Articles Posted in Personal Injury

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United States nationals, victims of al Qaeda attacks in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam in 1998, filed suit against the French bank BNP Paribas for damages under the AntiTerrorism Act (ATA), alleging that the bank provided financial assistance to Sudan, which in turn funded and otherwise supported al Qaeda's attack. The DC Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal of the suit based on failure to state a claim, holding that the victims failed to adequately allege that they were injured "by reason of" the bank's acts and could not state a claim for relief based on a theory of primary liability under the ATA. The court also held that the ATA did not permit recovery for claims premised on aiding and abetting liability. View "Owens v. BNP Paribas, SA" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs filed suit against Hezbollah and two foreign banks for injuries sustained during the attacks in northern Israel in 2006. In one action, American plaintiffs allege that Hezbollah's rocket attacks amounted to acts of international terrorism, in violation of the Anti-Terrorism Act (ATA). In a second action, all plaintiffs accused the banks of funding Hezbollah's attacks, in violation of both the ATA and the Alien Tort Statute (ATS). The DC Circuit vacated the district court's dismissal of the ATA claims, holding that the district court must first determine that it has personal jurisdiction over the defendants before applying the statute's act-of-war exception. The court affirmed the dismissal of claims under the ATS based on the Supreme Court's recent decision in Jesner v. Arab Bank, PLC, 138 S. Ct. 1386 (2018), which held that foreign corporations (like the bank defendants here) were not subject to liability under that statute. The court remanded for further proceedings. View "Kaplan v. Central Bank of Iran" on Justia Law

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After sixteen-year-old Yaakov Naftali Fraenkel and two of his classmates were taken hostage and killed by members of Hamas, his family filed suit in district court against Iran and Syria under the terrorism exception to the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act (FSIA), 28 U.S.C. 1605A. Plaintiffs alleged that defendants provided material support to Hamas. The district court eventually entered a default judgment for plaintiffs and plaintiffs challenged the amount of damages awarded to them. The DC Circuit rejected plaintiffs' claim that the district court erred in failing to determine the solatium damages awards in conformity with the remedial scheme established in Estate of Heiser v. Islamic Republic of Iran, 466 F. Supp. 2d 229 (D.D.C. 2006). The court held that Heiser was a useful reference point, but not binding precedent. The court further held that the district court abused its discretion in awarding solatium damages because its judgment was based on impermissible considerations and clearly erroneous findings of fact. Accordingly, the court reversed in part and remanded. The court affirmed the punitive damages and pain-and-suffering awards because the judgments with respect to those awards were consistent with the applicable law, adequately reasoned, and supported by the evidence. View "Fraenkel v. Islamic Republic of Iran" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs, parents of two State Department employees that died during the September 11, 2012 attacks on United States facilities in Benghazi, Libya, filed suit against former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton for common-law torts based on her use of a private email server in conducting State Department affairs while Secretary of State and public statements about the cause of the attacks she made in her personal capacity while a presidential candidate. The DC Circuit affirmed the substitution of the United States as the defendant on the claims involving the email server and the dismissal of the complaint for lack of subject matter jurisdiction and failure to state a claim. The court held that any harm allegedly caused by Clinton's email communications was within the scope of her employment and thus the United States was properly substituted; the district court lacked subject matter jurisdiction over the Federal Employees Liability Reform and Tort Compensation Act (Westfall Act), 28 U.S.C. 2679, covered claims because plaintiffs failed to exhaust their administrative remedies under the Federal Tort Claims Act, 28 U.S.C. 2675(a); and even assuming the truth of the alleged falsity of Clinton's statements, the district court did not err in dismissing the remaining tort claims for defamation, false light, and intentional infliction of emotional distress (in relevant part) for failure to state a claim. View "Smith v. Clinton" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff, individually and through his consulting business, filed suit against defendants, alleging reputational injury caused by reports from the DOL-OIG and the OPM. The DC Circuit reversed the district court's denial of a motion to dismiss claims against the Bivens Defendants, holding that the district court should have decided that availability of a Bivens remedy as a threshold question gating whether the Bivens Defendants must defend against this suit in their personal capacities. The court reviewed that question of law directly and held that no Bivens remedy was available for plaintiff's claims. The court explained that Congress has provided significant remedies for disputes between contractors and the government entities that engage them, as well as for persons aggrieved by the government's collection, maintenance, and dissemination of information. Because of these alternative remedies and the comprehensive remedial schemes that they represent, the court declined to extend Bivens for plaintiff's claims. View "Liff v. Office of Inspector General" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs filed suit against defendants under D.C. tort law after their son was killed in a drunken brawl outside a bar. The DC Circuit held, based on precedent, that the allegations, if true, stated a claim against the bars under D.C. law. Therefore, the court reversed the district court's dismissal against the two bars. The court also held that the claims against McDonald's were unavailing as a matter of law where plaintiffs could not establish a national standard of care for fast-food restaurants that required McDonald's to have a security guard on duty, to have employees call 9-1-1 at some point during the altercation, and required fast-food restaurant employees to break up or prevent fights between drunken patrons. Therefore, the court affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment to McDonald's. The court remanded for further proceedings. The court noted that plaintiffs may pursue both their wrongful death and survival claims against the bars in light of the D.C. Wrongful Death Emergency Act. View "Casey v. McDonald's Corp." on Justia Law

