Justia Injury Law Opinion Summaries

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In September 2016, defendant Trend Motors, Ltd. (Trend), provided defendant Mary Aquilar with a loaner vehicle for her personal use while her vehicle was being serviced. Aquilar’s negligent operation of the loaner vehicle caused it to strike plaintiff Tyrone Huggins’s car. Huggins sustained serious injuries as a result. GEICO insured Aquilar through an automobile policy. Trend held a garage policy with Federal Insurance Company (Federal) that insured Trend’s vehicles for up to $1,000,000 in liability coverage. The definition of an “insured” in the Federal policy purported to extend liability coverage to Trend’s customers using Trend’s vehicles only if the customer lacked the minimum insurance required by law. Huggins filed a complaint seeking compensation for the injuries and loss of income he suffered as a result of the accident. Federal disclaimed liability, arguing that Aquilar did not fit the policy’s definition of an insured because she held $15,000 in bodily injury coverage through GEICO. The trial court held that the Federal policy’s definition of an insured constituted an illegal escape clause and held Federal to the full policy limit of $1,000,000 in liability coverage. The Appellate Division declined to review the trial court’s ruling. The New Jersey Supreme Court concurred with the trial court’s ruling that the provision in the garage policy at issue constituted an illegal escape clause which could not be used to evade the minimum liability requirements for dealership vehicles set by the Chief Administrator of the Motor Vehicle Commission (MVC). The Court ordered the reformation of Federal’s policy to the $100,000/$250,000 dealer-licensure minimum liability coverage required by N.J.A.C. 13:21-15.2(l). View "Huggins v. Aquilar" on Justia Law

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Two cases consolidated for review by the Georgia Supreme Court arose from a car accident that happened after Byron Perry stole a sport utility vehicle (SUV) from a rental lot where he worked and later crashed into Brianna Johnson and Adrienne Smith while Perry was trying to evade police. Plaintiffs Johnson and Smith each filed a lawsuit alleging claims of negligence and vicarious liability against the rental car company, Avis Rent A Car System, LLC and Avis Budget Group (collectively “Avis”), along with Avis’s regional security manager, Peter Duca, Jr.; the rental location’s operator, CSYG, Inc.; and CSYG’s owner, Yonas Gebremichael. Johnson and Smith also sued Perry, the CSYG employee who stole the SUV involved in the accident, although Johnson dismissed Perry before trial. Separate juries found that Johnson and Smith were entitled to recover damages, but both jury verdicts were reversed on appeal. The Court of Appeals concluded Avis, the only entity found liable for compensatory damages in Johnson’s case, was entitled to judgment notwithstanding the jury’s verdict (JNOV) on Johnson’s direct negligence claims because Perry’s intervening criminal conduct was the proximate cause of Johnson’s injuries. In Smith’s case, the Court of Appeal concluded any breach of duty to secure the car rental lot and the stolen SUV was not the proximate cause of Smith’s injuries (due to Perry’s intervening criminal conduct), and CSYG and Gebremichael were entitled to a directed verdict on Smith’s claims that they negligently hired and retained Perry, because Perry was not acting “under color of employment” at the time that he collided with Smith. The Supreme Court determined the Court of Appeals correctly concluded that the defendants could not be held liable to Johnson and Smith as a matter of law under the facts of these cases. Accordingly, the Court affirmed in both cases. View "Johnson v. Avis Rent-A-Car System, LLC" on Justia Law

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The Court of Appeals affirmed the judgment of the court of special appeals vacating a jury award of $500,000 against Dr. Shabbir Choudhry for loss of household services, which Petitioner alleged she would have received from her adult daughter, who died after having received medical treatment by Dr. Choudhry, holding that the court of appeals did not err.In vacating the jury award, the court of appeals held that, in a wrongful death action, a parent could recover economic damages for loss of household services but that Petitioner had presented insufficient evidence to have the claim submitted to the jury. The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding that, in order for a parent of a deceased child to recover pecuniary damages for household services under the Wrongful Death Act, Md. Code Cts. & Jud. Proc. 3-901 to -904, the parent must present evidence not only that they reasonably expected to receive services from the adult child but that the child intended to continue providing those services. View "Fowlkes v. Choudhry" on Justia Law

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After plaintiff decided to jaywalk across a five-lane highway at night and was struck by a car, she filed suit against the owner of a condominium complex she was trying to visit, alleging claims for negligence and premises liability for having too few onsite parking spaces for guests.The Court of Appeal held that a landowner does not owe a duty of care to invitees to provide adequate onsite parking, either (1) under common law principles or (2) by virtue of a 1978 city ordinance that rezoned the complex's specific parcel for multifamily dwellings and conditioned that rezoning on providing a specific number of guest parking spaces. The court explained that a landowner's common law duty of care does not encompass a duty to provide onsite parking for invitees in order to protect them from traffic accidents occurring off site as they travel to the premises, and the court did so for two reasons: (1) such a duty is foreclosed by precedent, and (2) even if not foreclosed, the so-called Rowland factors counsel against such a duty. The court rejected plaintiff's claims under Ordinance No. 151, 411 for two reasons: (1) the ordinance is a parcel-specific ordinance adopted as the final step of a multistep administrative procedure and is therefore incapable of forming the basis for a duty of care, and (2) the guest parking condition of the ordinance was aimed at preserving the aesthetic character of the surrounding neighborhood, and not at protecting invitees from traffic accidents. Accordingly, the court affirmed the trial court's grant of summary judgment in favor of the condominium complex. View "Issakhani v. Shadow Glen Homeowners Ass'n., Inc." on Justia Law

