Justia Consumer Law Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in US Court of Appeals for the First Circuit
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The First Circuit reversed in part and affirmed in part the decision of the district court dismissing with prejudice Plaintiff's claims of alleging that he was denied the fruits of a profitable exclusive-seller agreement for the sale of a Ferrari when Defendant caused the breach of that agreement by threatening economic harm to the other party to the contract, holding that Plaintiff plausibly pleaded his claim of tortious interference with an existing contract. Plaintiff brought suit against Defendant alleging claims of tortious interference with an advantageous business relationship, tortious interference with an existing contract, and violations of Massachusetts's Consumer Protection Law, Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 93A, 11. The district court dismissed the suit, concluding that Plaintiff had failed plausibly to allege any impermissible motive or means of interference with Plaintiff's business relationships or existing contracts. The First Circuit reversed in part, holding (1) Plaintiff plausibly pleaded that Defendant harmed Plaintiff by tortiously interfering with the contract; and (2) the district court correctly dismissed Plaintiff's remaining claims. View "Hamann v. Carpenter" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit reversed the judgment of the district court dismissing this putative class action alleging a violation of Massachusetts' consumer protection laws for failure to meet the heightened pleading standard of Fed. R. Civ. P. 9(b), holding that Plaintiff's complaint stated a plausible claim for relief. Plaintiff brought this action against Defendant New England Coffee Company, operating as a subsidiary of Reily Foods Company, alleging that she purchased Defendant's "Hazelnut Creme" coffee because she thought that the coffee contained hazelnut. When she discovered that the coffee contained no hazelnut, Plaintiff brought a putative class action arguing that the coffee's labeling violated Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 98A, 2(a). The district court concluded that the complaint failed to pass muster under the relevant pleading standard. The First Circuit reversed, holding (1) the complaint's allegations made it plausible that a fact-finder could reasonably regard the label as having the capacity to mislead; and (2) Plaintiff's claim under chapter 93A was not impliedly preempted by federal law. View "Dumont v. Reily Foods Co." on Justia Law

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The First Circuit affirmed the holding of the magistrate judge that Defendant, a repair company, was not liable under Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 93A, holding that Plaintiff, LimoLiner, Inc., did not meet its burden of showing that Defendant's technical violations of the Massachusetts Attorney General's regulations that govern motor vehicle repairs, 940 Mass. Code Regs. 5.05, caused Plaintiff the loss of any money or property. In rejecting Plaintiff's regulatory claim, the magistrate judge concluded that the Attorney General's motor vehicle regulations did not apply to disputes between businesses. The First Circuit certified to the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court (SJC) the question of whether the regulation does apply in such situations. The SJC answered yes, so the First Circuit remanded the claims of violation of the Attorney General's regulations for further findings. On remand, the magistrate judge found, among other things, that Defendant's regulatory violations did not automatically establish liability under Chapter 93A and that Plaintiff failed to show that Defendant's regulatory violations were unfair or deceptive. The First Circuit on other grounds, holding that Plaintiff did not show that Defendant's regulatory violations caused Plaintiff any loss of money or property. View "LimoLiner, Inc. v. Dattco, Inc." on Justia Law

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The First Circuit reversed the district court’s dismissal of claims against Schechtl Maschinenbau GmbH, a German company, holding that, contrary to the conclusion of the district court, the exercise of personal jurisdiction over Schechtl comported with due process. Stephen Knox’s hand was injured at his work when he operated a machine manufactured by Schechtl. The machine had been sold to Knox’s employer by MetalForming, Inc., an American company located in Georgia and Schechtl’s U.S. distributor. Knox sued both Schechtl and MetalForming in Massachusetts state court. MetalForming removed the case to Massachusetts federal district court and filed crossclaims against Schechtl. The district court granted Schechtl’s motion to dismiss, concluding that Schechtl had not purposefully availed itself of the privilege of doing business in Massachusetts. The First Circuit reversed, holding that Knox and MetalForming met their burden of demonstrating that Schechtl purposefully availed itself of the privilege of conduct activities within Massachusetts. View "MetalForming, Inc. v. Schechtl Maschinenbau GmbH" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit affirmed in part, reversed in part, and vacated in part the district court’s entry of summary judgment in favor of American Honda Finance Corporation (Honda) on Plaintiff’s putative class action alleging that Honda violated Massachusetts consumer protection laws, holding that summary judgment was improper on some of Plaintiff’s claims. Plaintiff claimed that Honda afforded her inadequate loan-deficiency notifications after she fell behind on her automobile-loan payments. Because Plaintiff’s claims hinged entirely on questions of Massachusetts law, the First Circuit certified three questions to the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court (SJC). After the SJC issued an opinion responding to these questions and the parties filed supplemental briefs, the First Circuit issued this opinion. The Court held (1) Plaintiff’s challenge to the district court’s ruling that Honda sold her car for fair market value was waived; (2) the district court erred in finding that the post-repossession and post-sale notices Honda sent to Plaintiff complied with the requirements of Massachusetts law; and (3) therefore, entry of summary judgment on Plaintiff’s Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 106, 9-614 and 9-616 notice and Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 93A, 2(A) claims was improper. View "Williams v. American Honda Finance Corp." on Justia Law

