Justia Injury Law Opinion Summaries
Moore v. Intuitive Surgical, Inc.
Plaintiff filed suit against Intuitive for injuries following a surgical procedure, seeking money damages. After a two-day Daubert hearing, the district court agreed with Intuitive's position and excluded the testimony of plaintiff's expert.The Eleventh Circuit reversed, concluding that the district court erred in its application of the Daubert test and thus improperly entered summary judgment in favor of Intuitive. The court concluded that the district court abused its discretion in finding that perceived deficiencies in the expert's testimony rendered him unqualified to provide expert testimony in this case. In light of Quiet Tech. DC-8, Inc. v. Hurel-Dubois UK Ltd., 326 F.3d 1333, 1342 (11th Cir. 2003), the court concluded that the expert is qualified to perform a differential etiology on a patient who suffered a thermal injury during a hysterectomy performed with a da Vinci robot not because of his familiarity with the robot, but because of his familiarity with differential etiologies in the context of gynecological procedures. As such, the district court applied the incorrect legal standard, and thus abused its discretion.Even if the court were to ignore the district court's manifestly erroneous ruling that conflated the reliability and qualifications prongs, the court would still be obliged to reverse, as the district court imposed an admissibility standard on expert qualifications that was "too high." The court concluded that the district court improperly based its evidentiary determinations on the weight and persuasiveness of the evidence, and that Federal Rule of Evidence 702 does not impose any such requirements. Therefore, the expert was qualified to testify regarding the standard of care in hysterectomy procedures and the cause of plaintiff's injuries. On remand, the court directed that the case be assigned to a different judge. View "Moore v. Intuitive Surgical, Inc." on Justia Law
Petersen v. Raymond Corporation
Plaintiff Nathan Petersen Plaintiff injured himself while operating the Raymond Model 4200 stand-up counterbalance lift truck (“Raymond forklift”). The Raymond forklift had an open compartment. So it did not fully enclose the operator’s lower extremities. When Plaintiff lost control of the Raymond forklift, his left leg slid out of the open compartment and he crushed it against warehouse racking. Plaintiff argued the district court impermissibly closed the door on the strict products liability claim he brought against Defendant Raymond Corporation (“Raymond”) alleging it defectively manufactured a forklift. In support of his claim he sought to offer expert testimony that the forklift would be safer if it had a literal door on it. The district court found the expert’s testimony unreliable and excluded it. It then granted a related motion for summary judgment in Raymond’s favor. Plaintiff appealed. "The district court serves as a gatekeeper, shutting the door on unreliable expert testimony." Finding the district court did not abuse its discretion in excluding the testimony, the Tenth Circuit affirmed judgment. View "Petersen v. Raymond Corporation" on Justia Law
Thibodeaux v. Sanofi U.S. Services, Inc.
Plaintiffs, three women who suffered persistent hair loss after chemotherapy treatments, sued as a part of a multidistrict litigation (MDL) against distributors of the drug Taxotere (docetaxel) for permanent chemotherapy-induced hair loss, asserting a failure-to-warn claim.Louisiana law provides a one-year liberative prescription period for products-liability cases. Furthermore, under Louisiana law, there is a firmly rooted equitable-tolling doctrine known as contra non valentem agere non currit praescriptio, which means "[n]o prescription runs against a person unable to bring an action."The Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court's judgment in favor of Sanofi, agreeing with the district court that plaintiffs' claims are facially prescribed. The court interpreted Louisiana law to require that once hair loss persisted after six months, contra non valentem tolled the prescription period until the point when a prospective plaintiff through the exercise of reasonable diligence should have "considered [Taxotere] as a potential root cause of" her injury. In this case, the court concluded that plaintiffs did not act reasonably in light of their injuries and their causes of action were reasonably knowable in excess of one year prior to their filing suit. Therefore, Louisiana's equitable tolling doctrine of contra non valentem did not save plaintiffs' claims. View "Thibodeaux v. Sanofi U.S. Services, Inc." on Justia Law
N.B. et al. v. Terwilliger, et al.
