Justia Injury Law Opinion Summaries
Beebe v. Wonderful Pistachios etc.
Plaintiff worked as an electrical foreman for Braaten Electric, Inc. Braaten Electric, Inc. was hired as a subcontractor by Defendant Potential Design, Inc. and its owner to work on electrical installations for two successive silo construction projects at a nut facility in Firebaugh that was owned and operated by Defendant Wonderful Pistachios and Almonds, LLC. Potential Design, Inc. was the general contractor for both construction projects. The nut facility was plagued by flocks of migrating swallows that roosted, over several years, under the roof of an open, barn-like structure (the pole barn), and created sizable accumulations of bird feces. Sometime after Plaintiff’s work at the nut facility was finished, he was diagnosed with a fungal infection, histoplasmosis, which had spread to his brain, resulting in certain permanent impairments. Histoplasmosis is caused by inhalation of airborne spores of a fungus called histoplasma capsulatum or H. capsulatum. Plaintiff sued Defendants, alleging their conduct with respect to the bird infestation and accumulation of bird feces at the nut facility was a substantial factor in causing his histoplasmosis. The trial court excluded the declarations of Plaintiff’s experts and granted Defendants’ motion for summary judgment. The Fifth Appellate District reversed. The court concluded that the trial court erred in excluding the declarations submitted by Plaintiff’s experts and, further, that summary judgment is not warranted here. Moreover, the court concluded that Plaintiff has raised a triable issue of material fact as to whether there is a reasonable medical probability that Wonderful’s conduct with respect to the birds and bird feces at the Firebaugh Facility was a substantial factor in causing Plaintiff’s illness. View "Beebe v. Wonderful Pistachios etc." on Justia Law
Posted in: California Courts of Appeal, Civil Procedure, Personal Injury
Carlos Ramirez v. The Paradies Shops, LLC
Plaintiff worked for a company later acquired by the Paradies Shops. He, like many employees, entrusted his employer with sensitive, personally identifiable information (PII). In October 2020, Paradies suffered a ransomware attack on its administrative systems in which cybercriminals obtained the Social Security numbers of Plaintiff and other current and former employees. Shortly after learning of the data breach, Plaintiff brought claims for negligence and breach of implied contract on behalf of himself and those affected by the data breach, arguing Paradies should have protected the PII. He now appeals from the district court’s order granting Paradies’s motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim. He contends the district court demanded too much at the pleadings stage. The Eleventh Circuit affirmed the dismissal of the breach of implied contract claim and reversed the district court’s dismissal of Plaintiff’s negligence claim, and remanded for further proceedings. The court explained that, as the Georgia Supreme Court has noted, “traditional tort law is a rather blunt instrument for resolving all of the complex tradeoffs at issue in a case such as this, tradeoffs that may well be better resolved by the legislative process.” Nevertheless, having applied Georgia’s traditional tort principles, the court concluded Plaintiff has pled facts giving rise to a duty of care on the part of Paradies. Getting past summary judgment may prove a tougher challenge, but Plaintiff has pled enough for his negligence claim to survive a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss. View "Carlos Ramirez v. The Paradies Shops, LLC" on Justia Law
Anthony Mathis v. Terra Renewal Services, Inc.
Plaintiff sued Terra Renewal Services, Inc. and its parent company Darling Ingredients, Inc. after an accident atop a pressurized tanker left him a paraplegic. He alleged that their negligence led to the accident that injured him. The case went to trial, where the jury found that, though Terra and Darling were negligent, Plaintiff was contributorily negligent, thus barring his recovery. Plaintiff appealed, alleging that the district court committed several reversible errors. His main contention is that the district court erroneously rejected his “sudden emergency” contention and his claim for gross negligence as a matter of law. The Fourth Circuit affirmed. The court explained that the district court did not abuse its discretion in declining to admit under the business records exception to hearsay the full report that the North Carolina Department of Labor investigator developed during her investigation. The court reasoned that the report is chock full of statements from LJC employees and others, which the district court reasonably anticipated might pose problems of admissibility. The report repeatedly says that such-and-such says one thing, and someone else says another. Many of these statements themselves were hearsay, and the district court rightly refused to accord them a significant role in the trial. View "Anthony Mathis v. Terra Renewal Services, Inc." on Justia Law
George Par v. Wolfe Clinic, P.C.
