Justia Injury Law Opinion Summaries

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the court of appeals affirming the judgment of the district court dismissing this insurance dispute for failure to state a claim, holding that resident-relative exclusions do not frustrate the purpose behind the abolition of interfamilial tort immunities.Appellants' son was seriously injured by a pet dog at his grandparents' residents. Appellants, on behalf of their son, filed a declaratory judgment action against Respondent after Respondent denied their claim for homeowner's insurance benefits on the basis a resident-relative exclusion in the relevant policy. In their complaint, Appellants claimed that resident-relative exclusions, inter alia, frustrate the purpose of the abolition of interfamilial tort immunities. The district court dismissed the complaint for failure to state a claim, and the court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the resident-relative exclusion in the homeowner's insurance policy at issue was enforceable. View "Poitra v. Short" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the decision of the district court granting summary judgment to two job site operators during the 1960s and 1970s for indirectly exposing his wife to asbestos dust, holding that job site operators owe a duty of care to a worker's cohabitants with respect to take-home exposure to asbestos.During his marriage to Barbara Boynton, Larry Boynton worked at numerous job sites where he was exposed to asbestos. Larry alleged in this complaint that Barbara was exposed to asbestos dust he carried home from work, bringing on her mesothelioma and resulting death. The district court granted summary judgment for two job site operators, concluding that they did not owe a duty of care to Barbara. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) job site operators are liable to their employees' cohabitants for take-home asbestos exposure; and (2) a genuine issue of material fact existed about whether one of the operators retained control over its contractor. View "Kennecott Utah Copper, LLC v. Phillips 66 Co." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court declined in this case to recognize an exception to the general rule that an adjacent landowner generally owes no duty of care to a motorist who leaves the regularly traveled portion of the road and strikes a stationary object in the right-of-way, holding that Defendants in this case did not owe a duty of care to a motorist with respect to their mailbox.Plaintiff sustained catastrophic injuries as a result of his collision with Defendants' reinforced mailbox after hitting a patch of ice and leaving the ordinarily traveled portion of the road. The trial court granted summary judgment in favor of Defendants, concluding that they owed no duty of care to Plaintiff. The court of appeals affirmed. On appeal, Defendants asked the Supreme Court to hold that an adjacent landowner owes a duty of care to a motorist who unintentionally strays from the regularly traveled portion of the road if the landowner has consciously created a hazard in the right-of-way with knowledge of the danger it would present to such a motorist. The Supreme Court declined to do so and affirmed, holding that Defendants did not owe Plaintiff a duty of care with respect to their mailbox. View "Snay v. Burr" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the rulings of the district court that the State was covered by an insurance policy it had with National Indemnity Company (National) for claims made against the State for injury and death resulting from asbestos exposure but reversed the district court's rulings regarding qualifying "occurrences" under the policy, holding that remand was required for further consideration of these issues.This insurance dispute followed litigation between the State and claimants who alleged that they were harmed by the State's failure to warn them of the hazards of asbestos exposure over years of mining and milling operations in Libby, Montana. National insured the State against general liability from 1973-1975. National filed this action seeking determinations that it had no obligation to defend the State or to cover the claims. The State concluded that National breached its duty to defend the State but disagreed with the district court's determination of the number of "occurrences" eligible for coverage under the policy, holding that remand was required for further factual findings. View "National Indemnity Co. v. State" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit affirmed on a limited basis the district court's ruling that Plaintiffs suit must be dismissed for lack of personal jurisdiction, holding that dismissal was required.Plaintiff, a New York resident, brought this suit over a for-profit Israeli corporation that ranked the performance of United States investment analysts, claiming that that company defamed her in Massachusetts by posting a low rating of her professional performance. The district court dismissed the suit for lack of personal jurisdiction. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that Plaintiff failed to meet her burden to adduce evidence of specific facts sufficient to satisfy the requirements of constitutional due process for the exercise of personal jurisdiction. View "Lin v. TipRanks, Ltd." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Judicial Court vacated the order entered in the superior court in favor of Defendants granting Defendants' special motion to dismiss Plaintiff's defamation claim pursuant to Maine's anti-SLAPP (Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation) statute, Me. Rev. Stat. 14, 556, holding that the special motion to dismiss must be denied.Plaintiff filed this defamation claim relating to a letter that Defendants sent to school officials. Defendants filed a special motion to dismiss under the anti-SLAPP statute. The trial court granted the motion. The Supreme Judicial Court vacated the judgment, holding (1) Defendants met their burden of establishing that they had engaged in petitioning activities when they sent the letter complaining of Plaintiff’s conduct; but (2) Plaintiff met his burden of presenting prima facie evidence that the Defendants’ petitioning activity was devoid of any reasonable factual support. View "Thurlow v. Nelson" on Justia Law

