- Online Edition
- Print Edition
- Donahue Lecture Series
The Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) was enacted in 1974 to protect the millions of Americans affected by employer-funded pension plans. The denial of pension and disability benefits to employees by plan administrators has provided fertile ground for litigation, and the courts have struggled to protect participant rights while giving deference to decisions made by pension plan administrators. In Bard v. Boston Shipping Association, the First Circuit Court of Appeals considered whether administrators, running a multi-employer pension plan, abused its discretion by denying an employee’s benefit application. Although the administrators had discretion to determine participants’ eligibility for benefits, the court determined that they violated ERISA’s procedural requirements with regard to notice of denial and appeal. . . .
In 1993, Congress passed the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). The law permits eligible employees to take up to twelve weeks leave for specific medical or family reasons. In Rucker v. Lee Holding Co., the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit considered whether a former employee, who the employer rehired after a prolonged absence, and who satisfies the hours-worked requirement, may include his previous employment with that employer to satisfy the twelve-month requirement for medical leave under the FMLA. The court deferred to Department of Labor (DOL) regulations, which allowed workers to combine previous employment to meet the twelve-month requirement, and held that Rucker was an “eligible employee” under the FMLA. . . .
The entrapment defense is a judicially created protection mechanism against police activity that improperly induces a non-predisposed individual to commit a crime. In some jurisdictions, the derivative entrapment defense is available when a government agent directs an unsuspecting third party to pressure a targeted individual into breaking the law. In United States v. Luisi, the Court of Appeals for the First Circuit examined the degree of government inducement required to prove derivative entrapment. The court held that a government agent must have “requested, encouraged, or instructed” the intermediary to improperly induce a specifically targeted individual who is not predisposed to commit the crime in question. In support of its holding, the court cited policy concerns adapted from United States v. Bradley. . . .
Federal courts have ordered the expungement of a defendant’s criminal record when the criminal proceeding was unlawful. When the defendant bases her request for expungement on equitable grounds, however, federal courts differ on whether they have jurisdiction to consider the request. In United States v. Coloian, the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit considered whether a district court had jurisdiction to hear a motion to expunge a criminal record on equitable grounds. The court held that the district court did not have jurisdiction to consider the motion. . . .
In Oliver Stone’s film Wall Street, Gordon Gekko’s philosophy that “greed is good” exposed the widespread corporate culture of excess and ruthlessness that defined the 1980s. Decades before this era, Congress and the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) enacted § 10(b) of the 1934 Securities and Exchange Act (‘34 Act) and Rule 10b-5 to limit the impact of greed in corporate America. Despite Congress, the SEC, and the Supreme Court’s regulatory frameworks, what constitutes insider trading, especially misappropriation-based insider trading, remains unclear. Despite this ambiguity, the scope of insider trading prohibition has narrowed with time. In SEC v. Rocklage, the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit clarified what constitutes misappropriation-based insider trading by considering whether a pre-tip disclosure eliminated liability where an alleged misappropriator deceptively acquired information. The court affirmed the district court’s denial of the defendant’s motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim and remanded the SEC’s § 10(b) claim, explaining that a pre-tip disclosure does not always render the acquisition of information non-deceptive and eliminate liability, thus limiting the scope of the “safe harbor” loophole for misappropriation-based insider trading. . . .
In 1946, Congress enacted the Administrative Procedure Act (APA), establishing the standards under which federal courts may review the decisions of government agencies. In addition, pursuant to the so-called housekeeping statute, agency heads may regulate the distribution of agency records. In Puerto Rico v. United States, the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit considered both of these statutes in determining whether a state had a nonstatutory cause of action to obtain information from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to aid in its criminal investigation of the FBI. The court held that Puerto Rico did not have a nonstatutory cause of action and that it would instead have to obtain the requested materials under the APA. . . .