Justia Injury Law Opinion Summaries

by
Monterey County's Laguna Seca Raceway obtained a license from the Fédération Internationale de Motocyclisme (FIM) to hold FIM-sanctioned motorcycle racing events. No one at the Sports Car Racing Association of the Monterey Peninsula (SCRAMP), which manages operations, possessed any experience or training on-track safety. Without consulting experts, SCAMP directed the placement of sandbags—provided by the County—around the Raceway for erosion control, in violation of FIM Standards. Kim attended a Raceway event. It was foreseeable that participants would lose control of their motorcycles and enter the safety zone, but they were not warned about unmarked sandbags placed around the racecourse. Kim “ran wide” into the safety zone, collided with sandbags, was ejected from his motorcycle, and suffered serious injuries. The court of appeal reversed summary judgment in favor of the County and SCRAMP on claims of dangerous conditions of public property and gross negligence. Kim adequately alleged that the presence of sandbags on or near a track is not an inherent risk of amateur motorcycle track racing. A reasonable factfinder could determine that the use of sandbags was a severe departure from the “first-class manner” that SCRAMP was contractually obligated to operate the Raceway; that because local conditions made erosion inevitable and in light of $5.25 million revenue contractually-designated for “capital improvements,” it was grossly negligent for SCRAMP to divert this money to operations; and that defendants were grossly negligent for relying entirely on the assessments of a SCRAMP executive with virtually no track safety training. View "Kim v. County of Monterey" on Justia Law

by
Bile Salat appealed the discontinuation of his disability benefits. In 2016, Salat slipped and fell at work. On March 31, 2016, WSI accepted liability for a contusion of the lower back and pelvis and a right ankle sprain. By November 2016, an independent medical examination revealed Salat's ankle injury had not healed and was not at pre-injury status, but low back pain was unrelated to the work injury. Salat's personal physician reviewed the IME's opinion and did not have any "objective findings on physical exam to challenge or disagree with his medical opinion." On August 5, 2016, WSI issued an order discontinuing Salat’s disability benefits after June 29, 2016. On December 15, 2016, WSI issued a notice of decision denying further benefits of Salat’s lumbar spine after November 11, 2016. The North Dakota Supreme Court reversed the discontinuation of benefits, finding Salat's physician's statement was misunderstood by the district court as a "blanket agreement" with the independent medical examiner: Salat's physician's "statement is better understood as stating she had no objective findings on physical exam to challenge or disagree with [the IME] opinion regarding the source of Salat’s back pain." On this record, the Supreme Court surmised the ALJ could have reasonably found the two physicians had conflicting medical opinions on the source of continued back pain, and that a "reasoning mind reasonably could determine" Salat suffered low back pain after November 11, 2016 that was attributable to the compensable work injury. View "WSI v. Salat, et al." on Justia Law

