Justia Injury Law Opinion Summaries
Gutierrez v. Tostado
In the Court of Appeal of the State of California Sixth Appellate District, Francisco Gutierrez appealed a judgment granting summary judgment to Uriel Tostado and ProTransport-1, LLC, in a personal injury case. Gutierrez was injured when his vehicle was hit by an ambulance driven by Tostado, an emergency medical technician employed by ProTransport-1, during a patient transport. Nearly two years after the accident, Gutierrez filed a complaint against Tostado and ProTransport-1. The defendants moved for summary judgment, arguing that Gutierrez's claims were time-barred under the Medical Injury Compensation Reform Act's (MICRA) one-year statute of limitations for professional negligence. The trial court agreed and granted the motion, a decision Gutierrez appealed.In considering Gutierrez's appeal, the appellate court held that because Tostado was providing professional medical services at the time of the incident, MICRA's one-year statute of limitations applied, despite Gutierrez not being the recipient of those services. The court reasoned that the act of driving the ambulance was an integral part of the provision of medical care, and it was foreseeable that third parties could be injured during the provision of such care. The court rejected Gutierrez's argument that MICRA only applied where the defendant owed a professional duty to the plaintiff, holding instead that MICRA applied as long as the plaintiff was injured due to negligence in the rendering of professional services, and their injuries were foreseeable. The court affirmed the trial court's judgment. View "Gutierrez v. Tostado" on Justia Law
Bowers v. BBH SBMC, LLC
In Alabama, an attorney was representing three individuals, Charles, John, and Linda Evans, in relation to a car accident. Following the accident, Charles was taken to Shelby Baptist Medical Center and discharged. He subsequently collapsed at home and died. The attorney filed a complaint asserting medical malpractice, negligence, wantonness, and recklessness on behalf of John as next friend of Charles. Eventually, an insurance company provided a settlement check and a general release relating to Charles. However, this check was signed by John and not Charles' personal representative, Bowers, who had been appointed after Charles' death. The trial court ruled that the settlement was binding on Bowers, and all claims against the defendants were dismissed.Bowers appealed, and the Supreme Court of Alabama partially reversed the trial court's decision. It ruled that the trial court erred in entering a summary judgment in favor of the malpractice defendants without a motion from them and without holding an evidentiary hearing to determine whether the attorney had express or apparent authority to settle the wrongful-death claim against Short. The court affirmed the summary judgment in favor of Short with respect to John's and Linda's individual claims. The case was remanded to the trial court for further proceedings. View "Bowers v. BBH SBMC, LLC" on Justia Law
Doe v. Ledor
Doe alleged that his ex-girlfriend and her friends, including Ledor, embarked upon a “vengeful smear campaign” to harass and defame him after his senior year of high school. In 2020, Ledor sent emails to Dartmouth College officials, stating essentially that Doe had committed voter fraud to win an election for student body president at Berkeley High School (BHS) and providing links to what she represented to be articles and a podcast about the incident. After receiving the emails, Dartmouth revoked Doe’s offer of admission. Ledor later sent Instagram messages to two of Doe's acquaintances, advising them to “avoid him” because “men like him grow up thinking it’s okay to disrespect women and be violent.”Doe sued for defamation, false light, invasion of privacy, civil harassment, civil stalking, and intentional infliction of emotional distress, with a claim for vicarious liability against Ledor’s parents. The Ledors filed a special motion to strike the complaint as a strategic lawsuit against public participation (SLAPP, Code Civ. Proc. 425.16). The trial court denied the motion. The court of appeal affirmed. The Ledors did not meet their burden of showing that the statements in the Dartmouth emails involve protected activity under section 425.16(e)(2) or (4), View "Doe v. Ledor" on Justia Law
Franco v. Reinhardt
The Supreme Court vacated the judgment of the intermediate court of appeals (ICA) reinstating the jury's verdict and judgment for Tiare Franco's family (the Francos) after granting Sabio Reinhardt's motion to set aside the jury verdict and judgment, holding that the ICA erred.The Francos brought a wrongful death lawsuit against Reinhardt for negligently crashing a truck and killing Tiare. National Interstate Insurance Company (NIIC), the truck's insurer, filed a declaratory judgment action claiming it had no duty to defend and indemnify Reinhardt under the policy. The circuit court granted summary judgment for NIIC, and the Francos successfully appealed. Before the ICA resolved the declaratory action appeal, the circuit court held a jury trial, and the jury returned a verdict in favor of the Francos. Counsel for Reinhardt moved to set aside the jury's verdict. The trial court granted the Francos' ensuing motion to disqualify counsel and Reinhardt's motion to set aside the jury verdict and judgment. The ICA reinstated the jury's verdict and judgment, holding that Reinhardt's counsel lacked authority to act as his lawyer. The Supreme Court vacated the ICA's judgment and affirmed the circuit court's orders, holding that the circuit court correctly denied the Francos' motion to disqualify counsel and did not abuse its discretion by granting Reinhardt's motion to set aside. View "Franco v. Reinhardt" on Justia Law
Barr v. Cole
The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the circuit court granting summary judgment in favor of Jeffrey Cole, William Sims, and Gregory Brewers (collectively, the Attorneys) arising out the Attorneys' representation of Doug and Dawn Barr in a personal injury action, holding that the circuit court did not err.The Barrs, husband and wife, were involved in a motor vehicle accident with Stuart Hughes. The Attorneys filed a lawsuit on behalf of the Barrs against Hughes. Following the settlement of their personal injury claims, the Barrs sued the Attorneys for legal malpractice and related claims, challenging the Attorneys' alleged failure to pursue a claim for damages against the State for Hughes's negligence and the Attorneys' failure to inform them of their claim before they agreed to settle. The circuit court granted summary judgment for the Attorneys. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that summary judgment was properly granted because the Barrs could not have asserted a claim against the State in their underlying negligence action, and the Attorneys were not negligent for failing to pursue one. View "Barr v. Cole" on Justia Law
Galarza v. Direct Auto Insurance Co.
