Justia Injury Law Opinion Summaries

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Arasely Soto, a public school teacher, was injured during a routine medical procedure and had to retire. She sued her medical providers for malpractice and also sought disability retirement benefits from the California State Teachers’ Retirement System (CalSTRS). She and her husband, Raul Soto, settled with several of the medical malpractice defendants. CalSTRS brought an action against the Sotos, seeking to enforce its right to subrogation or reimbursement from the Sotos' settlement with the malpractice defendants.The trial court granted CalSTRS’s motion for summary adjudication on its declaratory relief cause of action and denied the Sotos’ motion for summary judgment. The court concluded that CalSTRS was entitled to seek reimbursement from the Sotos and rejected the Sotos’ defense that Civil Code section 3333.1 bars any subrogation claim that CalSTRS would have asserted against the malpractice defendants. The Sotos filed a petition for writ of mandate asking the Court of Appeal of the State of California Fourth Appellate District Division Two to vacate the trial court’s orders.The appellate court agreed with CalSTRS’s argument that it has a statutory reimbursement claim against the Sotos, and the evidence in this case does not support application of section 3333.1 to bar CalSTRS’s claim. The court denied the Sotos' petition for writ of mandate. View "Soto v. Superior Court" on Justia Law

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In 2021, Grant and Sarah Palmquist, on behalf of their minor son, sued baby-food manufacturer Hain Celestial Group, Inc. and grocery retailer Whole Foods Market, Inc. in Texas state court. They sought damages for their son Ethan’s physical and mental decline, which they allege began when he was about thirty months old and had been consuming Hain’s Earth’s Best Organic Products, purchased from Whole Foods. The Palmquists attributed Ethan's health issues to heavy metal toxicity caused by the baby food. The case was removed to federal court, where Whole Foods was dismissed as improperly joined and judgment was granted in favor of Hain during trial.The district court dismissed Whole Foods on the grounds of improper joinder and denied the Palmquists’ motion to remand the case to state court. The court also granted Hain’s motion for judgment as a matter of law, concluding that the Palmquists had presented no evidence of general causation. The Palmquists appealed these decisions.The United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit reversed the district court’s judgment denying the Palmquists’ motion to remand, vacated the final judgment of the district court, and remanded with instructions for the district court to remand the case to the state court. The court held that the Palmquists were entitled to a remand to state court because the allegations in their state-court complaint stated plausible claims against Whole Foods. The court did not address whether the district court erred in granting judgment as a matter of law in favor of Hain. View "Palmquist v. Hain Celestial Group" on Justia Law

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This case involves a wrongful death claim against San Antonio Regional Hospital, brought by Joseph Musharbash, following the death of his adult son, Michael, who was treated for a traumatic brain injury at the hospital. Musharbash alleges that the hospital provided inadequate care by failing to properly evaluate Michael's injuries and undertake appropriate courses of action. Specifically, he claims that surgical intervention was performed too late and that the nursing staff failed to adequately monitor Michael, inform his doctors of his status, and advocate for the need for earlier surgical intervention.The hospital moved for summary judgment, arguing that Musharbash's only expert, Rhona Wang, a certified registered nurse anesthetist, lacked the requisite skill or experience to opine on the standard of care or causation elements of the claim. The trial court denied the hospital's motion for summary judgment, finding that Wang's declaration demonstrated triable issues about the standard of care and causation elements of Musharbash's claim. The hospital then petitioned for writ relief.The Court of Appeal of the State of California, Fourth Appellate District, Division Two, granted the petition. The court found that Wang's qualifications did not establish that she had the specialized knowledge required to opine on the standard of care applicable to an intensive care unit neurosurgeon deciding whether a severe traumatic brain injury requires immediate surgical intervention, or whether that standard of care was breached. The court also found that Wang's declaration did not establish she was competent to opine on causation. As Wang was Musharbash's only proffered expert, her lack of competence to opine on the applicable standard of care and causation was fatal to his claim. The court directed the trial court to vacate its order denying the hospital's motion for summary judgment and to enter a new order granting the motion for summary judgment. View "San Antonio Regional Hospital v. Super. Ct." on Justia Law

