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A duty of confidentiality arises from the physician-patient relationship, and unauthorized disclosure of confidential information obtained in the course of that relationship for the purpose of treatment gives rise to a cause of action sounding in tort against the health care provider, unless the disclosure is otherwise allowed by law. The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the trial court entering judgment in favor of Defendant, Avery Center for Obstetrics and Gynecology, P.C., on Plaintiff’s claims of negligence and negligent infliction of emotional distress. On appeal, Plaintiff argued that the trial court erred in granting summary judgment in favor of Defendant on these counts because the court improperly concluded that Defendant, as a health care provider, owed Plaintiff no duty of confidentiality. The Supreme Court agreed, holding that there was a genuine issue of material fact as to whether Defendant violated the duty of confidentiality under the facts of this case. View "Byrne v. Avery Center for Obstetrics & Gynecology, P.C." on Justia Law

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Cheryl Brown and Matthew Denis were involved in a traffic accident, when Denis’s truck bumped into Brown’s car from behind. Denis claimed the accident happened when he inadvertently took his foot off the brake as he turned to roll the rear window down to provide fresh air to his dog, who was riding in the back seat. Denis’s truck, which was positioned behind Brown’s car, rolled forward five to six feet, striking her rear bumper. The collision took place in stop-and-go traffic. Denis, a sergeant with the Vermont State Police, estimated his speed at impact to be two miles per hour and did not believe there was any damage caused to Brown’s vehicle from the collision. Brown claimed the impact caused a scratch on her rear bumper. The truck Denis was driving did not have any markings indicating it was a police vehicle. Brown filed suit against the State of Vermont alleging it was responsible for injuries she sustained in the accident due to Denis’s negligence. Brown also raised constitutional claims, alleging: (1) due process and equality of treatment violations under the Vermont Constitution’s Common Benefits Clause, and (2) an equal protection, and possibly a due process, claim under the United States Constitution. Brown did not name Denis as a defendant in her suit. Brown’s constitutional claims were based on her assertion that Denis received favorable treatment because he was not prosecuted for causing the accident or leaving the scene without providing identifying information. Before trial, the court dismissed the due process and equal protection claims under the United States Constitution on the basis that Brown had only sued the State, and not Denis personally, and that the State was not a “person” for claims arising under 42 U.S.C. 1983. The court further ruled that Brown lacked standing to assert any claim based on the State’s failure to prosecute Denis. The court also dismissed the Common Benefits Clause claim because Brown lacked any cognizable interest in the prosecution or discipline of Denis. Lastly, the court held that, to the extent a due process claim had been raised, it was undisputed that Brown received the information required to be exchanged in the event of a car collision shortly after the accident, and her ability to file suit against the State as a result of the accident showed her due process rights were not impeded. On appeal, Brown alleged several errors in pre-trial and trial rulings, as well as in the failure to grant her a new trial. Finding no reversible error, the Vermont Supreme Court affirmed. View "Brown v. Vermont" on Justia Law

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Gloria Austill and Mary Ella Etheridge appealed a circuit court order granting summary judgment in favor of Dr. John Krolikowski, a senior medical examiner with the Alabama Department of Forensic Sciences ("the ADFS"). They challenged the order insofar as it denied their motion to compel certain discovery. The Baldwin County District Attorney's Office authorized the ADFS to perform an autopsy on the decedent based on potential civil and/or criminal litigation against the nursing home where the decedent resided before his death. Dr. Krolikowski conducted the autopsy on the decedent, at which time the brain was saved and "fixed" in formalin. Following the autopsy, the decedent's body was transported to Radney Funeral Home in Mobile. While the decedent's body was at the funeral home, Mary Ella and Gloria ("plaintiffs") requested that the decedent's brain be referred to the University of Alabama Hospital in Birmingham ("UAB") for a neuropathological examination. Plaintiffs then learned that the brain had not been returned to the body; it had been retained by Dr. Krolikowski. Plaintiffs then sued Dr. Krolikowski, individually, as well as other fictitiously named parties, alleging that, following the autopsy, Dr. Krolikowski, without any compelling or legitimate reason, "harvested the decedent's entire brain without the family's permission and preserved it in his office for his own use." Plaintiffs sought compensatory and punitive damages based on claims of negligence and/or wantonness, trespass, conversion, breach of fiduciary duty, breach of implied contract, and the tort of outrage. The Alabama Supreme Court concluded plaintiffs failed to demonstrate, by way of their Rule 56(f) motion and affidavit in support thereof, that the discovery they requested was crucial to the issue of State-agent immunity, the trial court properly denied their motion to compel. Additionally, because plaintiffs did not challenge the merits of the trial court's summary judgment in favor of Dr. Krolikowski, the summary judgment was affirmed. View "Austill v. Krolikowski" on Justia Law

