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Respondent Denise Duncan sued Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. (Wal-Mart) for personal injuries she sustained at one of Wal-Mart’s stores while acting within the course and scope of her employment with Acosta, Inc. (Acosta). The trial court entered judgment finding Wal-Mart liable for Duncan’s injuries. Under Labor Code sections 3852 and 3856, appellant Hartford Accident & Indemnity Company (Hartford) applied for a lien on Duncan’s judgment to obtain reimbursement for the workers’ compensation benefits it paid Duncan, including medical expenses and temporary disability payments for lost wages. Although the judgment included compensation for Duncan’s medical expenses, it did not include compensation for Duncan’s lost wages because she did not seek those damages at trial. The court granted Hartford a lien on Duncan’s judgment, but reduced the lien amount to exclude the indemnity payments for lost wages. Hartford appealed the trial court’s postjudgment order, arguing the court exceeded its authority by reducing the lien amount for any item other than reasonable attorney fees and costs. The Court of Appeal agreed because section 3856’s plain language and the case law applying it granted Hartford a first lien on the judgment in the amount it paid Duncan for worker’s compensation benefits. Duncan’s choice not to seek lost wages at trial did not diminish Hartford’s lien rights under the workers’ compensation statutory scheme. View "Duncan v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc." on Justia Law

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The district court correctly concluded that Plaintiff owned certain disputed land bordering her property between the high- and low-water marks of Parker Lake, a small lake located in Flathead County, Montana. After Defendants pounded metal fence posts along the high-water mark bordering Plaintiff’s property Plaintiff filed this lawsuit asserting claims for declaratory judgment and in tort based on alleged trespass and nuisance. Plaintiff later filed an amended complaint adding counts of intentional interference with her contractual relationship with her realtors and slander of title. The district court granted summary judgment that Plaintiff owned the land between the high- and low-water marks of Parker Lake bordering Plaintiff’s property. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the district court properly granted summary judgment declaring that Plaintiff owned the disputed land between the high- and low-water marks. View "Ash v. Merlette" on Justia Law

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At issue was whether an insurer was obligated to indemnify a business owner under a personal insurance policy for liability arising form his false imprisonment of his company’s employee at her workplace. The business owner appealed, challenging the appellate court’s determination that such liability fell under the business pursuits exclusion to coverage under his personal umbrella policy. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) neither the appellate court nor the trial court employed the correct standard for determining whether the business owner’s tortious conduct was an occurrence “arising out of” the business pursuits of the insured; (2) remand was necessary to determine whether the business pursuits exception applied under the correct standard; and (3) Plaintiffs could not prevail on their alternative grounds regarding other exclusions and public policy as a matter of law. View "Nationwide Mutual Insurance Co. v. Pasiak" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs-respondents Virgil and Glenda Jensen contended they suffered damages caused by a negligently maintained rental truck, rented by his supervisor, Charles Scannell, which blew a tire while Virgil was driving it. Defendant-appellant U-Haul Co. of California (UHCA) appealed the trial court’s denial of its motion to compel arbitration. UHCA contended plaintiffs were bound by the arbitration agreement in the rental contract, even though neither plaintiff was a party to that contract. The Court of Appeal’s review of plaintiffs’ complaint showed that plaintiffs did not rely or depend on the terms of the rental in asserting their claims, and none of their allegations were in any way founded in or bound up with the terms or obligations of that agreement. UHCA, citing to general principles and cases that it contended were analogous, argued that plaintiffs were bound to arbitrate their claims, even though they are not signatories to the agreement between Scannell and UHCA, on any of three theories: third-party beneficiary, agency, or estoppel. The Court of Appeal was not persuaded and affirmed the trial court. View "Jensen v. U-Haul Co. of California" on Justia Law

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In 2010, Patrick Edokpolor and Linda Iyahea filed a lawsuit against Grady Memorial Hospital Corporation for the wrongful death of their decedent, Rose Edokpolor. Grady failed to waive formal service of process, and in 2013, the trial court granted a motion under OCGA 9-11-4 for an award of the expenses that plaintiffs incurred in perfecting service. The trial court, however, reserved the amount of the award for determination at a later date. In October 2014, the trial court entered summary judgment in favor of Grady, but it continued to reserve the amount of the expenses of service award. Three months later, plaintiffs filed a motion to reconsider and modify the summary judgment, asserting that the case was still pending (and the summary judgment was only interlocutory and, therefore, subject to reconsideration and modification) because the award of expenses remained outstanding. In September 2015, the trial court entered an order establishing the amount of the expenses to which plaintiffs were entitled, but concluding that summary judgment was final and no longer subject to reconsideration or modification. Plaintiffs appealed, arguing the trial court erred when it awarded summary judgment to Grady, and arguing that summary judgment still was appealable because the expenses award remained outstanding until September 2015. The Court of Appeals disagreed and dismissed the appeal, concluding that the reserved issue about expenses under OCGA 9-11-4 (d) (4) was “ancillary” to the case and, therefore, the summary judgment was a final judgment that had to be appealed within 30 days. The Georgia Supreme Court reversed: because this reserved issue remained pending at the time the trial court awarded summary judgment to Grady, the summary judgment was not a “final judgment[ ]” under OCGA 5-6-34 (a) (1), and plaintiffs were not required to bring their appeal within 30 days of that judgment. View "Edokpolor v. Grady Memorial Hospital Corp." on Justia Law

