Justia Injury Law Opinion Summaries

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the Appellate Court affirming the judgment of the trial court in favor of Defendants on numerous tort claims following an unsuccessful pelvic mesh surgery, holding that the trial court properly directed a verdict on Plaintiffs' innocent misrepresentation claim because that claim did not lie as a matter of law in this context.In their complaint, Plaintiffs alleged lack of informed consent, innocent misrepresentation, negligent misrepresentation, intentional misrepresentation, and loss of consortium. The court directed a verdict for Plaintiffs on the innocent misrepresentation claim. After a trial, the jury returned a verdict for Defendants on the remaining counts. The Appellate Court affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the trial court properly (1) excluded two medical journal articles from evidence as hearsay when they had been offered to prove notice; and (2) directed a verdict for Defendants on the innocent misrepresentation claims. View "Farrell v. Johnson & Johnson" on Justia Law

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After Katie Dix ingested an illegal drug and collapsed while at a Live Nation electronic music festival, she was later pronounced dead from Ecstasy-related dehydration. Katie's parents filed suit against Live Nation for negligence and other causes of action. The trial court granted summary judgment for Live Nation. Plaintiffs contend that the trial court erred in granting summary judgment because Live Nation owed a duty of care to music festival attendees and that triable issues of material fact exist on their negligence cause of action.The Court of Appeal reversed and held that, because of its special relationship with festival attendees, an operator of electronic music festivals like Live Nation owes a duty of reasonable care to festival attendees. The court explained that Live Nation's argument that it did not owe Katie a duty because she voluntarily consumed an illegal drug and died from acute drug intoxication may be relevant to causation or comparative fault, but not duty. Furthermore, after examining the Rowland factors, the court held that the foreseeability factors and policy factors weigh against finding an exception to the legal duty of ordinary care for operators of electronic music festivals. Finally, triable issues of fact for the jury to decide preclude summary judgment regarding breach of duty and causation. View "Dix v. Live Nation Entertainment, Inc." on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed suit against Union Pacific under the Federal Employers' Liability Act (FELA), alleging that he developed a sarcoma as a result of his exposure to diesel fumes and other carcinogenic substances while working as a diesel mechanic for Union Pacific (and for a predecessor, Southern Pacific) for 31 years. Plaintiff previously filed suit against Union Pacific for damages arising from an unrelated 2007 accident and the parties settled that case in 2010. As part of the settlement, plaintiff executed a release of all claims arising from his employment, including any claims concerning exposure to toxic chemicals or fumes.The Court of Appeal held that the "bright line" rule in Babbitt v. Norfolk & W. Ry. (6th Cir. 1997) 104 F.3d 89, best conforms to the governing statute and to the United States Supreme Court opinions interpreting it. Under the rule, which the court partially adopted, a release of a FELA claim is valid only to the extent that it applies to a "bargained-for settlement of a known claim for a specific injury." In this case, plaintiff's settlement of claims from an accident in 2007 did not validly release claims in 2018 for alleged exposure to carcinogenic substances. Accordingly, the court reversed and remanded for further proceedings. The court explained that the release at issue here purported to extend to future claims unrelated to the particular injury that plaintiff previously settled. To that extent, the court held that the release is invalid. View "Chacon v. Union Pacific Railroad" on Justia Law