Guiracocha and his son, Cristopher, filed an uninsured motorist (UM) claim against Direct Auto, stemming from a hit-and-run incident where 14-year-old Cristopher was struck by a vehicle while riding his bicycle. They asserted Fredy was the named insured under an automobile insurance policy issued by Direct Auto and that UM coverage applied to Cristopher based on his status as a “relative” under the policy. Direct Auto denied coverage because Cristopher was not an occupant of a covered vehicle at the time of the accident and sought a declaratory judgment. The circuit court granted Direct Auto summary judgment.The appellate court reversed, holding that a provision in an automobile insurance policy that limits UM coverage to insureds occupying an insured automobile violates the Illinois Insurance Code (215 ILCS 5/143a). The Illinois Supreme Court affirmed. Section 143a states that an insurance policy cannot be “renewed, delivered, or issued for delivery” in Illinois unless it provides coverage to “any person” for injuries “arising out of the ownership, maintenance or use of a motor vehicle.” A bicyclist injured by an uninsured motorist vehicle is a “person” who suffered injuries arising out of the ownership, maintenance, or use of “a motor vehicle.” The injured person’s status as an occupant of a vehicle is irrelevant. View "Galarza v. Direct Auto Insurance Co." on Justia Law
Rattary v. Favro
Firefighters sued Favro, who crashed his car into a firetruck before receiving aid from the firefighters, alleging that Favro was negligent in failing to comply with their directions and thereby caused them to be harmed by another crashing vehicle.The Firefighter’s Rule negates liability "by one whose negligence causes or contributes to the fire which in turn causes the death or injury of the [firefighter].” with exceptions. Civil Code 1714.9(a)(1) provides: “any person is responsible not only for the results of that person’s willful acts causing injury to a" firefighter "also for any injury occasioned to [the firefighter] by the want of ordinary care or skill in the management of the person’s property or person," "Where the conduct causing the injury occurs after the person knows or should have known of the presence of the" firefighter. The court instructed the jury on: “Assumption of Risk/Exception/Occupation Involving Inherent Risk” The Special Verdict Form asked: Did Favro increase the risks to [the firefighers] through conduct occurring after he knew or should have known of the presence of the firefighters?” The presiding juror marked, “No.”The court of appeal ordered a new trial. Favro’s counsel committed misconduct by misrepresenting to the jury the law applicable to these unusual circumstances, stating that Favro could not be held liable unless he had increased the risk to the firefighters “beyond the risk that’s inherent to their job.”. A subsequent admonition failed to cure the error. View "Rattary v. Favro" on Justia Law
Thomas v. The Regents of the University of California
Thomas was recruited to play on the women’s soccer team at the University of California, Berkeley (UCB), played on the team during her freshman year and, in the spring of that year, was released from the team. She sued UCB, the team’s head coach (McGuire), and the Director of Athletics (Knowlton), alleging that she turned down a scholarship to another school based on McGuire’s recruitment efforts and that McGuire failed to disclose his “abusive” coaching style and the team’s culture of intimidation and fear. After her federal suit was dismissed, Thomas sued in state court, alleging claims against McGuire and Knowlton for violation of the Unruh Act and negligence; against McGuire for breach of fiduciary duty and fraud; and against UCB under Government Code section 815.2.The court of appeal affirmed the dismissal of the suit, reinstating only a claim of sexual harassment (Civil Code section 51.9) against McGuire and UCB. Thomas failed to state a negligence claim against McGuire, Knowlton, or UCB. Thomas cites no authority imposing on a university a duty to protect students from harm of a non-physical nature. Nor did Thomas establish a breach of fiduciary duty. The court also rejected claims of fraud and negligent misrepresentation. View "Thomas v. The Regents of the University of California" on Justia Law
Jordan v. Walmart Associates, Inc.
Appellants Walmart and New Hampshire Insurance Company appealed the Idaho Industrial Commission’s determination that the employee’s widow, Sue Jordan, was entitled to medical and death benefits. More specifically, they challenged the Commission’s application of the presumption set forth in Idaho Code section 72-228 where there was unrebutted prima facie evidence indicating that the employee’s death arose in the course of his employment. Finding no reversible error, the Idaho Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the Idaho Industrial Commission. View "Jordan v. Walmart Associates, Inc." on Justia Law
Team Industrial Services v. Zurich American Insurance Company, et al.
Plaintiff Team Industrial Services, Inc. (Team) suffered a $222 million judgment against it in a wrongful-death lawsuit arising out of a steam-turbine failure in June 2018 at a Westar Energy, Inc. (Westar) power plant. Team sought liability coverage from Westar, Zurich American Insurance Company (Zurich), and two other insurance companies, arguing that it was, or should have been, provided protection by Westar’s Owner-Controlled Insurance Program (OCIP) through insurance policies issued by Zurich and the two other insurers. Team’s claims derived from the fact that its liability for the failure at the Westar power plant arose from work that had previously been performed by Furmanite America, Inc. (Furmanite), which had coverage under Westar’s OCIP. The district court granted summary judgment to Defendants, and Team appealed. Not persuaded by Team's arguments for reversal, the Tenth Circuit affirmed the district court. View "Team Industrial Services v. Zurich American Insurance Company, et al." on Justia Law