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Bar News - May 18, 2016


US District Court Decision Listing

April 2016

* Published


ADMIRALTY; PERSONAL JURISDICTION; VENUE

4/4/16
Matthew D. Bobola v. F/V Expectation, et al.
Case No. 15-cv-296-PB, Opinion No. 2016 DNH 077

Former deckhand Matthew D. Bobola, proceeding pro se, sued his former employer, the ship he crewed, and several individual crewmembers for injuries he allegedly suffered while on board the ship F/V Expectation. Bobola later brought a motion to change venue, admitting that he had sued in “the wrong court,” and requested a transfer to the federal district court for Massachusetts in Boston. The defendants opposed Bobola’s motion to transfer and also brought a motion to dismiss for a variety of grounds, including lack of personal jurisdiction. The court found that it lacked jurisdiction over the case and transferred it to Massachusetts under 28 U.S.C. § 1631. 4 pages. Judge Paul J. Barbadoro.


BANKRUPTCY APPEAL

4/6/16
Pfenning, et al. v. Brewer, et al.
Case No. 15-cv-422-PB, Opinion No. 2016 DNH 078

Bette Pfenning brought an adversary action against John Brewer in the United States Bankruptcy Court for the District of New Hampshire. Pfenning alleged that Brewer breached the warranty of title by selling real property to Pfenning without first obtaining the mortgagee’s consent to convey the property subject to an outstanding mortgage. The Bankruptcy Court dismissed Pfenning’s claim, and she appealed. On appeal, Pfenning argued that Brewer did not have “good right to sell and convey” the property to Pfenning, because he did not get the mortgagee to waive its due-on-sale clause before selling the property. The court rejected this argument, because the due-on-sale clause did not limit Brewer’s right to convey the property; it merely allowed the mortgagee to accelerate the loan if Brewer conveyed the property without the mortgagee’s consent. The court therefore concluded the Brewer did not breach the warranty of title by selling the property subject to the outstanding mortgage, and affirmed the Bankruptcy Court’s decision. 10 pages. Judge Paul J. Barbadoro.


PRINCIPAL/AGENT

4/19/16
Allan Bald v. PCPA, LLC, and Prime Choice Brands, LLC
Case No. 15–cv-219-SM, Opinion No. 2016 DNH 081

Plaintiff is the sole member of a New Hampshire limited liability company (LLC). Defendants invoked a mandatory arbitration provision contained in a contract they had with the LLC and then sought to compel plaintiff (in his personal capacity) to participate in that arbitration. Plaintiff, in turn, sought a judicial declaration that he is neither a party to, nor personally bound by, that contract (or its arbitration provision). The court agreed. Despite language in the contract suggesting that it binds not just the LLC, but its “principals” as well, plaintiff is not a party to the contract. Plaintiff executed the contract solely in his capacity as an agent for the LLC, and the parties to the contract (the two corporations) had no power to make another (Bald in his personal capacity) a party absent that person’s consent. No admissible evidence was offered suggesting that Bald, in his personal capacity, ever undertook any contractual obligations. Plaintiff’s motion for summary judgment granted. 14 pages. Judge Steven J. McAuliffe.


SOCIAL SECURITY

4/1/16
Crystal Guzman v. Colvin
Case No. 15-cv-230-PB, Opinion No. 2016 DNH 075

Crystal Guzman challenged the Social Security Administration’s denial of her disability income benefits and supplemental security income benefits. She argued that the Administrative Law Judge erred by 1) impermissibly crafting a “middle path” between two divergent medical opinions and thereby relying on his own “lay knowledge” rather than expert medical opinions; and 2) improperly disregarding the opinion of Guzman’s treating physician. The court found neither argument persuasive and held that the ALJ properly “pieced together” different medical opinions and gave appropriate reasons for discounting the opinion of Guzman’s treating physician. 16 pages. Judge Paul J. Barbadoro.

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