Justia Injury Law Opinion Summaries

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After Jasim Al-Kuraishi was killed in a car accident, Al-Kuraishi's wife filed a wrongful death action against defendant and others. Defendant, while driving on the highway, changed lanes and passed a stopped vehicle in order to avoid crashing into the stopped vehicle. Al-Kuraishi's vehicle, which was behind defendant's vehicle, then crashed into the stopped vehicle.The Court of Appeal agreed with the trial court's conclusion that the sudden emergency doctrine provides defendant with a complete defense and affirmed. The court held that an emergency or peril under the sudden emergency or imminent peril doctrine is a set of facts presented to the person alleged to have been negligent. Furthermore, it is irrelevant for purposes of the sudden emergency doctrine whether defendant's lane change created a dangerous situation for Al-Kuraishi or anyone else; the only relevant emergency is the one defendant faced. In this case, plaintiff's entire challenge to the trial court's order was that defendant created the emergency that resulted in Al-Kuraishi's death. However, the court explained that plaintiff's argument is focused on the wrong set of circumstances for application of the sudden emergency doctrine. View "Abdulkadhim v. Wu" on Justia Law

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A.K., age 13, missed his school bus, which arrived at his stop seven minutes before its official scheduled time of arrival. A.K. ran home to retrieve his bicycle. A.K.’s father heard A.K. shout that he was going to ride his bike to school. While riding to school, A.K. was struck by a truck and suffered severe injuries. The parents sued the truck’s driver in state court but settled that claim.Durham (the bus company) argued that it did not owe a duty of care because A.K. never came into Durham’s custody or control on the date of the accident but returned home, to the custody and care of his father. The plaintiffs argued that Durham could have prevented the driver from leaving A.K.’s bus stop before the scheduled time had it followed its own policies and that the early departure breached a duty of care and was the proximate cause of A.K.’s injuries.Pursuant to Durham’s affirmative defense of comparative negligence, a jury allocated fault: 56 percent to the parents, 28 percent to the truck’s driver, and 16 percent to Durham. Because the parents were more than 50 percent at fault, the court entered judgment in Durham’s favor, as required by Tennessee law. The Sixth Circuit affirmed, upholding rulings preventing the parents from introducing Durham’s employee handbook or testimony regarding its internal policies. View "A. K. v. Durham School Services, L.P." on Justia Law

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The parents were domiciled in Nassau, the Bahamas. Mother traveled to the U.S. five times while pregnant. A.R. was born in November 2015, in Nassau, and lived in Nassau for six months. He received his first two sets of vaccinations in Nassau, with no apparent adverse consequences. During his six-month well-child visit in Nassau, A.R. received his third set of eight vaccinations that are listed in the Vaccine Injury Table and were manufactured by companies with a U.S. presence. Days later, A.R. became ill. A.R. was flown to Nicklaus Children’s Hospital in Miami, Florida, where he was diagnosed with hemophagocytic lymphohistiocytosis, an autoimmune disease of the blood. He remained in Florida as an outpatient, returning to Nassau for Christmas, and months later, was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia. A.R. underwent treatment, at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital and at Johns Hopkins before he died.The Federal Circuit affirmed the dismissal of the parents’ Vaccine Act claim (42 U.S.C. 300aa). The parents asserted that the condition that caused A.R.’s death was a complication resulting from the treatment he had received for his vaccine-induced condition. The Act grants standing to a person who “received [a covered] vaccine outside the” U.S. if “such person returned" to the U.S. not later than 6 months after the vaccination. A.R., while living outside of his mother’s body, was never present in the U.S. before his vaccinations such that his entrance for medical treatment could be a “return.” View "Dupuch-Carron v. Secretary of the Department of Health & Human Services" on Justia Law

