Justia Injury Law Opinion Summaries

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Two nursing homes bring interlocutory appeals to this court from orders in two separate cases in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. The plaintiff estate in each case claims that a defendant nursing home failed to provide adequate care and should therefore be held liable for the resident’s death from COVID-19. The district courts denied the defendants’ motions to dismiss based on PREP Act immunity. Defendants invoke a provision of the PREP Act that they claim gives us jurisdiction over these appeals.These cases raise the common threshold question of whether 42 U.S.C. Section 247d-6d(e)(10) empowers us to hear interlocutory appeals from decisions of out-of-circuit district courts rejecting assertions of PREP Act immunity.The DC Circuit concluded that the PREP Act confers interlocutory appellate jurisdiction on the court only from orders of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia (D.D.C.) denying motions to dismiss or for summary judgment in willful misconduct cases—a distinct, limited cause of action that subsection 247d-6d(d) of the PREP Act excepts from its broad grant of immunity and channels to the federal district court here. Because PREP Act subsection 247d6d(e)(10) does not authorize interlocutory appeals to this court from orders of district courts elsewhere allowing other types of claims to proceed despite assertions of PREP Act immunity, the court dismissed the appeals. View "Christopher Beaty, Jr. v. Fair Acres Geriatric Center" on Justia Law

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Two nursing homes bring interlocutory appeals to this court from orders in two separate cases in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. The Plaintiffs' estate in each case claims that a defendant nursing home failed to provide adequate care and should therefore be held liable for the resident’s death from COVID-19. The district courts denied Defendant's motions to dismiss based on PREP Act immunity. Defendants invoked a provision of the PREP Act that they claim gives us jurisdiction over these appeals.The DC Circuit dismissed the appeals, holding that the PREP Act subsection 247d6d(e)(10) does not authorize interlocutory appeals to this court from orders of district courts elsewhere allowing other types of claims to proceed despite assertions of PREP Act immunity. View "Anne Cannon v. Watermark Retirement Communities, Inc." on Justia Law

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The Seventh Circuit affirmed the judgment of the district court dismissing North American Elite Insurance Company's (North American) claims against Menard, holding that there was no error.After a Menard employee hit a customer with a forklift the customer brought a negligence suit against Menard and its employee in state court. Menard carried two levels of personal injury liability insurance at the time. Liability exceeding $3 million fell under an umbrella policy with North American. The jury returned a $13 million verdict, which was reduced to a $6 million settlement. North American indemnified Menard for liability in excess of $3 million then brought this action against Menard in federal court, arguing that Menard violated its duties under Illinois law by rejecting a settlement offer and proceeding to trial. The district court dismissed all claims. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that North American was not entitled to relief on its claims of error. View "North American Elite Insurance v. Menard, Inc." on Justia Law

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The First Circuit affirmed the order of the district court granting summary judgment dismissing Plaintiff's federal claims against Brown University and reversed the grant of summary judgment as to Plaintiff's state law claim for intentional infliction of emotional distress, holding that there were triable issues precluding summary judgment.Jane Doe, a white woman, filed a complaint against Plaintiff, an African-American man who was then a freshman at Brown University, alleging sexual misconduct. After a multi-year process leading to Plaintiff's suspension from school and his suicide attempt. A year before he graduated, Plaintiff brought this action in Rhode Island state court alleging that Brown discriminated against him and intentionally inflicted emotional distress upon him. The district court granted summary judgment for Brown. The First Circuit reversed in part, holding that Plaintiff presented evidence that would allow a jury reasonably to conclude that Brown should be held liable for the tortious conduct of its officials in intentionally causing Plaintiff severe emotional distress under Rhode Island common law. View "Doe v. Brown University" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court held that liability under the Unruh Civil Rights Act, Cal. Civ. Code 51, was not available in this case, where Plaintiff alleged that he was sexually assaulted by fellow students and a school district staff member at his high school.Plaintiff, through his guardian, sued the West Contra Costa Unified School District asserting various claims arising out of his high school experiences, including allegations that the District had violated the Act. The District demurred to the Act cause of action on the ground that the District was not a "business establishment" within the meaning of the Act. The trial court sustained the demurrer. Thereafter, Plaintiff filed an original petition for writ of mandate, which the court of appeal denied. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the Act, as currently written, cannot reasonably be interpreted to encompass public school districts in situations such as the one this case presented. View "Brennon B. v. Superior Court" on Justia Law

