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


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.

In a case that is almost too difficult to describe without breaking the blogging boundaries of decency, a doctor's criminal convictions for tax evasion, distributing drugs, and fraud have been upheld by the First Circuit.

The case of Dr. Joel Sabaen, convicted back in 2016, is a curious one. The criminal convictions all stem from conduct he engaged in with his adult daughter. The tax evasion related to over $2 million he gave her over a five year period of time. The drug charges stem from the bogus narcotics prescriptions he wrote for her. And while this may not seem so wild, the reasons why he filed an appeal certainly highlight the most degenerate aspects of his case.

Invasion of Privacy Claim Against Howard Stern Thrown Out

Nothing is sacred on Howard Stern's radio show.

Famous for making fun of everyone from politicians to prostitutes, Stern will do most anything for ratings. Except broadcast Judith Barrigas' tax information; that was a mistake.

Or so said his lawyers in Barrigas v. United States of America. Barrigas sued Stern for invasion of privacy, and the judge dismissed it.

When the court disagrees with a movant, sometimes it can constructively reflect on how the litigant could have been mistaken, and sometimes a First Circuit Court of Appeals justice can just let a group of plaintiffs have it.

In the Ellis v. Fidelity case, the appellate court really didn't hold back their criticism of plaintiffs' theories. In short, the plaintiffs claimed Fidelity was liable for acting in its own self interest over its investors' interest by acting too conservatively in managing the most conservative investment fund option available. In ruling, the court actually said:

"Plaintiffs' theory of how Fidelity behaved disloyally suffers from the added disability of making little sense."

Sadly for the plaintiffs, it doesn't get much better from there.

Drug Dealer Loses 'Softball-Sized' Appeal

Over-confidence was one of Todd Rasberry's problems; another was drug-dealing.

When police patted him down during a search for drugs, Rasberry said the softball-sized object they felt in his groin area was "part of his anatomy."

It turned out to be a big ball of drugs in United States of America v. Rasberry.

Court: Hotel Had Duty to Man Injured in Lobby Fight

Late one night, Henry Mu was waiting for his girlfriend outside a hotel when a fight broke out.

A rowdy group of men, who had been kicked out of their room for disrupting guests, were chasing down a man. Mu told the hotel valet to call the police.

"That's not my problem," the valet said. In Mu v. Omni Hotels Management Corporation, turns out it was.

The gender discrimination case of Lori Franchina against the Providence, Rhode Island fire department is not for the faint of heart.

Despite seemingly being on a fast track to a management position within the department, Franchina's career trajectory seemed to be abruptly cut short after she complained of retaliation for talking to a superior about another firefighter's immature behavior. After she was questioned about the incident, she began encountering severe retaliation as well as gender discrimination.

Franchina experienced, using the court's own words, an abhorrent and vile hostile working environment. And according to a jury, and both the district and appellate courts, the city and department failed to do their jobs, resulting in a nearly $1 million award (inclusive of attorney fees).