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The Pennsylvania Supreme Court granted allocatur to determine whether the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (“PennDOT”) was liable for injuries caused by negligently and dangerously designed guardrails erected on Commonwealth real estate. Specifically, the Court found the issue reduced to whether the Commonwealth owed a duty of care when PennDOT installed a guardrail alleged to be dangerous. Pursuant to the plain language of the Sovereign Immunity Act, 42 Pa.C.S. sections 8521-8528, the Court found the Pennsylvania General Assembly waived PennDOT’s immunity as a bar to damages caused by dangerous guardrails affixed to Commonwealth real estate. Dean v. Dep’t of Transp., 751 A.2d 1130 (Pa. 2000) did not control under the facts presented here. The Court reversed the decision of the Commonwealth Court and remanded for further proceedings. View "Cagey v. PennDOT" on Justia Law

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After sustaining serious internal injuries in a personal watercraft (PWC) accident, plaintiff filed suit against the manufacturers of the PWC (Yamaha). On appeal, plaintiff argued that the district court erred in requiring expert testimony on her claims and in failing to conduct an appropriate Daubert analysis before excluding her expert's testimony. The Fourth Circuit held that the district court did not abuse its discretion when it excluded the expert's inadequate warning opinion and the district court properly concluded that the PWC's warnings were adequate as a matter of law. In this case, plaintiff based her claims of strict liability, negligence, and breach of warranties on theories of warning and design defects. The Fourth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment for Yamaha on all claims because the record was devoid of admissible evidence on either theory of defect. View "Hickerson v. Yamaha Motor Corporation, U.S.A." on Justia Law

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Defendants Long Island Power Authority (LIPA), Long Island Lighting Company (LILCO), and National Grid Electric Services, LLC failed to demonstrate that the actions challenged by Plaintiffs in their amended complaints were governmental in the context of pre-answer, pre-discovery motions to dismiss, and therefore, the intermediate appellate court and Supreme Court properly denied Defendants’ motions to dismiss. In their complaints, Plaintiffs alleged that their property was destroyed by fire as a result of Defendants’ negligent failure to preemptively de-energize the Rockway Peninsula prior to or after Hurricane Sandy made landfall. Defendants moved to dismiss the amended complaints pursuant to N.Y. C.P.L.R. 3211(a)(7), contending that their actions were governmental and discretionary as a matter of law, and even if their actions were not discretionary, that Plaintiffs’ failure to allege a special duty was a fatal defect. The Court of Appeals affirmed the lower courts, holding that, given the procedural posture, Defendants failed to establish as a matter of law that they were acting in a governmental, rather than a proprietary, capacity when engaged in the conduct claimed to have caused Plaintiffs’ injuries. View "Connolly v. Long Island Power Authority" on Justia Law

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This case was the second arising from the near-fatal assault of Michael Kuligoski by Evan Rapoza, who had previously been diagnosed with schizophreniform disorder. Here, members of the Kuligoski family(plaintiffs) brought suit against Evan’s grandparents, claiming that they were liable for Evan’s assault of Mr. Kuligoski while Mr. Kuligoski was repairing the furnace at their rental property. Plaintiffs claimed, among other things, that the grandparents were vicariously liable for Evan’s father’s negligent hiring or supervision of Evan, who was there to help his father repaint an apartment. On appeal, plaintiffs sought to reverse the grant of summary judgment in favor of the grandparents. Plaintiffs argued the trial court erred by determining that grandparents could not be held vicariously liable for the attack because it was not reasonably foreseeable. In granting the grandparents' motion, the trial court concluded: (1) to the extent plaintiffs were alleging direct liability on the part of grandparents based on a claim of negligent supervision, that claim failed as a matter of law because it was undisputed that on the day of the assault grandparents were unaware of Evan’s mental-health issues; and (2) notwithstanding the ambiguity as to whether father was grandparents’ employee, grandparents owed no duty to Mr. Kuligoski because Evan’s parents did not undertake to render services by monitoring Evan’s treatment after his release from the Brattleboro Retreat and because, even assuming that father was grandparents’ employee, Evan’s assault against Mr. Kuligoski was not foreseeable. Given the Vermont Supreme Court's determination that, as a matter of law, no employer-employee relationship existed between grandparents and father that would subject grandparents to vicarious liability for any negligence on father’s part in bringing Evan to the workplace on the day he assaulted Mr. Kuligsoki, plaintiffs’ remaining claim in this lawsuit was unsustainable. The Court therefore affirmed, but on grounds different than those used by the trial court. View "Kuligoski v. Rapoza" on Justia Law

