Justia Injury Law Opinion Summaries
Hoffman v. Young
Where, as here, a child of the landowner is living with the landowner on the landowner's property and the landowner has consented to this living arrangement, the child's express invitation of a person to come onto the property operates as an express invitation by the landowner within the meaning of Civil Code section 846, subdivision (d)(3), unless the landowner has prohibited the child from extending the invitation.Appellant filed suit against her friend and his parents after she was injured while riding her motorcycle on the parents' motocross track. The jury found that the parents had no liability for the collision or the allegedly negligent medical care provided to appellant after the collision. The court held that the friend's express invitation to appellant stripped his parents of the immunity that would otherwise have been provided to them by the recreational use immunity defense under section 846. In this case, the trial court erroneously instructed the jury that the express invitation exception to the immunity defense applies only if one of the friend's parents, i.e., the actual landowner, expressly invited appellant onto the property. The court held that the erroneous instruction was prejudicial to appellant. Furthermore, the trial court erroneously instructed the jury that the express invitation must be for a recreational purpose. The court reversed as to the general negligence and premises liability causes of action. The court affirmed in all other respects. View "Hoffman v. Young" on Justia Law
Russell v. Johnson & Johnson Inc.
In this lawsuit brought against Johnson & Johnson, Inc. and other entities (collectively, Defendants) alleging state tort claims due to injuries caused by a Class III medical device the Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the trial court granting Defendants' motion for judgment on the pleadings based on federal preemption of all claims, holding that, under Kentucky's notice pleading standards, the motion for judgment on the pleadings should have been denied.In their complaint, Plaintiffs asserted claims for, inter alia, strict liability negligence, and lack of informed consent. Defendants moved for judgment on the pleadings based on federal preemption of all claims. The trial court granted the motion and dismissed all of Plaintiffs' claims. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that, under Kentucky's notice pleading standard, Plaintiffs' complaint sufficiently put Defendants on notice of parallel claims under Kentucky law that may not be preempted. View "Russell v. Johnson & Johnson Inc." on Justia Law
Ex parte D.R.J.
Defendants D.R.J. and his mother, Dana Sides, petitioned the Alabama Supreme Court for a writ of mandamus to direct the Circuit Court to vacate two orders holding that a pro tanto release executed in their favor was void, thus restoring them as defendants in the underlying lawsuit. Kathy and Barry King sued D.R.J. and Sides seeking damages for injuries the Kings sustained as a result of an automobile accident allegedly caused by D.R.J.'s negligence in driving Sides' vehicle. D.R.J. was a minor at the time of the accident. Defendants and their insurer, Alfa Mutual Insurance Company, offered to settle the Kings' claims for $95,000. Counsel for the Kings notified their insurer, State Farm, of the settlement offer, preserving its subrogation rights against defendants. State Farm responded by offering the Kings $25,000 to settle the UIM claim, which the Kings rejected. The Kings then accepted the $95,000 settlement offer without State Farm's consent, expressly reserving their UIM claim against State Farm. The Kings then moved to dismiss all claims against defendants, and the trial court entered an order dismissing defendants with prejudice. When State Farm learned of the pro tanto release, it moved the trial court for summary judgment, arguing the Kings forfeited their rights to UIM benefits by executing the pro tanto release without its consent. The trial court found State Farm validly objected to the Kings' settlement, made no ruling on State Farm's motion, and declared the pro tanto release void, thus restoring the "status quo" of the case. Defendants argued the trial court should have granted State Farm's motion and ended the litigation. The Supreme Court determined defendants' situation was not one in which they had a clear legal right to relief sought but the trial court refused to grant. They thus had not met their burden for the issuance of a writ of mandamus, and the Court denied their petition. View "Ex parte D.R.J." on Justia Law
Ladue v. Pla-Fit Health, LLC
Plaintiff Theresa Ladue was injured in a fall at a gym in Nashua, New Hampshire, operated by defendant Pla-Fit Health, LLC (Planet Fitness). Ladue brought a negligence claim against Planet Fitness. Planet Fitness moved for summary judgment. The Superior Court granted the motion, finding that Ladue’s claim was barred by a release of liability provision in her membership agreement. Finding no reversible error in that judgment, the New Hampshire Supreme Court affirmed the grant of summary judgment. View "Ladue v. Pla-Fit Health, LLC" on Justia Law
Phong Lam v. United States
The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal of plaintiff's action under the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA), alleging that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers negligently failed to cut down a tree at the Lake Mendocino recreation area that crashed into plaintiff's tent and smashed his leg.The panel held that the discretionary function exception applies in this case because plaintiff has not shown any specific mandatory duties, has not defeated the Gaubert presumption, and has not negated the evidence of discretion for policy judgments. After outlining Supreme Court precedent for the Berkovitz/Gaubert test and its Ninth Circuit progeny, the panel applied this precedent to the plain language of the policies that controlled the actions of the forest ranger and the Corps' employees at Lake Mendocino. In doing so, the panel concluded that the policies allow for discretion and that they are susceptible to the policy analysis the discretionary function exception was designed to protect. View "Phong Lam v. United States" on Justia Law
Farrell v. Johnson & Johnson
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
Dix v. Live Nation Entertainment, Inc.
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
Chacon v. Union Pacific Railroad
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
Montgomery County v. Cochran & Bowen
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
Angulo v. Brown
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