Justia Injury Law Opinion Summaries
Sedar v. Reston Town Center Property, LLC
After plaintiff experienced a serious fall down a short flight of stairs, she filed a premises liability action against defendants for negligence and negligence per se. The district court granted summary judgment to defendants, holding that plaintiff did not offer sufficient evidence that there was a dangerous condition, defendants had notice of the condition, or the alleged dangerous condition caused her fall.The Fourth Circuit reversed and remanded, concluding that plaintiff has produced sufficient evidence from which a reasonable jury could conclude the loose bricks and the gap between them and the step posed a dangerous condition; there is a genuine issue of material fact as to whether defendants had constructive notice of the hazard; and there is sufficient evidence for a reasonable inference of causation. View "Sedar v. Reston Town Center Property, LLC" on Justia Law
Murphy Oil, USA, Inc. v. English
Shirley English sued Murphy Oil USA, Inc., after she slipped and fell in the restroom of a Murphy Oil gas station. Murphy Oil moved for summary judgment, but the trial court denied the motion. After a bench trial, the court entered a judgment in favor of English. The trial court made no findings of fact during the trial and instead took the matter under consideration after inviting the parties to submit briefs. One day after the briefing deadline had passed, the trial court entered a judgment in favor of English and awarded her compensatory damages in the amount of $125,000. The trial court did not make any written factual findings as a part of its judgment. It appeared from the record that Murphy Oil did not move for a new trial or for judgment as a matter of law, and it did not otherwise challenge the sufficiency of the evidence before it appealed to the Alabama Supreme Court. Murphy Oil argued on appeal that: (1) the trial court erred by denying its summary-judgment motion; (2) English offered no evidence at trial to sustain a judgment holding it liable for negligence; and (3) the trial court erred by admitting evidence of medical expenses that was unsupported by expert testimony. The Supreme Court determined none of Murphy Oil's arguments provided a ground for reversing the trial court judgment: Murphy Oil did not establish the Supreme Court should disregard the general rule against reviewing a trial court's denial of a summary- judgment motion after a trial on the merits. And its argument about the sufficiency of the evidence at trial was not properly before the Supreme Court. Finally, based on the record before it, the Supreme Court could not say that the trial court erred by admitting evidence of English's medical expenses. View "Murphy Oil, USA, Inc. v. English" on Justia Law
Goins v. Advanced Disposal Services Gulf Coast, LLC
Lonas Goins was injured when a train locomotive that he was operating collided with a garbage truck at a railroad intersection. Goins sued the owner and the driver of the truck. After a five-day trial, a jury found in favor of Goins and awarded him damages. Dissatisfied with the jury's damages award, Goins appealed the judgment, arguing that the trial court committed multiple errors that warranted a new trial. Finding no reversible error, the Alabama Supreme Court rejected Goins's arguments and affirmed the judgment. View "Goins v. Advanced Disposal Services Gulf Coast, LLC" on Justia Law
Moore v. Tyson
Chris and Suzanne Moore, as parents and next friends of Sydney Moore, a minor, appealed the grant of summary judgment entered in favor of Pamela Tyson and Jennifer Douthit, two employees of the Huntsville City Board of Education ("the Board"), with regard to negligence and wantonness claims asserted against Tyson and Douthit by the Moores arising from injuries suffered by Sydney at her elementary school. Tyson was employed by the Board as a teacher at Goldsmith-Schiffman Elementary School. Douthit was employed as the principal of the school. Sydney was enrolled at the school as a third-grade student in Tyson's class. Tyson left the students unsupervised in the classroom while she went to the restroom. During that time, Sydney and another student in the class left their seats, and, according to Sydney, the other student caused her to fall and hit her head and face on a counter in the classroom. Sydney suffered injuries from her fall, including fractures of her left orbital bone, her eye socket, and her nose and entrapment of her eye. Sydney was admitted for treatment at a hospital and underwent surgery as a result of the injuries. THe Alabama Supreme Court determined the Moores did not demonstrate the trial court erred in entering summary judgment in favor of Tyson and Douthit based on immunity. Accordingly, the Court affirmed the trial court's judgment. View "Moore v. Tyson" on Justia Law