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The First Circuit affirmed the district court’s grant of summary judgment to Defendant, the owner of the website on which Plaintiff found a tropical villa that did not exist, holding that the district court correctly applied Massachusetts consumer protection law and that Plaintiff’s remaining contentions on appeal were unavailing. Plaintiff was scammed into parting with thousands of dollars to reserve a imaginary vacation rental property in Belize. At the time, Defendant maintained a guarantee that offered a $1000 refund to customers that fell victim to “Internet Fraud.” In his complaint, Plaintiff alleged that the guarantee caused him to lose $46,565 by misleading him into believing that Defendant made reasonable efforts to keep fraudulent listings off its site and that Defendant was liable for common law fraud and for engaging in unfair or deceptive trade practices under Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 93A, 2(a). The district court decided against Plaintiff. The First Circuit affirmed, holding (1) the district court correctly found that the guarantee was not misleading or deceptive under Massachusetts law in the manner alleged by Plaintiff; and (2) nothing about the manner in which the district court proceeded in deciding the summary judgment motion caused Plaintiff any harm. View "Hiam v. Homeaway.com, Inc." on Justia Law

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The First Circuit affirmed the district court’s order dismissing a suit that challenged the lawfulness of a 2012 foreclosure sale of a Massachusetts home. In their complaint, Plaintiffs, who formerly owned the property at issue, alleged that Defendants - OneWest Bank, Indymac Mortgage Services, Ocwen Servicing, and the Federal National Mortgage Association - had engaged in unfair and predatory mortgage lending and loan servicing practices. The complaint set forth nine claims. The district court granted Defendants’ motion to dismiss all of the claims. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that the district court did not err in (1) dismissing three claims for which Plaintiffs sought a judgment declaring that the foreclosure sale was void; (2) dismissing for lack of standing the claim in which Plaintiffs sought to quiet title; (3) dismissing the claim for breach of the duty of good faith and reasonable diligence on the basis that there was no such duty; and (4) dismissing Plaintiffs’ remaining claims. View "Flores v. OneWest Bank, F.S.B." on Justia Law

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In these consolidated appeals, the First Circuit affirmed the district court’s decision to (1) dismiss Plaintiffs’ claims under Massachusetts law for libel and intentional interference with prospective contractual relations, (2) bar portions of Plaintiffs’ Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 93A claim from going forward, and (3) award attorney’s fees and costs to Defendant. These consolidated appeals concerned a lawsuit that involved a number of claims arising under federal copyright law, state tort law, and chapter 93A. Defendant operated a website called RipoffReport.com. Plaintiffs were a Massachusetts attorney, a corporate entity that the attorney created, and Christian DuPont. Plaintiffs’ claims pertained to a dispute arising from two reports that DuPont authored and posted on the Ripoff Report and that were highly critical of the attorney. The First Circuit affirmed the district court’s partial grant of Defendant’s motion to dismiss, the district court’s grant of summary judgment in favor of Defendant, and the district court’s fees award order for the reasons stated above. View "Small Justice LLC v. Xcentric Ventures LLC" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit affirmed the district judge’s dismissal of Plaintiff’s eight-count complaint. Plaintiff filed his complaint in state court against the servicers, holders, and assignees of his mortgage loan. Relevant to this appeal was count one, a claim predicated on the Massachusetts Predatory Home Loan Practices Act, Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 183C. The matter was removed to federal court, which dismissed the complaint in its entirety. The First Circuit held (1) Plaintiff’s chapter 183C was time-barred, and Plaintiff presented no reason to toll the applicable statute of limitations; and (2) the trial justice did not err in denying Plaintiff leave to amend his complaint because the amended complaint would fail to state a claim upon which relief could be granted. View "Rife v. One West Bank, F.S.B." on Justia Law

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The First Circuit affirmed a judgment entered by the district court against Hylas Yachts, LLC and in favor of Plaintiffs in the amount of $663,774 plus interest and costs in this case alleging numerous defects in a brand-new yacht that Hylas custom built and sold to Plaintiffs. The court held (1) the trial court did not abuse its discretion in allowing Plaintiffs to offer their evidence of damages for the jury’s evaluation; (2) the district court was not required to dismiss the case or give an adverse-inference instruction concerning spoliation of evidence; (3) the district court did not err in dismissing Hylas’s indemnification claim against the boom supplier; (4) there was no error in the jury instructions; (5) the jury’s verdict was not inconsistent; and (6) Plaintiffs were not entitled as a matter of law to multiple damages and attorneys’ fees under Massachusetts state law. View "Sharp v. Hylas Yachts, LLC" on Justia Law