Bar News - December 14, 2007
US District Court Listing - November 2007
CIVIL RIGHTS § 1983: PRISONER
11/7/07 Pratt v. N.H. Dep’t of Corrections, et al.
Case No. 05-cv-367-SM, Opinion No. 2007 DNH 136
Plaintiff, a former inmate at the New Hampshire State Prison, brought suit against more than 30 current and former employees of the New Hampshire Department of Corrections. Among other things, he claimed that a number of his constitutional rights were violated as a result of his having been denied adequate medical care, improperly disciplined for violations of prison policy, denied due process during multiple disciplinary proceedings, retaliated against for having exercised his First Amendment rights, and improperly classified as a “sexual offender.” After carefully reviewing plaintiff’s claims against each of the defendants, the court concluded that there were no genuinely disputed material facts and defendants were entitled to judgment as a matter of law. 31 pages. Chief Judge Steven J. McAuliffe.
CIVIL RIGHTS § 1983: Property
11/28/07 Nagy v. Mone, et al.
Case No. 06-cv-365-PB, Opinion No. 2007 DNH 143
Pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, plaintiff sought to recover for damage to her car incurred during a search for drugs by officers from the Attorney General’s Drug Task Force. The officers moved for summary judgment, alleging that qualified immunity protected them from suit. The court held that while plaintiff had pleaded sufficient facts to state a claim for a Fourth Amendment constitutional violation and the right was clearly established at the time of the alleged violation, defendants were entitled to qualified immunity because a reasonable officer would not have understood that the conduct violated clearly established constitutional rights. The court granted defendant’s motion for summary judgment. 12 pages. Judge Paul Barbadoro.
CRIMINAL CASES (MOTIONS)
11/29/07 United States v. Capobianco
Case No. 07-cr-49-1-SM, Opinion No. 2007 DNH 145
Defendant was indicted for having made a false statement in an attempt to acquire a firearm, as well as falsely represented that a social security number assigned to his father (same name) was his own. Following his arrest, defendant was advised of his Miranda rights, which he waived, both orally and in writing. The arresting officer then falsely told defendant that a firearm used in a local shooting had been traced back to him. In response, defendant made inculpatory statements - among other things, he told the officer that although he attempted to purchase a firearm, his application was denied when the dealer discovered he had previously been convicted of a felony. Subsequently, defendant moved to suppress those inculpatory statements. The court denied that motion, concluding that although the officer plainly deceived defendant, nothing said (or done) by the officer amounted to coercive official tactics or intimidation, nor did the officer’s ruse about a recovered firearm constitute the type of wholly “extrinsic” consideration that might be sufficient to overcome a defendant’s will (e.g., a false threat that a defendant would lose his children if he did not confess). 11 pages. Chief Judge Steven J. McAuliffe.
EMPLOYMENT (TITLE VII & ADEA)
11/21/07 Sabinson v. Trustees of Dartmouth College
Case No. 05-cv-424-SM, Opinion No. 2007 DNH 141
Plaintiff asserted claims of employment discrimination and retaliation based upon her religion, gender, and age. Summary judgment was granted to defendants on plaintiff’s discrimination claims because plaintiff failed to satisfy her burden of producing evidence of discriminatory animus sufficient to show that her employer’s stated reasons for taking action against her were pretextual. Summary judgment was granted on plaintiff’s retaliation claims because the undisputed factual record showed that plaintiff’s protected conduct followed, rather than preceded the employment action she claimed to have been retaliatory. 52 pages. Chief Judge Steven J. McAuliffe.
FOURTH AMENDMENT - ARREST
11/15/07 Michael and Marisol MacDonald v. Town of Windham
Case No. 06-cv-245-JD, Opinion No. 2007 DNH 139
After Michael MacDonald was acquitted of disturbing the peace, he and his wife, Marisol, brought federal and state law claims against a police officer in Windham, New Hampshire, the Town of Windham, and Marisol’s former husband. They alleged that Michael was arrested without probable cause in violation of the Fourth Amendment and that the officer conspired with Marisol’s former husband to have Michael arrested. The court granted summary judgment in favor of the defendants on the federal claims, concluding that the record, including the MacDonalds’ videotape of the events in question, supported a finding of probable cause. The court declined to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over the state law claims, which were dismissed without prejudice. 19 pages. Judge Joseph A. DiClerico, Jr.
11/30/07 Graham v. Warden, Northern New Hampshire Correctional Facility
Case No. 07-cv-08-PB, Opinion No. 2007 DNH 147
Petitioner sought habeas corpus relief alleging ineffective assistance of counsel and prosecutorial misconduct and claiming that new evidence demonstrated actual innocence. Petitioner failed to file his petition within the one-year AEDPA statute of limitation, 28 U.S.C. § 2244(d), and the court determined that neither equitable tolling nor setting aside of the statute of limitation was appropriate given the facts of the case. Because the petition was untimely, the court granted warden’s motion for summary judgment. 18 pages. Judge Paul Barbadoro.
11/27/07 Laflamme v. Commissioner of Social Security
Case No. 07-cv-122-PB, Opinion No. 2007 DNH 142
Claimant moved to reverse the decision of an Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) denying her claim for supplemental security income. The court denied claimaint’s motion to reverse and granted the Commissioner’s motion to affirm because, although claimant suffers from back problems, there was substantial evidence in the record to support the ALJ’s conclusion that claimant has the capacity to perform sedentary work. 21 pages. Judge Paul Barbadoro.
11/30/07 Gibson v. Mack Trucks, Inc.
Case No. 06-cv-150-PB, Opinion No. 2007 DNH 146
Plaintiff, a truck mechanic, was injured when a spring clip that he was replacing on a Mack truck inadvertently fractured. After partial summary judgment was granted in defendant’s favor on plaintiff’s products liability claim, plaintiff amended his complaint to assert a negligent failure to warn claim against Mack. Because plaintiff failed to proffer sufficient evidence to support this claim, the court granted summary judgment to defendant. 6 pages. Judge Paul Barbadoro.