Articles Posted in U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit

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Thomas and Frances Frangos (Plaintiffs) secured a loan and pledged their home as collateral to secure a promissory note issued to the lender. Plaintiffs defaulted on the mortgage twice. A foreclosure sale was scheduled, but on the eve of the sale, Plaintiffs filed suit. Plaintiffs sought an injunction permanently barring Bank of America, N.A. and New Penn Financial, LLC (Defendants) from foreclosing, as well as damages premised on an alleged breached of a provision in the mortgage agreement. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of Defendants. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that the district court did not err in its judgment. View "Frangos v. Bank of America, N.A." on Justia Law

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In 2013, Plaintiff, a participant in the Section 8 Federal Housing Choice Voucher Program, listed among her assets a trust that had been established in 2010 to hold Plaintiff's proceeds from a series of tort settlements. The Brookline Housing Authority (BHA) subsequently determined that Plaintiff was “over-income” for continued participation in the Program, as locally administered by the BHA. Plaintiff appealed, requesting that the BHA exclude at least some of these trust disbursements from its income calculation in reasonable accommodation of her disability. The BHA reaffirmed its determination. Thereafter, Plaintiff sued, alleging that the BHA had violated state and federal law by incorrectly calculating her income under the relevant federal regulations and by engaging in disability-based discrimination. The district court ruled in favor of BHA. The First Circuit (1) reversed the district court’s ruling on Plaintiff’s 42 U.S.C. 1983 claim brought under the Housing Act, holding that the BHA misconstrued federal regulations in calculating Plaintiff’s income; (2) vacated the district court’s ruling on Plaintiff’s state and federal discrimination claims and remanded with instructions to dismiss those claims as moot; and (3) affirmed the district court’s denial of Plaintiff’s remaining claims. Remanded. View "DeCambre v. Brookline Housing Auth." on Justia Law

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When Carlo Gimenez Bianco (Gimenez) refused to remove his emotional support dog from his condominium unit in violation of the Castillo Condominium Association’s “no pets” bylaw, the Association forced Gimenez to vacate and sell the unit. Gimenez brought a complaint of disability discrimination with the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), which filed a charge of discrimination against the Association. An administrative law judge (ALJ) issued a recommended decision concluding that the Association had not violated the Fair Housing Act. The Secretary of HUD set aside the ALJ’s recommended decision and found the Association liable for discrimination. On remand, the ALJ issued a recommended decision proposing to award Gimenez $3,000 in emotional distress damages and assessed a $2,000 civil penalty against the Association. The Secretary increased the proposed award of emotional distress damages to $20,000 and increased the civil penalty to $16,000. The First Circuit denied the Association’s petition for review and granted the Secretary’s cross-petition for enforcement of his order, holding (1) the Secretary’s final order was supported by substantial evidence in the record; (2) the ALJ did not err in refusing to apply res judicata to pretermit Gimenez’s HUD charge; and (3) the Secretary’s final order was not tainted by procedural error. View "Castillo Condo. Ass’n v. U.S. Dep’t of Housing & Urban Dev." on Justia Law

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In a criminal prosecution in a New York district court, a federal grand jury indicted Appellant on drug-trafficking and money laundering charges. Appellant pleaded guilty to money laundering violations. The government, meanwhile, instituted a forfeiture action in the United States District Court for the District of Puerto Rico to litigate forfeiture issues related to the criminal charges. The government asserted that several parcels of real estate and Appellant’s interests in certain businesses were forfeitable but did not mention Appellant’s interest in a professional basketball team (the Franchise). The parties eventually reached a settlement, but the settlement agreement did not mention the Franchise. Years later, Appellant filed this motion for execution of judgment seeking compensation for the government’s alleged seizure of the franchise ancillary to the criminal case. The government alleged that it had never seized the franchise. The district court denied Appellant’s motion. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that Appellant failed to establish that the Franchise was seized. View "United States v. Rivera-Ortiz" on Justia Law

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This three-way dispute between Link Development, LLC (Link), BD Lending Trust (BD), and RFF Family Partnership LP (RFF) stemmed from an unauthorized conveyance of a mortgage to BD on commercial property in Massachusetts, then owned by Link and now owned by RFF. Previous litigation resulted in settlement agreements between Link and BD and between RFF and BD. In this appeal, RFF challenged (1) the district court’s entry of summary judgment for Link and against RFF on RFF’s claims regarding the validity of the BD mortgage on the grounds that RFF was judicially estopped from challenging the validity of the mortgage, and (2) the court’s decision to exclude attorneys’ fees from damages that BD owed RFF for breach of the settlement agreement between RFF and BD, and the court’s refusal to enter judgment as a matter of law in favor of RFF on contract damages. The First Circuit (1) vacated the entry of summary judgment on RFF’s claims pertaining to the validity of the BD mortgage, holding that the district court abused its discretion in applying judicial estoppel; and (2) affirmed the district court’s decisions related to contract damages and the court’s award of attorneys’ fees under Chapter 93A of the Massachusetts General Laws. View "RFF Family Partnership, LP v. Link Dev., LLC" on Justia Law