Allstate Property & Casualty Ins. Co. v. Harbin
Defendant Allstate Property and Casualty Insurance Company ("Allstate"), appealed a circuit court's order granting the posttrial motion of the plaintiff, Doyle Harbin, which sought the imposition of sanctions based on Allstate's purported violation of a pretrial mediation order. In 2015, Harbin was injured as the result of a motor-vehicle accident that he alleged was caused by Irvin Stewart. Harbin subsequently filed a complaint in the trial court asserting a negligence claim against Stewart. In the same complaint, Harbin also named Allstate, Harbin's automobile insurance carrier, as a defendant and sought to recover uninsured/underinsured-motorist ("UIM") benefits under his Allstate policy. Following Stewart's dismissal, Harbin, without opposition from Allstate, requested that the scheduled trial date be continued and the matter referred to mediation. Unable to reach a settlement, the matter proceeded to trial. A jury returned a $690,000 verdict in Harbin's favor. Approximately two weeks later, Harbin filed a "Motion for Entry of Judgment and Motion for Sanctions," essentially contending Allstate in bad faith failed to abide by the Order which set the Court-ordered mediation in which Allstate had agreed to participate. The motion requested Allstate pay Harbin's trial-related attorneys' fees. The Alabama Supreme Court found the evidence failed to show Allstate violated the trial court's mediation order, thus it exceeded its discretion by issuing Harbin's requested sanctions. The Court therefore reversed the portion of the trial court's order imposing sanctions exceeding Harbin's request for costs and fees totaling $57,516.36, and remanded this matter for further proceedings. View "Allstate Property & Casualty Ins. Co. v. Harbin" on Justia Law
Ryser v. Shelter Mutual Insurance
The issue this case presented for the Colorado Supreme Court's review centered on whether an injured passenger riding in a vehicle negligently driven by one co-worker and owned by another co-worker, when all three were acting within the course and scope of their employment, could recover UM/UIM benefits under the vehicle owner’s insurance policy. Although the parties disputed the meaning of the phrases “legally entitled to recover” and “legally entitled to collect” under section 10-4-609, C.R.S. (2020) the Court did not resolve that dispute here because, assuming without deciding that plaintiff Kent Ryser’s interpretation was correct, the Court concluded that he still could not prevail. Specifically, the Court found an injured co-worker was barred by operation of the Workers’ Compensation Act's (“WCA”) exclusivity and co-employee immunity principles from recovering UM/UIM benefits from a co-employee vehicle owner’s insurer for damages stemming from a work-related accident in which another co-employee negligently drove the owner’s vehicle and the injured party was an authorized passenger. Though the Court's reasoning differed from the appellate court's judgment, it affirmed the outcome: summary judgment was properly entered in favor of the insurance company. View "Ryser v. Shelter Mutual Insurance" on Justia Law
Morgan v. J-M Manufacturing Co., Inc.
After Norris Morgan was diagnosed with mesothelioma in December 2017, he and his wife filed suit against J-MM and others. The jury concluded that Morgan was exposed to asbestos from products that J-MM sold, and that J-MM was partly responsible for Morgan’s mesothelioma; awarded compensatory damages; and concluded that J-MM had acted with malice, oppression, or fraud, and awarded an additional $15,000,000 as punitive damages. Based on the jury's apportionment of fault, the trial court entered judgment for plaintiff and his wife against J-MM for $22,213,704.39. The trial court subsequently denied J-MM's motions for judgment notwithstanding the verdict and new trial.The Court of Appeal concluded that the record contains evidence from which the jury could reasonably have concluded that Morgan was exposed to asbestos from pipe supplied by J-MM; the trial court was not required to give J-MM's requested jury instruction that J-MM was not liable for the conduct of another company; and the jury's punitive damage award is not supported by substantial evidence. Accordingly, the court reversed the award of punitive damages and affirmed in all other respects. View "Morgan v. J-M Manufacturing Co., Inc." on Justia Law
Oden v. Minot Builders Supply, et al.
