Justia Injury Law Opinion Summaries

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One summer night in 2015, at a Louisville nightclub, someone discharged a firearm, shooting eight people. Six of those people sued the nightclub’s owner, Cole’s Place, in state court, arguing that Cole’s Place failed to protect them from foreseeable harm. United Specialty Insurance (USIC) obtained a federal declaratory judgment that it is not obligated to defend or indemnify Cole’s Place in the state court litigation. The Sixth Circuit affirmed. The district court did not abuse its discretion in exercising Declaratory Judgment Act jurisdiction over USIC’s lawsuit and did not err in finding that an assault-and-battery exclusion in Cole’s Place’s insurance policy with USIC applies to the state court litigation. There are no factual issues remaining in the state-court litigation or complex state-law issues that are “important to an informed resolution” of this case. View "United Specialty Ins. Co. v. Cole's Place, Inc." on Justia Law

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In 2014, Leonard Taylor, then 55 years old, sustained severe work-related injuries when he fell 15 feet while employed as an electrician by Industrial Contractors, Inc. Taylor suffered multiple compression fractures of the thoracic vertebrae, with a fragment impinging the spinal cord resulting in partial paraplegia. Taylor underwent surgery and was diagnosed with a spinal cord injury, incomplete paraplegia at T5-6, neurogenic bowel and bladder, a closed head injury, and neuropathic pain. While at the hospital, Taylor exhibited numerous signs of cognitive dysfunction. Taylor was eventually transferred to a hospital rehabilitation unit where he received physical, occupational, and cognitive therapy. WSI accepted liability for Taylor’s claim and paid him benefits. WSI appealed a judgment affirming an Administrative Law Judge’s (“ALJ”) order finding Taylor had a retained earnings capacity of zero and he had good cause for noncompliance with vocational rehabilitation for failing to perform a good faith work search. Because the ALJ misapplied the law in determining Taylor had zero retained earnings capacity, the North Dakota Supreme Court reversed the judgment and remanded to the ALJ for further proceedings. View "WSI v. Taylor, et al." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the decision of the trial court upholding a jury verdict finding Defendant liable for defamation of Plaintiff, holding that the trial court erred in its gatekeeping function by failing properly to instruct the jury as to actionable statements of fact versus statements that were merely opinion and thus nonactionable. Plaintiff filed a defamation action based on an email Defendant had sent, quoting eleven statements in her complaint as allegedly defamatory. Defendant demurred to the complaint, arguing that the statements could not sustain a defamation claim. The trial court sustained the demurrer in part, finding that the first eight statements were actionable statements of fact but the last three statements were statements of opinion incapable of supporting a defamation claim. During trial, Plaintiff introduced Defendant's email into evidence in support of her defamation claim. The jury returned a verdict for Plaintiff. Defendant appealed, arguing that the trial court erred in allowing the jury to consider the last three statements along with the first eight statements in deciding the defamation claim. The Supreme Court agreed, holding that the trial court erred in submitting to the jury the last three statements in Defendant's trial, which were mere statements of opinion. View "Handberg v. Goldberg" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit affirmed the judgment of the district court dismissing Plaintiff's complaint against three Maine prison officials and denying Plaintiff's motion for leave to amend, holding that the district court did not abuse its discretion in rejecting as futile Plaintiff's motion for leave to file her amended complaint. Plaintiff's complaint alleged federal constitutional violations, a civil rights conspiracy, and supplementary state law claims. The district court dismissed the complaint, concluding that the complaint did not state any plausible claims against the defendants. Plaintiff then moved for reconsideration and for leave to amend. The district court denied both motions and entered a final judgment in favor of Defendants, concluding that allowing the motion to amend would be futile because the proposed amended complaint failed to state any plausible claims for relief. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that the facts alleged in Plaintiff's proposed amended complaint were insufficient to make out plausible claims of either supervisory liability or civil rights conspiracy against Defendants. View "Parker v. Landry" on Justia Law

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A public entity is not liable for an injury caused by a dangerous condition of public property unless the injury was proximately caused by the dangerous condition and the dangerous condition created a reasonably foreseeable risk of the kind of injury which was incurred. After a motorist with a willful and wanton disregard for the safety of others, recklessly tried to pass a tour bus on State Route 1, he struck a car driven by plaintiff head-on. Plaintiff was severely injured and his wife was killed. The jury returned a special verdict that a dangerous condition of public property existed but did not "create a reasonably foreseeable risk that this kind of incident would occur." The Court of Appeal affirmed the judgment in favor of defendants, holding that the special verdicts were not fatally or hopelessly inconsistent. The court explained that the jury could find that there was one and/or two dangerous conditions, but it had nothing to do with the collision or the collision was caused by a reckless driver. The court rejected plaintiff's contention that once the jury finds an unsafe condition of public property, the public entity was at least 1 percent at fault and a reckless driver could not be 100 percent at fault. The court also rejected plaintiff's remaining claims of error. View "Fuller v. Department of Transportation" on Justia Law