Melissa Oster and N.B. appealed two orders denying motions for a new trial after a jury awarded a verdict in N.B.’s favor. Oster and her daughter, N.B., were staying at a residence owned by Kevin Terwilliger. Josh and Samantha Terwilliger were formerly married and lived at the residence. Samantha Terwilliger (nka Seewalker), was Oster’s cousin. In 2015, N.B. was playing with another child outside the Terwilliger residence while Oster and Seewalker were in the house. Josh and Kevin Terwilliger were not present. A horse on the Terwilliger property kicked N.B. in the head, seriously injuring her. The parties disputed the nature and extent of N.B.’s injuries. At trial, both sides provided testimony of expert medical witnesses to establish the extent of N.B’s injuries. A jury returned a verdict i favor of N.B. The jury did not award Oster damages and found her 45% at fault for N.B.’s accident. The jury attributed 0% fault to Kevin Terwilliger. Of the remaining fault, 30% was attributed to Josh Terwilliger and 25% to Seewalker. After the trial, two motions for a new trial were filed on behalf of N.B., not Oster. The district court denied the motions. N.B. and Oster appealed. Finding no reversible error, the North Dakota Supreme Court affirmed the district court's orders denying the motions for a new trial. View "N.B. et al. v. Terwilliger, et al." on Justia Law
Treasurer of State as Custodian of the Second Injury Fund v. Parker
The Supreme Court vacated the Labor and Industrial Relations Commission awarding permanent total disability (PTD) benefits to Jonathan Parker under Mo. Rev. Stat. 287.220.2, holding that the Labor and Industrial Relations Commission erred in applying subsection 2 of section 287.220 rather than subsection 3 of the statute, and remand was required.Before the Supreme Court, the Second Injury Fund argued that Parker should be denied benefits under subsection 3. Parker, in turn, argued that the Supreme Court should award him benefits under subsection 3. The Supreme Court vacated the Commission's decision, holding (1) under Mo. Const. art. V, 18, the Supreme Court is permitted to review only the decisions and findings of the Commission, not to make such decisions in the first place; and (2) therefore, remand to the Commission was required to determine whether Parker was entitled to benefits under subsection 3. View "Treasurer of State as Custodian of the Second Injury Fund v. Parker" on Justia Law
Phillips v. Sanofi U.S. Services, Inc.
The Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment on plaintiff's failure-to-warn claim asserted against the manufacturers of Taxotere, a chemotherapy medication. Plaintiff argues that Taxotere's manufacturers failed to provide an adequate warning of potentially permanent hair loss, which caused her injuries.The court concluded that, under Louisiana law, plaintiff cannot establish causation where, on this record, it is beyond any genuine dispute that a warning of the risk of permanent hair loss—as opposed to temporary hair loss—would not have affected the prescribing physician's decision to prescribe Taxotere. Therefore, plaintiff's claim fails as a matter of law. View "Phillips v. Sanofi U.S. Services, Inc." on Justia Law
Alaska, Department of Health and Social Services v. Thomas et al.
