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While Ethan Lomeli's guardian filed suit against medical care providers for his catastrophic birth injuries, Medi-Cal paid for his care before and during the lawsuit. After Lomeli settled with defendants, the Department moved to impose a lien on the settlement and the trial court granted the motion. The Court of Appeal affirmed and held that federal law did not block the Department's lien. The court rejected Lomeli's analysis from the dissent in Tristani ex rel. Karnes v. Richman (3rd Cir. 2011) 652 F.3d 360, 379–387, and adopted the majority's holding that two provisions of the Social Security Act did not bar state Medicare liens. The court also held that collateral estoppel did not bar the lien and the court's lien calculation of $267,159.60 was correct. In this case, substantial evidence supported the trial court's reality-based approach to determine the reasonable value of plaintiff's pretrial claim. View "Lomeli v. State Department of Health Care Services" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court made permanent in part and quashed in part a preliminary writ it issued in response to Brad Halsey's petition seeking to direct Respondent, the Honorable Jennifer M. Phillips, to dismiss Jennifer Dachenhausen's claims against him, holding that Dachenhausen's assault and battery claims were time-barred but her emotional distress counts properly alleged claims independent from traditional common law actions. Dachenhausen filed suit against Halsey for assault, battery, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and negligent infliction of emotional distress. Halsey filed a motion to dismiss, arguing that Dachenhausen's claims were time-barred. Respondent overruled Halsey's motion to dismiss. Halsey then petitioned the Supreme Court for a writ of prohibition. The Supreme Court granted it in part, holding (1) the face of Dachenhausen's petition demonstrated that the statute of limitations had run on her assault and battery claims; and (2) the petition did not affirmatively show that Dachenhausen's claims for negligent and intentional infliction of emotional distress were time-barred. View "State ex rel. Halsey v. Honorable Jennifer M. Phillips" on Justia Law

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The State of Delaware appealed a superior court order that affirmed a determination by the Industrial Accident Board (the Board) that Nicholas Gates was working within the course and scope of his employment when he was injured in a motor vehicle collision. At the time of the collision, Gates was employed by the State as a road-maintenance equipment operator for the Department of Transportation (DelDOT). The collision occurred while he was responding to a “call-back” after his normal work hours. He was called back to attend to a roadside accident. Gates sought workers’ compensation benefits from the State for his injury. At the hearing before the Board, the State argued that State of Delaware Merit Rule 4.16 1 and a document titled “Call-Back Pay Guidelines and Recommended Procedure” (the Call-Back Pay Guidelines) were part of Gates’s employment contract. According to these provisions, Gates was not to be paid for a call-back until he arrived at the DelDOT yard. Because Gates’s collision occurred before he arrived at the yard, the State argued, his injury occurred outside the course and scope of his employment and was, therefore, not compensable under Delaware’s Workers’ Compensation Act (the Act).3 The Board looked to the parties’ prior course of conduct to determine the terms of the employment contract and found that Gates’s injury was compensable under the Act because, based on the parties’ prior course of conduct, he “was working within the course and scope of his employment contract when the motor vehicle accident occurred.” The Superior Court affirmed the Board’s decision. The Delaware Supreme Court affirmed the Superior Court, and therefore the Board. Specifically, the Court determined the Board applied the correct legal standard and acted within its discretion in finding, based on Gates’s unrebutted testimony as to the parties’ course of conduct prior to the collision, that the terms of Gates’s employment contract established he was to be paid for a callback from the time he received the call and that, at the time of the collision, he was working within the course and scope of this contract. These factual findings were supported by substantial evidence; the Board did not err in determining that Gates’s injury was compensable under the Act. View "Delaware v. Gates" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the decision of the Court of Special Appeals reversing the decision of the circuit court affirming the decision of the Workers' Compensation Commission modifying an order that provided Officer Peter Gang, who was injured working as a correctional officer for Montgomery County, a compensation award for a permanent partial disability resulting from his injury, holding that the Commission was authorized to retroactively modify the compensation award. Specifically, the Commission retroactively adjusted the rate of compensation because, as a public safety employee, Officer Gang had been entitled to a higher rate of compensation than that which he initially received. The Court of Appeals concluded that the Commission was not statutorily authorized to retroactively modify Officer Gang's rate of compensation. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) under section 9-736(b) of the Workers' Compensation Act, the Commission may modify the compensation award within five years from the date of the last compensation payment; and (2) because Officer Gang applied for the correction before the statutory five-year period expired the Commission properly exercised its continuing jurisdiction to retroactively correct the rate of compensation in Officer Gang's award for permanent partial disability based on an error of law. View "Gang v. Montgomery County" on Justia Law

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In this lead-based paint case the Court of Appeals held that the trial court did not abuse its discretion in admitting expert testimony from two of Plaintiff's experts - a vocational rehabilitation expert and an economic expert. The vocational expert provided testimony that, with the cognitive deficits caused by Plaintiff's exposure to lead, Plaintiff would have the earning capacity of someone with less than a twelfth-grade education. Relying on the vocation rehabilitation expert's conclusions, the economic expert opined that Plaintiff's loss of earning capacity over his lifetime was $1,073.042. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) there was a sufficient factual basis to support the vocational rehabilitation expert's opinion as to Plaintiff's vocation and education attainment absent impairment; and (2) Lewin Realty III, Inc. v. Brooks, 771 A.2d 446 (Md. 2001), and Sugarman v. Liles, 190 A.3d 344 (Md. 2018), do not require an expert in a lead-based paint case to utilize statistical data or studies to support an opinion as to a plaintiff's vocational and education attainment absent deficits; and (3) the trial court did not abuse its discretion in denying a motion in limine to exclude the economic expert's testimony and report as untimely. View "Dackman v. Robinson" on Justia Law

