Justia Injury Law Opinion Summaries

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Roel Canales sued Pay and Save, a grocery store, for injuries he sustained after his foot got stuck in a wooden pallet used to display watermelons, causing him to fall and fracture his elbow. Canales had visited the store hundreds of times before and had purchased watermelons without incident. The wooden pallets, which have open sides to facilitate transport by forklifts and pallet jacks, are a common and necessary tool used by grocery stores to transport and display watermelons due to their size, weight, and shape.The trial court awarded Canales over $6 million in damages. The Court of Appeals for the Fourth District of Texas found the evidence legally but not factually sufficient to support the jury's findings regarding premises liability, reversed the decision, and remanded for a new trial. The court also ruled that Canales take nothing on his gross negligence claim.The Supreme Court of Texas disagreed with the Court of Appeals. It held that the evidence was legally insufficient to support both claims because the wooden pallet was not unreasonably dangerous as a matter of law. The court noted that there was no evidence of prior complaints, reports, or injuries from similar pallets, not just at Pay and Save’s 150 stores, but also at other grocery stores. The court also found no evidence of any code, law, or regulation prohibiting or restricting the use of wooden pallets. The court concluded that the wooden pallet was a common condition, a type of hazard that people encounter and avoid every day by exercising common sense, prudence, and caution. The court reversed the Court of Appeals' judgment in part and rendered judgment for Pay and Save. View "Pay and Save, Inc. v. Canales" on Justia Law

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Sally Splittgerber suffered a fall while walking on a city sidewalk, leading to a personal injury lawsuit against the owner of the adjacent property, the lessee of that property (Bankers Trust), and the City of Des Moines. The plaintiffs alleged that these parties were negligent in maintaining the uneven sidewalk. After settling the claims, Bankers Trust sought contribution from the City for the settlement payment, arguing that the City, not the property owner or lessee, was responsible for maintaining the sidewalk.The district court, relying on the precedent set in Madden v. City of Iowa City, granted summary judgment in favor of the City. The court held that the City could impose liability on abutting landowners for damages resulting from other types of failures to maintain sidewalks, beyond just snow and ice removal. Bankers Trust appealed this decision, asking the Supreme Court of Iowa to overrule the Madden decision.The Supreme Court of Iowa agreed with Bankers Trust, stating that the Madden decision was wrongly decided. The court found that the City's attempt to shift costs and liability to abutting landowners for sidewalk maintenance and accidents beyond what the state statute allows was in direct conflict with the legislature's express determination about where such burdens reside. The court noted that the statute only permits cities to require abutting landowners to repair sidewalks if the city first notifies the landowners by certified mail that a repair is necessary, and only permits cities to hold abutting landowners liable for damages if they fail to remove snow and ice from the sidewalk.The court overruled the Madden decision, reversed the district court's summary judgment ruling, and remanded the case for further proceedings consistent with this opinion. View "Bankers Trust Company v. City Of Des Moines" on Justia Law

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The plaintiff, Ron Myers, suffered a leg injury after slipping on a diving board at a city pool in Cedar Falls, Iowa. He sued the City of Cedar Falls, alleging that the diving board lacked a slip-resistant surface required by state regulations. The City moved for summary judgment, arguing that it was immune from liability under Iowa Code section 670.4(1)(l), which grants immunity to operators of municipal swimming pools unless there is a "knowing" violation of regulations. The district court granted the City's motion, concluding that Myers failed to establish a "knowing" violation of the regulations.Myers appealed the decision, and the case was transferred to the court of appeals. The court of appeals reversed the district court's decision, finding that there were factual questions about the condition of the diving board that precluded summary judgment. The City then sought further review from the Supreme Court of Iowa.The Supreme Court of Iowa accepted the City's invitation to overrule a previous decision, Sanon v. City of Pella, which had interpreted the "criminal offense" exception to immunity for operators of municipal swimming pools under Iowa Code section 670.4(1)(l) to include violations of agency regulations. The court found that Sanon was "egregiously wrong" and had caused ongoing problems. The court held that the legislature did not make violating swimming pool regulations a criminal offense, and therefore, the City was immune from liability under Iowa Code section 670.4(1)(l). The court vacated the decision of the court of appeals and affirmed the district court's summary judgment. View "Myers v. City of Cedar Falls" on Justia Law

