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Bar News - June 17, 2015


US District Court Decision Listing

May 2015

* Published

ARBITRATION

5/12/2015
Private Jet Services Group v. Marquette University
Case No. 14-cv-436-PB, Opinion No. 2015 DNH 096

Private Jet Services Group (“PJS”) sued Marquette University for breaching their two-year air charter contract. The charter contract between PJS and Marquette required Marquette to pay PJS through an escrow account that was governed by a separate escrow agreement between PJS, Marquette, and a third-party escrow agent. Although the charter contract contained no arbitration clause, the escrow agreement contained both an arbitration clause and a delegation clause providing for all arbitrability disputes involving the applicability of the arbitration clause to a given claim to be resolved by an arbitrator rather than a court. Invoking the arbitration clause in the escrow agreement, Marquette moved to stay PJS’ action and submit the matter to arbitration pursuant to the Federal Arbitration Act. PJS opposed Marquette’s motion, arguing that its claim against Marquette related to the charter contract, which contained no arbitration clause, and not to the escrow agreement, which Marquette used as the basis for its arbitration request. Therefore, PJS argued, Marquette effectively sought to compel arbitration of a claim that had nothing to do with the agreement that contained the relevant arbitration clause. This Court disagreed, observing that the parties had agreed to a broad delegation clause in the escrow agreement that committed all arbitrability disputes between the parties to arbitration rather than the court. Under controlling Supreme Court precedent, this Court determined, it was required to enforce the delegation clause and compel arbitration regardless of the merits of PJS’ argument regarding the applicability of the arbitration clause in the escrow agreement. Whether PJS’ claim fell within the scope of that clause and was therefore subject to arbitration, this Court concluded, would have to be decided by an arbitrator. 10 Pages. Judge Paul J. Barbadoro.


CRIMINAL SUPPRESSION

5/11/15
USA v. Rafael Humberto Celaya Valenzuela
Case No. 11-cr-84/04-JL, Opinion No. 2015 DNH 094

The defendant moved to suppress alleged inculpatory statements made to the law enforcement officers on grounds that he was not informed of his Fifth Amendment rights or, in the alternative, did not waive them. The court denied the motion. The court first concluded that the defendant received a form containing a Spanish-language version of the Miranda warnings based on testimonial evidence corroborated by an FBI 302 Form setting forth a contemporaneous account. The defendant’s testimony to the contrary was not credible, the court found, when the defendant also testified that the signature on the Miranda waiver looked like his own. The court further concluded that the totality of the circumstances surrounding the interrogation revealed that defendant knowingly, voluntarily, and intelligently chose to waive his rights because the defendant, who had trained as a lawyer, was familiar with criminal law, was not under the influence of drugs or alcohol, received the warnings in his native language, confirmed -- orally and by signature -- that he understood the warnings, and never asked to terminate the interview. 11 pages. Judge Joseph N. Laplante.


EMPLOYMENT

5/28/15
Dunham v. Concord Hospital et al.
Case No. 14-cv-483-JL, Order

In response to an order to show cause why plaintiff’s claim for wrongful termination was not precluded by her claims for relief under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act and New Hampshire RSA Ch. 354-A in light of what appeared to be controlling authority from the Court of Appeals, plaintiff argued that the rationale relied upon by the Court of Appeals had been refined by subsequent New Hampshire Supreme Court decisions. The court agreed, finding that, under the refined standard, Congress did not specifically intend Title VII to preempt New Hampshire’s common law wrongful termination cause of action, and that defendant. The court further found no evidence presented that the New Hampshire state legislature specifically intended RSA Ch. 354-A to replace common law wrongful termination claims. 5 pages. Judge Joseph N. Laplante.


FAIR HOUSING ACT

5/7/15
U.S. v. Avatar Propterties, Inc.
Case No. 14-cv-502-LM, Opinion No. 2015 DNH 093

In this Fair Housing Act case, the United States sued a condominium association, and others, on behalf of a condominium owner with a disability who was denied the right to use the parking area closest to the entrance to his unit. The defendants moved to dismiss, on grounds that the FHA does not apply to post-acquisition discrimination. The court denied the motion to dismiss, following authority holding that the FHA does apply to post-acquisition discrimination. 8 Pages. Judge Landya B. McCafferty.


SOCIAL SECURITY

5/13/15
Labrecque v. SSA
Case no. 14-cv-119-JL, Opinion No. 2015 DNH 098

Claimant sought denial of Social Security disability benefits based on depression, borderline intellectual functioning, and attention deficit disorder. An ALJ found that claimant was not disabled within the meaning of the Social Security Act because she has sufficient residual functional capacity (“RFC”) to work at jobs that exist in significant numbers in the national economy. In seeking reversal, claimant argued that the ALJ erred in considering certain testimony from a vocational expert in determining her RFC and her ability to work. She also claimed the ALJ failed to question the expert about an alleged conflict between the expert’s testimony and the Dictionary of Occupational Titles. The court rejected these arguments, ruling that the ALJ’s decision was supported by substantial evidence. 10 pages. Judge Joseph N. Laplante.


5/14/15
Larocque v. SSA
Case No. 14-cv-230-JL, Opinion No. 2015 DNH 102

On appeal from the Social Security Administration’s denial of the claimant’s application for disability insurance benefits, the court reversed the decision of the Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”). The court held that the ALJ erred in discounting the weight given to the opinions of the opinions of examining sources based on the ALJ’s own conclusions, drawn from a selective reading of the evidence and contrary to the opinions of treating sources, that the claimant’s condition had improved in the months leading up to the administrative hearing. 16 pages. Judge Joseph N. Laplante.


5/22/15
Reynolds v. SSA
Case No. 14-cv-439-LM, 2015 DNH 104

In this Social Security Appeal, the decision of the ALJ was affirmed because the ALJ did not commit a reversible error by determining that her carpal tunnel syndrome was not a severe impairment, the ALJ did not err by failing to include a manipulative limitation in his determination of her residual functional capacity, and correctly declined to include any limitations in the claimant’s residual functional capacity related to mental impairments. 20 pages. Judge Landya B. McCafferty.


5/26/16
Blamire v. SSA
Case No. 14-cv-212-LM, Opinion No. 2015 DNH 105

In this Social Security Appeal, the decision of the ALJ was affirmed because the ALJ committed no error in determining that the claimant’s psoriatic arthritis did not meet or equal the severity of a listed impairment, the ALJ’s determination that the claimant was capable of light work was supported by substantial evidence, the ALJ correctly relied upon the testimony of a vocational expert, and the ALJ did not impermissibly rely upon the Medical-Vocational Guidelines. 17 pages. Judge Landya B. McCafferty.

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