Justia Injury Law Opinion Summaries
NBIS Construction & Transport Insurance Services, v. Liebherr-America, Inc.
In this case, the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit had to apply Florida tort law to a dispute concerning the collapse of a crane boom. The plaintiff, NBIS Construction & Transport Insurance Services, Inc., an insurer of the crane's owner, sued the defendants, Liebherr-America, Inc., a distributor and servicer of the type of crane in question, for over $1.7 million in damages resulting from the collapse. The defendants argued that they were shielded from liability by Florida’s economic loss rule. The magistrate judge, after a five-day bench trial, rejected this argument. The court of appeals found Florida law unclear on this issue and certified a question to the Florida Supreme Court.The facts of the case involved a crane purchased by Sims Crane & Equipment Company from a non-party broker, which was manufactured by Liebherr Werk Ehingen GMbH. Two Sims crane operators received training from a Liebherr-America employee, which involved swapping out different configurations of the crane boom. However, the training was inadequate and did not provide sufficient information about the proper placement of specific pins which, if misadjusted, could cause the crane boom to collapse. When the crane boom did collapse during a construction project, causing a fatality and damage to the crane, NBIS filed a negligence suit against Liebherr-America.The key issue in the case was whether Florida’s economic loss rule, which generally limits recovery in tort cases to situations where there is damage to other property or personal injury, and not just economic loss, applied in this case. The defendants argued that the rule should apply because the plaintiff’s negligence claims were akin to failure to warn theories found in products liability law, which fall within the scope of the rule. The plaintiff argued that the rule should not apply because this was not a product liability case asserting a product defect, but rather a case alleging negligent services provided by the defendants. Because the court found Florida law unclear on this issue, it certified the question to the Florida Supreme Court. View "NBIS Construction & Transport Insurance Services, v. Liebherr-America, Inc." on Justia Law
Wilkins v. Genzyme Corporation
A group of individuals filed a lawsuit against Genzyme Corporation, a drug manufacturer, for injuries allegedly caused by the company's mishandling of a prescription drug shortage between 2009 and 2012. The lawsuit was filed several years after the events in question occurred and would typically have been considered too late under the applicable statutory limitations periods. However, the plaintiffs argued that previous class actions, a savings statute, and a tolling agreement between the parties allowed the lawsuit to proceed. The district court partially agreed and rejected Genzyme's argument that the delay in filing required dismissal of the lawsuit. However, it dismissed the claims of all but four plaintiffs for lack of standing, and dismissed the remaining claims on the merits.On appeal, the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit found that all plaintiffs have standing and the court has jurisdiction to proceed with the case, at least with respect to the plaintiffs' individual claims. However, it concluded that four plaintiffs waited too long before filing this lawsuit, and their claims are time-barred. For the remaining plaintiffs, the court vacated the judgment dismissing their claims and remanded the case to the district court for further proceedings. View "Wilkins v. Genzyme Corporation" on Justia Law
Santiago-Martinez v. Fundacion Damas, Inc.
The case concerns parents of a child who suffered severe and permanent injuries at birth due to alleged negligence of the medical staff at Hospital Damas. The parents sued Fundación Damas, Inc., alleging that it operated the hospital at the time of the malpractice. The district court granted summary judgment to Fundación on the basis of issue preclusion, concluding that the parents were "virtually represented" in earlier proceedings by the parents of another child who also suffered injuries at the hospital.The United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit reversed the district court's decision. The appellate court found that the theory of virtual representation, which the district court relied on, was inapplicable to this case. According to the Supreme Court's precedent, issue preclusion generally does not apply to those who were not party to the prior litigation. The court noted that the Supreme Court had rejected the broad theory of virtual representation, which was the basis for the district court's decision. The court explained that the exceptions to the rule against nonparty preclusion are narrow and specific, and none applied in this case. Therefore, the court reversed the grant of summary judgment and remanded the case for further proceedings. View "Santiago-Martinez v. Fundacion Damas, Inc." on Justia Law
