Justia Injury Law Opinion Summaries

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The superior court found no inconsistency in the jury verdict, and denied appellant Todeschi’s motion for a new trial. Finding no error in the superior court judgement, the Supreme Court affirmed. Appellee, a mine supervisor, suffered back injuries over the course of his career and required several surgeries. His employer terminated his employment following his request for an accommodation and his renewed pursuit of a three-year-old workers’ compensation claim. The supervisor sued, alleging breach of the covenant of good faith and fair dealing and unlawful discrimination based both on a disability and on his assertion of the workers’ compensation claim. The employer defended on grounds that the supervisor could no longer perform the essential functions of his job and had declined an offered accommodation; it also asserted that it was not liable for the workers’ compensation claim. A jury returned a special verdict finding the employer liable for breach of the covenant of good faith and fair dealing and awarding the supervisor $215,000 in past lost income, but finding in the employer’s favor on the supervisor’s other claims. The supervisor appealed, arguing the superior court erred when it: (1) denied his motion for a directed verdict on whether he has a disability; (2) denied his motion for judgment notwithstanding the verdict due to an inconsistency between the jury’s decisions of two of his claims; (3) declined to give a burden-shifting or adverse inference instruction based on alleged spoliation of evidence; and (4) raised a statute of limitations defense by way of a jury instruction. The employer cross-appealed, arguing that the superior court erred in excluding one of its witnesses. View "Todeschi v. Sumitomo Metal Mining Pogo, LLC" on Justia Law

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The First Appellate District reversed an award of $9,577,000 as the present cash value of plaintiff’s future medical and rehabilitation care expenses in an action for medical malpractice against Contra County Costa, arising out of injuries plaintiff sustained at birth. The trial court erred in excluding evidence that health insurance benefits under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA),124 Stat. 119, would be available to mitigate plaintiff’s future medical costs. Plaintiff suffered irreversible brain damage in utero while his mother’s pregnancy was being managed by a physician employed by the County. Plaintiff has a very low verbal IQ and will never be a functional reader. He has serious language communication difficulties, significant behavioral problems, and has been diagnosed with cerebral palsy. Plaintiff’s theory at trial was that he sustained his injury because the doctor breached the applicable standard of care by failing to schedule his delivery prior to 37 weeks’ gestation. The County did not appeal with respect to liability. View "Cuevas v. Contra Costa County" on Justia Law

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Marshall Parker sought an award of benefits for a back injury he received during the course of his employment with Webster County Coal. An administrative law judge (ALJ) awarded benefits for the back injury. However, the ALJ found that, pursuant to Ky. Rev. Stat. 342.730(4), Webster County Coal did not have liability for payment of income benefits in addition to the two years of temporary total disability income benefits Parker had already received. The Workers’ Compensation Board and Court of Appeals affirmed. Parker appealed, arguing that section 342.730(4) is unconstitutional because, under the statute, injured older workers who qualify for normal old-age Social Security retirement benefits are treated differently from injured older workers who do not qualify. The Supreme Court reversed in part, holding that section 342.730(4) is constitutionally infirm on equal protection grounds because there is no rational basis or substantial and justifiable reason for the disparate treatment of two groups of workers. View "Parker v. Webster County Coal, LLC" on Justia Law

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An oversized tractor-trailer collided with the school bus Leonard Collins was driving on a portion of highway meandering across Pine Mountain, resulting in Collins’s death. Sycilla Collins (Appellant) filed a claim with the Board of Claims alleging negligence on the part of the Commonwealth of Kentucky Transportation Cabinet’s Department of Highways. The Board concluded that the Department of Highways was not negligent in performing its duty to enforce vehicle size restrictions. The circuit court reversed, concluding that the Board’s ruling was not supported by substantial evidence. The Court of Appeals reversed. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the Department of Highways did not owe Appellant a statutory or regulatory duty to enforce the vehicle size restrictions found within Ky. Rev. Stat. 189.221. View "Collins v. Commonwealth" on Justia Law

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The sole issue in this case was whether advanced registered nurse practitioners (ARNPs) were per se disqualified from testifying on proximate cause in a medical negligence case. The Washington Supreme Court held that ARNPs may be qualified to testify regarding causation in a medical malpractice case if the trial court determines that the ARNP meets the threshold requirements of ER 702. The ability to independently diagnose and prescribe treatment for a particular malady was strong evidence that the expert might be qualified to discuss the cause of that same malady. The Court reversed the trial court and remanded for further proceedings. View "Frausto v. Yakima HMA, LLC" on Justia Law

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At issue in this case was the applicability of a broad, absolute insurance pollution exclusion clause to a claim based on negligent installation of a hot water heater that led to the release of toxic levels of carbon monoxide in a residential home. Zhaoyun "Julia" Xia purchased a new home constructed by Issaquah Highlands 48 LLC. Issaquah Highlands carried a policy of commercial general liability insurance through ProBuilders. Soon after moving into her home, Xia began to feel ill. A service technician from Puget Sound Energy investigated Xia's home and discovered that an exhaust vent attached to the hot water heater had not been installed correctly and was discharging carbon monoxide directly into the confines of the basement room. The claims administrator for ProBuilders, NationsBuilders Insurance Services Inc. (NBIS), mailed a letter to Xia indicating that coverage was not available under the Issaquah Highlands policy. As a basis for its declination of coverage, NBIS rested on two exclusions under the policy: a pollution exclusion and a townhouse exclusion. NBIS refused to either defend or indemnify Issaquah Highlands for Xia's loss. When a nonpolluting event that was a covered occurrence causes toxic pollution to be released, resulting in damages, the Washington Supreme Court believed the only principled way for determining whether the damages are covered or not was to undertake an efficient proximate cause analysis. Under the facts presented here, the Court found ProBuilders Specialty Insurance Co. correctly identified the existence of an excluded polluting occurrence under the unambiguous language of its policy. However, it ignored the existence of a covered occurrence negligent installation-that was the efficient proximate cause of the claimed loss. Accordingly, coverage for this loss existed under the policy, and ProBuilders's refusal to defend its insured was in bad faith. View "Xia v. Probuilders Specialty Ins. Co." on Justia Law