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Batterton was working on a Dutra vessel when a hatch blew open and injured his hand. Batterton sued Dutra, asserting various claims, including unseaworthiness, and seeking general and punitive damages. The Ninth Circuit affirmed the denial of Dutra’s motion to dismiss the claim for punitive damages: The Supreme Court reversed. A plaintiff may not recover punitive damages on a claim of unseaworthiness. Precedent establishes that the Court “should look primarily to . . . legislative enactments for policy guidance” when exercising its inherent common-law authority over maritime and admiralty cases. Overwhelming historical evidence suggests that punitive damages are not available for unseaworthiness claims. The Merchant Marine Act of 1920 (Jones Act) codified the rights of injured mariners by incorporating the rights provided to railway workers under the Federal Employers’ Liability Act (FELA); FELA damages were strictly compensatory. The Court noted that unseaworthiness in its current strict-liability form is the Court’s own invention, coming after enactment of the Jones Act. A claim of unseaworthiness is a duplicate and substitute for a Jones Act claim. It would exceed the objectives of pursuing policies found in congressional enactments and promoting uniformity between maritime statutory law and maritime common law to introduce novel remedies contradictory to those provided by Congress in similar areas. Allowing punitive damages on unseaworthiness claims would also create bizarre disparities in the law and would place American shippers at a significant competitive disadvantage and discourage foreign-owned vessels from employing American seamen. View "Dutra Group v. Batterton" on Justia Law

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Mercer University sought immunity from liability for claims by the estate and family of Sally Stofer, who was fatally injured when she fell at a free concert hosted by the university at Washington Park in Macon, Georgia in July 2014. The park was owned by Macon-Bibb County, but Mercer had a permit to use the park for its concert series. The concert series was planned, promoted, and hosted by Mercer’s College Hill Alliance, a division of Mercer whose stated mission is to foster neighborhood revitalization for Macon’s College Hill Corridor. The trial court concluded, and the Court of Appeals agreed, that defendant was not entitled to summary judgment on its claim of immunity under Georgia’s Recreational Property Act, given evidence that Mercer hosted the concert and it might (at least indirectly) benefit financially from the event. In arriving at this conclusion, the Georgia Supreme Court surmised the Court of Appeals was led astray by language in the Supreme Court’s most recent relevant decision that was inconsistent with previous case law. After careful consideration of the statutory text and a thorough review of the case law, the Georgia Supreme Court concluded that whether immunity was available under this provision requires a determination of the true scope and nature of the landowner’s invitation to use its property, and this determination properly is informed by two related considerations: (1) the nature of the activity that constitutes the use of the property in which people have been invited to engage, and (2) the nature of the property that people have been invited to use. Clarifying that considerations of evidence of Mercer’s subjective motivations in hosting the concert and some speculation of the indirect benefits Mercer might have received as a result of the concert were generally improper, the Supreme Court vacated the Court of Appeals’ decision and remanded the case with direction that the court revisit its analysis consistent with the standard that was clarified here. View "Mercer University v. Stofer" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the Appellate Court upholding the trial court's grant of summary judgment to the municipal defendants in this personal injury action, holding that there was no genuine issue of material fact that an agency relationship did not exist between the municipal defendants and the tortfeasor at the time of the motor vehicle accident with Plaintiff. The vehicle being driven by James Smith, a volunteer firefighter with the Old Saybrook Fire Company No. 1, Inc., collided with a motorcycle being driven by Plaintiff. In this action, Plaintiff alleged that the fire company and the town were vicariously liable for Smith's negligence. The municipal defendants moved for summary judgment claiming that Smith was not acting within the scope of his employment with the fire company at the time of the accident because he had left the firehouse and was on his way home. The trial court granted the motion. The Appellate Court affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that there was no genuine issue of material fact that Smith was not acting within the scope of his employment at the time of the accident, and therefore, the municipal defendants could not be held vicariously liable for Smith's negligence as a matter of law. View "Fiano v. Old Saybrook Fire Co. No. 1, Inc." on Justia Law

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John Buckley started working for Labor Ready, Inc., a temporary employment service, in 2009. He was injured on assignment for a shipping company. At the time of injury he was performing a task prohibited by the contract between the temporary employment service and the shipping company. The injury resulted in loss of the worker’s hand and part of his arm. After getting workers’ compensation benefits from the temporary employment service, the worker brought a negligence action against the shipping company and one shipping company employee. The superior court decided on cross-motions for summary judgment that the exclusive liability provision of the Alaska Workers’ Compensation Act (Act) barred the action. The Alaska Supreme Court reverse, finding material issues of fact precluded disposition by summary judgment. View "Buckley v. American Fast Freight, Inc." on Justia Law

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Keith Steffes, Kelly Steffes and Tasha (Rohrbach) Steffes appealed a district court order granting Nodak Mutual Insurance Company’s motion for a new trial. The Steffeses argued the district court abused its discretion in vacating the judgment and granting Nodak’s motion for a new trial. The North Dakota Supreme Court dismissed the appeal because the order granting a new trial was not then reviewable. View "Nodak Mutual Insurance Company v. Steffes, et al." on Justia Law