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The case involves a medical malpractice claim brought by Ivan J. Konsul against Juan Antonio Asensio, M.D. The claim arose from treatment Konsul received after being admitted to Creighton University Medical Center following a motor vehicle accident. Asensio, a trauma surgeon, placed an inferior vena cava filter (IVC filter) in Konsul to prevent migration of deep vein thrombosis. Konsul alleged that Asensio violated applicable standards of care in various respects, including unnecessary placement of the filter, improper location of the filter, and failing to inform Konsul of the long-term risks of the filter remaining in his body. Konsul claimed that due to Asensio's failures, the filter migrated throughout his body and became lodged behind his heart, causing physical pain, mental suffering, and additional health care costs.The case went to a jury trial. Konsul called Dr. David Dreyfuss as an expert witness to provide testimony regarding the standard of care applicable to Asensio. However, the district court ruled that Dreyfuss could not testify regarding the applicable standard of care in Omaha, as he was not familiar with the standard of care in Omaha or a similar community. Without Dreyfuss' testimony, Konsul provided no evidence of the standard of care, and the district court dismissed Konsul's case.Konsul appealed, claiming that the district court erred when it struck Dreyfuss as an expert witness and when it granted Asensio's motion for a directed verdict and dismissed the case. The Nebraska Supreme Court affirmed the district court's decision, concluding that the district court did not err when it struck Dreyfuss as an expert witness and when it granted Asensio's motion for a directed verdict and dismissed Konsul's case. The court also found that any error regarding the deposition issues was harmless considering the proper dismissal of the action based on Konsul's failure to provide evidence of the standard of care. View "Konsul v. Asensio" on Justia Law

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The case revolves around an incident that occurred during the 2018 Kentucky Derby. Joi Denise Roby and her husband were invited by Kyle McGinty to the backside stable area of Churchill Downs, a restricted area not open to the public. Roby, who had experience with horses, interacted with the horses in their stalls, including a stable pony named Henry. Henry, owned by Bradley Racing Stables and William Buff Bradley, was used to escort racehorses to and from the track, but was not actively engaged in this activity on the day of the incident. As Roby approached Henry in his stall, he lunged and bit her. Roby subsequently sued Bradley and Churchill Downs for breaching their duty to maintain a safe premises.The Jefferson Circuit Court granted summary judgment in favor of Bradley and Churchill Downs, holding that the Farm Animals Activity Act (FAAA) exemption did not apply to Churchill Downs because the stabling of a horse was a farm animal activity, not a horse racing activity. The court also ruled that Roby was a licensee because she conferred no benefit to Churchill Downs and no evidence in the record supported a breach of duty. The Court of Appeals reversed the trial court orders granting summary judgment for Bradley and Churchill Downs, finding that the horse racing exemption applied because live racing was occurring, Roby was injured after being bitten by a horse located on the premises, and the horse was used to escort racehorses to and from the track.The Supreme Court of Kentucky reversed the Court of Appeals' decision, holding that the FAAA horse racing exemption did not apply to Roby's injuries. The court reasoned that while horse racing activities were occurring at Churchill Downs during the Kentucky Derby, neither Bradley, Churchill Downs, nor Roby were engaged in horse racing activities at the time Roby was bitten. The court also held that Louisville Metro Code of Ordinances § 91.028(A), which imposes liability for any personal injury caused by an animal, did not apply to Roby's injuries due to the FAAA's limitation of liability. View "Bradley Racing Stables, LLC v. Roby" on Justia Law

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The case revolves around a car accident that occurred on November 4, 2015, involving Donna Powers and Fendol Carruthers, Jr. Carruthers was charged and pleaded guilty to operating a motor vehicle under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Powers claimed to have sustained serious, permanent injuries from the crash. Carruthers was insured by State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company (State Farm) with a policy limit of $50,000. Powers began receiving Personal Injury Protection (PIP) benefits from her own insurance carrier, Kentucky Farm Bureau (KFB). The Kentucky Motor Vehicle Reparations Act (MVRA) imposes a two-year statute of limitations for tort actions arising from motor vehicle accidents. Powers received her last PIP payment on August 4, 2016, meaning any tort claim she wished to assert arising from her accident with Carruthers must have been filed by August 4, 2018.Powers filed a complaint in McCracken Circuit Court on April 3, 2018, asserting a negligence claim against Carruthers and an underinsured motorist (UIM) claim against KFB. However, Carruthers had died two years earlier in March 2016, unbeknownst to Powers or her attorneys. The case remained stagnant for the next year, with Powers failing to take any action to rectify the portion of her complaint that was a nullity against Carruthers. It wasn't until August 2019 that Powers successfully moved the district court to appoint the Public Administrator to act as Administrator of Carruthers’s Estate.The Supreme Court of Kentucky affirmed the decisions of the lower courts, which had dismissed Powers’s negligence claim against Carruthers, denied Powers’s motions for substitution and revival, denied Powers’s motion for leave to amend her complaint to raise a new claim, and granted summary judgment in favor of KFB. The court held that Powers’s claim against Carruthers was null, and her attempted claim against the Estate was untimely. Furthermore, Powers’s inability to recover from Carruthers or the Estate foreclosed her underinsured motorist claim against KFB. View "Powers v. Kentucky Farm Bureau Mutual Insurance Co." on Justia Law

