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Bar News - March 22, 2017


US District Court Decision Listing

* Published

February 2017

BANKRUPTCY APPEAL

2/13/17
Tera Xtal Technology Corp. v. GT Advanced Technologies Inc., et al.
Case No. 16-cv-91-PB, Opinion No. 2017 DNH 024

Appellees, a group of affiliated entities, petitioned for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Appellant asserted an administrative expense claim based on one appellee’s postpetition failure to comply with obligations arising prepetition. After discovery, appellees moved for summary judgment on the claim. In its opposition to summary judgment, appellant raised a new claim based on the appellee’s postpetition negligence. The bankruptcy court ruled that, because appellant raised the negligence claim in an opposition to summary judgment, its claim came too late. Alternatively, the claim failed on its merits. On appeal, the court affirmed. Raising a new claim in an opposition to summary judgment prejudiced the appellees. Further, the record did not support the negligence claim, because there was insufficient evidence of duty and causation. 18 pages. Judge Paul J. Barbadoro.


CONTRACTS

2/21/17
John Cameron v. X-Ray Professional Association, et al.
Case No. 16-cv-343-LM, Opinion No. 2017 DNH 032

Plaintiff sued his former employer and six former coworkers for wrongful termination, breach of fiduciary duty, breach of contract, and several tort and statutory invasion of privacy claims. Defendants moved to dismiss, arguing that plaintiff was required to bring these claims in New Hampshire state court based on a forum selection clause contained in his employment agreement. The court granted the motion to dismiss without prejudice to plaintiff’s right to refile in state court, finding that all of plaintiff’s claims were subject to the broadly worded forum selection clause in plaintiff’s employment agreement. 15 pages. Judge Landya McCafferty.


EVIDENCE

2/3/17
Barrett v. Badger Ladder, et al.
Case No. 15-cv-339-JL, Opinion No. 2017 DNH 022*

The parties in this action for negligence and products liability arising from the collapse of a ladder moved in limine to exclude or admit a variety of evidence from the jury trial. Deciding the motions, the court: (1) denied the defendant’s motion to exclude evidence concerning a ladder that was a direct predecessor, in design and manufacture, of the defendant’s ladder, and that was recalled; (2) allowed the plaintiff to introduce evidence of one ladder accident caused by the same problem alleged by the plaintiff as relevant to defendant’s knowledge of that problem, but denied plaintiff’s motion seeking to introduce evidence of other such accidents or a draft report prepared in connection with the recall of the predecessor ladders as lacking sufficient foundation for that purpose; (3) denied defendant’s motion to exclude evidence and testimony concerning one of the ladder’s caution labels on relevance grounds; (4) denied defendant’s motion to exclude video recordings of tests and demonstrations performed on the ladder; (5) denied defendant’s general motions in limine to exclude inadmissible evidence as insufficiently developed for failure to identify any specific evidence that defendant sought to exclude; and (6) ordered defendant to produce certain documents and photographs, prepared by defendant’s private investigator, as to which defendant had waived the work product protection. 27 pages. Judge Joseph N. Laplante.


FAILURE TO STATE A CLAIM

2/27/17
Intellitech Corporation v. The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers
Case No. 16–cv-9-SM, Opinion No. 2017 DNH 034

In an action for copyright for infringement, defendant moved to dismiss pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6), for failure to state a claim. In support of its motion, defendant argued that plaintiff had alleged only “limited publication” of the work. The court rejected this argument, because, read generously, plaintiff’s infringement claim was based not only on defendant’s alleged publication of the work, but based on its purported creation of a derivative work as well. Defendant further argued that plaintiff had not alleged sufficient facts to support its claims for statutory damages and attorneys’ fees. However, because that argument relied entirely on documents and facts outside plaintiff’s complaint, the court determined that it was not properly before the court. The court denied defendant’s motion. 12 pages. Judge Steven J. McAuliffe.


MORTGAGE FORECLOSURE

2/14/17
Ralph Faiella v. Green Tree Servicing LLC and Federal National Mortgage Association
Case No. 16-cv-008-JD, Opinion No. 2017 DNH 026

Faiella brought suit against the Federal National Mortgage Association (“Fannie Mae”), alleging claims arising out of Fannie Mae’s foreclosure on his property. Fannie Mae moved to dismiss Faiella’s claims under the Truth in Lending Act, the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, New Hampshire’s Consumer Protection Act, and New Hampshire’s Unfair, Deceptive, or Unreasonable Collection Practices Act but did not move to dismiss Faiella’s common law claims. The court granted Fannie Mae’s motion, holding that Fannie Mae could not be liable as an assignee under the Truth in Lending Act, Fannie Mae was not a creditor under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act and therefore could not be liable under that statute, Fannie Mae was exempt from liability under the Consumer Protection Act, and Fannie Mae’s alleged conduct was not actionable under the Unfair, Deceptive, or Unreasonable Collection Practices Act. 20 pages. Judge Joseph A. DiClerico, Jr.