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The case involves four plaintiffs who took docetaxel, a chemotherapy drug, as part of their treatment for early-stage breast cancer and subsequently suffered permanent chemotherapy-induced alopecia (PCIA). The plaintiffs allege that the manufacturers of the drug, Hospira, Inc., Hospira Worldwide, LLC, and Accord Healthcare, Inc., violated state law by failing to warn them that docetaxel could cause PCIA.The case was initially heard in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana, where the defendants moved for summary judgment on the basis that the plaintiffs' state law failure-to-warn claims were preempted by federal law. The district court denied the motion, and the defendants appealed.The United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit was tasked with determining whether federal law preempts the plaintiffs' state law failure-to-warn claims against the defendant drug manufacturers. The court found that the district court had erred in its interpretation of what constitutes "newly acquired information" under the changes-being-effected (CBE) regulation, which allows manufacturers to file a supplemental application with the FDA and simultaneously implement a labeling change before obtaining FDA approval. The court held that the district court failed to enforce the requirement that newly acquired information must "reveal risks of a different type or greater severity or frequency than previously included in submissions to FDA."The court vacated the district court's judgment on the plaintiffs' failure-to-warn claims and remanded the case for further consideration of one outstanding issue: whether the Bertrand Abstract, a scientific study, constituted "newly acquired information" that revealed a greater risk of PCIA than previously known. If the Bertrand Abstract does not meet this standard, the court held that the defendants would not be liable to the plaintiffs on their state law failure-to-warn claims. View "Hickey v. Hospira" on Justia Law

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The case involves a dispute over workers' compensation coverage for an employee, Braden Nanez, who was injured in a car accident while off work and away from his job at a remote fire base camp. The employer, Stonedeggs, Inc., expected employees not to leave the job site and to notify a manager if they did. Nanez did not notify a manager he was leaving camp. The Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board (the Board) found that Nanez’s use of his own car while off work to drive approximately 70 miles away from camp purportedly to obtain cellular service was conduct reasonably expected by his employer to be incident to its requirement that Nanez spend time away from home where cellular service was not adequately provided at the camp. The Board concluded that Nanez’s travel was for comfort and leisure and was not a distinct departure from his employment.The employer, Stonedeggs, Inc., and its insurer, Technology Insurance Company, Inc., administered by Amtrust North America, appealed the Board's decision, arguing that the Board acted in excess of its authority and that substantial evidence does not support the Board’s findings. They argued that Nanez was injured during a material deviation from his employment; he left the camp without employer approval on a personal activity that, under the unique circumstances of working at this remote fire camp, was not contemplated by the employer.The Court of Appeal of the State of California Third Appellate District affirmed the decision of the Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board. The court found that substantial evidence supported the Board’s findings that Nanez was a commercial traveler and that his departure from camp was a leisure activity that the employer may reasonably have expected to be incident to its requirement that Nanez spend time away from home. The court denied the petition for writ of review filed by Stonedeggs, Inc. and Technology Insurance Company, Inc. View "3 Stonedeggs, Inc. v. Workers' Comp. Appeals Bd." on Justia Law

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The case involves a personal injury action brought by Earlene McBride against Carnival Corporation. McBride fell out of her wheelchair while being assisted by a Carnival crewmember, Fritz Charles, during disembarkation from a Carnival cruise ship. McBride claimed that she suffered severe injuries due to the fall and sued Carnival for negligence.The case was initially heard in the Southern District of Florida. During the trial, the court allowed the deposition testimony of Charles to be presented to the jury over McBride's objection. The jury awarded McBride economic damages for past medical expenses related to the fall but did not award her any damages for past pain and suffering. McBride appealed the district court's judgment, arguing that the court erred in allowing Charles's deposition testimony to be presented to the jury and that the jury's verdict was inadequate because it did not award her past pain and suffering damages.The United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit affirmed the district court's decision to allow Charles's deposition testimony to be presented to the jury. The court found that McBride had waived her objection to the use of the deposition by not raising it at the appropriate time during the trial. However, the court reversed the district court's denial of McBride's motion for a new trial on the issue of past pain and suffering damages related to the past medical expenses the jury awarded. The court found that the jury's verdict was inadequate as a matter of law because there was uncontradicted evidence that McBride suffered at least some pain in the immediate aftermath of the wheelchair incident. The case was remanded for a new trial limited to the issue of past pain and suffering damages related to the past medical expenses the jury awarded. View "McBride v. Carnival Corporation" on Justia Law

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The case revolves around a medical malpractice claim filed by Darrin P. Miller against Catholic Health Initiatives-Iowa, Corp. and several medical professionals. The claim arose from the death of Miller's wife, Meredith, who died after a car accident when an endotracheal tube was incorrectly placed in her esophagus instead of her trachea. Miller alleged that the medical providers breached the standard of care by incorrectly performing the intubation and failing to identify and correct the error.The defendants sought dismissal of the case on two grounds: the expert's certificate of merit was not signed under oath as required by Iowa Code section 147.140, and the expert, an anesthesiologist, was not qualified to testify against the defendant surgeons or respiratory therapist. The district court denied the defendants' motions, ruling that the expert's unsworn but signed letter substantially complied with the affidavit requirement and that the expert's qualifications satisfied section 147.139.The Supreme Court of Iowa reversed the district court's decision. The court held that the expert's signed but unsworn report did not substantially comply with section 147.140's affidavit requirement, and this violation was not cured by the expert's sworn declaration served over three months after the statutory deadline. The court did not reach the question of whether the expert anesthesiologist was qualified under section 147.139 to testify against these defendants. The case was remanded for dismissal of the medical malpractice claims with prejudice. View "Miller v. Catholic Health Initiatives-Iowa, Corp." on Justia Law