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The First Circuit affirmed the district court’s grant of summary judgment in this action filed by the Town of Westport against Monsanto Company, Solutia, Inc., and Pharmacia Corporation alleging that Phamacia was liable for “property damage” caused by polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) contamination at Westport Middle School (WMS). When WMS was built in 1969, the contractor used caulk that contained PCBs. Monsanto did not make the caulk but sold plasticizers, a component of caulk, to the third-party manufacturer who did. On appeal, Westport challenged the entry of judgment against its breach of warranty and negligent marketing claims. The First Circuit affirmed, holding (1) Monsanto did not breach the implied warranty of merchantability because it was not reasonably foreseeable in 1969 that there was a risk PCBs would volatilize from caulk at levels requiring premeditation; and (2) as a matter of Massachusetts state law, a negligent marketing claim cannot be maintained independent of a design defect claim on these facts. View "Town of Westport v. Monsanto Co." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the court of appeals reversing the North Carolina Industrial Commission’s decision to award Plaintiff benefits arising out of a 2009 automobile accident. The court of appeals concluded that Plaintiff was barred from pursuing compensation for his personal injury claim under the Workers’ Compensation Act because he had elected to settle his claim against the third-party tortfeasor without the consent of Defendant, the City of Charlotte, and had received disbursement of the settlement proceedings. The Supreme Court disagreed, holding (1) the Act protects both the employer’s lien against third-party proceeds and the employee’s right to pursue workers’ compensation benefits under these circumstances; and (2) therefore, the Commission correctly concluded that Plaintiff had not waived his right to compensation under the Act. View "Easter-Rozzelle v. City of Charlotte" on Justia Law

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R.I. Gen. Laws 10-6-2 means that the release of the master from liability also releases the servant. The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the superior court granting summary judgment for Defendants in this negligence case filed against two nurses. Plaintiff’s complaint was nearly identical to the one she had brought against Tavares Pediatric Center and later settled. In their motion for summary judgment, Defendants argued that Plaintiff’s claims were barred by R.I. Gen. Laws 10-6-2, which provides “that a master and servant or principal and agent shall be considered a single tortfeasor.” Specifically, Defendants maintained that because they and Tavares stood in a master-servant relationship, they should be considered a single tortfeasor and thus released from liability pursuant to Plaintiff’s release of Tavares from liability. The trial justice agreed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that section 10-6-2 foreclosed Plaintiff’s claims in this case. View "Hall v. Hornby" on Justia Law

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Mitchell's Contracting Service, LLC ("Mitchell"), appealed a circuit court’s denial of Mitchell's renewed motion for a judgment as a matter of law or for a new trial in a wrongful-death action brought by Robert Guy Gleason, Sr., as the administrator of the estate of Lorena Gleason, deceased. Two of Mitchell’s employees were driving dump trucks when one of the trucks caused Lorena’s vehicle to leave the road, where it collided with a tree, resulting in her death. Gleason asserted claims against Mitchell based on vicarious liability for Pettway's or Turner's negligent and wanton acts and omissions. A jury returned a verdict in favor of Gleason for $2.5 million. Based on all the circumstances, the Alabama Supreme Court concluded the trial court exceeded its discretion in refusing Mitchell's request for a continuance. Accordingly, the trial court's judgment was reversed and the matter remanded for a new trial. View "Mitchell's Contracting Service, LLC v. Gleason" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the district court granting the State’s motion to dismiss Plaintiff’s claim for damages under the Nebraska Claims for Wrongful Conviction and Imprisonment Act, holding that Plaintiff failed to sufficiently plead a claim of actual innocence. Defendant was convicted of attempted first degree sexual assault and attempted third degree sexual assault of a minor. The court of appeals reversed Defendant’s convictions and remanded the cause for a new trial. While the state sought further review, Defendant completed his prison sentence. Defendant subsequently filed this claim alleging that he had been entrapped. The district court granted the State’s motion to dismiss on the ground that the affirmative defense of entrapment is legally insufficient to show actual innocence as opposed to legal innocence, which is a required element of a wrongful conviction claim. The court of appeals reversed. The Supreme Court reversed the decision of the court of appeals, holding that Defendant failed sufficiently to allege facts to support a finding of actual innocence. View "Nadeem v. State" on Justia Law