Bar News - February 19, 2010
US District Court Decision Listing - January 2010
Hull v. NH DOS, et al.
Case No. 09-cv-279-SM, Opinion No. 2010 DNH 001
Plaintiffs challenged the manner in which the New Hampshire Department of Safety notifies drivers of information in the National Driver Registry that may impair their ability to renew their New Hampshire drivers’ licenses. Defendants were granted summary judgment on grounds that plaintiffs lacked standing due to lack of a redressable injury, because they did, ultimately, renew their licenses. The court further ruled that plaintiffs’ claims were barred by res judicata, because they had previously litigated the same issues in the New Hampshire state courts. 14 pages. Chief Judge Steven J. McAuliffe.
CIVIL RIGHTS (PRISONER)
Bell v. HC DOC, et al.
Case No. 09-cv-135-SM, Opinion No. 2010 DNH 006
Summary judgment was granted to the defendants in this conditions-of-confinement case under the doctrine of collateral estoppel because the plaintiff had already litigated the same issues in a series of state-court actions. 8 pages. Chief Judge Steven J. McAuliffe.
EMPLOYMENT (TITLE VII)
Cook v. PC Connection, Inc.
Case No. 08-cv-496-SM, Opinion No. 2010 DNH 009
Plaintiff claimed defendant unlawfully discriminated against her by refusing to hire her after it discovered she is a transsexual post-operative woman. Applying the McDonnell Douglas burden-shifting framework, the court concluded that, in response to defendant’s lawful and plausible explanation for its refusal to hire her, plaintiff failed to point to sufficient evidence to permit a properly instructed jury to conclude that defendant’s explanation was merely a pretext for unlawful discrimination. Accordingly, the court granted defendant’s motion for summary judgment. 13 pages. Chief Judge Steven J. McAuliffe.
Frost v. Hartford Life and Accident Insurance Company
Case No. 09-cv-120-SM, Opinion No. 2010 DNH
Plaintiff brought suit under ERISA, claiming her long-term disability benefits, which she had been receiving for about 6 years under an employee welfare benefit plan sponsored by her employer, were wrongfully terminated. The parties filed cross motions for judgment on the administrative record. After carefully reviewing that record, the court granted defendant’s motion, concluding its decision to discontinue plaintiff’s benefits was supported by substantial medical evidence and, therefore, neither arbitrary and capricious nor an abuse of discretion. 28 pages. Chief Judge Steven J. McAuliffe.
Haniffy v. NHSP Warden
Case No. 08-cv-268-SM, Opinion No. 2010 DNH 014
In this petition for a writ of habeas corpus, the respondent’s motion for summary judgment was granted in part and denied in part, without prejudice. The petitioner’s "extrinsic-evidence" claim failed because the undisputed evidence established that the jury did not see the material in question and, even if it had, that material did not constitute improperly admitted extrinsic evidence. The respondent did not, however, demonstrate his entitlement to judgment as a matter of law on the petitioner’s other two claims. 22 pages. Chief Judge Steven J. McAuliffe.
TRADE SECRETS, TEMPORARY RESTRAINING ORDER
Contour Design, Inc. v. Chance Mold Steel Co., Ltd., and EKTouch Co., Ltd.
Case No. 09-cv-451-JL, Opinion No. 2009 DNH 011
The plaintiff, a New Hampshire-based manufacturer of ergonomic mouse products for personal computers, moved for a temporary restraining order to prevent the defendants, Taiwanese manufacturing companies, from misappropriating the plaintiff’s trade secrets by marketing an ergonomic mouse product with a particular feature at an upcoming trade show in the United States. In ruling that the plaintiff had shown a likelihood of success on its misappropriation claim, the court found that (1) the plaintiff’s idea to incorporate the feature into its product derived potential economic value from its secrecy, based on the defendants’ initial success upon marketing such a product themselves, (2) the idea was the subject of reasonable efforts to maintain its secrecy, based on the plaintiff’s written and oral nondisclosure agreements with the defendants, and (3) the defendants were misappropriating the idea, based on their access and the similarity of their product to it. 25 pages. Judge Joseph N. Laplante.