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The case involves Alejandra Padilla, who tripped, fell, and suffered serious injuries while walking on a public sidewalk abutting a vacant commercial lot in Camden, New Jersey. The lot was owned by Young Il An and Myo Soon An. Padilla sued the owners for negligence, claiming that their failure to maintain the sidewalk caused her fall and consequent injuries. The owners moved for summary judgment, arguing that they did not owe her a duty of care.The trial court granted the owners' motion, and the Appellate Division affirmed, holding that the owner of a non-income producing vacant commercial lot has no duty to the public to maintain the lot’s abutting sidewalk in a safe condition.The Supreme Court of New Jersey reversed the lower courts' decisions. The court held that all commercial landowners, including owners of vacant commercial lots, have a duty to maintain the public sidewalks abutting their property in reasonably good condition and are liable to pedestrians injured as a result of their negligent failure to do so. The court reasoned that the moment an individual or an entity purchases a lot in a commercially zoned area, the purchaser has begun a commercial endeavor and intends to make money. Therefore, it is not unreasonable or unfair for such an individual to have to factor liability insurance into the cost of embarking on the journey of their commercial endeavor. The case was remanded to the trial court for further proceedings. View "Padilla v. Young Il An" on Justia Law

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The case involves a lawsuit filed by Rosemary Lambert and Carolyn Hinzman, individually and as co-executors of the estate of Delmar P. Fields, against Eldercare of Jackson County, LLC, Community Health Association, and Dr. Irvin John Snyder. The plaintiffs allege that Mr. Fields contracted COVID-19 while a resident at Eldercare and died while under the care of Jackson General and Dr. Snyder. The defendants sought dismissal of the lawsuit, arguing that they were immune from liability under the COVID-19 Jobs Protection Act.The Circuit Court of Jackson County denied the defendants' motions to dismiss. The court interpreted the term "actual malice" in the COVID-19 Jobs Protection Act to mean that the defendant acted with the intent to injure or harm the plaintiff or decedent. The court found that the plaintiffs had alleged sufficient facts to survive a motion to dismiss.On appeal, the Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia affirmed the lower court's decision in part and reversed in part. The court held that the term "actual malice" in the COVID-19 Jobs Protection Act means that the defendant acted with the deliberate intent to commit an injury, as evidenced by external circumstances. The court found that the plaintiffs had alleged sufficient facts to show that Eldercare engaged in intentional conduct with actual malice. However, the court found that the allegations against Jackson General Hospital and Dr. Snyder were insufficient to establish that they engaged in intentional conduct with actual malice. The case was remanded for further proceedings. View "Eldercare of Jackson County, LLC v. Lambert" on Justia Law

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The case involves Michael D. Ruble and Brenda K. Ruble, who filed a lawsuit against Rust-Oleum Corporation and other defendants. Michael Ruble alleged that he was injured due to exposure to defective, toxic chemicals at his workplace, which were manufactured by third parties. He filed a product-defect lawsuit against these manufacturers and a workers' compensation claim with his employer. The workers' compensation administrative process concluded that Ruble failed to prove he developed an injury as a result of his employment. The third-party manufacturers then moved to dismiss the product-defect lawsuit, arguing that Ruble was barred from litigating causation in court due to the workers' compensation decision. The Circuit Court of Cabell County granted the motion to dismiss.The Circuit Court of Cabell County ruled in favor of the third-party manufacturers, applying the doctrine of collateral estoppel. The court held that the workers' compensation decision precluded Ruble from litigating the causation issue in court. The court found that the workers' compensation process involved legal standards and procedural rules that were substantially different from those in a courtroom, and that process did not afford Ruble a full and fair opportunity to litigate whether the third-party manufacturers' chemicals were a cause of his injury.The Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia reversed the circuit court's decision. The court found that the workers' compensation administrative procedures were not an adequate substitute for juridical procedures in the circuit court. The court held that Ruble did not have a full and fair opportunity to litigate the issue of causation in the prior workers' compensation administrative proceedings. The court concluded that it was error for the circuit court to have applied collateral estoppel to Ruble's claims. The case was remanded for further proceedings. View "Ruble v. Rust-Oleum Corporation" on Justia Law

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The case involves Continental Indemnity Company (Continental) and its attempt to collect a default judgment against BII, Inc. (BII) from Starr Indemnity & Liability Company (Starr), BII's insurer. Continental had paid a workers' compensation claim for an employee injured at a construction site where BII was a subcontractor. Continental then sought reimbursement from BII, which had failed to maintain its own workers' compensation insurance. When BII did not pay, Continental secured a default judgment against BII and sought to collect from Starr under Illinois garnishment procedures.The district court in the Northern District of Illinois dismissed the garnishment proceeding against Starr, finding that it lacked subject matter jurisdiction. The court reasoned that the dispute over the scope of coverage under the Starr-BII insurance policy was too distinct from the underlying suit between Continental and BII. Continental appealed this decision to the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit.The Seventh Circuit affirmed the district court's decision. The court found that the garnishment proceeding introduced new factual and legal issues, making it essentially a new lawsuit. The court explained that while federal courts have ancillary enforcement jurisdiction to consider proceedings related to an underlying suit, the subject of those proceedings must still be sufficiently related to the facts and legal issues of the original action. In this case, the court found that the garnishment proceeding fell outside the scope of ancillary enforcement jurisdiction. The court suggested that Continental could file a new civil action against Starr to litigate the dispute over the insurance policy's coverage. View "Continental Indemnity Company v. BII, Inc." on Justia Law