An Alaska State Commission for Human Rights (State) employee with preexisting medical conditions was involved in a work-related motor vehicle accident in January 2017. The employee consulted with Dr. Teresa Bormann two days after the accident; Dr. Bormann referred the employee to chiropractic treatment. After several month of treatment, Dr. Bormann referred the employee to physical therapy at United Physical Therapy (UPT) for chronic neck pain and headache. After an evaluation UPT recommended eight weeks of twice weekly physical therapy. Dr. Bormann endorsed the treatment plan, and the employee’s symptoms improved enough that she reduced her physical therapy visits to once a week beginning in mid-January. She saw UPT three times in February 2018. Payment for these February visits became the main dispute before the Board. The State arranged an employer’s medical evaluation (EME) with a neurologist and an orthopedist. The EME doctors diagnosed the employee with a cervical strain caused by the accident as well as several conditions they considered preexisting or unrelated to the work injury. After the State filed a retroactive controversion of medical treatment, the employee’s healthcare provider filed a workers’ compensation claim seeking payment for services it provided before the controversion was filed. The State disputed its liability for payment, and after several prehearing conferences, the Alaska Workers’ Compensation Board set a hearing on the merits of the provider’s claim. The Board ordered the State to pay the provider approximately $510.00 for the services. The State appealed, disputing several procedural aspects of the decision, and the Alaska Workers’ Compensation Appeals Commission affirmed the Board’s decision. Finding no reversible error, the Alaska Supreme Court affirmed the Commission’s decision. View "Alaska, Department of Health and Social Services v. Thomas et al." on Justia Law
Bohn v. Providence Health & Srvs – Washington
A patient sued a hospital, arguing the hospital violated the Alaska Health Care Decisions Act (HCDA) when it temporarily assumed decision-making authority over his medical care while he was incapacitated and treated him without his consent or that of his parents, whom he had previously authorized to make medical decisions on his behalf if he were rendered incompetent or incapacitated. The hospital argued it was entitled to immunity under the HCDA because it held a good faith belief that the patient’s parents lacked authority to make medical decisions for him, based on conduct that convinced health care providers at the hospital that the parents were not acting in the patient’s best interest. The superior court agreed with the hospital and granted its summary judgment motion, concluding that the immunity provisions applied. The superior court concluded the hospital was entitled to immunity because its doctors had acted in good faith and in accordance with generally accepted medical standards. In a matter of first impression for the Alaska Supreme Court, it determined the superior court overlooked the requirement for specific good faith as to the authority or lack thereof of the patient’s surrogate or agent. The grant of summary judgment was reversed and the matter remanded for further proceedings. View "Bohn v. Providence Health & Srvs - Washington" on Justia Law
Miller v. Gizmodo Media Group, LLC
In this libel case, the Eleventh Circuit held that New York's "fair and true report" privilege, codified as N.Y. Civ. Rights Law 74, applies to the fair and true publication of the contents of a document that was filed and sealed in a Florida paternity/child custody proceeding.Plaintiff filed suit against Gizmodo and Katherine Krueger, the author of an article published on the Splinter website owned by Gizmodo, over an article entitled "Court Docs Allege Ex-Trump Staffer Drugged Woman He Got Pregnant with 'Abortion Pill.'" The district court concluded that section 74 applied, and that the Splinter article was a fair and true report of the supplement because it was "substantially accurate." Plaintiff does not challenge the district court's finding that the Splinter article was a fair and true report, but he maintains that the section 74 privilege does not apply because the supplement was filed in a paternity/child custody proceeding and sealed. The court held that section 74's fair and true report privilege applies to the Splinter article written by Ms. Krueger about the supplement filed by the mother of plaintiff's child, and that the 1970 decision of the New York Court of Appeals in Shiles v. News Syndicate Co., 261 N.E.2d 251, 256 (N.Y. 1970), does not preclude the application of section 74. Accordingly, the court affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment to defendants. View "Miller v. Gizmodo Media Group, LLC" on Justia Law
Emerson Electric Co. v. Johnson
In this products liability action, the Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the court of appeals affirming the judgment of the trial court against Petitioners, holding that legally sufficient evidence supported the jury's design-defect findings and that the trial court's jury instructions did not cause an improper verdict.An electric terminal manufacturer made two terminals for essentially the same cost, but the older of the two designs was more susceptible to failure. A corporate affiliate of the terminal maker decided to use the older product in manufacturing new air conditioning compressors. When an experienced HVAC technician purchased and installed a compressor containing the older terminal design, the compressor became overheated and the terminal emitted scalding pressurized fluids that ignited and covered the technician. The technician, who received serious burns, brought this action. The jury found that the older terminal design was unreasonably dangerous and that both the design and the failure warn caused the technician's injuries. The court rendered judgment on the jury's verdict. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that there was no error in the proceedings below. View "Emerson Electric Co. v. Johnson" on Justia Law