Justia U.S. 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Personal Injury
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Plaintiff sued Defendant Cable News Network, Inc. (“CNN”) for defamation and civil conspiracy in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia. The case was transferred to the Southern District of New York. Plaintiff argues that the Virginia Supreme Court would determine that New York is the “place of the wrong.” Alternatively, that he was primarily injured in either the District of Columbia or Virginia or at least that the choice-of-law determination cannot be made without discovery. Second, he argues that even if California law does apply, section 48a does not apply under Virginia’s choice-of-law rules; and that even if section 48a does apply, he should have been granted leave to further amend his complaint so he could plead special damages. Plaintiff also requests that the court certifies to the Virginia Supreme Court the question of how lex loci delicti applies to multistate defamation cases like Plaintiff’s.The court concluded that the Virginia Supreme Court would apply California law, including its retraction statute, to Plaintiff’s multistate defamation claim. The court reasoned that the Virginia Supreme Court would apply the substantive law of the state where the plaintiff incurred the greatest reputational injury, with a presumption that absent countervailing circumstances, a plaintiff suffers the most harm in his state of domicile. Further, the court did not err in failing to sua sponte grant Plainitff’s leave to amend. Thus, the court affirmed the judgment of the district court dismissing the complaint with prejudice. View "Nunes v. Cable News Network, Inc." on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs, a putative class of fantasy sports players, filed suit alleging claims for fraudulent misrepresentations and omissions, negligent misrepresentations, violations of various state consumer protection laws, and unjust enrichment. Plaintiffs alleged that defendants fraudulently concealed that player statistics were purportedly unreliable because of rule violations in the form of electronic sign-stealing by certain MLB teams during the 2017–2019 baseball seasons. Plaintiffs further alleged that MLB intentionally took no action to address these rule violations in order to protect its financial interest and investment in DraftKings.The Second Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal of the First Amended Complaint and its denial of plaintiffs' motion for reconsideration, holding that alleged misrepresentations or omissions by organizers and participants in major league sports about the competition itself—such as statements about performance, team strategy, or rules violations—do not give rise to plausible claims sounding in fraud or related legal theories brought by consumers of a fantasy sports competition who are utilizing a league's player statistics.The court also affirmed the district court's order, which concluded that a September 14, 2017 letter from the MLB Commissioner to the New York Yankees General Manager should be unsealed. The court concluded that the district court did not abuse its discretion in unsealing the letter in light of plaintiffs' attempted use of the letter in their proposed Second Amended Complaint and the district court's discussion of the letter in explaining its decision to deny plaintiffs' request for leave to amend in their reconsideration motion, and because MLB disclosed a substantial portion of the substance of the letter in its press release about the investigation. View "Olson v. Major League Baseball" on Justia Law

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After a shopper tripped over a metal rod at a military commissary store and sustained injuries, she filed suit against the government under the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA) for the store's negligence. The district court found that under New York law, no reasonable jury could have found the store liable for the shopper's injuries.The Second Circuit vacated the district court's grant of the government's motion for summary judgment, concluding that plaintiff has established a triable issue of fact as to whether the commissary had sufficient notice (constructive or actual) of the hazard posed by the existence of an open emergency door that had an ankle-high metal bar in front of it. If she has, then the district court should have let her negligence claim reach a jury. In this case, the government, notwithstanding its spot-check policy, may still be charged with constructive notice of the hazard created by the metal bar because, as the record shows, it lacked any meaningful procedure that would have reliably and promptly notified employees of an open emergency door, and because the metal bar served no clear purpose and could have been removed altogether. Furthermore, plaintiff's evidence was not mere speculation or a general awareness of danger. Rather, the evidence showed that the commissary's manager specifically knew that these doors came open daily. The court explained that, when confronted with comparable facts, New York courts have readily found evidence of constructive or actual landowner notice sufficient to permit slip-and-fall cases to go to trial. View "Borley v. United States" on Justia Law