NEGLIGENCE/WRONGFUL DEATH

1/24/17
Tillotson, et. al. v. Dartmouth-Hitchcock Med. Center
Case No. 16-cv-296-LM, Opinion No. 2017 DNH 015

Plaintiffs Bethanne and Gary Tillotson brought a wrongful-death action against Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center following the death of their son, alleging that doctors failed to properly interpret a kidney ultrasound prior to his death. Bethanne Tillotson had been appointed administrator of her son’s estate by a Vermont probate court. Defendant moved to dismiss, arguing that the administrator of an estate appointed under Vermont law lacks standing to bring a wrongful-death action under New Hampshire law. The court denied the motion, finding that the Vermont-appointed administrator had standing to seek damages under New Hampshire’s wrongful-death statute without obtaining ancillary letters of administration in New Hampshire. The court also concluded that plaintiffs, as nonresident parents, had standing to bring a claim for loss of familial relationship under RSA 556:12, III. 10 pages. Judge Landya McCafferty.


PATENT LAW

2/15/17
Davies Innovations, Inc. v. SIG Sauer, Inc. et al.
Case No. 16-cv-352-LM, Opinion No. 2017 DNH 028

The plaintiff brought suit against defendants alleging infringement of its patent, which discloses a rifle. One of the defendants, Strum, Ruger & Company, Inc., moved for summary judgment, asserting that the patent at issue requires that the rifle’s handguard have an open forward end to permit access to certain components of the rifle’s operating system, and that its accused rifles lack that feature. The court granted the motion as to literal infringement, but denied the motion with respect to infringement under the doctrine of equivalence. The court held that neither prosecution history estoppel (based on amendment-based estoppel) nor the doctrine of vitiation applied to the facts of the case. 35 pages. Judge Landya McCafferty.


PERSONAL JURISDICTION

2/27/17
Intellitech Corporation v. The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Erik Jan Marinissen, Kathryn Bennett, and Yvette Ho Sang
Case No. 16–cv-9-SM, Opinion No. 2017 DNH 035

Plaintiff brought suit against defendants for copyright infringement. The individual defendants subsequently moved to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction. Plaintiff argued that specific jurisdiction over the individual defendants existed in the case. The court disagreed, finding that plaintiff had failed to show that the individual defendants purposefully availed themselves of the privilege of conducting business in New Hampshire. 27 pages. Judge Steven J. McAuliffe.


RLUIPA

2/8/17
Frank Staples v. NH State Prison, Warden, et al.
Case No. 16-cv-33-PB, Opinion No. 2017 DNH 023

A former inmate sued various prison officials, alleging violations of the federal constitution and the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA). This Memorandum and Order addresses only the claim that defendants violated RLUIPA by harassing plaintiff for refusing to shave his beard. The court dismissed the RLUIPA claims. The court held that RLUIPA does not authorize damages against defendants in their individual capacities. The court also held that plaintiff lacked standing to obtain declaratory relief because he was released from prison and did not allege a live controversy. 7 pages. Judge Paul J. Barbadoro.


SOCIAL SECURITY

1/31/17
Beede v. SSA
Case No. 16-cv-10-JL, Opinion No. 2017 DNH 005

On appeal from the Social Security Administration’s denial of the claimant’s application for a period of disability, disability insurance benefits, and supplemental security income, the court granted the claimant’s motion to reverse the decision of the Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”), concluding that the ALJ failed to reconcile inconsistencies between the vocational expert testimony elicited at the hearing and the Dictionary of Occupational Titles at step five of the analysis, as required by SSR 00-04p. 15 pages. Judge Joseph N. Laplante.


2/16/17
Dussault v. SSA
Case No. 15-cv-441-JL, Opinion No. 2017 DNH 029

On appeal from the Social Security Administration’s denial of the claimant’s application for disability benefits, the court granted the claimant’s motion to reverse the decision of the Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”), finding that the ALJ improperly relied on the Grid, rather than the testimony of a vocational expert, to determine the effects of the claimant’s non-exertional limitations on the range of work the claimant was able to perform. 11 pages. Judge Joseph N. Laplante.


2/28/17
Gillen v. SSA
Case No. 16-cv-59-JL, Opinion No. 2017 DNH 037

On appeal from the Social Security Administration’s denial of the claimant’s application for disability insurance benefits and supplemental security income, the court affirmed the decision of the Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”). The court concluded that the ALJ’s findings and decision, including his assessment of the credibility of the claimants’ statements as to the limiting effects of her impairments, were supported by substantial evidence in the record. Nor did the ALJ err in weighing the opinions of medical providers, relying on crafting the hypothetical question asked of the vocational expert, or not consulting with a medical advisor to determine the onset date of the claimant’s disability. 26 pages. Judge Joseph N. Laplante.

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