WRONGFUL DEATH; STANDING TO SUE
Porter v. Dartmouth College
Case No. 07-cv-28-JL, Opinion No. 2010 DNH 008*
The defendants moved to dismiss a wrongful death case for lack of standing because the plaintiffs, who brought suit in 2007 claiming to be the administrators of their late daughter’s estate, were not actually appointed as administrators until 2009, after the statute of limitations expired. The court denied the motion. Although the plaintiffs had not strictly complied with New Hampshire’s wrongful death statute, they had cured their good-faith mistake and, under longstanding New Hampshire Supreme Court precedent, were entitled to proceed with their case. 19 pages. Judge Joseph N. Laplante.
WRONGFUL TERMINATION & NEGLIGENT INFLICTION OF EMOTIONAL DISTRESS
Brendan Melvin v. NextEra Energy Seabrook, LLC f/k/a FPL Energy Seabrook, LLC
Case No. 09-cv-249-JD, Opinion No. 2010 DNH 004
The plaintiff sued his former employer, claiming wrongful termination and negligent infliction of emotional distress. The defendant moved to dismiss, pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6), for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. The court dismissed both counts because the plaintiff did not allege sufficient facts in the complaint to raise a reasonable expectation that evidence would be uncovered to support the claims. Specifically, the plaintiff did not articulate a public policy that would encourage any action he took or that would condemn any action he refused to take. The negligent infliction of emotional distress claim required that the defendant have breached a duty to the plaintiff, and because the defendant’s wrongful termination claim failed, there were no alleged duties or breaches of duty upon which the NIED claim could be based. 9 pages. Judge Joseph A. DiClerico, Jr.
REMOVAL & REMAND
JGCA Holding Corp., d/b/a Great North Property Management, Inc. v. Chris McCarthy and Riney Management Corp.
Case No. 09-cv-358-JD, Opinion No. 2010 DNH 003
The plaintiff brought an action in Rockingham County Superior Court, alleging breach of contract, violation of New Hampshire’s Consumer Protection Act, and other state law claims, and requesting damages and injunctions against the defendants’ alleged interference with business relations. The defendants removed the case, invoking this court’s diversity jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1332. The plaintiff moved to remand the case, arguing that the amount in controversy did not exceed $75,000. The defendants objected, and filed an affidavit describing the values of the business relationships at issue, as measured by the annual contract prices with those customers. The court denied the motion to remand, concluding that the value of the challenged contracts, which would be subject to double or treble damages under the Consumer Protection Act, satisfied the defendants’ burden to show that the amount in controversy exceeded the statutory requirement. 8 pages. Judge Joseph A. DiClerico, Jr.
TORT: STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS
Patrisso v. SAU #59- Winnisquam Regional School District
Case No. 08-cv-482-PB, Opinion No. 2010 DNH 002
Margaret Patrisso sued SAU #59- Winnisquam for damages resulting from alleged sexual, physical, emotional, and mental abuse by its employee that allegedly occurred while she was a student at Winnisquam between 1978 and 1982. Winnisquam moved to dismiss Patrisso’s claims as barred by the applicable statute of limitations. The court denied Winnisquam’s motion, finding that the applicability of the discovery rule presented a question of fact that could not be resolved through a motion to dismiss. 8 pages. Judge Paul Barbadoro
Markem-Imaje Corp. v. Zipher Ltd. et al.
Case No. 07-cv-06-PB, Opinion No. 2010 DNH 007
Markem-Imaje Corporation moved for summary judgment, arguing that it had not infringed a patent held by Zipher Ltd. The court granted Markem’s motion for summary judgment with respect to its contention that it had not literally infringed the patent in suit, and denied its motion with respect to all other claims without prejudice. 4 pages. Judge Paul Barbadoro.