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Sharel Giroux executed a promissory note secured by a mortgage on her home. The mortgage and note were assigned to Federal National Mortgage Association (Fannie Mae). Giroux filed suit in a New Hampshire state court contending that Fannie Mae and others lacked sufficient rights to assign the note. Giroux’s claim was dismissed for lack of standing. After a foreclosure sale was scheduled, Giroux filed a complaint against Fannie Mae and MERSCORP Holdings, Inc. seeking to enjoin the sale. The action was removed to federal district court. The district court dismissed Giroux’s action, concluding that, because her claims could have been brought before the New Hampshire state court, her action was barred on res judicata grounds. Giroux moved to vacate the district court’s judgment under Fed. R. Civ. P. 60. The district court summarily denied the request. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that the district court did not abuse its discretion in determining that Giroux’s claim lacked merit, even if the court declined to offer a rationale. View "Giroux v. Fed. Nat’l Mortgage Ass’n" on Justia Law

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Appellants sought permission from the Town of Rome Planning Board to build a wireless communications tower. The Planning Board voted to deny Appellants’ application. Appellants subsequently filed suit alleging various claims under the Telecommunications Act of 1996 (TCA), the Due Process Clause, and Maine law. The TCA provides relief to those who are denied permission to build telecommunications facilities at the state or local level through “final action.” The district court dismissed the majority of the TCA claims without prejudice because Appellants had not appealed to the Board of Appeals at the time they filed their TCA claims and also dismissed Appellants’ due process challenges. The First Circuit affirmed, holding (1) the district court correctly dismissed Appellants’ TCA claims, as the Planning Board’s decision did not mark the end of the administrative process and thus was not a “final action” for TCA purposes; and (2) Appellants’ federal constitutional due process claims were without merit. View "Global Tower Assets LLC v. Town of Rome" on Justia Law

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In 2014, Perfect Puppy, Inc. signed a lease to use a City of East Providence building for a “Puppy Sales store.” Less than two months later, the East Providence city council formally passed an ordinance banning dog and cat sales. Perfect Puppy sued East Providence in state court. The case was removed to federal court on federal-question grounds. The district judge granted East Providence summary judgment on all claims except Perfect Puppy’s takings claim. As for any possible facial-takings challenge, the judge concluded that the claim lacked development. Noting that Perfect Puppy had not asked the state for compensation, the judge deemed the as-applied challenge unripe and remanded the suit to state court for lack of subject-matter jurisdiction. The First Circuit affirmed the judge’s handling of the facial-takings issue and dismissed Perfect Puppy’s appeal for lack of jurisdiction as to that part of the judge’s order remanding the as-applied claim to state court, holding (1) Perfect Puppy failed to bring a facial-takings challenge; and (2) the lack-of-jurisdiction ground for the remand of the as-applied challenge was colorable, which meant that the First Circuit lacked appellate jurisdiction to review the judge’s decision. View "Perfect Puppy, Inc. v. City of East Providence" on Justia Law

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The decedent, who owned property in Rhode Island, entered into a reverse mortgage with Financial Freedom providing that the full amount of the debt would become due and payable upon the borrower’s death. Financial Freedom subsequently assigned the mortgage to Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems, Inc. as a nominee of Financial Freedom. After the decedent died, the probate court granted the decedent’s interest in the property to Plaintiffs, the decedent’s son and daughter. Thereafter, Plaintiffs received a notice of foreclosure, foreclosure proceedings went forward, and the mortgage was reassigned to Financial Freedom. Plaintiffs sued in federal district court, contesting the validity of the serial mortgage assignments and the foreclosure itself. The district court granted summary judgment for Financial Freedom. The son appealed. The First Circuit affirmed, holding (2) Plaintiff lacked standing to challenge the mortgage assignments; and (2) Financial Freedom’s failure to file a claim in the probate proceedings did not pretermit its right to foreclosure on the property. View "Summers v. Fin. Freedom Acquisition LLC" on Justia Law