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A mother sued a school district for negligence under the Political Subdivisions Tort Claims Act (PSTCA), alleging that her son was injured during a pole-vaulting practice at school when he fell onto an unpadded section of the pole-vaulting box collar area. The district court dismissed the case, concluding that the claim was barred by the PSTCA’s “recreational activity” exemption. The mother appealed.Previously, the district court had ruled that the school district was immune from the lawsuit because the student's pole-vaulting activity fell under the PSTCA's "recreational activity" exemption. The court applied a three-part test from a previous case, determining that pole-vaulting fit the definition of a recreational activity, the injuries arose from an inherent risk of the activity, and no fee was charged for participation.On appeal, the Nebraska Supreme Court reversed the lower court's decision. The Supreme Court found that while pole-vaulting could be considered a recreational activity, it was premature to conclude that the student's injuries necessarily resulted from an inherent risk of that activity. The court noted that the complaint alleged the injuries resulted from the school's negligence in failing to properly pad the pole-vaulting area, supervise the student, and have proper safety protocols in place. The court concluded that a factual record was necessary to resolve the issues raised by the complaint and the assertion of sovereign immunity by the school district. The case was remanded for further proceedings. View "MacFarlane v. Sarpy Cty. Sch. Dist. 77-0037" on Justia Law

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The case involves a wrongful-death action initiated by Veronica Edwards and Corey D. Hatcher, Sr., following the death of Corey Demills Hatcher, Jr. The deceased died from injuries sustained when his vehicle collided with horses on a road. The plaintiffs sued the owners of the horses, Kimberly Johnson Crowder and Carole A. Phillipsen, as well as Southern Sportsman Hunting Lodge, Inc., its owners, and the McCurdy Plantation Horse Association, which hosted a trail ride on Southern Sportsman's property. The plaintiffs alleged that the defendants failed to use proper fencing to corral the horses, leading to the accident.The Lowndes Circuit Court entered a summary judgment in favor of the defendants. The court determined that the plaintiffs' wrongful-death claim was the exclusive remedy available under Alabama Code § 3-5-3(a), which provides a cause of action against livestock owners who knowingly or willfully place their animals on a public highway. The court found that the plaintiffs failed to produce substantial evidence to support their claim that the defendants knowingly placed the horses on the highway.On appeal, the Supreme Court of Alabama affirmed the circuit court's judgment. The court clarified that § 3-5-3(a) creates a cause of action that did not exist at common law, rather than shielding certain defendants from liability. The court found that the plaintiffs failed to present substantial evidence that the defendants knowingly placed the horses on the highway, as required by § 3-5-3(a). Therefore, the plaintiffs could not pursue any cause of action against the defendants. View "Edwards v. Crowder" on Justia Law

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The case revolves around a plaintiff, Carol Allen, who slipped and fell on the steps of Newport City Hall while exiting the building after paying her property taxes. At the time of the incident, there was light to moderate snowfall, and the steps were covered with a slushy film. Allen suffered a severe head injury as a result of the fall, which led to multiple seizures and the loss of her ability to taste and smell. She filed a negligence lawsuit against the city and its employees, alleging they failed to properly treat the stairs for adverse weather conditions.The Superior Court ruled in favor of Allen, finding that the city and its employees had a duty to clear the steps of snow and ice, even during an ongoing storm, due to the unusual circumstances of the case. The court found that the city's failure to apply ice melt and take other protective measures exacerbated the risks inherent in using the stairs during a storm. The court also found that Allen was 35 percent comparatively negligent for her fall.The city and its employees appealed the decision to the Supreme Court of Rhode Island. The Supreme Court vacated the judgments of the Superior Court, ruling that the city and its employees did not have a duty to clear the steps until a reasonable time after the storm had ended. The court found that the city's failure to take precautionary measures did not exacerbate the risks already inherent in traveling during a storm. Therefore, the court concluded that there were no unusual circumstances that triggered the city's duty prior to the end of the storm. The case was remanded for entry of judgment in favor of the city and its employees. View "Allen v. Sitrin" on Justia Law