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Bar News - February 17, 2016


US District Court Decision Listing

January 2016

* Published

CONSUMER PROTECTION ACT

1/4/16
Christopher Romano, et al. v. Site Acquisitions, Inc.
Case No. 15-cv-384-AJ, Opinion No. 2016 DNH 002

Plaintiffs sued their former employer, alleging it failed to make payments to Plaintiffs earned as part of an employee incentive program. Defendant filed a motion to dismiss Plaintiffs’ New Hampshire Consumer Protection Act (“CPA”) claim and request for equitable accounting. The court granted the motion. The court found that Plaintiffs failed to state a CPA claim because the alleged conduct amounted to little more than a breach of an employment contract. The court also dismissed Plaintiffs’ request for equitable accounting, concluding that Plaintiffs had not established a need for accounting and the same information could be found in future discovery. 10 pages. Magistrate Judge Andrea K. Johnstone.


CONSTITUTIONAL LAW

1/12/16
Belsito Communications, Inc. d/b/a 1st Responder Newspaper and Brian K. Blackden v. New Hampshire State Trooper James Decker
Case No. 10-cv-450-SM, Opinion No. 2016 DNH 009

Part-time photo journalist and his potential publisher brought suit against a New Hampshire State Trooper, asserting that the Trooper violated their First and Fourth Amendment rights when he arrested the photographer, charged him with several offenses relating to impersonation of an emergency responder, and seized his digital camera. The photographer had driven a repurposed ambulance to the scene of an automobile accident and was dressed in full fire-fighter gear while taking pictures within a restricted area at the scene. The court held that: (1) the publisher lacked standing to advance any constitutional claims; (2) the Trooper had probable cause to arrest the photographer and seize his camera without a warrant and, therefore, did not violate his Fourth Amendment rights, and (3) the Trooper did not violate the photographer’s First Amendment rights. Moreover, even if the Trooper had violated plaintiffs’ constitutional rights, he would be entitled to the protections afforded by qualified immunity. 29 pages. Judge Steven J. McAuliffe.


EMPLOYMENT LAW

1/12/16
Rachael K. Brown v. HCA Health Services of New Hampshire, Inc.
Case No. 15-cv-323-AJ, Opinion No. 2016 DNH 010

Rachael Brown sued her former employer, HCA Health Services of New Hampshire, Inc., bringing various claims stemming from her termination by HCA. HCA filed a motion to dismiss Brown’s Family and Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”), Employee Retirement Income Security Act (“ERISA”), and wrongful discharge claims. The court granted in part and denied in part HCA’s motion. The court found that Brown’s FMLA and ERISA claims sufficiently set forth a plausible claim upon which relief may be granted. The court, however, dismissed Brown’s wrongful discharge claim, holding that a plaintiff may not assert a state law claim for wrongful discharge in violation of public policy based solely on the rights set forth in the FMLA. 12 pages. Magistrate Judge Andrea K. Johnstone.


SOCIAL SECURITY

1/14/16
Mamata Rai v. Carolyn W. Colvin, Acting Commissioner, U.S. Social Security Administration
Case No. 15-cv-175-PB, Opinion No. 2016 DNH 013

Claimant appealed the Social Security Administration’s denial of her claim for supplemental security income. Claimant argued that the Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) erred in assessing her ability to speak English and, therefore, that the ALJ’s conclusion that she could perform work in the national economy was not supported by substantial evidence. The Court found that the ALJ failed to provide a sufficient basis for his conclusion that the claimant was “able to communicate in English.” The Court therefore remanded the matter for further proceedings. 14 Pages. Judge Paul J. Barbadoro.


1/29/16
Douglas W. Brindley v. Carolyn W. Colvin, Acting Commissioner, U.S. Social Security Administration
Case No. 14-cv-548-PB, Opinion No. 2016 DNH 021

Claimant appealed the Social Security Administration’s denial of his applications for disability insurance benefits and supplemental security income. He argued that the Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) erred in assessing his residual functional capacity (“RFC”), and that the ALJ improperly relied upon the Medical-Vocational Guidelines (the “Grid”) to conclude that the claimant was capable of performing other work in the national economy. The Court found that the ALJ’s exclusive use of the Grid was inappropriate in light of the claimant’s severe exertional and non-exertional impairments, and because the ALJ did not provide a sufficient justification for declining to call a Vocational Expert. The Court therefore remanded the matter for further proceedings. 15 Pages. Judge Paul J. Barbadoro.


1/6/16
Kathleen Elizabeth Gammon v. Carolyn W. Colvin, Acting Commissioner, U.S. Social Security Administration
Case No. 14-cv-510-PB, Opinion No. 2016 DNH 005

Claimant appealed the Social Security Administration’s denial of her application for disability insurance benefits. She argued that the Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) improperly weighed her treating physician’s medical opinion, erred in assessing the claimant’s credibility, and incorrectly used the Medical-Vocational Guidelines (the “Grid”) to conclude that the clamant was capable of performing work in the national economy. The Court found that, because the claimant suffered only from non-exertional impairments, the ALJ’s exclusive reliance upon the Grid was improper. The Court therefore remanded the matter for further proceedings. 9 Pages. Judge Paul J. Barbadoro.

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