Pace v. Cirrus Design Corp
In this case, Glen Pace, a Mississippi resident, appealed the dismissal of his claims against multiple corporate defendants over personal injuries he suffered in a Texas airplane crash. The United States District Court for the Southern District of Mississippi dismissed the claims against the out-of-state defendants for lack of personal jurisdiction and held that the two Mississippi defendants were improperly joined, which allowed removal to federal court.Upon review, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court’s ruling. The appellate court agreed that Pace failed to state a claim against either in-state defendant, and thus, they were improperly joined. As for the out-of-state defendants, the court found that the district court lacked personal jurisdiction over them. The court reasoned that the aircraft crash, any equipment failure, and the injuries all occurred in Texas, and Pace's subsequent medical treatment and damages in Mississippi did not constitute an actual injury felt in the state for the purpose of establishing personal jurisdiction. The court held that Pace's injuries from the crash occurred in Texas and his subsequent medical treatment in Mississippi were "consequences stemming from the actual tort injury," which do not confer personal jurisdiction.The court also denied Pace's request for jurisdictional discovery, stating that Pace failed to present specific facts or reasonable particularity regarding jurisdictional facts. The court stressed that its decision should not be interpreted as implying a view on the merits of Pace’s claims. View "Pace v. Cirrus Design Corp" on Justia Law
Smith v. Minier
The case involves a wrongful death claim by Leslie Smith, representative of the estate of Marcus D. Smith, against Rosalinde Minier, representative of the estate of Ingeborg Steiner, and Werner Enterprises, Inc. The claim arises from a multi-vehicle accident, including a tractor-trailer operated by Marcus D. Smith, a tractor-trailer owned by Werner Enterprises, and a personal vehicle operated by Ingeborg Steiner. Marcus Smith suffered a cervical fracture and multiple rib fractures, was prescribed Lortab (a combination of hydrocodone and acetaminophen), which he overdosed on, leading to his death from liver failure. The trial court granted the defendants' motion for partial summary judgment on the wrongful-death claim, finding that Marcus Smith's death from acetaminophen-induced liver failure was not foreseeable as a proximate cause of the original automobile accident. The Court of Appeals reversed the trial court's decision, finding a genuine issue of material fact regarding the foreseeability of Marcus Smith's death.The Supreme Court of Mississippi affirmed the decision of the Court of Appeals and reversed the judgment of the Jackson County Circuit Court. The Court held that the foreseeability of a particular injury and the presence of an intervening or superseding cause are questions for the fact finder, in this case, the jury. The Court found that a genuine issue of material fact remains regarding the foreseeability of Marcus Smith's death from liver failure due to acetaminophen toxicity. Therefore, the grant of partial summary judgment by the trial court was improper, and the case was remanded for further proceedings. View "Smith v. Minier" on Justia Law
Shalghoun v. North Los Angeles County Regional Center, Inc.
In this case, the plaintiff, Ali Shalghoun, was the administrator of a residential facility, Hargis Home, where a client of the North Los Angeles County Regional Center, Inc. (the Regional Center), a man identified as J.C. with developmental disabilities and a history of violent outbursts, was housed. In May 2018, Hargis Home notified the Regional Center that it could no longer meet J.C.'s needs and requested help in finding alternative placement for him. While the Regional Center was searching for a new facility, J.C. attacked Shalghoun in July 2018, causing him serious injuries. Shalghoun sued the Regional Center for his injuries, arguing that it had a duty to protect him from harm.The Court of Appeal of the State of California Second Appellate District, however, disagreed. It held that the Regional Center had no legal duty of care towards Shalghoun. While the Regional Center has a responsibility to provide services and support to developmentally disabled persons, it does not have a duty to protect the employees of a residential facility. The court further noted that the Regional Center could not unilaterally relocate J.C. without the agreement of another facility to accept him. Thus, the court affirmed the trial court's grant of summary judgment in favor of the Regional Center. View "Shalghoun v. North Los Angeles County Regional Center, Inc." on Justia Law
Igtiben v. Eighth Jud. Dist. Ct.
