U.S. First Circuit

U.S. First Circuit - The FindLaw 1st Circuit Court of Appeals News and Information Blog


Sorry gourmands, chefs, fast food line cooks, you cannot copyright a sandwich, no matter how tasty it might be. One forward-looking Puerto Rican gastronome learned that the hard way last Friday, when the First Circuit tossed his copyright violation suit over a chicken sandwich.

Way back in 1987, Norberto Colon Lorenzana convinced his employers at Church's Chicken to add a simple chicken sandwich alongside their deep-fried thighs and wings. The idea took off and the "Pechu Sandwich" soon became a staple in Puerto Rican Church's franchises. Almost twenty years later, seeing the continued sale of his sandwich, Colon Lorenzana cried fowl, arguing in court that the Church's chains were violating his copyright.

A Puerto Rican government worker has lost his political discrimination suit after the First Circuit ruled on Friday that he could show no evidence that his employment actions were politically motivated. Victor Santiago Diaz, a teacher and administrator in the island's Department of Education, had claimed that he suffered employment discrimination after a new political party came into power.

However, Santiago didn't have any strong evidence to back up that claim, the First Circuit ruled. Even worse -- the actions he objected to were hardly adverse and the supervisor most responsible for them was a member of his own political party.

Puerto Rico began accepting applications for marriage licenses from same-sex couples yesterday, less than three weeks after the Supreme Court ruled that gay and lesbian couples have a fundamental right to marriage. Puerto Rico was the only part of the First Circuit that had not legalized same-sex marriage prior to the Supreme Court's ruling in Obergefell.

The District Court of Puerto Rico was also one of the few federal courts to uphold a same-sex marriage ban in recent years. The First Circuit formally reversed that opinion in a brief judgment issued last Wednesday.

Sometimes you just need to switch it up, whether you're getting a new pair of sneaks or ending a 28 year long business arrangement. In 2013, Nike, the massive shoe and apparel company, decided it was time to make a change when its retailers severed the relationship with Carter's of New Bedford, a tiny, family-owned Massachusetts retailer. Carter's wasn't about to let Nike get away, however.

Carter's, alleging that Nike was turning its back on small businesses, sued the shoe company for breach of contract in Massachusetts court. Unfortunately for Carter's, Nike removed the case to federal court and had it dismissed. The issue? Nike's invoices contained a forum selection clause, limiting contract disputes to courts in Oregon, Nike's home state.

After Blessing Iwuala received his master's degree in business administration in Nigeria, he put his learning to use opening a medical supply company. When Iwuala teamed up with John Nasky, who ran a medical billing business, the two used Iwuala's company to circumvent Nasky's pervious ban from Medicare payments. Soon, Medicare payments for durable medical equipment left Iwuala "awash in a flood of easy money."

That arrangement netted Iwuala quick cash with little work, but it also landed him in jail when Nasky's fraudulent billing was revealed. Iwuala was sentenced to three and a half years in prison, despite his claims that he was an innocent dupe. On appeal, the First Circuit upheld his conviction in full.

"Alien reporting requirements" -- a terrifying phrase for immigrants in the U.S. The phrase becomes particularly ominous given the fact that it was completely misinterpreted by an immigration court in Alan Soares Renaut v. Loretta E. Lynch.

How is that possible, you ask? Aren't the reporting requirements simple enough?

Here's the requirement at issue: as an alien in the U.S., you're required to give the government a valid mailing address. If your address changes, you must inform the government of that change.

The parents of a young boy injured during birth lost their appeal to the First Circuit last Friday, largely due to lack of evidence to support their claims.

When F.A.F.R. was born, his shoulders failed to deliver after his head emerged, resulting in Erb's Palsy, which causes weakness and loss of motion in the arms. His parents sued in federal court in Puerto Rico and the jury found that both the delivering doctor, Dr. Capre-Febus, and the hospital, Dorado Health, had been negligent, yet only the doctor's negligence had caused F.A.F.R.'s injuries.

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev Sentenced to Death

Did you really think it was going to end differently? After weeks of testimony in the sentencing phase of convicted Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the same federal jury that found him guilty April 30 sentenced him to death Friday for the bombing that killed three, and injured more than 240 others.

The jury reached a verdict after deliberating for only 14 hours -- just three hours more than it took them to find him guilty of all 30 counts with which he was charged.

1st Cir. Upholds Conviction of Man Who Killed Informant

In 2004, Madelin Semidey-Morales was dating Edison Burgos-Montes while Semidey's husband was in prison. She agreed to work with the DEA to inform on Burgos, who was a drug dealer. She recorded conversations and arranged purchases for cocaine with DEA agents.

A year or so later, one of Burgos' employees told him that Semidey was a government informant. After that, Semidey mysteriously disappeared. Her body was never found.

The First Circuit, in an opinion by former Supreme Court Justice Souter, upheld a Massachusetts police officer's excessive force conviction stemming from an assault on an arrestee. Shawn Coughlin, a cop in Plymouth, Massachusetts -- yes, the Plymouth of Plymouth Rock fame -- was sentenced to a year and a day in prison after beating a handcuffed arrestee in a holding cell and falsifying records to impede the federal investigation.

On appeal, Coughlin claimed that there was insufficient evidence that his actions, striking the arrestee in the head and kneeing him in the torso, resulted in bodily injury. Not so, said the First Circuit. If it looks like a beating and sounds like a beating, it probably feels like one too -- and that's enough for a jury to decided that there was bodily injury.