Justia Injury Law Opinion Summaries

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The Ninth Circuit certified the following question to the Montana Supreme Court: Whether, under Montana law, parasitic emotional distress damages are available for an underlying negligence claim for personal property damages or loss. View "Childress v. Costco Wholesale Corp." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the district court dismissing Plaintiffs' complaint under Wyo. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6) and (c), holding that the district court did not err.Plaintiffs sued Defendants asserting claims for defamation per se, tortious interference with a prospective economic advantage and business expectancy, and false light invasion of privacy. The district court dismissed all claims. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) Plaintiffs did not state claims for defamation per se; (2) Plaintiffs could not recast their second cause of action as a claim for prima facie tort; and (3) Plaintiffs did not state a claim for false light invasion of privacy. View "Bextel v. Fork Road LLC" on Justia Law

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Debra Dlouhy, Dustin Dlouhy, individually and as Personal Representative of the Estate of Duane Dlouhy (“the Dlouhys”) appealed a district court order granting summary judgment in favor of Kootenai Health. The district court granted summary judgment on the Dlouhys’ medical malpractice action after determining that the Dlouhys had failed to provide adequate foundation showing that their expert witnesses had actual knowledge of the community standard of care. In May 2015, Duane Dlouhy went to the emergency department because of rectal bleeding. After a CT scan, "no obvious mass" was noted on his records, but that "dark red blood" was present. The radiologist charted that a “neoplasm cannot be excluded.” Mr. Dlouhy was discharged from the hospital and went home, but returned several hours later after the rectal bleeding began again. A colonoscopy was performed, but no complete view of the rectum could be obtained. Mr. Dlouhy was discharged again. He would have follow-up appointments in June and September, 2015, and in January 2016. By August, he had been diagnosed with state IV colorectal cancer. After review of the trial court record, the Idaho Supreme Court determined the district court erred in granting Kootenai Health’s motion for summary judgment on the grounds that the Dlouhys failed to provide sufficient expert testimony as to the community standard of care. The Dlouhys argued that “for board-certified physicians, there is a national standard of care.” They argued that Mr. Dlouhy's original emergency physician was subject to the national standard of care that applied to board-certified gastroenterologists, and that their out-of-area expert had actual knowledge of the applicable national standard because he held the same board certification as the local physician. The Supreme Court concluded the expert familiarized himself sufficiently in the community standard of care for board-certified gastroenterologists such that his testimony should not have been excluded. The district court’s order granting summary judgment was reversed in part, the final judgment dismissing the Dlouhys’ medical malpractice claim was vacated, and the case remanded for further proceedings. View "Dlouhy v. Kootenai Hospital District" on Justia Law

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Adrien Johns was seriously injured in August 2013 when the front brake on his Suzuki motorcycle failed suddenly. He sued the designer and manufacturer of the motorcycle, Suzuki Motor Corporation, and its wholly-owned subsidiary and American distributor, Suzuki Motor of America, Inc. (collectively, “Suzuki”), asserting a claim of strict products liability based on a design defect and two negligence claims (breach of a continuing duty to warn and negligent recall). Adrien’s wife, Gwen Johns, also sued Suzuki, alleging loss of consortium. At trial, the Johnses presented evidence showing that the brake failure of Adrien’s motorcycle was caused by a defect in the design of the front master brake cylinder that created a corrosive condition, which resulted in a “leak path” that misdirected the flow of brake fluid and caused the total brake failure. About two months after Adrien’s accident, Suzuki issued a recall notice warning about a safety defect in the front brake master cylinder. Suzuki had notice of the issue, including reports of similar accidents, for a significant amount of time before Adrien’s accident. Adrien admitted, that contrary to the instructions in the owner’s manual to replace the brake fluid every two years, he had not changed the fluid during the eight years he had owned the motorcycle. The jury found in favor of the Johnses on all claims. Because the damages after apportionment were less than the Johnses’ pretrial demand of $10 million, the trial court rejected the Johnses’ request for pre-judgment interest under OCGA 51-12-14 (a). The Johnses cross-appealed, arguing that because their claim was based on strict products liability, the trial court erred in reducing the damages awards based on OCGA 51-12-33 (a), and therefore also erred in failing to award them pre-judgment interest. The Georgia Supreme Court granted certiorari review to decide whether OCGA 51-12-33 (a) applied to a strict products liability claim under OCGA 51-1-11. The Court of Appeals held that strict products liability claims were subject to such apportionment. To this, the Supreme Court agreed and affirmed. View "Johns, et al. v. Suzuki Motor of America, Inc., et al." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court vacated the judgment of the court of appeals affirming the decision of the Workers' Compensation Commission finding that Claimant suffered a compensable injury to her right shoulder, holding that the court of appeals erred in applying the legal standard for determining whether Claimant suffered a compensable "injury by accident" to her shoulder.Claimant, a math teacher, slipped on a puddle on her classroom floor and fell on her right side. Claimant filed claims for an award of benefits by the Commission, claiming that the fall injured her right shoulder. The Commission ruled that Claimant established a compensable injury by accident to her shoulder. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court vacated the court of appeals' judgment and remanded the case for further proceedings, holding that the court of appeals erred in applying the standard for determining whether Claimant had suffered an injury by accident to her shoulder. View "Alexandria City Public Schools v. Handel" on Justia Law