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While in office, Courser, a former Republican member of the Michigan House of Representatives, had an affair with another representative, Gamrat. The defendants were legislative aides assigned to Courser and Gamrat. Worried that he and Gamrat eventually would be caught, Courser concocted a plan to get ahead of the story by sending out an anonymous email to his constituents accusing himself of having an affair with Gamrat, but including outlandish allegations intended to make the story too hard to believe. Courser unsuccessfully attempted to involve one of the defendants in the “controlled burn.” The defendants reported Courser’s affair and misuse of their time for political and personal tasks to higher-ups. In retaliation, Courser directed the House Business Office to them. After they were fired, the defendants unsuccessfully tried to expose the affair to Republican leaders, then went to the Detroit News. Courser resigned and pleaded no contest to willful neglect of duty by a public officer.Courser later sued, alleging that the defendants conspired together and with the Michigan House of Representatives to remove him from office. The Sixth Circuit affirmed the dismissal of all of Courser’s claims: 42 U.S.C. 1983 and 1985; violation of the Fair and Just Treatment Clause of the Michigan Constitution; computer fraud; libel, slander, and defamation; civil stalking; tortious interference with business relationships; negligence and negligent infliction of emotional distress; RICO and RICO conspiracy; intentional interference with or destruction of evidence/spoliation; and conspiracy. View "Courser v. Allard" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court held that *Cal. Civ. Code 1431.2, subdivision (a) does not authorize a reduction in the liability of intentional tortfeasors for noneconomic damages based on the extent to which the negligence of other actors contributed to the injuries in question.While attempting to subdue Barley, law enforcement officers, including Defendant, used their knees to pin Barley to the ground. Burley eventually lost consciousness and died ten days later. The jury found Defendant had committed battery by using unreasonable force against Burley and that twenty percent of the responsibility for Burley's death was attributable to Defendant's actions. The court entered a judgment against Defendant for the entire amount of the jury's award of noneconomic damages. The Court of Appeal reduced the judgment in accordance with the jury's allocation of responsibility to Defendant, expressly disagreeing with the holding in Thomas v. Duggins Construction Co., 139 Cal.App.4th 1005 (2006), that an intentional tortfeasor is not entitled to a reduction or apportionment of noneconomic damages under section 1431.2, subdivision (a). The Supreme Court reversed, holding that because section 1431.2, subdivision (a) incorporates principles of comparative fault, the statute does not entitle Defendant to reduce his liability based on the acts of Burley or the other defendants. View "B.B. v. County of Los Angeles" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the district court finding in favor of Defendant, an anesthesiologist, on Plaintiff's medical negligence claim, holding that the district court did not abuse its discretion when it denied further investigation into a juror's communication with the court bailiff and that the erroneous admission of testimony regarding Defendant's character for truthfulness was harmless.Plaintiff brought this lawsuit claiming that Defendant negligently performed a regional block procedure in preparation for surgery to repair Plaintiff's broken wrist. After a trial, the jury unanimously found Defendant was not negligent. On appeal, Plaintiff argued that the district court erred when it refused to reopen voir dire after a juror spoke with the bailiff and abused its discretion when it allowed a defense witness to testify to Defendant's character for truthfulness. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) Plaintiff's waived her challenge to the participation of the juror at issue, and even if she hadn't, the district court did not abuse its discretion in its treatment of the juror's communication with the bailiff; and (2) the district court abused its discretion in admitting testimony vouching for Defendant's honest character, but this error did not prejudice Plaintiff. View "Lubing v. Tomlinson" on Justia Law

