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


New Hampshire has law allowing vote counters to discard absentee ballots if the signature on the ballot doesn't match the signature on the voter's registration card. This law has been ruled unconstitutional by a federal district court in the state.

Despite the low statistical significance of the law's impact (the law affected approximately 0.5 percent of votes), even a small amount adds up to a few hundred individuals being denied the right to vote. The district court acknowledged that absentee voting isn't as clearly established of a right as voting itself, but it explained that when absentee voting is offered by a state, there must be procedural safeguards.

Court Revives Employee's Hostile Work Environment Complaint

Summary judgments get called a lot of names -- MSJ, summary adjudication, judgment as a matter of law.

In the U.S. First Circuit Court of Appeals, the judges call it "the summary judgment ax." At least that's how they described it in Rivera-Rivera v. Medina & Medina, a hostile work environment case.

The appeals court affirmed in part and reversed in part a decision on summary judgment. Basically, the trial judge should have used a scalpel instead of an ax.

ACLU Sues for Man to Get Addiction Treatment in Jail

Cold turkey works for some people, but not Zachary Smith.

He is a long-time addict, starting with opioid painkillers when he was a teenager. When his sister died of a heroin overdose, he got scared and serious about getting treatment.

That's why he is suing the Department of Corrections in Maine. They won't give him his prescription, and he's afraid he will die in jail. The ACLU is now fighting to get him addiction treatment.

'Poolee' Can't Sue Marines for Training Injuries

The Marines used to say they were looking for a few good men, but times have changed.

The military is not just for men, and the truth is, it's not for every man. Joseph S. Hajdusek, for example, found out the training was more than he could handle.

In Hajdusek v . United States of America, a federal appeals court said it wasn't the government's fault that he suffered a disabling injury when a sergeant drilled him into the ground.

Uber Can't Force Class Action Into Arbitration

Even in an Uber world, everything cannot be done with an app.

In Cullinane v. Uber Technologies, Inc., that especially applies to arbitration clauses. The U.S. First Circuit Court of Appeals said Uber's arbitration terms were not readily accessible to its app users.

The appeals court reversed and remanded the case, which began after riders complained about toll charges. Those allegedly weren't spelled out in the app, either.

In a surprising turn of events for Bill Cosby, the First Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a lower court ruling requiring the disgraced celebrity's insurer, AIG, to provide his defense in the defamation cases filed against him.

While the policy's terms regarding its duty to defend have exclusions for sexual misconduct, among many others, the court found that the defamation claims did not fall under the exclusions. The court was also adamant that their holding was case specific, and rather narrow to apply only to a policy holder.

Judge: Case Against Cell Phone Searches Goes Forward

In a blow to the Trump administration's border battles, a federal judge in Colorado said plaintiffs may continue their lawsuit against warrantless searches of cell phones and laptops.

The complaint claims the searches violate the Fourth Amendment, and Judge Denise Casper said they have a case. She said the law was unclear, but cited a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision that said police need warrants to search a suspect's cell phone.

It comes at a time when federal officials have more than doubled cell phone searches of people coming into the United States.

Sony, Ricky Martin Win, but Not Exactly

'Prevailing party,' like the word 'success,' is a relative term.

In the music world, Ricky Martin is a success. He won even more fame singing "Vida" at the World Cup in Brazil," but a lawsuit says he stole the song from a lesser-known artist.

Luis Adrian Cortes-Ramos, a finalist on "Idol Puerto Rico," sued Martin and his producers in Cortes-Ramos v. Sony Pictures of America. The U.S. First Circuit Court of Appeals said the defendants succeeded on a motion, but that's not the same as being a prevailing party.

ADA Appellant Loses in 'School of Hard Knocks'

Victor Sepulveda-Vargas, working late as an assistant manager at Burger King, had a really bad day.

While attempting to make a deposit, he was attacked at gunpoint, hit over the head and had his car stolen. But that was just the beginning of what an appeals court called, "a lesson straight out of the school of hard knocks."

In Sepulveda-Vargas v. Caribbean Restaurants, LLC, the former Burger King manager sued because his employer declined his request to change his shift. The U.S. First Circuit Court of Appeals said sometimes the law is just not on your side.

Appeals Court Upholds Restaurant Owner's Arson Conviction

Back when it first opened, Snow's Clam Box was a popular place to eat.

Visitors liked the food, the location, and the service. That was before the restaurant caught fire.

In United States v. Saad, it turned out the owner torched the place for the insurance money. He appealed his arson conviction, but by then his goose was cooked.