Justia U.S. D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Injury Law

By
Plaintiff filed suit claiming that the OCC’s enforcement action against him was trumped-up and retaliatory. On appeal, plaintiff challenged the district court's dismissal of the case on the pleadings. At issue is whether the Constitution places any limit on the governmental policy-making discretion immunized by the discretionary-function exception to the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA), 28 U.S.C. 2671 et seq. The court concluded, in line with the majority of its sister circuits to have considered the question, that the discretionary-function exception does not categorically bar FTCA tort claims where the challenged exercise of discretion allegedly exceeded the government’s constitutional authority to act. The court also concluded that plaintiff's Bivens v. Six Unknown Named Agents of Federal Bureau of Narcotics claims are not time-barred because the continuing-violations doctrine applies to extend the applicable statute of limitations where, as here, a plaintiff alleges continuing conduct causing cumulative harm. Accordingly, the court reversed and remanded for further proceedings. View "Loumiet v. United States" on Justia Law

By
Morris Days (a/k/a Jamil Days) held himself out to the public as a civil rights attorney working for a regional chapter of CAIR, when he was not in fact a lawyer. Plaintiffs, individual CAIR clients who were negatively impacted by Days' conduct, filed suit alleging that CAIR is responsible for the bad acts of Days because Days was CAIR’s agent. The district court granted summary judgment for CAIR. The court concluded that, viewing the evidence in the light most favorable to plaintiffs, and drawing all inferences in their favor, it would be reasonable to infer based on these facts that CAIR had the ability to control Days, and in fact exerted that control. Accordingly, the court found that genuine issues of material fact exist as to whether or not Days was the agent of CAIR. The court reversed and remanded for further proceedings. View "Lopez v. Council on American-Islamic Relations Action Network" on Justia Law
By
Posted in:
Updated:

By
Plaintiffs, fourteen Jewish survivors of the Hungarian Holocaust, filed suit against the Republic of Hungary and the Hungarian state-owned railway arising from defendants’ participation in - and perpetration of - the Holocaust. The district court dismissed the suit, concluding that the 1947 Peace Treaty between the Allied Powers and Hungary set forth an exclusive mechanism for Hungarian Holocaust victims to obtain recovery for their property losses, and that permitting plaintiffs’ lawsuit to proceed under the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act (FSIA), 28 U.S.C. 1603 et seq., would conflict with the peace treaty’s terms. The court held that the peace treaty poses no bar to plaintiffs’ lawsuit, and the FSIA's treaty exception does not preclude this action. The court concluded, however, that the FSIA’s expropriation exception affords plaintiffs a pathway to pursue certain of their claims: those involving the taking of plaintiffs’ property in the commission of genocide against Hungarian Jews. Because those expropriations themselves amount to genocide, they qualify as takings of property “in violation of international law” within the meaning of the FSIA’s expropriation exception. Finally, plaintiffs’ claims do not constitute nonjusticiable political questions falling outside of the Judiciary’s cognizance. Accordingly, the court affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded for further proceedings. View "Simon v. Republic of Hungary" on Justia Law

By
Plaintiff filed suit under 42 U.S.C. 1983, Title IX, and various D.C. tort laws, seeking damages from the District. Plaintiff alleged that, while attending a District school for emotionally disturbed students, she and a teacher had a consensual sexual relationship that led to the birth of a child. In regard to the section 1983 claim, the court concluded that in order for the district court to assess whether plaintiff stated a facially plausible complaint, plaintiff needed to assert the elements of the type of municipal policy that caused her injury. Plaintiff failed to do so in this case. In regard to the Title IX claim, the court also concluded that plaintiff has failed to satisfy the Davis ex rel. LaShonda D. v. Monroe County Board of Education standard where she has not alleged that anyone - much less an appropriate official - knew of any acts of sexual harassment while the harassment was ongoing. Finally, the court concluded that plaintiff failed to meet the statutory notice requirement for her tort claim and that her alternative claim seeking to discover a police report about the incident is forfeited. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment. View "Blue v. District of Columbia" on Justia Law

By
Plaintiff, as the personal representative of Curtis Suggs, filed suit against the District, Symbral, and others, under 42 U.S.C. 1983, federal law regulating community residential facilities, and the common law. Suggs died while residing in a group home operated by Symbral, a District contractor. The District appealed the district court's grant of summary judgment to plaintiff on the section 1983 claims and negligence claims, and against Symbral and Defendants Leon and Yvonne Mohammed, as well as appealed the district court's denial of the District's post-trial motion. After reviewing the record and considering the parties' arguments, the court concluded that the district court did not err in entering summary judgment against the District on plaintiff’s section 1983 claim, and the court affirmed that portion of the decision on review. The court reversed the district court’s grant of summary judgment to plaintiff on his negligence and statutory claims, concluding that those claims are barred under D.C. Code 12-309. Because the district court abused its discretion by excluding causation evidence, the court vacated the damages and remand for reconsideration. View "Harvey v. Mohammed" on Justia Law