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In this workers' compensation action, the Court of Appeals held that the Workers' Compensation Commission did not err in calculating the deduction of decibels from Claimants' total average hearing losses under Md. Code Ann., Lab. & Empl. (LE) 9-650(b)(3) by counting the number of years between each firefighter's fiftieth birthday and the dates that they each retired from employment with Montgomery County, Maryland.Anthony Cochran and Andrew Bowen, former firefighters, developed hearing loss, and Bowen also developed tinnitus. Both men filed a claim under LE 9-505. The Commission awarded compensation to both claimants, finding that each had sustained hearing loss arising in and out of the course of their employment and that Bowen had sustained tinnitus arising in and out of the course of his employment. The Court of Special Appeals held that the Commission correctly calculated the deduction set forth in LE 9-650(b)(3) but erred in awarding permanent partial disability benefits to Bowen for tinnitus. The Court of Appeals affirmed in part and reversed in part, holding (1) the Commission properly calculated the deduction set forth in LE 9-650(b)(3) by counting the number of years between each man's fiftieth birthday and the date of retirement; and (2) the Court of Special Appeals erred in reversing the Commission's decision as to tinnitus. View "Montgomery County v. Cochran & Bowen" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed suit against the United States and Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) officers for injuries suffered during an incident at the International Port of Entry Gateway Bridge in Brownsville, Texas. The Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment in favor of the CBP officers based on qualified immunity. In this case, the court found that plaintiff was neither arrested nor unreasonably seized, and the officers did not use excessive force. The court also affirmed the district court's dismissal of plaintiff's claims against the United States for lack of subject-matter jurisdiction based on the customs-duty exception to the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA). View "Angulo v. Brown" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the ruling of the district court dismissing an employee's gross negligence claim against a coemployee, holding that settlement documents submitted to and approved by the workers' compensation commissioner extinguished the employee's gross negligence claim.Plaintiff, an employee of Lutheran Services in Iowa (LSI) was attacked by one of LSI's clients, causing injuries. Plaintiff filed a workers' compensation claim against LSI and its workers' compensation carrier. The parties settled, and the two settlement documents were approved by the Iowa Workers' Compensation Commissioner. Plaintiff subsequently filed a petition in district court seeking to recover damages from Defendant, Plaintiff's supervisor when he worked at LSI, on a theory of gross negligence. Defendant moved to dismiss the action, relying on release language in the settlement documents. The district court granted summary judgment for Defendant on both contract and statutory grounds. The court of appeals reversed, concluding that a settlement with the commissioner did not release a common law claim of gross negligence against a coemployee. The Supreme Court vacated the court of appeals' judgment and affirmed the district court's summary judgment, holding that the district court properly ruled that, as a matter of contract, the language in the terms of settlement extinguished Plaintiff's gross negligence claim. View "Terry v. Dorothy" on Justia Law

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In this negligence action stemming from injuries Plaintiff allegedly received by a dog in the waiting room of a veterinary clinic, the Court of Appeals modified the order of the Appellate Division affirming Supreme Court's summary judgment in favor of Defendant, the veterinary clinic, holding that neither party was entitled to summary judgment.In granting summary judgment for Defendant, Supreme Court concluded that Defendant's liability was contingent upon it having had notice of vicious propensities in the same manner as that of a dog owner. The Appellate Division affirmed, concluding that Defendant could not be held liable without notice of an animal's vicious propensities. The Court of Appeals modified the order below by denying Defendant's motion for summary judgment, holding (1) Defendant did not need the protection afforded by the vicious propensities notice requirement, and the absence of such notice did not warrant dismissal of Plaintiff's claim; (2) under the circumstances, a negligence claim may lie despite Defendant's lack of notice of the dog's vicious propensities; and (3) questions of fact existed precluding summary judgment. View "Hewitt v. Palmer Veterinary Clinic, PC" on Justia Law