Posted in: Personal Injury

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U.S.-flagged ships on the high seas do not fall within the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act's (FSIA), 26 U.S.C. 1605, non-commercial torts exception. Plaintiffs filed suit alleging that Israeli Defense Forces attacked the vessel they were on and detained them in violation of international law. The DC Circuit affirmed the dismissal of the complaint based on Israel's immunity from suit, finding that neither the "non-commercial torts" nor "terrorism" exceptions of the FSIA allowed jurisdiction. The court rejected plaintiffs' contention that Congress' amendment of the FSIA exception eliminated the requirement that a state be designated a sponsor of terrorism for the exception to apply. View "Schermerhorn v. State of Israel" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed suit alleging that author James Risen, together with publishers, made false and damaging statements about plaintiff in a book. A chapter of the book focuses on software that plaintiff pitched to the United States as a counterterrorism tool, but that ultimately was widely seen as a "hoax." The DC Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment for defendants where plaintiff failed to put into the record any evidence that would permit a factfinder to evaluate the legitimacy of his bare assertions. In this case, plaintiff produced virtually no evidence of the software's functionality to factually rebut Risen's statements that it never worked as plaintiff said it did. View "Montgomery v. Risen" on Justia Law

Posted in: Personal Injury

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Plaintiff filed suit against defendants, alleging breach of contract, defamation, and tortious interference with a prospective economic advantage. The district court granted summary judgment for defendants. In this case, plaintiff believed that she had voluntarily withdrawn from her postgraduate clinical research fellowship, but defendants reported to plaintiff's employer, the US Air Force, that she had been terminated for cause. The DC Circuit held that, because there was a genuine factual dispute as to whether defendants gave plaintiff's employer false information, the district court incorrectly granted summary judgment on the defamation claims. Therefore, the court reversed and remanded as to those claims. The court affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment on the remaining claims. View "Burns v. Levy" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed suit alleging claims that employees of Cities Restaurant and Lounge, and the Metropolitan Police Department officers they summoned, reacted overly harshly when she raised a question about her bill and temporarily left the restaurant. The DC Circuit affirmed the dismissal of the intentional and negligent infliction of emotional distress claims and the negligence claims against Officer Lee and the District of Columbia; affirmed the grant of summary judgment to Defendant Duru on all claims against him; and vacated the judgment on all remaining claims and remanded for further proceedings. The court held that allegations of the complaint sufficiently made out claims under 42 U.S.C. 1983 for false arrest and excessive force, as well as common law assault, false arrest, and false imprisonment against Officer Lee. Finally, the evidence was sufficient to create material factual disputes on the common law battery claim against Officer Lee, and the defamation, negligence, and conversion claims against Cities. View "Hall v. District of Columbia" on Justia Law