Justia Injury Law Opinion Summaries

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Defendant-appellant Chase sexually assaulted aesthetician, plaintiff-respondent Kimberly Finlan during a facial treatment session at a resort spa. Finlan sued Chase, and in the course of litigating her personal injury action, she sent multiple letters offering to settle for $999,000. The letters stated that her offers were made pursuant to California Code of Civil Procedure section 998, but said nothing about how the offers were to be accepted. Chase did not respond to these offers. Finlan prevailed at trial, receiving an award of $3,875,000. The issue presented for the Court of Appeal's review in this case centered on whether a simple reference to section 998 satisfied the acceptance provision requirement of the statute. The Court concluded it did not, based on settled caselaw. Further, the Court determined a valid acceptance provision required more than mere reference to a judgment; section 998 offers must provide some kind of instruction or indication as to how they can be accepted, utilizing a written acceptance that includes a signature from the offeree’s counsel or the unrepresented offeree. Accordingly, the section 998 offers in this case were not statutorily valid, and the trial court's postjudgment order was reversed to the extent it allowed plaintiff to recover costs and interest that could only be awarded based on defendant's failure to accept a legitimate section 998 offer. View "Finlan v. Chase" on Justia Law

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Devin Nunes, a Member of Congress from California, appeals the district court's dismissal of his complaint alleging defamation and conspiracy claims against defendant and Hearst based on an article published in Esquire magazine about his parents' farm and the use of undocumented immigrants.The Eighth Circuit agreed with the district court that the complaint fails to state a claim for express defamation based on the statements at issue in the article regarding Nunes' alleged improper use of his position as Chairman of the House of Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence and adopted the district court's conclusions. In regard to a statement regarding Nunes' attempt to undermine the Russia investigation, the court concluded that Nunes failed to identify that statement as allegedly defamatory in his complaint, and the court declined to consider the issue for the first time on appeal.However, in regard to Nunes' claim for defamation by implication, the court concluded that Nunes has plausibly alleged that defendant and Hearst intended or endorsed the implication that Nunes conspired to cover up his parents' farm's use of undocumented labor. The court explained that the manner in which the article presents the discussion of the farm's use of undocumented labor permits a plausible inference that defendant and Hearst intended or endorsed the implication. Finally, in regard to actual malice, the court concluded that the pleaded facts are suggestive enough to render it plausible that defendant engaged in the purposeful avoidance of the truth. Accordingly, the court affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded for further proceedings. View "Nunes v. Lizza" on Justia Law

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Following the death of five members of the Pals family in a car accident in a construction zone after defendant drove his semi-truck into the back of the Pals' vehicle, plaintiffs filed a wrongful death and negligence action against defendant, his employer, and two contractors involved in the highway construction project, IHC and Sawyer.The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment in favor of IHC and Sawyer, concluding that, even if IHC and Sawyer owed a duty to the Pals, and even if they breached that duty (questions the district court did not decide), the negligence claim against the two contractors would necessarily fail because defendant's negligence in causing the accident was an efficient intervening cause under Nebraska law. The court also concluded that the district court did not abuse its discretion in denying plaintiffs' motion to stay. View "Pals v. Weekly" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the decision of the district court to grant summary judgment on the University of Kansas Hospital Authority's (KUHA) claims against the City of Ottawa seeking to recover the cost of medical treatment provided to an indigent patient who was injured in a car crash, holding that the City was not obligated to pay the patient's medical expenses.In seeking to recover the cost of the patient's medical treatment in this case, KUHA relied on Kan. Stat. Ann. 22-4612(a), which requires a city or county to pay a health care provider for health care services rendered to an indigent person in the custody of a city or the city's law enforcement agency. The district court granted summary judgment against the City of Ottawa, ruling that the Ottawa Police Department (OPD) ultimately had custody of the patient, and not the City. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that OPD did not have custody of the patient under section 22-4612(a), and therefore, the City was not liable for the patient's unpaid medical expenses. View "University of Kansas Hospital Authority v. Board of Franklin County Commissioners" on Justia Law