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Defendants Silverado Senior Living Management, Inc., and Subtenant 350 W. Bay Street, LLC dba Silverado Senior Living – Newport Mesa appealed a trial court's denial of its petition to compel arbitration of the complaint filed by plaintiffs Diane Holley, both individually and as successor in interest to Elizabeth S. Holley, and James Holley. Plaintiffs filed suit against defendants, who operated a senior living facility, for elder abuse and neglect, negligence, and wrongful death, based on defendants’ alleged substandard treatment of Elizabeth. More than eight months after the complaint was filed, defendants moved to arbitrate based on an arbitration agreement Diane had signed upon Elizabeth’s admission. At the time, Diane and James were temporary conservators of Elizabeth’s person. The court denied the motion, finding that at the time Diane signed the document, there was insufficient evidence to demonstrate she had the authority to bind Elizabeth to the arbitration agreement. Defendants argued the court erred in this ruling as a matter of law, and that pursuant to the Probate Code, the agreement to arbitrate was a “health care decision” to which a conservator had the authority to bind a conservatee. Defendants relied on a case from the Third District Court of Appeal, Hutcheson v. Eskaton FountainWood Lodge, 17 Cal.App.5th 937 (2017). After review, the Court of Appeal concluded that Hutcheson and other cases on which defendants relied are distinguishable on the facts and relevant legal principles. "When the Holleys signed the arbitration agreement, they were temporary conservators of Elizabeth’s person, and therefore, they lacked the power to bind Elizabeth to an agreement giving up substantial rights without her consent or a prior adjudication of her lack of capacity. Further, as merely temporary conservators, the Holleys were constrained, as a general matter, from making long-term decisions without prior court approval." Accordingly, the trial court was correct that the arbitration agreement was unenforceable as to Elizabeth. Furthermore, because there was no substantial evidence that the Holleys intended to sign the arbitration agreement on their own behalf, it could not be enforced against their individual claims. The Courttherefore affirmed the trial court’s order denial to compel arbitration. View "Holley v. Silverado Senior Living Management" on Justia Law

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The Ninth Circuit affirmed in part and reversed in part the district court's dismissal of a third amended complaint (TAC) brought by plaintiffs, a putative class of former NFL players, alleging that the NFL negligently facilitated the hand-out of controlled substances to dull players' pain and to return them to the game in order to maximize profits. The NFL allegedly conducted studies and promulgated rules regarding how Clubs should handle distribution of the medications at issue, but failed to ensure compliance with them, with medical ethics, or with federal laws such as the Controlled Substances Act and the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act.The panel agreed with the district court that two of plaintiffs' theories of negligence, negligence per se and special relationship, were insufficiently pled. However, the panel held that plaintiff's voluntary undertaking theory survives dismissal, given sufficient allegations in the TAC of the NFL's failure to "use its authority to provide routine and important safety measures" regarding distribution of medications and returning athletes to play after injury. Furthermore, if proven, a voluntary undertaking theory could establish a duty owed by the NFL to protect player safety after injury, breach of that duty by incentivizing premature return to play, and liability for resulting damages. View "Dent v. National Football League" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs filed suit against TIAA, and the companies that managed TIAA's property, after their son died when a hair care product he was handling at work exploded and he was engulfed in the resulting fire. In this case, the employer did not know the product was dangerous and thus did not comply with legal requirements for storing and labeling hazardous materials, or with provisions in the lease of the premises where the fire occurred. The trial court granted defendants' motions for summary judgment.The Court of Appeal affirmed, agreeing with the trial court that there was no evidence defendants had actual or constructive knowledge the employer was storing and handling a hazardous material, and thus defendants owed no duty to the decedent. Therefore, the evidence shows no triable issue of material fact and defendants were entitled to summary judgment on the negligence per se, wrongful death, and survival causes of action. View "Oh v. Teachers Insurance & Annuity Ass'n of America" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the district court denying a civil stalking injunction sought by Kristi Ragsdale against George Fishler, holding that the district court erred.Ragsdale ran Eva Carlton Academy (ECA), a residential treatment program for young women, out of her home in a suburb. Fishler, Ragsdale's neighbor, expressed his objection to ECA's presence in the neighborhood by flipping off and swearing at Ragsdale and others entering or exiting ECA and by placing provocative signs in his yard. The district court denied Ragsdale's request for an injunction. The Supreme Court reversed on each issue raised by Ragsdale and vacated the district court's ruling on Fishler's fee request, holding that the district court erred by (1) concluding that Fishler's conduct was directed only at ECA; (2) failing to determine whether Fishler's conduct would cause a reasonable person in Ragsdale's circumstances to suffer fear or emotional distress; and (3) denying Ragsdale's injunction on the ground that the First Amendment protects Fishler's conduct. Because the Court's reversal of these issues may affect the basis for the district court's denial of Fishler's attorney-fees request, the Court vacated that decision and remanded for a new determination. View "Ragsdale v. Fishler" on Justia Law