute his associational disability discrimination before the Merit Systems Protection Board, despite being given the right to do so, after expressly withdrawing the claim with prejudice. The First Circuit held (1) Plaintiff’s original complaint, which alleged a claim of discrimination that was later withdrawn, was not sufficient to create a mixed case, and therefore, the district court lacked subject matter jurisdiction; and (2) the district court did not err in denying Plaintiff’s motion for reconsideration or, in the alternative, to transfer the case to the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. View "Jonson v. Federal Deposit Insurance Corp." on Justia Law

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The First Circuit affirmed the district court’s grant of summary judgment in favor of the City of Quincy, Massachusetts, the former employer of Plaintiff, on Plaintiff’s federal and pendent state claims of employment discrimination, retaliation, and constructive discharge. The First Circuit held (1) because Plaintiff was unable to rebut the City’s proffered legitimate, nondiscriminatory basis for its actions with evidence of pretext and discriminatory motive; (2) the record lacked evidence showing that the City retaliated against Plaintiff; and (3) Plaintiff did not meet her burden to show she was constructively discharged. View "Cherkaoui v. City of Quincy, Massachusetts" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit affirmed the district court’s dismissal of Plaintiffs’ suit challenging the Social Security Administration’s (SSA) termination of tier disability benefits for lack of subject matter jurisdiction based on Plaintiffs’ failure to have exhausted their administrative remedies. After the SSA terminated the disability benefits that Plaintiffs had been receiving, Plaintiffs challenged that decision administratively. Before they had exhausted the administrative review process, however, Plaintiffs filed suit in federal court seeking various kinds of relief based presumably on the same grounds as the claims that had presented to the SSA in seeking to continue to receive their benefits. The district court granted the government’s motion to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction, concluding that Plaintiffs failed to exhaust their administrative remedies. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that Plaintiffs failed to show that they could not obtain a restoration of their benefits through the administrative review process, despite evidence suggesting that they would have a substantial chance of doing so. View "Justiniano v. Social Security Administration" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit affirmed the judgment of the district court granting summary judgment for Defendants in this action filed by Plaintiff claiming that Defendants discriminated against her based on her gender and sexual preference and exposed her to a hostile work environment and retaliation in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and various provisions of Puerto Rico law. The district court ultimately dismissed all of the claims. On appeal, Plaintiff argued that the district court erred in concluding that Plaintiff failed to show a genuine factual dispute as to whether she experienced a hostile work environment based on gender and retaliatory motivation and erred in finding those claims to be untimely. The Supreme Court affirmed the grant of summary judgment for Defendants on Plaintiff’s hostile work environment claims under both federal and Commonwealth law, holding that Plaintiff failed to meet her burden to produce competent evidence showing that any of the work conditions she encountered within the statute of limitations period amounted to harassment on the basis of the improper motivations she alleged. View "Maldonado-Catala v. Municipality of Naranjito" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit affirmed the district court’s denial of Plaintiffs’ motion for reconsideration of the district court’s grant of summary judgment dismissing all of their claims against various insurance companies and certain of those companies’ employees under 42 U.S.C. 1981 and Puerto Rico law. The complaint alleged that Defendants unlawfully interfered with Plaintiffs’ right to “make or enforce” existing and prospective contracts with Defendants’ insureds or third-party claimants. The district court granted summary judgment on all claims against Defendants. The First Circuit affirmed, largely on waiver grounds, holding (1) Plaintiffs expressly waived certain issues on appeal by failing to raise them in their opening brief; and (2) Plaintiffs’ remaining claims on appeal were unavailing. View "Best Auto Repair Shop, Inc. v. Universal Insurance Group" on Justia Law