By
Plaintiffs filed suit seeking damages from the District, the Family Services Agency, and District employees after plaintiffs' children were removed from their home after they were sexually abused by plaintiffs' other children. The court vacated the dismissal of plaintiffs' Fourth and Fifth Amendment claims against the District and remanded those claims to the district court to determine whether there is municipal liability under Monell v. Department of Social Services of the City of New York. The court affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment as to the First Amendment, tort, and post-adoption services claims. View "Doe v. District of Columbia" on Justia Law

By
Plaintiffs filed a class action suit stemming from the workers' compensation benefits owed to class members under the Defense Base Act, 42 U.S.C. 1651 et seq., for injuries suffered while working for United States government contractors in Iraq and Afghanistan. Members of the class suffered lost limbs in massive explosions, suffered traumatic brain injuries from “concussive blasts, mortars, rockets, and bombs,” and developed post-traumatic stress disorder after witnessing “gruesome scenes of carnage.” The court affirmed the dismissal of plaintiffs’ class-wide tort claims in light of Hall v. C&P Telephone Company as well their Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO), 18 U.S.C. 1961-68, claims because plaintiffs failed to state a cause of action under the statute and the Longshore and Harbor Workers' Compensation Act, 33 U.S.C. 901-950, claims for failure to exhaust administrative remedies; however, this dismissal does not preclude any individual plaintiff from bringing independent claims outside of the Base Act’s statutory scheme; with respect to the American with Disabilities Act, 42 U.S.C. 12101 et seq., claims brought by three individual plaintiffs, the court remanded to the district court to reconsider and explain its denial of leave to amend the complaint. View "Brink v. Continental Ins. Co." on Justia Law

By
In 2004 the law firm was engaged to bring a medical malpractice action on behalf of a 14-year-old girl who had become paralyzed after surgery. The firm filed two complaints in Virginia state court. Each was dismissed: the first without prejudice for failure to correctly caption a pleading; the second with prejudice for filing outside the statute of limitations. Shortly thereafter, the firm applied for and obtained a new professional liability insurance policy. Asked whether there were “any circumstances which may result in a claim being made,” the firm responded “no.” The firm informed the insurer of the incident in 2009, but represented that it had occurred in 2008. In 2011, the insurance company noticed that the firm had made the caption error in 2006, before the policy period. In 2012, it notified the firm that it reserved its rights to deny coverage under the known risk exclusion. The girl filed a legal malpractice action in 2012, and was awarded $1,750,000 in 2013. The court found, as a matter of law and without expert testimony, that the firm was on notice of the potential malpractice claim and rejected arguments that the insurer had forfeited or waived its right to deny coverage. The D.C. Circuit affirmed. View "Chicago Ins. Co. v. Paulson & Nace, PLLC" on Justia Law

By
Plaintiffs, three Iranian émigré siblings and the estate of their deceased brother, sought recovery for imprisonment, torture, and an extrajudicial killing that they allegedly suffered at the hands of the Islamic Republic of Iran in 1999, as leaders in the Iranian pro-democracy movement.The three surviving siblings live in the United States. The district court dismissed the complaint, finding that it lacked subject-matter jurisdiction, principally because of defendants’ foreign sovereign immunity under the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act, 28 U.S.C. 1602. The court rejected plaintiffs’ reliance on the Act’s terrorism exception, for “torture” or “extrajudicial killing” where the victim was a “national of the United States” at the time of those acts. The D.C. Circuit affirmed. The Alien Tort Statute, 28 U.S.C. 1350, does not confer any waiver of foreign sovereign immunity. View "Mohammadi v. Islamic Republic of Iran" on Justia Law

By
Plaintiff, a veteran who suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder, filed suit under the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA), 28 U.S.C. 2671 et seq., alleging various claims against the VA after he was escorted from a VA group therapy session for creating a disturbance. The district court granted summary judgment for the VA on all claims. The court reversed as to the assault and battery claim where the affidavits, declarations, pleadings, and other evidence show that there are factual disputes that could affect the outcome of the suit. The court reversed plaintiff's claim of intentional infliction of emotional distress to the extent that it was based on his assault and battery claim. The court affirmed as to the remaining claims. View "Harris v. Dept. of Veterans Affairs" on Justia Law
By
Posted in:
Updated: