Articles Posted in US Court of Appeals for the First Circuit

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The First Circuit affirmed the decision of the district court ruling that the Town of Weymouth’s local ordinance, as applied to a project in which Algonquin Gas Transmission, LLC sought to build a natural gas compressor station in Weymouth, was preempted by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission's (FERC) issuance of a certificate of public convenience and necessity (CPCN) authorizing construction of the Weymouth Compressor Station. Algonquin received a CPCN from FERC authorizing the project, but that certificate was conditioned upon the receipt of a consistency determination from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts pursuant to the Coastal Zone Management Act (CZMA). To complete its CZMA review the Commonwealth required Algonquin to furnish a permit from Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection, which, in turn, refused to issue such a permit until the Town of Weymouth approved the project under its local ordinance. Wemouth denied Algonquin’s permit applications. Algonquin ultimately commenced this action against Weymouth arguing that the local ordinance, as it applied to the compressor station, was preempted under federal law. The district court granted summary judgment for Algonquin. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that application of Weymouth’s ordinance to the proposed compressor station was foreclosed by federal law under the theory of conflict preemption. View "Algonquin Gas Transmission v. Weymouth Conservation Commission" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit denied Petitioner’s petition seeking review of an order by the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) denying her motion to reopen removal proceedings based on changed country conditions within Kenya, holding that the BIA did not abuse its discretion. In 2013, Petitioner was first ordered removed to Kenya. In 2016, Petitioner sought to reopen proceedings, arguing that conditions within Kenya had changed since her prior removal proceedings and now supported a claim for asylum. An immigration judge (IJ) denied the motion. The BIA affirmed. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that there was no abuse of discretion in the agency’s finding that Petitioner failed to establish changed country conditions. View "Wanjiku v. Barr" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit denied Petitioner’s petition for judicial review of the decision of the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) denying Petitioner’s untimely filed motion to reopen, holding that the BIA did not abuse its discretion in denying the motion to reopen and declining to equitably toll the deadline. Petitioner, a Guatemalan native and citizen, was charged with removability. An immigration judge (IJ) denied Petitioner’s application for withholding of removal. The BIA affirmed. Nearly seven years after the BIA denied his appeal, Petitioner filed motion to reopen, arguing that he had received ineffective assistance of counsel. The BIA denied the motion as time-barred and declined Petitioner’s invitation to equitably toll the deadline. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that the BIA neither committed a material error of law nor acted arbitrarily, capriciously, or irrationally. View "Tay-Chan v. Barr" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit denied Petitioner’s petition for review of the decision of the U.S. Department of Labor Benefits Review Board (Board) affirming an administrative law judge’s (ALJ) denial of attorney’s fees and costs to Appellant, holding that Appellant's request for benefits did not result in a “successful prosecution” under the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act (LHWCA), 33 U.S.C. 901 et seq., so as to warrant an award of attorney’s fees. At a hearing before the ALJ it was undisputed that Appellant was entitled to medical benefits due to his back injury, including for surgery in Puerto Rico. The ALJ stated that Appellant could have the surgery done in New York but would have been responsible for the additional expenses he incurred. Appellant then submitted a request for attorney’s fees on the theory that his claim had been a victory because he obtained his “right to choose” to have the surgery in New York. The ALJ denied the request, determining that Appellant did not gain any additional benefit beyond what he would have received had he not initiated the claim. The Board affirmed. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that Appellant’s request for attorney’s fees and costs was properly denied because he did not secure any additional compensation by filing his claim. View "Garcia v. Director, Office of Workers’ Compensation Programs, United States Department of Labor" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit affirmed the district court’s dismissal of Plaintiffs’ complaint against the Financial Oversight and Management Board for Puerto Rico (Board) and its members and executive director alleging that the Board had exceeded its power under the Puerto Rico Oversight, Management and Economic Stability Act (PROMESA) during the 2019 fiscal plan and territory budget development and certification processes, holding that the complaint was properly dismissed. The district court granted Defendants’ motion to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction and for failure to state a claim to relief. The First Circuit affirmed, holding (1) the federal courts lacked jurisdiction the portion of the complaint seeking declaratory and injunctive relief; (2) the district court properly found that it lacked jurisdiction over the claims challenging the Board’s budget certification decisions; and (3) the district court properly dismissed for failure to state a claim for relief the claims that the Board exceeded its authority under PROMESA. View "Mendez-Nunez v. Financial Oversight & Management Board for Puerto Rico" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit held that members of the Financial Oversight and Management Board (Board Members) created by the 2016 Puerto Rico Oversight, Management, and Economic Stability Act (PROMESA) are “Officers of the United States” subject to the U.S. Constitution’s Appointments Clause and directed the district court to enter a declaratory judgment to the effect that PROMESA’s protocol for the appointment of Board Members is unconstitutional and must be severed. This matter arose from the restructuring of Puerto Rico’s public debt under PROMESA. May 2017, the Board exercised its authority under Title III of PROMESA to initiate debt adjustment proceedings on behalf of the Puerto Rico government. Appellants sought to dismiss the Title III proceedings, arguing that the Board lacked authority to initiate them because the Board Members were illegally appointed in contravention of the Appointments Clause. The district court rejected Appellants’ motions to dismiss. The First Circuit reversed in part, (1) the Territorial Clause does not displace the Appointments Clause in an unincorporated territory such as Puerto Rico; (2) Board Members are “Principal” “Officers of the United States” subject to the Appointments Clause; and (3) therefore, the process PROMESA provides for the appointment of Board Members is unconstitutional. View "Aurelius Investments, LLC v. Commonwealth of Puerto Rico" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit denied Petitioner’s petition for review of the order of the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) upholding the immigration judge’s (IJ) denial of Petitioner’s application for both withholding of removal and protection under the Convention Against Torture (CAT), holding that the BIA’s decision was supported by substantial evidence. Specifically, the BIA ruled that the only social group to which Petitioner claimed to belong was not a social group that was statutorily protected and that Petitioner was not entitled to protection under the CAT. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that Petitioner’s challenges to the BIA’s decision failed. View "Agustin v. Whitaker" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit denied Petitioner’s petition for review of the decision of the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) reversing the order of an immigration judge (IJ) granting Petitioner cancellation of removal under the Nicaraguan Adjustment and Central American Relief Act, holding that the “persecutor bar” - which disqualifies certain persons from immigration relief - does not require a showing that the alien shared the motive of the persecutors whom he assisted. Petitioner, a Salvadoran native and citizen, conceded that he stood guard for his superiors while they engaged in an act of persecution but argued that he acted without a personal motive to persecute. In granting Petitioner cancellation of removal, the IJ concluded that the persecutor bar did not apply to Petitioner because he lacked a motive to persecute. The BIA reversed, determining that the persecutor bar was applicable despite Petitioner’s lack of such a motive. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that the persecutor bar does not require a showing that the applicant shared the motive of the persecutors whom he or she assisted. View "Alvarado v. Whitaker" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit denied Petitioner’s petition for review seeking to appeal an order of the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) denying Petitioner’s motion to reopen his immigration proceedings as untimely, holding that the BIA did not abuse its discretion in rejecting Petitioner’s equitable tolling argument. Petitioner’s motion to reopen was filed outside the ninety-day limitations period set forth by statute and regulation. The BIA denied the motion to reopen as untimely. Specifically, the BIA found that Petitioner had not exercised the due diligence required by case law, and thus the ninety-day limitations period for filing such a motion could not be equitably tolled. The First Circuit affirmed the BIA’s denial of Petitioner’s motion to reopen, holding that, even assuming that equitable tolling could apply to motions to reopen, Petitioner failed to show that he acted with the diligence required to obtain such relief. View "Medina v. Whitaker" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit denied Petitioner’s petition seeking judicial review of a decision of the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) denying her motion to reopen removal proceedings, holding that the BIA did not commit an error of law or abuse its wide discretion. After the Department of Homeland Security initiated removal proceedings against Petitioner and the case was remanded, an immigration judge (IJ) ultimately denied Petitioner’s motion to suppress, ordered Petitioner removed, and granted voluntary departure. The BIA upheld the IJ’s decision. Petitioner filed a motion to reopen, arguing that changed conditions in Mexico made her newly eligible for asylum. The BIA denied the motion to reopen. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that the BIA did not abuse its discretion in denying the motion to reopen. View "Garcia-Aguilar v. Sessions" on Justia Law