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At the emergency room of Ingalls Memorial Hospital, Ford was treated by Dr. Parks‐Ballard, a Family Christian Health Center employee. A 2015 federal complaint alleged that Parks-Ballard failed to properly diagnose and treat Ford, who was eventually diagnosed with Wernicke’s encephalopathy and who sustained neurological injuries including permanent disability. Because Family operated with money from the Public Health Services, a government agency, the 2015 suit was filed under the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA), 28 U.S.C. 2675(a) and the United States was the defendant. In determining that the claim accrued as of August 2010, the district court took judicial notice of a state court medical malpractice claim filed in August 2010 by Ford against Ingalls, Parks‐Ballard, and Family, including virtually the same allegations as the FTCA complaint. Ford voluntarily dismissed that complaint. The Seventh Circuit affirmed dismissal, based on the two-year statute of limitations. Regardless of Ford’s alleged mental disabilities, the 2010 complaint reflected an awareness that Ford’s injuries were caused by the defendant (through its agents). Ford’s claim was not presented to an administrative agency until 2015. View "Watkins v. United States" on Justia Law

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Barbara Bobo's husband, who worked for the TVA for more than 22 years, was diagnosed with asbestos-induced lung cancer and in 1997 died from a heart attack. Mrs. Bobo was diagnosed with malignant pleural mesothelioma in 2011 and died from mesothelioma in 2013. Before her death, Mrs. Bobo filed suit claiming that the TVA's negligence resulted in her being exposed to "take-home" asbestos when she washed her husband's work clothes over the years. The district court entered judgment against the TVA. The court concluded that, assuming that the district court erred in considering the state court deposition testimony of Mr. Bobo to support its finding that he had been exposed to asbestos while employed by TVA, the error was harmless because there was plenty of other evidence proving the same fact; the district court did not abuse its discretion in admitting the testimony of plaintiff's expert; under Alabama law, TVA owed a duty to Mrs. Bobo to prevent take-home asbestos exposure and TVA violated that duty; the court rejected TVA's argument that the district court applied the wrong exposure standard, concluding that which standard applies does not matter because the evidence of exposure was enough to satisfy either tests at issue; and TVA is not shielded from liability under the discretionary function exception. The court affirmed as to these issues. The court vacated the award of damages, remanding to the district court for it to recalculate the damages award in order to exclude from it any amounts that were written off by Mrs. Bobo's providers and to correct any other errors that may appear to the court when the parties have a chance to focus exclusively on the medical expenses component of the damages award. View "Bobo v. Tennessee Valley Authority" on Justia Law

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TCI Architects (TCI) entered into an agreement with Gander Mountain to serve as the general contractor on a construction project. TCI subcontracted with Craft Mechanical, which subcontracted with B.A. Romines Sheet Metal (Romines) to perform heating and ventilation work for the project. Michael Ryan, an employee of Romines, sustained serious bodily injuries while working at the Gander Mountain construction site. Ryan filed a complaint for damages for the injuries sustained, naming TCI and Craft as defendants. The trial court granted summary judgment for TCI. The court of appeals affirmed, concluding that the contract between TCI and Gander Mountain did not create a duty. The Supreme Court granted transfer, thereby vacating the court of appeals’ opinion, and reversed, holding that TCI affirmatively demonstrated an intent to assume a non-delegable duty of care toward Ryan by entering into a contract containing language that required TCI to assume responsibility for implementing and monitoring safety precautions and programs for all individuals working on the site and by agreeing to designate a safety representative to supervise the implementing and monitoring. Remanded. View "Ryan v. TCI Architects/Engineers/Contractors, Inc." on Justia Law

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Shane Marcum, who was being held on felony charges, allegedly sustained injuries during a cell extraction. Marcum filed a civil action against the West Virginia Regional Jail and Correctional Facility Authority (the Regional Jail). The proceeding was removed to federal court. During the federal court proceeding, Marcum requested, pursuant to the Freedom of Information Act, a copy of a videotape that recorded his cell extraction. The Regional Jail refused to turn over the videotape, arguing that it was exempt under W. Va. Code 29B-1-4(a)(2) and (19). Marcum then filed a complaint for preliminary injunction and declaratory relief against the Regional Jail seeking a court order requiring the regional Jail to produce the cell extraction videotape. The circuit court entered an order requiring the Regional Jail to turn over the videotape to Marcum. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) pursuant to section 29B-1-4(a)(19), disclosure of a videotape of the cell extraction of an inmate is prohibited; and (2) therefore, the circuit court committed clear error in ordering the disclosure of the cell extraction videotape. View "W. Va. Regional Jail & Correctional Facility v. Marcum" on Justia Law