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Roxanne Watson filed two successive lawsuits against Greenwood Leflore Hospital and Dr. John Lucas III (collectively, “GLH”), alleging medical negligence. Watson’s first complaint was dismissed without prejudice because a notice of claim was not filed with the chief executive officer of the governmental entity at least ninety days before instituting suit as required by Mississippi Code Section 11-46-11(1) (Rev. 2019) of the Mississippi Tort Claims Act (MTCA). Watson then refiled the complaint. GLH sought dismissal of the second complaint, contending that Watson was required to provide it with a second notice of claim and that the one-year statute of limitations had expired. The trial court denied GLH’s motion to dismiss, and the Mississippi Supreme Court granted an interlocutory appeal. After review, the Supreme Court concluded Watson satisfied the MTCA’s notice requirements, affirming the trial court’s order denying the motion to dismiss. View "Greenwood Leflore Hospital et al. v. Watson" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court held that a company that hired the contractor that hired the injured plaintiff in this case, owned the premises, and operated the electrical equipment, was not liable for the plaintiff's injuries.Plaintiff, an electrical parts specialist, sustained burns to a substantial portion of his body after he triggered an arc flash from a circuit he did not realize was live with flowing electricity. A jury concluded that the contractor for whom Plaintiff had been working and who had removed the protective cover on that live circuit while work was underway acted negligently and was liable for Plaintiff's injuries. At issue was whether Defendant, the entity that hired the independent contractor, owed a tort duty to Plaintiff, who was working for Defendant at the time of Plaintiff's injuries. The Supreme Court held that Defendant owed no tort duty to Plaintiff because Defendant neither failed to sufficiently disclose the hazard nor affirmatively contributed to the injury. View "Sandoval v. Qualcomm Inc." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part the orders of the district court granting summary judgment in favor of Defendant and dismissing Plaintiff's malicious prosecution claim with prejudice, holding that the district court erred.Defendant filed a civil complaint on behalf of Whitefish Credit Union (WCU) alleging that Plaintiff committed fraud when she foreclosed on certain property. Defendant also reported the fraud allegations to federal law enforcement authorities, resulting in Plaintiff's indictment. Before Plaintiff's resulting criminal charges and civil fraud claims were eventually dismissed Plaintiff filed for bankruptcy and received a discharge. Plaintiff filed a civil lawsuit alleging malicious prosecution, abuse of process, and constructive fraud based on Defendant's involvement in initiating fraud proceedings against her. Defendant moved for summary judgment, asserting that Plaintiff was judicially estopped from pursuing her claims because she failed to disclose the claims as assets in her personal bankruptcy. The district court ultimately granted summary judgment in favor of Defendant. The Supreme Court reversed in part, holding that the district court (1) erred in granting summary judgment on Plaintiff's civil malicious prosecution claim; and (2) properly granted summary judgment to the extent it applied judicial estoppel to Plaintiff's claim as premised on the criminal charges that were brought against her. View "McAtee v. Morrison & Frampton" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgments of the trial court applying the general negligence statute of limitations in Conn. Gen. Stat. 52-584 to Plaintiffs' claims alleging medical negligence instead of the extended limitation period set forth in section 52-577d, holding that the trial court did not err.Plaintiffs were minor patients of Robert Rackliffe, a pediatrician practicing in the early 1970s to the 1980s. Plaintiffs alleged that Rackliffe sexually assaulted them during their annual physical examinations and that Rackliffe's conduct constituted medical negligence. The trial court granted summary judgment in favor of Defendant. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that section 52-577d did not apply to Plaintiffs' claims sounding in negligence and that the negligence claims were governed by the limitation period set forth in section 52-584. View "Doe v. Rackliffe" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the order of the district court denying Defendant's motion to dismiss this personal injury action on statute of limitations grounds, holding that there was no error.Plaintiff brought this action against Defendant, a grocery store chain, alleging that she was injured in a collision with a grocery cart as a result of the negligence of one of Defendant's employees. Plaintiff filed the complaint after the expiration of the applicable period of limitation in light of the Supreme Court's order that all civil statutes of limitations were tolled from March 17, 2020 through June 30, 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The district court denied Defendant's motion to dismiss based on the plain language of the order. The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed, holding that Defendant's claims on appeal failed. View "Shaw's Supermarkets, Inc. v. Melendez" on Justia Law

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The issue this case presented for the Vermont Supreme Court's review was whether a landlord who had no knowledge that a tenant’s dog had dangerous propensities could be held liable for injuries the dog causes to individuals who enter the property with tenant’s permission. Plaintiff Katherine Higgins, who was badly injured by a tenant’s dog while on the leased property, challenged the trial court’s grant of summary judgment to defendant landlords. When he was showing the house on landlords’ behalf after tenant moved in, a realtor who was representing landlords in marketing the property observed obvious signs around the house that a dog lived there, including door casings that were badly scratched by the dog. The realtor did not see the dog and did not know its size or breed or whether it had ever acted aggressively towards any person or other animal; based on the sound of the dog, he opined that it was “tough and loud.” Plaintiff, a neighbor, was attacked and seriously injured by tenant’s dog, an American Pitbull Terrier, while visiting tenant on the rental property. On appeal, plaintiff renews her argument that landlords have a general duty of care to the public, and that this duty includes a duty of reasonable inquiry concerning tenants’ domestic animals. In addition, she argues that landlords were on notice of the dog’s dangerous propensities on the basis of the observations made by realtor, acting as landlords’ agent. Finally, she contends that landlords are liable to plaintiff on the basis of a municipal ordinance. Finding no reversible error in granting summary judgment to the landlords, the Supreme Court affirmed the trial court. View "Higgins v. Bailey" on Justia Law