Articles Posted in U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit

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The Puerto Rico Oversight, Management, and Economic Stability Act (PROMESA), enacted in 2016 to address Puerto Rico’s financial crisis, provides for a temporary stay of debt-related litigation against the Puerto Rico government. The statute, however, allows creditors to move for relief from the stay and directs courts to grant such relief “after notice and a hearing…for cause shown.” Movant Peaje Investments LLC and various appellants in Altair Global Credit Opportunities Fund (A), LLC v. Garcia-Padilla (the Altair Movants) filed lift-stay motions. The First Circuit (1) affirmed the district court’s denial of the Peaje Movant’s motion, holding that Peaje failed to set forth a legally sufficient claim of “cause” to lift the PROMESA stay; and (2) the Altair Movants presented sufficient allegations to entitle them to a hearing. View "Peaje Investments LLC v. Garcia-Padilla" on Justia Law

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Tutor Perini Corporation, a giant construction company, sued Banc of America Securities LLC (BAS) and Bank of America, N.A. (BANA), alleging that BAS, acting as its broker-dealer and with BANA’s knowledge and acquiescence, sold Tutor Perini auction-rate securities (ARS) without disclosing that the ARS market was heading for a crash. Tutor Perini filed suit in Massachusetts’s federal district court, alleging securities fraud under state and federal law and several other state-law claims. BAS and BANA moved for summary judgment on all claims, claiming that BAS actually disclosed the risks that later materialized. The district court granted BAS and BANA’s motion. The First Circuit (1) vacated the summary judgment for BAS on the state securities-fraud claim, the federal securities-fraud claim, the state negligent-misrepresentation claim, and the state unfair-business-practices claim, holding that genuine issues of material fact existed as to these claims; and (2) affirmed in all other respects. Remanded. View "Tutor Perini Corp. v. Banc of America Securities LLC" on Justia Law

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Evergreen Partnering Group, Inc. processed used polystyrene products into a recycled polystyrene resin, which it sold to converters to use in a “green foam” line of products. Evergreen sued Defendants - the five largest converters of polystyrene products and a trade association - arguing that Defendants illegally agreed to refuse to deal with Evergreen in order to prevent polystyrene recycling from becoming viable and to maintain their market positions. The district court entered summary judgment in favor of Defendants, concluding that Evergreen failed to present evidence that tended to exclude the possibility that each polystyrene manufacturer independently chose not to partner with Evergreen as required by caselaw. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that no genuine issue of material fact existed as to whether there was a conspiracy. View "Evergreen Partnering Group v. Pactiv Corp." on Justia Law

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Patricia Cornwell, a well-known crime novelist, and her spouse filed suit against their former business managers Anchin Block & Anchin and the company’s principal, Evan Snapper, alleging New York state law claims of negligent performance of professional services, breach of contract, and breach of fiduciary duty. The jury returned a verdict in favor of Plaintiffs on all three claims and awarded Plaintiffs $51 million in damages. Thereafter, the district court vacated the jury’s decision, ruling that it had incorrectly instructed the jury and that Defendants’ statements to the Department of Justice (DOJ) were protected by a qualified privilege and therefore should not have been considered by the jury. The First Circuit reversed in part, holding (1) the district court correctly found that it incorrectly instructed the jury on New York’s statute of limitations for a breach of fiduciary duty claim; and (2) the district court erred in entering judgment as a matter of law for Defendants on the DOJ issue. Remanded for a new trial. View "Cornwell Ent., Inc. v. Anchin, Block & Anchin, LLP" on Justia Law

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This appeal stemmed from an employment dispute between Angel Edgardo Rodriguez-Miranda (Rodriguez) and Malik Benin (Benin), two former colleagues. At issue in this, the the latest round of litigation, was a judgment entered against Benin’s company, Coquico, Inc., in favor of Rodriguez for $348,821. Benin apparently sought to avoid paying the judgment by transferring Coquico’s assets to his mother, Acquanetta Benin (Acquanetta) and to 18 Degrees North, LLC. The district court used Fed. R. Civ. P. 25(c) to hold Coquico, Benin, Acquanetta, and 18 Degrees North (collectively, Appellants) all liable for the judgment. The court also found Benin in civil contempt and imposed a monetary sanction. The First Circuit affirmed, holding (1) the district court did not plainly err in joining Benin, Acquanetta, and 18 Degrees North under Rule 25(c) as alter egos of Coquico and holding them liable for the judgment originally entered against Coquico only; and (2) the district court did not err in fining Appellants in civil contempt and imposing a $5,000 sanction on Benin. View "Rodriguez-Miranda v. Benin" on Justia Law

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Trafon Group, Inc., a Puerto Rico-based wholesale food distributor, filed suit in the District of Puerto Rico alleging that Butterball LLC breached an exclusive distribution agreement in violation of Puerto Rico’s Law 75 of June 24, 1964. Trafon moved for a preliminary injunction enjoining Butterball from further impairing the alleged exclusive distribution agreement. The district court denied the motion, concluding that Trafon’s claim was barred under Law 75’s three-year statute of limitations. The district court then dismissed the case under Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(f). The First Circuit affirmed, holding that Trafon’s action was time-barred under Law 75. View "Trafon Group, Inc. v. Butterball LLC" on Justia Law