Plaintiff (and IVYR PLLC, doing business as Par Retina) sued Wolfe Clinic, P.C. (and three of its owner-physicians). Plaintiff alleged that the Clinic monopolized or attempted to monopolize the vitreoretinal care market. On the merits, the district court initially dismissed the monopolization, fraudulent inducement, and recission claims while remanding the remaining state law claims. In an amended judgment, the district court denied Plaintiff’s motion to amend the complaint and affirmed the dismissal of the monopolization claims, but declined to exercise supplemental jurisdiction, dismissing all state law claims. The Eighth Circuit affirmed. The court held that the district court did not abuse its discretion by denying Plaintiff’s motion to amend the complaint. The information in the amended complaint was previously available to Plaintiff and should have been pleaded before the judgment was entered. Plaintiff was on notice of the deficiencies in his complaint when the Clinic filed its motion to dismiss. Despite this, Plaintiff inexcusably delayed filing the Rule 59(e) motion—waiting over five months after the motion to dismiss was filed and almost a month after the district court dismissed the complaint. The court ultimately held that Plaintiff failed to plead a plausible claim for monopolization or attempted monopolization because he did not allege a relevant geographic market. View "George Par v. Wolfe Clinic, P.C." on Justia Law
Spencer Knapp v. FAG Bearings, LLC
Plaintiff suffers from multiple sclerosis. Nearly four years after his diagnosis, he and his wife sued FAG Bearings, LLC, alleging the company caused his condition by improperly disposing of trichloroethylene at a facility near his childhood home in Missouri. The district court entered summary judgment in favor of FAG Bearings after concluding the suit originated in Texas under Missouri’s borrowing statute and was time-barred under Texas law.The Eight Circuit affirmed. The dispute centers on Missouri’s borrowing statute, which provides: “Whenever a cause of action has been fully barred by the laws of the state . . . in which it originated, said bar shall be a complete defense to any action thereon, brought in any of the courts of [Missouri].” Plaintiff unsuccessfully argued that his claim rose in Missouri. The court held that Plaintiff lived in Texas when he learned he may have a claim against the company. And, under Texas law, Plaintiff's claim was subject to a two-year statute of limitations. Thus, the district court did not error in finding Plaintiff's claim was time-barred. View "Spencer Knapp v. FAG Bearings, LLC" on Justia Law
Michael Oien v. Home Depot U.S.A., Inc.
Plaintiff loaded purchases he made at a Home Depot store in Maplewood, Minnesota, on two flat carts. A Home Depot employee assisted Plaintiff by pushing one of the carts out of the store while Plaintiff followed, pushing the other. The exit doors automatically opened for the Home Depot employee and then closed while Plaintiff was exiting the store, tearing Plaintiff’s right rotator cuff and causing other injuries. Plaintiff alleged his injuries were caused by the door prematurely closing. The doors at issue were manufactured, installed, and serviced by Stanley. Plaintiff alleged a negligence claim against Home Depot and claims of strict product liability, negligence, and breach of express and implied warranties against Stanley. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of Defendants on all claims. The Eighth Circuit affirmed. The court explained that Plaintiff offered no evidence that Home Depot caused the alleged dangerous condition or that it had actual knowledge of the existence of the alleged dangerous condition. Instead, he argued that Home Depot should have known of the existence of the problem with the automatic doors. But Plaintiff did not retain an expert, nor did he offer evidence demonstrating that Home Depot should have known the automatic doors might close while a customer was entering or exiting the store. The court wrote that because Plaintiff did not submit any evidence indicating the automatic sliding doors were unsafe or an inspection of the doors would have revealed the alleged dangerous condition, Home Depot is entitled to summary judgment on Plaintiff’s negligence claim. View "Michael Oien v. Home Depot U.S.A., Inc." on Justia Law
City of Austin v. Quinlan
In this premises liability action, the Supreme Court held that the City of Austin had discretion not to implement its policy regarding the maintenance of a permitted sidewalk cafe, and therefore, Appellant failed to plead a claim against the City for which the City's immunity was waived.An agreement between the City and the permit-holder restaurant in this dispute delegated maintenance responsibilities to the restaurant but did not include terms requiring the City to ensure that the restaurant comply with those responsibilities. Plaintiff sued both the restaurant and the City for premises liability. The City filed an amended plea to the jurisdiction, which the trial court denied. The court of appeals affirmed as relevant to this appeal, ruling that the City's immunity was waived as to the claims relating to the City's alleged negligent implementation of its policy regarding the premises' maintenance because the City had a legal duty to ensure the restaurant fulfilled its maintenance obligations. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the City had discretion to enforce or monitor the restaurant's compliance but was not required to do so, and therefore, dismissal was appropriate. View "City of Austin v. Quinlan" on Justia Law
Posted in: Personal Injury, Supreme Court of Texas
Alpha Management Corporation, et al. v. Harris, et al.
