Justia Injury Law Opinion Summaries

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A 49-year-old jiu-jitsu student injured during a sparring match sued the studio where he was taking lessons as well as the national jiu-jitsu association under whose auspices the studio’s students could compete. The trial court granted summary judgment for the national association (as well as the association’s founder) on the ground that the association was not liable for the student’s injury because it had no actual control over the studio’s sparring practices and the association’s conduct did not give rise to a reasonable belief in the student that it had such control. The student appealed. His appeal raises two questions, one procedural and one substantive.   The Second Appellate District affirmed. The court found that the trial court did not violate the student’s right to due process by granting summary judgment on the issue of lack of control, when it was the student who first explicitly raised and briefed that issue in his opposition to summary judgment. Further, the court found that the student’s belief that the association had control over the studio’s sparring practices was not “reasonable” by virtue of the franchise-type relationship between the association and studio. View "Pereda v. Atos Jiu Jitsu LLC" on Justia Law

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Three independent contractors of Eastman Chemical Company were severely injured, one of them fatally, when a pump exploded during maintenance. Eastman moved to dismiss their state-law personal injury suits, contending that the contractors qualified as Eastman’s “statutory employees” under the South Carolina Workers’ Compensation Law – which would mean that workers’ compensation was their exclusive remedy and that the courts lacked jurisdiction to hear their claims.   The district court agreed that Plaintiffs were Eastman’s “statutory employees” under the workers’ compensation law and dismissed their actions. On appeal, the Fourth Circuit held their cases in abeyance pending the decision of South Carolina’s Supreme Court in Keene v. CNA Holdings, LLC, 870 S.E.2d 156 (2021).   The Fourth Circuit reversed and remanded the district court’s ruling. The court explained that in Keene, when an employer makes a “legitimate business decision” to outsource a portion of its work, the contractors it hires to perform that work are not “statutory employees” for workers’ compensation purposes. 870 S.E.2d at 163. No party here contests that Eastman’s outsourcing of its maintenance and repair work was a “legitimate business decision.” It follows that the plaintiffs, independent contractors performing maintenance at the time of the 2016 pump explosion, were not statutory employees and may bring personal injury actions. View "Sallie Zeigler v. Eastman Chemical Company" on Justia Law

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Dr. Frank Coufal and his solely owned professional corporation, La Jolla Neurological Associates (LJNA), hired an unaffiliated, third-party billing service to collect payments from patients and their insurers. Raquel Olson, the widow of a former patient, sued the doctor and his corporation (but not the third-party billing service) for unlawful debt collection under the Rosenthal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. According to the complaint, Dr. Coufal and LJNA violated the Rosenthal Act by sending multiple bills and making incessant phone calls seeking payment for neurological services Dr. Coufal had provided to Olson’s husband before he died, even though Olson directed them to stop contacting her and to seek payment through Medicare and the VA Medical Center. Olson’s complaint did not mention any third-party debt billing service or debt collector and did not allege that Dr. Coufal or LJNA were vicariously liable for the actions of any such third party. The trial court granted a defense motion for summary judgment on the ground that the doctor and his medical corporation were not “debt collectors” within the meaning of the Rosenthal Act. Finding no reversible error in the trial court's judgment, the Court of Appeal affirmed. View "Olson v. La Jolla Neurological Associates" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court held that Ariz. Rev. Stat. 23-1043.01(B), which limits workers' compensation claims for mental illnesses to those that arise from an "unexpected, unusual or extraordinary stress" situation, does not violate Ariz. Const. art. XVIII, 8 or equal protection guarantees under Ariz. Const. art. II, 13.Plaintiff, an officer with the Tucson Police Department, filed an industrial injury claim arising from an incident in June 2018, claiming that it exacerbated his preexisting post-traumatic stress disorder. An administrative law judge found Plaintiff's claims for mental injuries non-compensable because the June 2018 incident was not an "unexpected, unusual or extraordinary stress" situation under section 23-1043.01(B). The court of appeals affirmed the denial of benefits. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that section 23-1043.01(B) does not unconstitutionally limit recovery for stress-related workplace injuries. View "Matthews v. Industrial Comm'n" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the court of appeals reversing the trial court's summary judgment in favor of Heights Chiropractic Physicians, LLC, for the negligence of its employee, chiropractor Don Bisesi, D.C. even though the trial court had dismissed Plaintiff's direct claim against Dr. Bisesi, holding that Heights Chiropractic could not be held vicariously liable for Dr. Bisesi's alleged negligence.In a refiled complaint, Plaintiff claimed that Dr. Bisesi acted negligently when he applied excessive pressure to her back, causing her left breast implant to rupture and that Heights Chiropractic was liable for Dr. Bisesi's negligence. The trial court granted Dr. Bisesi's motion to dismiss on the ground that Plaintiff did not validly serve him with her refiled complaint and then granted Heights Chiropractic's motion for summary judgment. The court of appeals reversed. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that Plaintiff failed timely to serve Dr. Bisesi with her refiled complaint, and because her cause of action against Dr. Bisesi had expired, her cause of action against Dr. Bisesi was extinguished by operation of law. View "Clawson v. Heights Chiropractic Physicians, LLC" on Justia Law

