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


Circuit Court Upholds Convictions for Defrauding Government

David E. Gorski had a good business plan: get government contracts for a construction company owned and operated by disabled veterans.

It worked like a charm, quickly bringing in more than $110 million under a government program. There's was only one problem: disabled veterans didn't actually own and control the company.

For defrauding the government, Gorski received 30 months in prison and a $6.7 million forfeiture order. In United States of America v. Gorski, he said he relied on his lawyers and accountants. The U.S. First Circuit Court of Appeals said that was no excuse.

Fake Prescriptions Case Goes Back to Trial Court

Judge O. Rogeriee Thompson is different, and it has nothing to do with the spelling of her name.

It has to do with her words and how she crafts an opinion. Any judge who can introduce a standard of review with a "quick heads up," knows how to catch a reader's attention.

At least that's how Thompson explained the decision of the U.S. First Circuit Court of Appeals in United States of America v. Stepanets. As it turned out, the defendants needed the warning.

Massachusetts Sues Mental Health Company for Fraud

Christine Martino-Fleming wasn't going to take it anymore. So she filed a whistleblower suit against her former employer.

That prompted the Massachusetts attorney general to take a long look at South Bay Mental Health Center. AG Maura Healey concluded the business was fraudulently billing the state for "unlicensed, unqualified and unsupervised" services.

It goes to show that sometimes you should bite the hand that feeds you. And when a company serves 50,000 people, that's a lot of bites.

In a not so surprising turn of events, Bill Cosby has caught another break in court. However, the pudding pop pusher's break is less a win for him, and more a loss for one of his accusers, Katherine McKee.

McKee filed a defamation action after Cosby's lawyers pretty much called her a liar. The liar aspersion cast by Cosby's lawyers related to McKee's recounting of a story from 1974 where she claims Cosby raped her by force in his hotel room. Interestingly, McKee's allegations do not involve drugging, which allegedly is Cosby's M.O.

The district court dismissed McKee's defamation claim, and the First Circuit affirmed, basically explaining that she placed herself in the public spotlight of a rather controversial issue. Upon pressing the circuit for reconsideration, McKee received none.

Missed Deadline Kills School Shooting Case

Seventeen-year-old Patrick Skrabec made a terrible joke, telling his Attelboro classmates "he would like to shoot up the school."

Because of the Sandy Hook shooting days earlier, that joke put Skrabec in jail -- until he was released and found not guilty of threatening to commit a crime. He and his family then sued for false arrest and other claims.

A judge threw out his case, largely because his lawyer made a terrible mistake. He failed to oppose a motion for summary judgment.

Bath Salts Conviction Upheld by First Circuit

Alan Ketchen came to the party a little too late.

Not the drug fest at his house; that party was going on all the time. It was his motion to withdraw a guilty plea; that was too late.

Ketchen wanted a do-over because -- after he pleaded guilty to drug charges -- a new case said prosecutors had to prove criminal defendants know the drugs they are dealing are controlled substances or "substantially similar" drugs. But in United States of America v. Ketchen, the dealer missed his chance.

A Massachusetts town sued Monsanto after the town renovated one of its schools to be free from PCB, a common additive to building materials, like paint and caulking, that has been linked to negative health effects (in paint and other products).

The town claimed that the company failed to do anything about the caulking that contained PCB, though it clearly took steps to discourage certain uses of PCB containing paint and other products decades ago. After spending millions to renovate and remove all the PCB containing caulking, the town filed suit against the makers of the PCB, rather than the makers of the caulking. The lawsuit was dismissed by the federal district court, and the First Circuit has denied the town's appeal.

Do you get excited when a character in a show or movie says the name of the show or movie even though it just doesn't make sense? If so, and you like the Beatles, you'll likely get a big kick out of the First Circuit's opinion in the Evans v. USA case.

Judge Bruce Seyla, in writing the opinion in a case that loosely relates to the invasion of the Asian Longhorn Beetle, the jurist makes numerous references to the Beatles and how the band caused so much chaos during the British Invasion they spawned the phrase "Beatlemania." And while the appellant in the case may not find the catachresis as cute as an objective observer, Judge Seyla went to great lengths to explain why the appellant lost every claim.

Independent Contractor v. Employee Battle Wages On

In boxing, fighters learn the old one-two.

It's one punch followed up quickly by another, like a left jab followed by a right cross, or another combination. The combination isn't as important as the execution; it has to be as automatic as a reflex to punish the opponent before he has a chance to react.

That's what's happening to the defendant in Djamel Ouadani v. TF Final Mile LLC.

A recent case out of the First Circuit Court of Appeals may inspire a new rule of thumb: Attorneys that blame voluntary commitments to their church as a reason for missing a deadline are, per se, acting in bad faith.

All kidding aside, an experienced bankruptcy practitioner actually tried to claim that their duties with the church as a music director during the week of Easter were so onerous that they blew a deadline for filing an appeal. Unfortunately for the pious-to-a-fault lawyer, the bankruptcy court, the district court, and the circuit court all agreed: Having a commitment to your church will not support a finding of excusable neglect.