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The Court of Appeals held in these consolidated appeals that liability for the death benefits claims at issue could not be transferred to the Special Fund for Reopened Cases (the Special Fund).At issue in these appeals was whether New York Workers' Compensation Law 25-a(1-a), under which no liability for claims submitted on or after January 1, 2014 may be transferred to the Special Fund, forecloses the transfer of liability for a death benefits claim submitted on or after the cut-off date, regardless of the prior transfer of liability for a worker's disability claim arising out of the same injury. The Court of Appeals held that, based on the plain statutory language and this Court's established precedent, liability for the death benefits claims at issue in these cases could not be transferred to the Special Fund. View "Verneau v. Consolidated Edison Co. of N.Y." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court held that when a complaint invokes an exception to a government employee's immunity under Ohio Rev. Code 2744.03(A)(6)(b), notice pleading suffices and that the plaintiff may not be held to a heightened pleading standard.Appellant, the grandmother of G.B., who died when she was two years old, filed suit against Hamilton County, the county's commissioners, the Hamilton County Department of Job and Family Services (HCJFS), and the individual HCJFS caseworkers involved in G.B.'s case, claiming that G.B. was living with violent and abusive parents and that her death was preventable. The trial court granted judgment for the pleadings in favor of Defendants, concluding that they were statutorily immune from suit. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court reversed in part, holding that the complaint in this case met the applicable notice-pleading standard. View "Maternal Grandmother v. Hamilton County Department of Job & Family Services" on Justia Law

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Gai Spann filed suit against Rashida Davis and Kyra Dixon, administrators of the City of Atlanta Municipal Court (“the Clerks”), alleging that she was wrongfully arrested and detained as a result of the Clerks’ failure to withdraw a failure-to-appear warrant after it had been cancelled by a municipal court. The Clerks raised sovereign immunity and official immunity as defenses in a motion to dismiss, but the trial court instead sua sponte raised and granted the motion based on quasi-judicial immunity, with no prior notice to the parties. The Court of Appeals affirmed. The Georgia Supreme Court granted certiorari to review this case, and held the Court of Appeals erred in concluding the trial court was correct to rule sua sponte on the issue of quasi- judicial immunity, even though the defendants did not raise quasi-judicial immunity in the motion to dismiss or the answer. The appellate court's judgment was reversed and the matter remanded to the trial court for further proceedings. View "Spann v. Davis, et al." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court granted as moulded a writ of prohibition challenging the rulings of the circuit court denying West Virginia University Hospitals, Inc.'s (WVUH) petition for declaratory judgment and WVUH's motion to dismiss Respondents' amended complaint, holding that the circuit court committed clear legal error.Respondents filed a complaint alleging corporate negligence and other claims against WVUH. WVUH filed a combined answer and petition for declaratory judgment asking the circuit court to declare that the West Virginia Medical Professional Liability Act, W. Va. Code 55-7B-1 to -12 (MPLA) applied to Respondents' corporate negligence allegations. Before the circuit court ruled on the petition for declaratory judgment, Respondents filed an amended complaint adding new corporate negligence claims but did not fulfill the MPLA's pre-suit notice requirements. At issue was the circuit court's denial of both WVUH's petition for declaratory judgment and motion to dismiss. The Supreme Court granted a writ of prohibition, holding (1) the circuit court lacked subject matter jurisdiction over the corporate negligence claims added in the amended complaint due to Respondents' failure to comply with the MPLA's pre-suit notice requirements for these claims; and (2) litigation of the corporate negligence claims that were asserted in the original complaint, and for which the pre-suit notice requirements were satisfied, were governed by the MPLA. View "State ex rel. W. Va. University Hospitals, Inc. v. Honorable Scott" on Justia Law