This case arose from a wrongful death and professional negligence action brought by Linda F. Smith, the mother of Kamario Mantrell Smith, an inmate who died after unsuccessful heart surgery and subsequent complications. The defendants were Christopher L. Igtiben, M.D., Dignity Health, and related entities. Smith filed her complaint on November 22, 2022, alleging that the defendants' failure to recognize her son's sickle cell anemia before ordering a CT scan with contrast ultimately led to his death. Dr. Igtiben filed a motion to dismiss the complaint, arguing that the applicable statute of limitations under NRS 41A.097(2) had expired. The district court denied the dismissal motion.The Court of Appeals of Nevada found that Smith had been placed on inquiry notice of potential professional negligence and wrongful death claims when she received her son's medical records in January 2020. Accordingly, NRS 41A.097(2) required her to file any professional negligence or wrongful death action within one year from that date. Because Smith did not file her complaint until November 2022, the statute of limitations had expired, and the district court should have dismissed the complaint as untimely. As a result, the court granted the writ of mandamus and directed the clerk to issue a writ instructing the district court to dismiss the complaint. View "Igtiben v. Eighth Jud. Dist. Ct." on Justia Law
Doe v. Sidar
In a case before the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, the plaintiff, identified as Jane Doe, filed an appeal against two orders from the district court. The first order denied her request to compel the defendant, Cenk Sidar, to provide a DNA sample for a sexual assault case. The second order demanded that Doe disclose her real name in the proceedings following a default judgment against Sidar.The Court of Appeals dismissed the appeal regarding the DNA sample for lack of jurisdiction, ruling that orders denying requests for physical or mental examinations are not immediately appealable under the collateral order doctrine.However, the court did rule on the anonymity issue. The court found that the district court committed legal error in its order demanding Doe to disclose her real name. The district court had understated Doe's interest in anonymity, announced a general rule that fairness considerations invariably cut against allowing a plaintiff to be anonymous at trial unless the defendant is also anonymous, and failed to recognize the significance of its default judgment on liability. The Court of Appeals thus vacated the non-anonymity order and remanded for further proceedings, instructing the district court to reconsider its order in light of the appeals court's opinion. The court emphasized the importance of Doe's privacy interests, particularly given that the case involved allegations of sexual assault. View "Doe v. Sidar" on Justia Law
Vancos v. Montana Department of Transportation
This case was a negligence action brought by Dennis Vancos against the State of Montana, Department of Transportation, for injuries he sustained when struck by a car at an intersection. Vancos alleged that the traffic control device at the intersection was inadequately designed, installed, and maintained, leading to the accident. The Supreme Court of the State of Montana addressed three issues on appeal. The first was whether the District Court made an error in handling evidence of Vancos’s consumption of alcohol. The court found that the District Court did err by allowing evidence of Vancos's alcohol consumption but refusing to take judicial notice of his blood alcohol content (BAC), which was not deemed to be in evidence. The court held that a party need not introduce evidence of a fact judicially noticed, and therefore, the District Court's interpretation of the rule was incorrect, and it abused its discretion by refusing to take judicial notice of Vancos's BAC.The second issue was whether the District Court erred by not accepting Vancos’s proposed jury instruction on pedestrian rights-of-way. The court found that the District Court did not abuse its discretion when it rejected Vancos’s proposed instruction and instead chose to instruct the jury on the entirety of the law.The third issue, which was not addressed due to the requirement for a new trial determined by the first issue, was whether the District Court erred by not striking a prospective juror for cause. Due to the error in handling evidence of Vancos's alcohol consumption, the court reversed in part, affirmed in part, and remanded the case to the District Court for a new trial. View "Vancos v. Montana Department of Transportation" on Justia Law
Hice v. Giron
In this case, the Supreme Court of the State of Colorado was called upon to decide a matter related to the Colorado Governmental Immunity Act (CGIA). The case involved a wrongful death action brought by the family and estate representatives of two brothers, Walter and Samuel Giron, who died when Officer Justin Hice accidentally collided with their van while pursuing a suspected speeder. Officer Hice and his employer, the Town of Olathe, claimed immunity under the CGIA. The Plaintiffs countered that the Defendants were not entitled to immunity because Officer Hice failed to use his emergency lights or siren continuously while speeding before the accident.The court had to interpret the CGIA and related traffic code provisions to determine the relevant time period for an officer’s failure to use emergency alerts. The court concluded that the CGIA requires a minimal causal connection between a plaintiff’s injuries and the fact that an officer did not use emergency signals while speeding. This means that an officer has access to immunity while speeding only during those times when the officer is using alerts.The court disagreed with the lower court's interpretation that an officer who fails to use his alerts at any point during the pursuit waives immunity for the entire pursuit. Instead, the court held that under section 24-10-106(1)(a) an emergency driver waives immunity only if the plaintiff’s injuries could have resulted from the emergency driver’s failure to use alerts.The court reversed the judgment of the court of appeals and remanded the case for the court of appeals to determine if Officer Hice’s failure to use his lights or siren until the final five to ten seconds of his pursuit could have contributed to the accident. View "Hice v. Giron" on Justia Law