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This case arose from a movie-making accident. After her father was injured diving in French Polynesia, Mira Chloe Prickett sued Bonnier Corporation and World Publications, LLC (collectively Bonnier) for compensatory and punitive damages under general maritime law. The trial court granted a judgment on the pleadings against her on the grounds that neither compensatory damages for loss of her father’s society nor punitive damages were available under general maritime law. Appellant Prickett did not cite on appeal any admiralty authority that would allow a child to recover loss of society damages for a nonfatal injury to a non-seaman on the high seas, and – without legislative impetus or compelling logic for such a result – the Court of Appeal declined to do so. The trial court's judgment was affirmed. View "Prickett v. Bonnier Corp." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the circuit court in favor of Boston Scientific Corporation (BSC) and C.R. Bard Inc. on Plaintiff's claims related to Defendants' design and manufacture of polypropylene mesh slings that were surgically implanted in Plaintiff, holding that any errors were not prejudicial.Specifically, the Supreme Court held (1) the circuit court did not err in excluding evidence of Bard's prior convictions; (2) the circuit court erred by not sustaining Plaintiff's objections to BSC's and Bard's use of her claims brought in the original petition against former defendants, but the errors were not prejudicial; and (3) the circuit court did not manifestly abuse its discretion in denying Plaintiff's request for a mistrial after Bard displayed to the jury prejudicial evidence of Plaintiff's settlements with the dismissed defendants. View "Sherrer v. Boston Scientific Corp." on Justia Law

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In this personal injury action, the Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the judgment of the superior court denying the motion for summary judgment filed by the City of Portland on immunity grounds, holding that the plaza where Plaintiff was injured fell within the public building exception to governmental immunity.Plaintiff slipped and fell on a patch of ice after exiting the lobby of the Portland Police Department headquarters building. Plaintiff filed a complaint alleging negligence. As an affirmative defense, the City asserted that it was immune from suit because the claims did not fall within an exception to immunity contained in the Maine Tort Claims Act, Me. Rev. Stat. 14, 8104-A(2). The court denied the City's motion. The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed, holding that the plaza where Plaintiff fell was an appurtenance to a public building within the meaning of the Act, and therefore, the City was not immune from Plaintiff's claims. View "McDonald v. City of Portland" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment on Plaintiff's racial discrimination and retaliation claims against the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA), holding that both challenges were meritless.Plaintiff brought claims of racial discrimination, unlawful retaliation, and negligent infliction of emotional distress against the MBTA. The district court granted summary judgment to the MBTA on all claims. The First Circuit affirmed, holding (1) Plaintiff did not produce sufficient evidence to get to a jury on his claim that he was denied a promotion based on his race; and (2) Plaintiff did not establish a prima facie case of retaliation. View "Henderson v. Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority" on Justia Law

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In October 2015, Amy Downing purchased a life insurance policy from Country Life Insurance Company. She purchased both an “executive whole life” policy that would pay a flat amount of $500,000 to her beneficiaries upon her death and a “Paid-Up Additions Rider” (PUAR) that provided an additional death benefit and an investment opportunity. Although Amy's father Tom worked for Country, another employee, Robert Sullivan, met with Amy and Tom to describe the terms of the policy. Amy asked Sullivan why she needed one and a half million dollars in insurance coverage because it was a larger benefit than she expected to need and it required higher yearly premiums. Sullivan explained that although she might not need the large death benefit, the structure of the PUAR provided an investment opportunity because it maximized the policy’s cash value. Sullivan later testified that he never represented to Amy that the death benefit associated with the PUAR was a flat amount. After paying the premiums for a year, Amy informed her parents that she intended to abandon the policy and withdraw its existing cash value. Her mother Kathleen decided to look into the policy as an investment. Kathleen decided to take over payment of the premiums on Amy’s life insurance policy, including the PUAR, as an investment. With Tom’s assistance, Amy assigned her policy to Kathleen. Four months later, on January 27, 2017, Amy died in an accident. Her death occurred in the second year of her policy coverage. Country paid the death benefit of $500,000 on Amy’s whole life policy. Country also paid $108,855 on Amy’s PUAR. Kathleen sued, alleging that she was entitled to $1,095,741 on Amy’s PUAR, minus the $108,855 already paid. Judgment was rendered in favor of Country, and Kathleen appealed. The Alaska Supreme Court determined the superior court did not err in its interpretation of the insurance policy at issue, and affirmed the decision. View "Downing v. Country Life Insurance Company" on Justia Law