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The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal of plaintiff's claims against Ultimate Software, operator of the Experience Project website, for its alleged role in the death of her son. Her son purchased heroin from another user through the site and died of fentanyl toxicity from the heroin. The panel held that Ultimate Software, as the operator of Experience Project, is immune from liability under section 230 of the Communications Decency Act (CDA) because its functions, including recommendations and notifications, were content-neutral tools used to facilitate communications. The panel also held that plaintiff failed to plead sufficient facts to show that Ultimate Software colluded with drug dealers on the Experience Project, and Ultimate Software did not owe a duty to plaintiff's son. View "Dyroff v. The Ultimate Software Group" on Justia Law

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Due to an unsafe condition on the premises, Osborne suffered a broken arm at the Center, which is owned and operated by Metro Nashville. Osborne obtained a state court judgment against Metro under the Tennessee Governmental Tort Liability Act; the damages included specific medical expenses related to the incident and found Osborne’s comparative fault to be 20 percent. Before the state court suit, Osborne incurred medical expenses for which Metro did not pay at the time. Medicare made conditional payments to Osborne totaling at least $9,453.09. Osborne claims he incurred—in addition to the costs of his state court litigation—the cost of his co-pays, deductibles, and co-insurance for treatments not covered through Medicare. Osborne alleged Metro is a primary payer who failed to pay under the Medicare Secondary Payer Act (MSPA), 42 U.S.C. 1395y(b), and was therefore liable for reimbursement of Medicare’s conditional payments and a double damages penalty under section 1395y(b)(3)(A). Metro claimed it paid the judgment in full, including discretionary costs. The Sixth Circuit affirmed that Osborne lacked statutory standing to sue for his individual losses and the conditional payments made by Medicare because the MSPA does not permit a private cause of action against tortfeasors. Because the MSPA is not a qui tam statute and financial injury suffered by Medicare is not attributed to Osborne, he also lacked Article III standing to sue for Medicare’s conditional payments. View "Osborne v. Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed suit alleging federal constitutional and tort claims against the city, the county, and several city and county employees after his son died of hypothermia. Plaintiff alleged that defendants, by prematurely declaring plaintiff's son dead and therefore cutting off possible aid, caused his death in violation of the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of defendants' motion to dismiss with prejudice, holding that plaintiff failed to identify a clearly established right and defendants were entitled to qualified immunity where they did not intentionally deny emergency aid to someone they believe to be alive. The court noted that the medical guidelines were not followed here could possibly be the basis for a negligence suit, but it was not the basis for a constitutional one. View "Anderson v. City of Minneapolis" on Justia Law

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In this personal injury claim based on premises liability the Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the order of the superior court denying Defendant's motion to dismiss the complaint on the ground that the facts alleged in the complaint actually constituted an action for medical negligence, holding that Plaintiff's claim was not within the ambit of the Maine Health Security Act (MHSA), Me. Rev. Stat. 24, 2501-2988. In her complaint Plaintiff alleged that she sustained injuries when she slipped and fell in the locker room of a facility owned and run by Defendant. Defendant filed a motion to dismiss the complaint, arguing that the claim was actually for medical negligence, which must be brought in accordance with the procedural requirements of the MHSA. The superior court denied the motion. The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed, holding that the claim was properly brought as a premises liability claim and was not within the purview of the MHSA. View "Salerno v. Spectrum Medical Group, P.A." on Justia Law

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In 2013, Rachel Dixon was driving a car owned by her boyfriend, Rene Oriental-Guillermo (“Policyholder”), when she was involved in an accident with a vehicle in which Priscila Jimenez was a passenger, and which was owned by Iris Velazquez, and operated by Alli Licona-Avila. At the time of the accident, Dixon resided with Policyholder, who had purchased a personal automobile insurance policy (“Policy”) for his vehicle through Safe Auto Insurance Company (“Safe Auto”). The Policy contained an unlisted resident driver exclusion (“URDE”), which excluded from coverage any individuals who lived with, but were not related to, the policyholder, and whom the policyholder did not specifically list as an additional driver on the insurance policy. Jimenez and her husband Luis (collectively, “Appellants”) filed a personal injury lawsuit against Dixon, Policyholder, and Licona-Avila. On May 13, 2015, Safe Auto filed a complaint against Dixon, Policyholder, and Appellants, seeking a declaratory judgment regarding the enforceability of the URDE with respect to Dixon. The trial court granted summary judgment in favor of Safe Auto, finding the URDE unambiguous, valid, and enforceable, and concluding that Safe Auto had no duty under the Policy to defend or indemnify Dixon in the underlying personal injury lawsuit. Appellants timely appealed to the Superior Court, arguing: (1) the trial court erred in holding the URDE was valid and enforceable; (2) that the URDE violated the provisions of the Pennsylvania Motor Vehicle Financial Responsibility Law (“MVFRL”); and (3) that the URDE violated public policy. The Superior Court affirmed the order of the trial court in a divided, published opinion. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court concurred the URDE at issue in this case was enforceable, and affirmed the Superior Court. View "Safe Auto v. Oriental-Guillermo" on Justia Law