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Plaintiff and his wife filed suit against defendants alleging claims related to the kidnapping and murder of Jacob E. Wetterling. Jacob was abducted at the end of plaintiff's wife's driveway. Plaintiff asserted First Amendment retaliation, a derivative claim for municipal liability, and state law claims for defamation and intentional infliction of emotional distress.The Eighth Circuit concluded that the district court did not err in determining that plaintiff's 42 U.S.C. 1983 was time-barred by the six year statute of limitations under Minnesota law. The court also concluded that the district court did not err in determining that the defamation claim and intentional infliction of emotional distress claim were time-barred by the two-year statute of limitations under Minnesota law. In this case, plaintiff's claims accrued in 2010, when the alleged tortious acts of naming plaintiff as a person of interest and searching plaintiff and his wife's property occurred, regardless of when they believed they had enough evidence to convince a judge or jury and obtain relief. Finally, the court concluded that the district court did not err by denying plaintiff's request to equitably toll the statutes of limitations where plaintiffs lacked diligence in filing, which was not prevented by invincible necessity. Furthermore, no factor outside plaintiff's control prevented the filing. View "Rassier v. Sanner" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the court of appeals affirming the judgment of the district court dismissing Plaintiffs' lawsuit against their doctor based on Kan. Stat. Ann. 60-1906(a), holding that section 60-1906(a) does not violate the right to trial by jury guaranteed by section 5 of the Kansas Constitution Bill of Rights or the right to a remedy guaranteed by section 18 of the Kansas Constitution Bill of Rights.Plaintiffs sued their obstetrician, asserting that Defendant breached the applicable duty of care by failing to detect fetal abnormalities in an ultrasound. Defendant moved for judgment on the pleadings, arguing that the damages claim for future care made this a wrongful death lawsuit barred by section 60-1906(a). The district court granted judgment to Defendant based on the statute, determining that the statute was unconstitutional. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the district court properly applied section 60-1906(a) to conclude that Defendant was entitled to judgment on the pleadings. View "Tillman v. Goodpasture" on Justia Law

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The Second Circuit reversed the district court's dismissal of a Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA) suit brought by plaintiff after he sustained injuries as a result of being struck by a USPS truck. The court agreed with plaintiff that the district court erred in finding plaintiff's presentment inadequate.The court concluded that notice required for FTCA presentment must provide a reviewing agency with sufficiently specific information as to the basis of the claim, the nature of claimant's injuries, and the amount of damages sought such that the agency can reasonably understand what it must investigate to determine liability, to value the claim, and to assess the advisability of settlement. The court also concluded that an FTCA claimant can provide the specific information required for presentment by narrative, by evidence, or by other means. Furthermore, an FTCA claimant who provides a sufficiently specific narrative need not also submit substantiating evidence to satisfy presentment. The court explained that, while a failure to present such evidence can support an agency's administrative denial of a claim, it does not deprive a district court of jurisdiction over an FTCA action subsequently filed by the claimant. In this case, plaintiff presented information sufficient to provide such notice. Accordingly, the court remanded with directions to reinstate plaintiff's complaint. View "Collins v. United States" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the decision of the court of appeals reversing the judgment of the trial court granting summary judgment for Defendant in this workers' compensation case, holding that Plaintiff qualified as Defendants' employee under the Workers' Compensation Act, and therefore, the Act's exclusive remedy provision barred Plaintiff's claims.Plaintiff was an employee of a temporary staffing agency when he was injured while on assignment to a client of the agency. The staffing agency provided workers' compensation benefits. Plaintiff then sued Defendant, the client for whom he performed the work, alleging common-law negligence. The trial court granted summary judgment in favor of Defendant. The court of appeals reversed. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that summary judgment for Defendant was appropriate. View "Waste Management of Texas, Inc. v. Stevenson" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the district court granting summary judgment in favor of a strip club and dismissing this common law wrongful-death-negligence action, holding that Defendants owed no continuing legal duty to the decedent in this case.Daulton Holly was ejected from the strip club by the club's security guard and offered a cab ride home. Holly refused the offer and left the establishment on foot. Thirty minutes later, Holly was struck and killed by a drunk driver about one-half mile away from the strip club. Holly's parents and estate brought this action against the strip club. The district court granted a "no-duty" summary judgment against the plaintiffs. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the strip club owed no continuing legal duty to Holly after he refused the offer of the cab ride and chose to walk away. View "Morris v. Legends Fieldhouse Bar & Grill, LLC" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff and her husband filed suit against Ethicon and its parent company, Johnson & Johnson, in the Southern District of Florida for failure to warn of the adverse health consequences of an Artisyn YMesh implant. After defendants successfully moved for summary judgment, plaintiff and her husband appealed, asking the court to create a "financial bias" exception to the learned intermediary doctrine.The Eleventh Circuit affirmed and concluded that it was Erie bound to follow the decisions of the Florida courts. Without any indication from Florida's appellate courts that they would create a "financial bias" exception to the learned intermediary doctrine insofar as it applies to physicians, the court held that the learned intermediary doctrine is available and that, under the facts of this case, it plainly entitles defendants to summary judgment on the failure-to-warn claim. In this case, the treating physician was both aware of the risks surrounding the mesh implant and stood by his decision to use it to treat plaintiff's prolapse. The court explained that, under Florida law, an inadequate warning could not be the proximate cause of plaintiff's injuries and, therefore, the learned intermediary doctrine bars a failure-to-warn claim. View "Salinero v. Johnson & Johnson" on Justia Law