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Bar News - September 20, 2013

US District Court Decision Listing: August 2013

* Published

Taal v. St. Mary’s Bank
Case. No. 13-cv-194-PB, Opinion No. 2013 DNH 105

Baboucar Taal appealed from a Bankruptcy Court ruling dismissing his Chapter 13 petition. Taal filed his brief more than a month late. Appellee St. Mary’s Bank moved to strike Taal’s brief and dismiss his appeal. The court determined that: (1) Taal’s untimely filing was the result of excusable neglect; (2) his brief was nevertheless stricken because it was unintelligible and failed to comply with Bankruptcy Court Rules; and (3) Taal was given 14 days to file a brief that clearly sets forth his appellate arguments and complies with Rule 8010(a)(1). Accordingly, the court granted in part and denied in part St. Mary’s Bank’s motion to strike and dismiss. 9 pages. Judge Paul J. Barbadoro

Hollie Crosbie v. Amedisys Holding, LLC
Case No. 12-cv-138-PB, Opinion No. 2013 DNH 112

Hollie Crosbie, a former employee of Amedisys Holdings, LLC, filed suit against her employer for wrongful discharge, claiming that she was terminated for performing an act that public policy would encourage or, alternatively, that her termination was motivated by bad faith, retaliation, or malice. Crosbie was fired after her company discovered that, with a supervisor’s encouragement, she violated company policy by accepting referral fees from an independent living facility. Amedisys filed a motion for summary judgment. Finding that the public interest is not served by permitting an employee to accept such fees, and the record could not support a finding of bad faith, malice, or retaliation, the court granted defendant’s motion for summary judgment. 3 pages. Judge Paul J. Barbadoro.

William P. Sims, Jr. v. American Postal Workers Accident Benefit Association, et al.
Case No. 12-cv-91-PB, Opinion No. 2013 DNH 115

William P. Sims, Jr., a former employee of the American Postal Workers Accident Benefit Association (“APWABA”) challenges the amount of pension he was awarded pursuant to the APWABA Pension Plan (“the Plan”). The parties filed cross motions for judgment on the administrative record. Finding that Sims’s pension was calculated according to the clear language of the Plan, the court granted the APWABA’s motion for judgment on the administrative record and denied Sims’s motion. 17 pages. Judge Paul J. Barbadoro

Angel Baez-Gil v. United States of America
Case No. 12-cv-266-JL, Opinion No. 2013 DNH 109

The petitioner moved the court to alter or amend its judgment denying his petition for relief from his conviction and sentence under 28 U.S.C. § 2255. The petitioner argued that he had, in his petition, “unnecessarily cabined” his claim for relief in the “narrow confines” of claim of ineffective assistance of counsel, and urged the court to consider the underlying issue that his trial counsel had not raised. The court observed that trial counsel’s failure to raise that issue would ordinarily result in the petitioner being procedurally barred from raising that issue on review under § 2255, and concluded that the petitioner had failed to identify any applicable exception to that procedural bar. The court therefore denied the motion. 7 Pages. Judge Joseph N. Laplante

Robert Gennell, Jr. et al v. FedEx Ground Package System, Inc.
Case No. 05-cv-145-PB, Opinion No. 2013 DNH 110

Several FedEx drivers based in New Hampshire filed this class action against FedEx Ground Package System, Inc., claiming that FedEx improperly treated them as independent contractors rather than employees. The action was centralized in a multidistrict litigation proceeding. The transferee court determined that the New Hampshire drivers could be treated as independent contractors under New Hampshire common law but that they qualified as employees under certain state statutes. It then remanded the action to this court. Two state-law claims remain in dispute - a claim that FedEx made prohibited deductions from the drivers’ compensation and a claim that FedEx failed to reimburse the drivers for work-related expenses. FedEx moved for summary judgment arguing that the claims are preempted by the Federal Aviation Administration Authorization Act of 1994. The court found that any relation between the deduction and reimbursement statutes and FedEx’s prices, routes, or services is too tenuous to warrant preemption. The court denied the parties’ cross motions for summary judgment on the reimbursement claim without prejudice, finding that a key issue was not adequately briefed. Finally, the court granted the plaintiffs partial summary judgment on their deduction claim because the deductions at issue were not expressly authorized by the deductions statute. 26 pages. Judge Paul J. Barbadoro.

Charles D. Taylor v. U.S. Social Security Administration
Case No. 12-cv-442-JL, Opinion No. 2013 DNH 106

On appeal from the Social Security Administration’s denial of the claimant’s application for Supplemental Security Income, the court reversed the decision of the Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”). The court concluded that the ALJ had committed no error in concluding that the claimant did not suffer from a severe impairment of chronic lumbar pain, as the ALJ had identified other of the claimant’s impairments as severe and considered all of the claimant’s impairments, including his chronic lumbar pain, in conducting the rest of his analysis. The court found, however, that the ALJ had erred in concluding that the claimant’s job as a sales associate qualified as past relevant work, as the claimant had been forced to discontinue that job after a short time due to his impairments. 7 Pages. Judge Joseph N. Laplante

Angel Montero v. U.S. Social Security Administration
Case No. 12-cv-412-JL, Opinion No. 2013 DNH 108

On appeal from the Social Security Administration’s denial of the claimant’s application for Supplemental Security Income, the court affirmed the decision of the Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”). The court rejected the claimant’s argument that the ALJ had not credited his physical therapist’s observations of a diminished Achilles reflex, concluding that the ALJ had fulfilled her responsibilities to analyze the therapist’s opinion in the context of the entire case and to explain the weight given to that opinion. The court also concluded that the ALJ had not erred in failing to note a state agency’s determination that the claimant was eligible for Aid to the Permanently and Totally Disabled, noting that the state agency’s determination was not binding on the Social Security Administration and did not contain any evidence or relevant analysis detailing its rationale. 6 Pages. Judge Joseph N. Laplante

Edward & Marilyn Lehane v. Wachovia Mortgage, FSB, et al.
Case No. 12-cv-179-PB, Opinion No. 2013 DNH 114

Property owners Edward and Marilyn Lehane filed suit to enjoin Wachovia Bank from foreclosing on their property, arguing that Wachovia obtained the mortgage through fraud. Wachovia filed a motion to dismiss the plaintiffs’ claims because the claim for injunctive relief is time barred, or, alternatively, that the claim is preempted by the federal Homeowners Loan Act (“HOLA”). The court rejected Wachovia’s argument for barring injunctive relief under the “concurrent remedy rule” as inconsistent with the basic principles of equity. The court similarly rejected Wachovia’s argument that the Lehanes’ claims are preempted by HOLA. 5 pages. Judge Paul J. Barbadoro.

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