by
Robert Sheffield was injured on the job while working for S.J. Louis Construction (S.J. Louis). Sheffield filed a petition to contravert, and the administrative law judge (AJ) awarded Sheffield permanent-partial disability benefits. S.J. Louis appealed the decision to the full Mississippi Workers’ Compensation Commission (Commission), and the Commission reversed this finding, concluding that Sheffield did not suffer any additional disability from the 2015 injury than that caused by a 2010 injury. Sheffield appealed, and the Court of Appeals reversed the Commission’s decision. S.J. Louis filed a petition for writ of certiorari with the Mississippi Supreme Court. Because the Supreme Court found, after review, that the Commission’s decision was supported by substantial evidence, it reinstated and affirmed that decision. View "Sheffield v. S.J. Louis Construction Inc." on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court affirmed the ruling of the trial court dismissing Plaintiff's wrongful-death action against the City of Petersburg alleging that the City failed to notify area residents that the infrastructure was not adequate to provide the required safe flow of water to area fire hydrants, resulting in the death of his son, holding that sovereign immunity barred Plaintiff's complaint. In the complaint, Plaintiff alleged that his son died from smoke inhalation and thermal injuries during a fire at his Petersburg residence before firefighters could establish a sufficient water supply and remove him from the burning residence. The City filed a demurrer and plea in bar, asserting that because Plaintiff's claim arose from the City's governmental functions of operating a fire department and supplying water for fire protection, sovereign immunity barred Plaintiff's suit. The circuit court granted the demurrer and plea in bar and dismissed the complaint with prejudice. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that because Plaintiff's complaint alleged negligence arising from the City's immune governmental function of providing and maintaining fire hydrants the trial court properly granted the City's demurrer and plea in bar of sovereign immunity. View "Massenburg v. City of Petersburg" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the Appellate Court affirming the trial court's judgment rendered in favor of Defendant after the jury found that, although Defendant had perpetrated an intentional assault and battery on Plaintiff, his use of physical force was justified, holding that the trial court improperly instructed the jury, but the error was harmless. Specifically, the jury found that because Plaintiff was trespassing at the time of the incident and Defendant was acting in the defense of others, Defendant's use of physical force against Plaintiff was justified. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the trial court improperly instructed the jury on criminal trespass and defense of premises, but the improper jury instruction was harmless because the evidence was sufficient to support the jury's independent finding with respect to the special defense of defense of others; and (2) the evidence was sufficient to support the jury's finding that Defendant was acting in defense of others when he used physical force against Plaintiff. View "Burke v. Mesniaeff" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court reversed the decision of the court of appeals affirming the judgment of the district court dismissing this defamation action, holding that a corporate officer who did not author a defamatory statement but participated in the publication of the statement may be held personally liable for defamation. Plaintiff brought this action against Defendant, the chief executive officer of Dakota Plains Holdings, Inc., alleging that Defendant authorized, directed, and approved defamatory statements about Plaintiff in a Dakota Plains press release. The district court dismissed the complaint on the pleadings because the complaint did not allege that Defendant made or authored the defamatory statements in the press release. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) if Plaintiff's allegations are true, Defendant may be held personally liable for his participation; and (2) Plaintiff's complaint sufficiently pleaded a defamation claim to survive a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim. View "DeRosa v. McKenzie" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the circuit court finding in favor of Plaintiffs on their negligent credentialing claim against Defendant, St. Luke's Surgicenter-Lee's Summit LLC, holding that Plaintiffs failed to make a submissible case of negligent credentialing. In their complaint, Plaintiffs alleged that Defendant negligently granted a surgeon operating out of St. Luke's Surgicenter in Lee's Summit staff privileges at its hospital. After a jury trial, the circuit court entered judgment in favor of Plaintiffs. The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the trial court and remanded the case for a new trial, holding that the circuit court erred in overruling Defendant's motion for judgment notwithstanding the verdict because Plaintiffs failed to make a submissible case of negligent credentialing. View "Tharp v. St. Luke's Surgicenter-Lee's Summit, LLC" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court affirmed the judgments of the circuit court granting summary judgment for Respondents and dismissing Appellants' five separate actions for fraudulent concealment, holding that Appellants' claims for fraudulent concealment were barred by Mo. Rev. Stat. 516.120(5). In 2010 and 2011, Appellants filed five separate, but similar, wrongful death lawsuits against Respondents. The circuit court dismissed the wrongful death suits. In 2016, Appellants filed five separate, but almost identical, petitions alleging fraudulent concealment by Respondents, alleging that Respondents damaged Appellants by causing them to lose their right to timely file wrongful death causes of action. The circuit court found Appellants claims were barred both by the doctrine of res judicata and by the five-year statute of limitations for fraud claims set forth in Mo. Rev Stat. 516.120(5). The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Appellants' claims were barred by section 516.120(5). View "Boland v. Saint Luke's Health System" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court made permanent a preliminary writ of prohibition it issued barring the circuit court from taking any further action other than to vacate an order overruling Relator's motion for summary judgment and to enter judgment for Relator, holding that Relator was entitled to official immunity. Israel Mariano, a student at Independence Academy, filed a negligence suit against Relator, an in-school suspension teacher, in his individual capacity for injuries Mariano sustained when Relator physically restrained him and broke his arm. The circuit court overruled Relator's motion summary judgment claiming he was entitled to official immunity. Relator sought a writ of prohibition. The Supreme Court granted the writ, holding that Relator was entitled to official immunity under the circumstances of this case. View "State ex rel. Alsup v. Honorable James F. Kanatzar" on Justia Law

by
Defendant-appellant John-David Gonzales (Gonzales) appealed trial court orders that led to the disbursement of settlement funds to respondents Michael Silvers, a law corporation (Silvers), Panish, Shea & Boyle (PSB), Michael W. Jacobs, Case Advance (CA), Nexus Physical Therapy, and Everence Association, Inc. (Silvers, PSB, Jacobs, CA, Nexus, and Everence were collectively referred to as lienholders). Defendants Gonzales and lienholders were named as parties in an interpleader action filed by plaintiff, respondent, and stakeholder Gregory Hood (Hood). Hood filed this action to resolve the competing claims of defendants to funds from the settlement of Gonzales v. Sears Holding Corporation et al., San Diego Superior Court case No. 27-2014-00040057-CU-PL-CTL (“the personal injury action”), which litigation was filed by Silvers in November 2014 after Gonzales was hurt in a bicycle accident. Gonzales in July 2015 agreed in writing to have PSB associate in as counsel. Silvers/PSB settled a portion of the personal injury action for $100,000. After Silvers/PSB withdrew as counsel of record in the personal injury action, Gonzales retained Jacobs, who obtained an additional settlement of $299,999.99 pursuant to an offer to compromise. Gonzales, however, refused to sign the settlement agreement and endorse the settlement check, terminated Jacobs as counsel, and retained Hood for the " 'determination and distribution' of the settlement funds." Despite his promise to do so, Gonzales again refused to endorse the settlement check. Within days after retaining Hood, Gonzales terminated him as legal counsel. In response, Hood informed Gonzales that, if he did not promptly retain new counsel to allow for the transfer of the settlement check and other settlement funds in Hood's possession, Hood would file an interpleader action, based on Hood's concern there were multiple claimants to the settlement funds and the settlement check would "expire" and not be honored by a bank. In anticipation of a hearing, the lienholders stipulated to a proposed distribution of the settlement funds among defendants. At the hearing, Gonzales (through his fifth attorney of record) agreed with the amounts owed to Silvers, PSB, and CA under that stipulation. Gonzales, however, disputed the amount sought by Jacobs, Nexus, and Everence. He also disagreed with the court's September 14 elisor order awarding costs and fees to Hood. For the most part, the Court of Appeal found all of Gonzales arguments “unavailing,” and affirmed. View "Hood v. Gonzales" on Justia Law