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Robert Procive appealed when a district court dismissed his appeal of an Administrative Law Judge’s order that denied his claim for Workforce Safety and Insurance (“WSI”) benefits. Procive submitted his first claim in 2020, alleging he suffered carpal tunnel syndrome due to injuries to both wrists, elbows, and shoulders resulting from repetitive digging, hammering and driving stakes, steel posts, and iron rods into the ground. He claimed his original injury occurred in western North Dakota, and he notified his employer of his injury in November 2004 and October 2016. WSI accepted liability for Procive’s right carpal tunnel injury, but denied for the left. Later WSI issued its order reversing its acceptance of liability for the right carpal tunnel, finding Procive willfully made false statements about whether he had prior injuries or received treatment. WSI ordered Procive to repay past benefits he received. After a hearing the ALJ affirmed WSI’s decisions denying coverage. Procive appealed to the district court in Stutsman County. WSI moved to dismiss the appeal, arguing the district court lacked subject matter jurisdiction because Procive was required to file his appeal in the county where the injury occurred or the county where he resided. To this, the North Dakota Supreme Court affirmed, finding the district court did not have jurisdiction. View "Procive v. WSI" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs’ son fell to his death from the steep, sloped roof of a residential building where he lived. The building was owned by Young Men’s Christian Association of Glendale, California (YMCA or Defendant). Plaintiffs’ son had been drinking and had eaten a marijuana brownie earlier, was feeling high, and had been acting erratically before the fall. The parties agree there was an “open and obvious risk” from the roof sloped at a steep angle and covered with brittle, broken, slippery and unstable Spanish tiles. They also agree there was no need for Plaintiffs’ son to be on the roof.The trial court granted Defendant’s motion for summary judgment. The Second Appellate District affirmed. The court held under the circumstances Defendant owed no duty of care to Plaintiffs’ son, and his parents cannot prevail on their wrongful death claims based on premises liability and negligence. The court explained that Defendant owed no duty to do anything to protect Plaintiffs’ son from his voluntary, unnecessary, and uninvited risk taking. View "Montes v. Young Men's Christian Assn. of Glendale, CA" on Justia Law

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In this action brought the estate of Jonah Marciniak and Marciniak's son pursuing both federal and state claims stemming from Marciniak's arrest and ensuing suicide, the Seventh District held that the district court did not err in granting summary judgment in favor of the Village of Shorewood and three of its officers who arrested Marciniak after his roommate fell from a fourth story window, holding that there was no error.After arresting Marciniak and placing him in a booking cell, Marciniak used his t-shirt to hang himself. Marciniak died six days later. Plaintiffs brought this action alleging that the three officers falsely arrested Marciniak without probable cause and failed to provide medical care and attention and to protect from self-harm. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of Defendants. The Seventh Circuit affirmed, holding (1) Defendants had an absolute defense of probable cause to Plaintiffs' claims; and (2) even if the officers did not have probable cause to arrest for battery, they were still entitled to qualified immunity. View "Jump v. Village of Shorewood" on Justia Law

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The Seventh Circuit held that district courts may make the decision whether to recruit counsel for an otherwise pro se litigant under 28 U.S. 1915(e)(1) based, in part, on considerations of the strength or weakness of the underlying claims, in keeping with the practical approach of Pruitt and mindful that pro bono lawyers are not a limitless resource.Plaintiff, a federal inmate, sued Defendants after he developed glaucoma. On four occasions, Plaintiff invoked section 1915(e)(1), asking the district to recruit pro bono counsel to represent him. The district court eventually entered summary judgment for Defendants and refused to recruit counsel under the statute. The Seventh Circuit affirmed, holding (1) the district court's conclusion that Plaintiff's likelihood of success on his negligence claims was too remote to warrant marshaling legal and expert resources toward his case was wholly consistent with the Pruitt framework; and (2) none of Plaintiff's other arguments on appeal lacked merit. View "Watts v. Kidman" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff-Appellant Cindy Roe suffered serious injuries after her Jeep Grand Cherokee unexpectedly backed over her. After the accident, she filed a lawsuit in federal district court against the manufacturer of her vehicle, FCA US (“FCA”), alleging that the shifter assembly in her vehicle had been defectively designed in that it could be perched into a “false-park” position where the vehicle appears to be in park, but was actually in an unstable position that could slip into reverse. Roe further alleged this defect caused her injuries. FCA moved to exclude Roe’s experts as unreliable on the issue of causation, among other objections. FCA additionally moved for summary judgement because Roe could not create a material issue of fact on the essential element of causation without her experts’ testimony. The district court agreed with FCA, excluded the experts, and granted summary judgment for FCA. Notably, the district court found that the experts’ theory on causation was unreliable because they failed to demonstrate that the shifter could remain in false park for sufficient time for Roe to move behind the vehicle and then slip into reverse without manual assistance. Roe appealed, arguing that the district court abused its discretion in excluding the expert testimony. Finding no reversible error, the Tenth Circuit affirmed the district court. View "Roe v. FCA US" on Justia Law