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


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.

Zambia Immigrant Can Compete in Poetry Contest

Call it poetic justice.

Allan Monga, a Maine high school student, won the state's Poetry Outloud Competition. But the sponsoring organization said he could not compete at the national level because he was not a permanent resident.

Monga complained in federal court that it wasn't fair, and the judge agreed in Monga v. National Endowment for the Arts. The student provided poetry; the judge added justice.

No Return for the Vacation From Hell

Peter Hiam's vacation hell started before he left.

He booked a tropical villa for a week in Belize, only to learn later that the property didn't exist. He was out more than $46,000, so he went after the online service that set it up.

The U.S. First Circuit Court of Appeals shared Hiam's bewilderment over the company's actions, but that wasn't enough to get his money back. In Hiam v. HomeAway.com, the watchword is "limited guarantee."

The First Circuit Court of Appeals clearly cares about deadlines. Just ask Samuel Dixon, who just lost his sentencing appeal because his motion was filed one day too late.

In Dixon's recent sentencing appeal, despite the fact that the district court didn't even bother to address the timeliness question when dismissing the appellant's motion to vacate his sentence, that's all the First Circuit even looked at. The court explained that even giving the appellant the longest available statute of limitations, he missed it by one day.

Court Hears Case Against Maine Governor for Blackmail (Again)

Lawyers threw a political football into a federal appeals court, arguing whether Maine's governor wrongfully tried to keep his Democratic opponent from getting a job.

Gov. Paul LePage allegedly blackmailed a charter school, threatening to withhold funding if it gave a job to former House Speaker Mark Eves. A trial judge dismissed the case, but an appeal put the controversy back in the news.

At oral arguments before the U.S. First Circuit Court of Appeals, the judges seemed to show little interest in a political game. Two of the six jurists didn't even show up.

In a federal First Circuit appeal that pulls at the heartstrings while also pushing the boundaries of privacy rights, a disabled, non-verbal primary school student has been denied the right to carry around an audio or video recorder while at school.

Although it was the student's parents that were pushing for this, anyone with the littlest shred of empathy would easily understand their plight. The parents of the student steadfastly maintain that their son should be allowed to carry a working audio recorder while at school so that they can know what is going on. Unfortunately for the parents, the school, and the courts, just didn't see it the same way.