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In 1974, when Sarkees was 19, he worked for Goodyear for seven months. Sarkees believed he was exposed to the chemical ortho-toluidine (OT). He took chemical samples and unloaded railroad tank cars, the majority of which contained OT, he drove a forklift to load Nailax2 (made with OT), and he manually cleaned Nailax reactors and packaged Nailax. While conducting many of these tasks, Sarkees recognized the smell of OT and experienced chemicals splashing on his skin. He often cleaned the inside of Nailax reactors, wearing “the same contaminated coveralls for the entire work shift.” Sarkees approximated that he cleaned the filters “more than 80 times,” inhaling a “strong chemical smell” and fumes without a respirator. A 2014 Department of Health and Human Services report states, “Epidemiological studies have demonstrated a causal relationship between exposure to o-toluidine and urinary-bladder cancer in humans.” Beginning in 1998, Sarkees participated in a bladder cancer screening program offered by Goodyear to former employees. In 2016, he was diagnosed with bladder cancer.The district court dismissed his suit for negligence and strict products liability, after excluding expert testimony that OT was the specific cause of his cancer. The Second Circuit vacated. In excluding the expert’s opinion, the district court improperly relied on a state court evidence ruling instead of the applicable federal evidence rule. The evidence is admissible under Federal Rule 702 and “Daubert.” View "Sarkees v. E. I. DuPont de Nemours and Co." on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed a pro se medical malpractice action under the Federal Tort Claims Act, alleging that he suffered dental injuries during several appointments while incarcerated by the Bureau of Prisons (BOP) at Federal Correctional Institution Danbury. Plaintiff initially filed suit in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York, which sua sponte transferred the case to the United States District Court for the District of Connecticut. That court dismissed the action for insufficient service of process because plaintiff failed to include a certificate stating that after a reasonable inquiry a good faith belief exists that there had been negligence, as required by Connecticut General Statutes 52-190a.The Second Circuit vacated the district court's dismissal of the action for insufficient service of process, concluding that Connecticut General Statutes 52-190a a is a procedural rather than substantive rule and is therefore inapplicable in civil actions in federal court. The court explained that there is no reason to overturn the transfer order. To the extent that plaintiff seeks to have this case transferred back to the Southern District of New York based on his current residence and potential witnesses located in New York, the court stated that he must move for such a transfer in the district court. The court remanded for further proceedings. View "Corley v. United States" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs, the estates of crew members and pilots of a civilian flight that crashed into a mountain near Kabul Afghanistan International Airport, filed suit alleging state-law wrongful death claims against Midwest, the U.S. military contractor providing air traffic control services at the airport. Plaintiffs allege that an air traffic controller's negligent instructions to the pilot caused the fatal crash. The district court granted summary judgment to Midwest, holding that the estates' claims were preempted by the combatant activities exception to the Federal Tort Claims Act and, alternatively, that the contractor neither had a duty to provide "terrain separation" for the flight nor proximately caused the accident.With respect to the jurisdictional challenge, the Second Circuit applied de novo review and concluded that the district court correctly determined that this case could be removed to federal court under the federal officer removal statute. However, as to the challenge to the grant of summary judgment to Midwest, the court applied de novo review, construing the evidence in the light most favorable to plaintiffs and drawing all reasonable inferences in their favor, and concluded that plaintiffs' claims are not preempted and that there remain genuine disputes of material fact regarding Midwest's liability for the fatal crash. The court explained that Midwest, acting through the local air traffic controller, owed a duty of care to Flight 662, and plaintiffs have produced sufficient evidence for a jury to conclude that this duty was breached and that such breach proximately caused the fatal crash. Finally, the court concluded that the parties' remaining arguments on appeal are without merit. The court vacated the district court's judgment and remanded for further proceedings. View "Badilla v. Midwest Air Traffic Control Service, Inc." on Justia Law