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Defendant Cheryl Price and Greg Lovelace petitioned for mandamus relief. Price was formerly the warden at Donaldson Correctional Facility ("the prison"), which was operated by the Alabama Department of Corrections ("the DOC"). Lovelace was a deputy commissioner of the DOC in charge of construction and maintenance. Plaintiff Marcus Parrish was a correctional officer employed by the DOC. Parrish was supervising inmate showers in a segregation unit in the prison. Parrish left the shower area briefly to retrieve shaving trimmers, and, when he returned, inmate Rashad Byers had already entered a shower cell, which had an exterior lock on it. Byers indicated that he was finished with his shower, and Parrish told him to turn around to be handcuffed, then approached Byers's shower door with the key to the lock on the door in his hand. Byers unexpectedly opened the door, exited the shower cell, and attacked Parrish. During the attack, Byers took Parrish's baton from him and began striking Parrish with it. Parrish was knocked unconscious, and he sustained injuries to his head. Parrish sued Price and Lovelace in their official capacities. Parrish later filed an amended complaint naming Price and Lovelace as defendants in their individual capacities only (thus, it appears that Price and Lovelace were sued only in their individual capacities). Parrish alleged that Price and Lovelace willfully breached their duties by failing to monitor the prison for unsafe conditions and by failing to repair or replace the allegedly defective locks. Price and Lovelace moved for a summary judgment, asserting, among other things, that they are entitled to State-agent immunity. The trial court denied the summary-judgment motion, concluding, without elaboration, that genuine issues of material fact existed to preclude a summary judgment. Price and Lovelace then petitioned the Alabama Supreme Court for a writ of mandamus, arguing that they were immune from liability. After review of the trial court record, the Supreme Court concluded Price and Lovelace established they were entitled to State-agent immunity. Accordingly, the Court directed the trial court to enter a summary judgment in their favor. View "Ex parte Cheryl Price & Greg Lovelace." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the district court denying Plaintiff’s motion for new trial in this personal injury action. Plaintiff sued Defendant for negligence after an automobile collision, claiming that her neck, back, and wrists were injured in the accident. Defendant admitted that her negligence caused the collision and “some injury” to Plaintiff but denied the nature and extent of the injuries and damages claimed by Plaintiff. The jury returned a unanimous verdict for Defendant. The district court denied Plaintiff’s motion for new trial and entered judgment on the jury’s verdict. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the jury’s verdict was supported by sufficient evidence. View "Lewison v. Renner" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed as modified the district court’s order dismissing with prejudice Plaintiff’s complaint for lack of personal jurisdiction. Plaintiff, an attorney, filed a complaint for breach of contract against Defendant. The trial court dismissed the complaint with leave to amend. Plaintiff then filed an amended complaint including claims for tortious conversion and a violation of Nebraska’s Uniform Deceptive Trade Practices Act. The Supreme Court affirmed the dismissal of the complaint, holding (1) neither general nor specific personal jurisdiction over Defendant existed; but (2) the district court erred in dismissing the complaint with prejudice. The court modified the district court’s order to a dismissal without prejudice. View "Nimmer v. Giga Entertainment Media, Inc." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the district court dismissing Appellants’ complaint alleging that the Nebraska Public Service Commission (PSC) negligently failed to enforce Nebraska statutes and regulations against Pierce Grain Elevator, Inc. (PEI). The complaint was filed under Nebraska’s State Tort Claims Act (STCA). In dismissing the complaint, the district court concluded that Appellants’ suit was barred by the STCA’s discretionary function exception provided in Neb. Rev. Stat. 81-8,219(1). The Supreme Court affirmed the district court’s determination that it lacked subject matter jurisdiction over the case, holding that Appellants’ claims were grounded in a state agency’s alleged failure to suspend or revoke a license and that the Legislature has preserved sovereign immunity for such conduct. View "Amend v. Nebraska Public Service Commission" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the circuit court granting summary judgment in favor of Defendant in this negligence action on the basis of a release signed by Plaintiff. After an automobile accident, Plaintiff agreed to sign a release releasing Defendant from all claims related to the accident in exchange for reimbursement of up to $3,000 in medical bills. Plaintiff’s medical bills, however, totaled over $400,000. Plaintiff filed a negligence claim against Defendant. The trial court granted summary judgment for Defendant based the release. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) there was a genuine issue of material fact as to whether Plaintiff’s consent was secured by undue influence; and (2) there was a genuine issue of material fact as to whether the release precluded Plaintiff’s claim. View "Schaefer v. Sioux Spine & Sport" on Justia Law

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28 U.S.C. 1446(b)(3)'s removal clock begins ticking upon receipt of the deposition transcript. The Fifth Circuit dismissed Murphy Oil's appeal of an order of remand under section 1446(b)(3), based on lack of jurisdiction. In this case, Murphy Oil itself had no right to be in federal court in the first place, and only Avondale, its codefendant, could invoke the federal officer removal statute. Had Avondale not chosen to remove, Murphy Oil could not have asserted officer jurisdiction on Avondale's behalf. The court held that Murphy Oil experienced no concrete and particularized injury sufficient to satisfy the injury-in-fact prong of Article III standing. View "Morgan v. Huntington Ingalls, Inc." on Justia Law

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This is an appeal from the district court’s grant of summary judgment against Dea Haight (“Haight”) and the dismissal of her complaint for damages and declaratory and injunctive relief. Haight alleged that the Idaho Department of Transportation (“ITD”) was negligent in placing and maintaining construction barrels on Interstate 90 (“I-90”) in Shoshone County, Idaho. At Mile Post 53, Haight alleges that one of the barrels was completely within the lane of travel in the north passing lane for eastbound traffic - the only lane open for eastbound traffic at the time. Haight claims the barrel caught both arms on the awning of her fifth wheel camper trailer, ripping one arm completely away from the body of the camper and partially tearing away the other arm. In addition to her negligence claim, Haight alleged portions of Idaho’s motorcycle and driver’s manuals published by the State misrepresent the law and prescribe standards which present a danger to motorists. The district court concluded that Haight failed to present sufficient evidence to support her negligence claim and that she lacked standing to bring a declaratory judgment action against ITD. Haight argued on appeal the trial court erred. The Idaho Supreme Court affirmed the trial court’s dismissal of Haight’s case. View "Haight v. Idaho Dept of Transportation" on Justia Law