The plaintiffs were the wrongful-death beneficiaries of a man killed in an apartment fire and two other people injured in the same fire. The fire occurred at an apartment complex in Pike County, Mississippi. The plaintiffs sued the apartment complex’s management company, Alpha Management Corporation, which had its principal place of business in Madison County. And they also named as a defendant the purported property owner, Community Park Apartments, Inc. (CPA). At the time the complaint was filed, the Mississippi Secretary of State’s website listed CPA as having its principal office in Hinds County. So the plaintiffs filed suit in Hinds County. The controlling issue in this interlocutory appeal is fraudulent joinder—did the plaintiffs join a defendant for the sole purpose of establishing venue in Hinds County? Alpha Management asserted that CPA did not own the apartments. And because CPA was not a proper defendant, Alpha Management moved that venue be transferred from Hinds County to Pike County or Madison County. CPA similarly filed a motion to dismiss, attaching a copy of the same warranty deed showing it had sold the apartments in 1975 and then ceased to operate as a nonprofit corporation. Hinds County Circuit Court denied both motions. The Mississippi Supreme Court reversed the trial court’s ruling and remanded with instructions to dismiss CPA as a defendant and transfer the case to either Madison County or Pike County. View "Alpha Management Corporation, et al. v. Harris, et al." on Justia Law
L.A. Unified School District v. Superior Court
The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the court of appeal determining that Cal. Gov. Code 818, a provision within the Government Claims Act, shields public entities from liability for enhanced damages under Cal. Code Civ. Proc. 340.1(b)(1), holding that the court of appeal did not err.At issue was whether enhanced damages could be awarded under section 340.1(b)(1) against a public entity named as a defendant in a lawsuit for childhood sexual assault or whether such awards were prohibited under section 818, which specifies that a public entity may not be held liable in tort for "damages imposed primarily for the sake of example and by way of punishing the defendant." The court of appeal concluded that the treble damages provision in section 340.1 does not have a compensatory function and that its primary purpose is to punish past childhood sexual abuse coverups and deter future abuse. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that section 818 prohibits an award of enhanced damages under section 340.1(b)(1) against a public entity. View "L.A. Unified School District v. Superior Court" on Justia Law
Posted in: Personal Injury, Supreme Court of California
Duval v. U.S. Dep’t of Veterans Affairs
In this medical malpractice action brought against the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs under the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA), 28 U.S.C. 1346(b), 2671-2680, the First Circuit affirmed the judgment of the district court in favor of the government, holding that any error committed by the district court was harmless.Plaintiff, as the administrator of her father's estate, brought this action under the FTCA alleging that a suture used by medical providers on her father migrated from its intended location, leading to complications that ultimately caused her father's death. The district court found against Plaintiff on her claims. On appeal, Plaintiff argued that the district court erred by failing to strike expert witness testimony that allegedly fell outside the scope of the expert's pretrial disclosures. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that any ostensible error in the admission of the expert testimony did not "substantially sway" the judgment. View "Duval v. U.S. Dep't of Veterans Affairs" on Justia Law