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After plaintiff suffered post-operative injuries following implantation of artificial lenses during cataract surgery, she and her husband filed suit against Bausch & Lomb, the manufacturer of the lenses, as well as related entities. On appeal, plaintiff challenged the district court's grant of defendants' motion to dismiss the negligence and failure-to-warn claims and denial of the motion for leave to amend the complaint to add a claim based on wrongful marketing.The Second Circuit reserved decision and certified two questions to the Supreme Court of Connecticut: 1) Whether a cause of action exists under the negligence or failure-to-warn provisions of the Connecticut Product Liability Act, Conn. Gen. Stat. 52-572h, 52-572q, or elsewhere in Connecticut law, based on a manufacturer's alleged failure to report adverse events to a regulator like the FDA following approval of the device, or to comply with a regulator's post-approval requirements. 2) Whether the Connecticut Product Liability Act's exclusivity provision, Conn. Gen. Stat. 52-572n, bars a claim under the Connecticut Unfair Trade Practices Act, Conn. Gen. Stat. 42-110a, et seq., based on allegations that a manufacturer deceptively and aggressively marketed and promoted a product despite knowing that it presented a substantial risk of injury. View "Glover v. Bausch & Lomb, Inc." on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs filed a second amended complaint (SAC), seeking (A) to hold the bank liable as a principal under the Antiterrorism Act of 1990 (ATA) for providing banking services to Hizbollah, a designated Foreign Terrorist Organization alleged to have injured plaintiffs in a series of terroristic rocket attacks in Israel in July and August 2006; and (B) to hold the bank liable as a coconspirator or aider and abettor of Hizbollah under the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act (JASTA). The district court granted defendant's motion to dismiss pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6).The Second Circuit concluded that plaintiffs having abandoned their ATA terrorism and JASTA conspiracy claims, and thus the court addressed only their JASTA aiding-and-abetting claims. In regard to the JASTA aiding-and-abetting claims, the court found merit in plaintiffs' contentions that the district court did not correctly apply the analytical framework set out in Halberstam v. Welch, 705 F.2d 472 6 (D.C. Cir. 1983), specified by Congress as the proper legal framework for assessing such claims. The Halberstam requirements for a claim of aiding and abetting are (1) that the person whom the defendant aided must have performed a wrongful act that caused injury, (2) that the defendant must have been "generally aware of his role as part of an overall illegal or tortious activity at the time that he provide[d] the assistance," and (3) "the defendant must [have] knowingly and substantially assist[ed] the principal violation."The court concluded that the district court erred in its findings as to the plausibility of, and the permissible inferences that could be drawn from, SAC allegations of the bank's knowledge that the customers it was assisting were affiliated with Hizbollah and that it was aiding Hizbollah's terrorist activities. The court explained that the plausibility of the allegations as to LCB's knowledge of Hizbollah's terrorist activities and of the customers' affiliation with Hizbollah is sufficient to permit the inference that LCB was at least generally aware that through its money-laundering banking services to the customers, LCB was playing a role in Hizbollah's terrorist activities. Furthermore, the SAC adequately pleaded that LCB knowingly gave the customers assistance that both aided Hizbollah and was qualitatively and quantitatively substantial. Accordingly, the court vacated the district court's dismissal of the JASTA aiding-and-abetting claims and remanded for further proceedings. View "Kaplan v. Lebanese Canadian Bank" on Justia Law

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The Second Circuit reversed the district court's dismissal of a Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA) suit brought by plaintiff after he sustained injuries as a result of being struck by a USPS truck. The court agreed with plaintiff that the district court erred in finding plaintiff's presentment inadequate.The court concluded that notice required for FTCA presentment must provide a reviewing agency with sufficiently specific information as to the basis of the claim, the nature of claimant's injuries, and the amount of damages sought such that the agency can reasonably understand what it must investigate to determine liability, to value the claim, and to assess the advisability of settlement. The court also concluded that an FTCA claimant can provide the specific information required for presentment by narrative, by evidence, or by other means. Furthermore, an FTCA claimant who provides a sufficiently specific narrative need not also submit substantiating evidence to satisfy presentment. The court explained that, while a failure to present such evidence can support an agency's administrative denial of a claim, it does not deprive a district court of jurisdiction over an FTCA action subsequently filed by the claimant. In this case, plaintiff presented information sufficient to provide such notice. Accordingly, the court remanded with directions to reinstate plaintiff's complaint. View "Collins v. United States" on Justia Law

Posted in: Personal Injury
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The Second Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal of the operative amended complaints in two actions seeking to hold defendant bank liable under the Antiterrorism Act of 1990 (ATA), for providing banking services to a charitable organization with alleged ties to Hamas, a designated Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO) alleged to have committed a series of terrorist attacks in Israel in 2001-2004. The actions also seek to deny leave to amend the complaints to allege aiding-and-abetting claims under the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act (JASTA).The court concluded that 18 U.S.C. 2333(a) principles announced in Linde v. Arab Bank, PLC, 882 F.3d 314 (2d Cir. 2018), were properly applied here. The court explained that, in order to establish NatWest's liability under the ATA as a principal, plaintiffs were required to present evidence sufficient to support all of section 2331(1)'s definitional requirements for an act of international terrorism. The court saw no error in the district court's conclusion that plaintiffs failed to proffer such evidence and thus NatWest was entitled to summary judgment dismissing those claims. The court also concluded that the district court appropriately assessed plaintiffs' request to add JASTA claims, given the undisputed evidence adduced, in connection with the summary judgment motions, as to the state of NatWest's knowledge. Therefore, based on the record, the district court did not err in denying leave to amend the complaints as futile on the ground that plaintiffs could not show that NatWest was knowingly providing substantial assistance to Hamas, or that NatWest was generally aware that it was playing a role in Hamas's acts of terrorism. The court dismissed the cross-appeal as moot. View "Weiss v. National Westminster Bank PLC" on Justia Law