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Tabirta was driving a truck in Ohio, when another truck, driven by Cummings, collided with his vehicle. Plaintiff suffered severe injuries, including the amputation of both legs. Cummings’s vehicle was owned by his employer, GML. Tabirta filed a negligence action in Cook County. The defendants moved to transfer venue. Under 735 ILCS 5/2-101, venue is proper either in the county of residence of any defendant or in the county where the transaction occurred. Tabirta cited the Cook County home office of GML employee Bolton (a part-time account representative) and argued that GML was “doing business” in the county. Cummings is not a resident of Cook County. GML is a Missouri corporation with its principal place of business and registered agent located in Randolph County.The Illinois Supreme Court held that Cook County is not the proper venue for the suit. Bolton's work for GML from his home office, standing alone, does not establish that the home was an “other office.” GML did not “purposely select” a location in Cook County to carry on its business but selected Bolton, a person with extensive experience in the food industry. Even if Bolton’s proximity to customers played a role in his hiring, GML did not own, lease, or pay any expenses associated with Bolton’s residence. GML did not hold out to customers or the public that Bolton’s residence was a GML office. GML had no office or other facility in Cook County. Bolton did not sell products from his home office. The work he conducted from his residence was merely incidental to GML’s usual and customary business of food product manufacturing. View "Tabirta v. Cummings" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed suit against FEG for negligent product design after his arm was amputated when it came into contact with the unguarded blade of one of FEG's commercial meat saws, the Hobart Model 6614. Plaintiff was working as the meat-market manager at a supermarket at the time he sustained his injuries. A jury awarded plaintiff and his wife $4,050,000.The Eleventh Circuit affirmed the district court's evidentiary determinations, holding that the district court did not abuse its broad discretion in rejecting FEG's Daubert challenge to the testimony of plaintiff's expert regarding inadequate testing. The court also held that the district court did not abuse its discretion in finding that allowing the jury to consider the expert's supplemental affidavit was harmless. The court further held that there was sufficient evidence introduced at trial to satisfy Florida's risk utility test and the evidence was sufficient to uphold a verdict of negligent design. Furthermore, the evidence introduced at trial was sufficient to support a finding that FEG's saw failed the consumer expectations test. Although it may have been error for the district court not to issue FEG's requested Florida state-of-the-art instruction, the court held that it was not reversible error. Finally, the district court did not abuse its broad discretion by admitting summaries of OSHA reports of fatalities and catastrophes. View "Crawford v. ITW Food Equipment Group, LLC" on Justia Law

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Appellee-Plaintiff Patricia Hammons (“Hammons”) was an Indiana resident who suffered significant injuries following the May 2009 implantation in Indiana of Appellant-Defendant Ethicon, Inc.’s Prolift Kit, a medical device used to treat “medical conditions in the female pelvis, primarily pelvic organ prolapse and/or stress urinary incontinence.” She received treatment in Indiana and Kentucky. All parties agreed the mesh was the only aspect of the Prolift Kit produced in Pennsylvania. Ethicon contracted with Secant Medical, Inc., a Bucks County manufacturer, to weave the mesh according to Ethicon’s specifications from Ethicon’s proprietary polypropylene filament. Hammons filed a complaint in the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas against Ethicon, Johnson & Johnson, Gynecare, and Secant, asserting various claims related to the implanted device. Ethicon was a wholly-owned subsidiary of co-defendant Johnson & Johnson, both of which were headquartered and incorporated in New Jersey (jointly “Ethicon”). After initially being removed to federal court based on Ethicon’s claim of diversity jurisdiction, the case was eventually remanded to the Pennsylvania court, where it was transferred to the Complex Litigation Center Pelvic Mesh Mass Tort Program. Relevant to Hammons’ claim, Plaintiffs alleged that Ethicon “designed, manufactured, packaged, labeled, marketed, sold, and distributed” the Prolift Kit. Plaintiffs named Secant as a defendant, claiming that it “designed, tested, inspected, wove, knitted, cut, treated, packaged, manufactured, marketed, and/or sold a mesh made from polypropylene and/or other synthetically derived filaments that was the actual mesh utilized” in Ethicon’s Prolift Kits. This case presented a challenge to the exercise of specific personal jurisdiction in Pennsylvania over New Jersey corporate defendants, to a case filed by an Indiana resident. After reviewing recent decisions from the United States Supreme Court revising its personal jurisdiction jurisprudence, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court concluded that the imposition of personal jurisdiction in this case met the relevant constitutional and statutory requirements, and affirmed the Superior Court. View "Hammons v. Ethicon, Inc., et al" on Justia Law