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The Court of Appeals declined to expand the Court of Appeals' special duty doctrine to the facts in this case in which the victim's mother and brother, now serving prison terms, sexually assaulted, abused, and murdered her in her home, holding that "government employees took no action that could have induced justifiable reliance."The public administrator of the victim's estate brought these actions against the County of Erie and the Erie County Sheriff alleging, inter alia, that caseworkers from Child Protective Services and Adult Protective Services and Sheriff's deputies were negligent in the performance of their duties, leading the victim's death. Supreme Court denied both parties' motions for summary judgment. The Appellate Division reversed the order denying Defendants' motion and granted summary judgment to Defendants. The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding (1) this Court declines to amend the common law special duty rule in this case; and (2) therefore, the orders of the Appellate Division should be affirmed. View "Maldovan v. County of Erie" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff was severely injured when he fell from a significant height while working as a carpenter at a construction site. Plaintiff alleged that he fell from defective scaffolding, and he sued the general contractor and the scaffolding subcontractor for negligence.The trial court granted summary judgment for the general contractor, finding that Plaintiff’s claims against it were barred by exceptions to the peculiar risk doctrine articulated by the California Supreme Court in Privette v. Superior Court (1993) 5 Cal.4th 689 ("Privette") and subsequent case law.The Second Appellate District reversed, finding that, while Privette and subsequent cases held that a general contractor cannot be vicariously liable for the negligence of its subcontractors, Plaintiff’s claim against the general contractor alleged direct, not vicarious, liability. Further, the court determined that there were triable issues of material fact as to whether the general contractor fully delegated to the scaffolding subcontractor the duty to maintain the scaffolding in a safe condition. View "Brown v. Beach House Design & Development" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs allege that Boeing and Southwest Airlines defrauded them by, among other things, concealing a serious safety defect in the Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft. The district court certified four classes encompassing those who purchased or reimbursed approximately 200 million airline tickets for flights that were flown or could have been flown on a MAX 8.In reviewing Defendants' interlocutory appeal, the Fifth Circuit reversed the district court. The court found that Plaintiffs lacked Article III standing because they failed to allege any concrete injury. View "Earl v. Boeing" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff and another man engaged in a fistfight at a gas station owned by defendant Costco Wholesale Corporation (Costco). Defendant a Costco gas station attendant, stopped the fight by physically separating the two men. Plaintiff later sued for negligence and related causes of action, alleging he was injured when Defendant pulled him away from the other man. Costco and the gas station attendant each moved for summary judgment. The trial court granted Defendants’ motions. Plaintiff appealed. His primary contention is the court erroneously concluded the Good Samaritan law of Health and Safety Code section 1799.102 shielded Defendant from liability.   The Second Appellate District affirmed the trial court’s judgment. The court explained that The undisputed facts established the fistfight at the gas station constituted an emergency as defined by section 1797.70. But for Defendant’s intervention, the fight would have continued. Therefore, by intervening to end the fight, Defendant was rendering emergency nonmedical assistance while at the scene of an emergency under section 1799.102, subdivision (b). Thus, the court held that the trial court did not err in concluding there was no triable issue of fact that Defendant was shielded from liability as a Good Samaritan. View "Valdez v. Costco Wholesale Corp." on Justia Law

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This case presented the questions of whether and how Alaska Statute 09.55.548(b) applied when the claimant’s losses were compensated by an employer’s self-funded health benefit plan governed by the federal Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA). The Alaska Supreme Court concluded that an ERISA plan did not fall within the statute’s “federal program” exception. Therefore AS 09.55.548(b) required a claimant’s damages award to be reduced by the amount of compensation received from an ERISA plan. But the Supreme Court also concluded that the distinction the statute draws between different types of medical malpractice claimants was not fairly and substantially related to the statute’s purpose of ensuring claimants do not receive a double recovery — an award of damages predicated on losses that were already compensated by a collateral source. "Because insurance contracts commonly require the insured to repay the insurer using the proceeds of any tort recovery, claimants with health insurance are scarcely more likely to receive a double recovery than other malpractice claimants. The statute therefore violates the equal protection guarantee of the Alaska Constitution." View "Knolmayer, et al. v. McCollum" on Justia Law