Chris Oden appealed a district court order vacating a transcribed Missouri foreign judgment. Oden argued: (1) vacating the transcribed Missouri judgment violated the Full Faith and Credit Clause of the United States Constitution; (2) the court erred in relying on a decision issued between the parties in prior litigation because that decision was barred by administrative res judicata as the result of Oden’s Missouri workers compensation claim; and (3) the court erred by affording a prior judgment res judicata effect while that case was pending on appeal. In May 2010, Oden was injured in Missouri while employed by Minot Builders Supply. North Dakota Workforce Safety and Insurance (“WSI”) accepted the claim and awarded benefits for Oden’s injuries. In May 2013, Oden filed a claim for compensation in Missouri for the same work-related injury. In October 2013, WSI suspended payment of further benefits on Oden’s claim after Oden claimed benefits Missouri. Subsequent to Oden settling his Missouri workers compensation claim, WSI sent Oden notice that the prior North Dakota workers compensation award was being reversed because Oden’s receipt of benefits in Missouri. WSI provided notice to Oden his workers compensation benefits were being denied, informed Oden he would need to reimburse WSI, and informed Oden he had thirty days to request reconsideration. Oden did not request reconsideration of WSI’s decision. In July 2018, WSI commenced an action in North Dakota against Oden seeking reimbursement for previous payments made to Oden. The district court in the Burleigh County case granted summary judgment in favor of WSI and awarded WSI the full amount paid to Oden, plus accruing interest, costs, and disbursements. Oden argued in the North Dakota case that WSI was bound by the Missouri workers compensation settlement because the settlement agreement included a signature of an attorney purportedly acting on behalf of WSI. The court determined WSI could not be bound by the Missouri agreement because WSI was not a party to the settlement, and there was no evidence to support a finding that the attorney who purportedly signed on behalf of WSI had any authority to represent WSI or act as WSI’s agent. Finding no reversible error, the North Dakota Supreme Court affirmed the district court. View "Oden v. Minot Builders Supply, et al." on Justia Law
Johnson v. Menard, Inc.
Menard, Inc. (“Menards”) appealed an order denying a motion for summary judgment, an order denying a motion for judgment as a matter of law, an order granting attorney’s fees, an order as to the amount of attorney’s fees recoverable and entry of judgment, and a judgment. In 2013, Darlene Johnson visited a Menards store in Minot to exchange an item. A Menards employee directed Johnson to find the exchange in the store and return to the service counter. Johnson turned toward her right and started walking away. Almost immediately, Johnson tripped over a flatbed cart. The cart was one Menards offers its customers to use while in the store. As a result of the trip and fall, Johnson cracked seven teeth. 2017, Johnson filed a negligence action against Menards in small claims court seeking damages in the amount of $14,818.00. Menards removed the case to district court. Johnson then amended her claim with the consent of Menards. In the amended complaint, Johnson sought a jury trial and “a reasonable amount but not less than $50,000” in damages. Before trial, Menards moved for summary judgment contesting whether sufficient facts created a duty of care it owed to Johnson. The court denied the motion. At trial, Menards moved for judgment as a matter of law at the close of Johnson’s case. Menards again claimed insufficient evidence existed to require a duty of care Menards owed Johnson. Alternatively, Menards argued it had met any duty it owed Johnson. The court denied the motion. Menards did not renew its motion for judgment as a matter of law at the close of its case or after the jury returned the verdict. After review, the North Dakota Supreme Court affirmed the trial court, but remanded for consideration of Johnson's attorney's fees for this appeal. View "Johnson v. Menard, Inc." on Justia Law
White v. Owen
In this case stemming from a motor vehicle accident the Supreme Court affirmed as modified the circuit court's order dismissing with prejudice Plaintiffs' claims against against Defendant, holding that the circuit court correctly dismissed the claims but directed that the dismissal be without prejudice.In his motion to dismiss, Defendant alleged that he had not been properly or timely served and requested that the complaint be dismissed pursuant to Ark. R. Civ. P. 4(i) and 12(b)(5). The circuit court found that the motion should be granted and dismissed the complaint with prejudice. The Supreme Court affirmed as modified, holding (1) the circuit court did not err by concluding that service of the summons and complaint on Defendant was insufficient; but (2) because Plaintiffs' timely attempted service commenced the suit for purpose of the savings statute, the statute of limitations was tolled and provided Plaintiffs one year to refile their suit. View "White v. Owen" on Justia Law