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In 2006, Moreno fell off scaffolding and landed on his back while working. An orthopedist found a soft tissue injury but no signs of fracture. He continued to feel significant pain. A follow-up test revealed acute lumbar radiculopathy—lower back pain caused by compression, inflammation or injury to a spinal nerve root. Moreno also is diabetic, has high blood pressure, and is obese. Moreno sought treatment from a psychologist, who reported that Moreno manifested depressed mood, irritability, memory difficulties, inability to concentrate, and an ongoing inability to sleep, sometimes for days. Moreno took several medications. In 2007, Moreno sought Supplemental Security Income and Disability Insurance Benefits. An ALJ affirmed the denial of his application. In the district court, the parties agreed to a remand to a different ALJ, who concluded that Moreno was not disabled although he was suffering from severe impairments and could not perform his past work as a drywall taper. The Seventh Circuit reversed. The ALJ improperly relied on an outdated assessment although later evidence containing new, significant medical diagnoses reasonably could have changed the reviewing physician’s opinion. Doctors’ notes set forth problems with Moreno becoming distracted, “spacing out,” and experiencing difficulties concentrating; these limitations were not included in the hypothetical question posed to the vocational expert. View "Moreno v. Berryhill" on Justia Law

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Antonicelli, was a passenger in a vehicle traveling on I-88. Three lanes were closed for construction. Browder was operating a semi-tractor and trailer, traveling behind Antonicelli’s vehicle. Rodriguez, under the influence of cocaine, made an improper U-turn through the median and collided with Antonicelli’s vehicle, causing it to rotate. Browder was unable to stop his semi and slammed into Antonicelli’s vehicle. Antonicelli suffered severe permanent injuries. Rodriguez pled guilty to aggravated driving under the influence of drugs and acknowledged fault. Antonicelli sued and entered ­ into a settlement with Rodriguez for $20,000, the limit of his insurance coverage. Rodriguez sought a finding of a good-faith settlement, informing the court that the insurance policy was his only material asset. The nonsettling Browder defendants counterclaimed for contribution against Rodriguez, alleging that Rodriguez’s conduct was intentional rather than negligent under the Contribution Act (740 ILCS 100/2). The court granted Rodriguez a finding of good faith and dismissal, allowing the Browder defendants to credit $20,000 against any future judgment. The Illinois Supreme Court affirmed, finding no basis for the allegation of intentional conduct. The Browder counterclaims alleging intentional conduct are separate and independent causes of action that do not change the nature of Antonicelli’s complaint, which alleged only negligent conduct. Requiring a court to make a determination as to each defendant’s fault before finding that a settlement agreement was in good faith would be impracticable and would defeat the Act's purpose of encouraging settlement in the absence of bad faith, fraud, or collusion. View "Antonicelli v. Rodriguez" on Justia Law

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In August 2014, Dianne and Reggie Harkins alleged the direct and proximate negligence of multiple healthcare providers located in Leake County and Hinds County resulted in, among other problems, the amputation of Dianne Harkins’s hands and feet. In January 2015, Madden Medical Clinic, PLLC (Madden Medical) and David Moody, M.D. (Dr. Moody) filed a motion to dismiss or, alternatively, for severance and transfer of venue to the Circuit Court of Leake County. Shortly thereafter, Baptist Medical Center-Leake, Inc. (BMC-Leake) and Mississippi Baptist Health Systems, Inc. (Baptist Health) filed a motion also to dismiss or transfer venue to the Circuit Court of Leake County. On February 26, 2016, the Circuit Court of the First Judicial District of Hinds County entered an order denying the motions of Dr. Moody, Madden Medical, BMC-Leake, and Baptist Health to dismiss or, in the alternative, to transfer venue. The parties appealed, collectively filing two interlocutory appeals, and both appeals were granted and consolidated. The Mississippi Supreme Court held that under the plain language of Mississippi Code Section 11-11-3(3), venue was proper for the properly joined defendants in Hinds County or Leake County, and the judgment of the trial court was affirmed. View "Mississippi Baptist Health Systems, Inc. v. Harkins" on Justia Law

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The Court of Appeals issued an opinion affirming a circuit court’s denial of Illinois Central Railroad’s request for a setoff of a jury verdict awarded to Bennie Oakes through his representative Clara Hagan. As described by Illinois Central, who as appellant framed the issues for appeal, “This case is about whether, once those damages are assessed by a jury, a railroad company under the [Federal Employers’ Liability Act] is entitled to a credit or reduction of that verdict for sums that have already been paid by others to the Plaintiff for the same injuries and damages.” In Illinois Central’s answer, it raised an affirmative defense that it was entitled to apportionment or set off liability and/or damages for any negligence of or damages caused by third parties. However, Illinois Central later clarified its position that it was not attempting to have negligence apportioned, and the circuit court echoed the clarification by stating that Illinois Central had not “tried to use a third, an empty chair for any other defendants.” The Mississippi Supreme Court held that the Court of Appeals misconstrued the primary case it relied upon and ignored other federal precedent; therefore, the Supreme Court reversed the Court of Appeals’ judgment and the circuit court’s denial of Illinois Central’s motion for a setoff. View "Illinois Central Railroad Co. v. Oakes" on Justia Law

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This appeal stemmed from Brian Pedigo’s suit against Rent-A-Center, Inc., for actual and punitive damages, alleging claims of malicious prosecution, false imprisonment, and intentional infliction of emotional distress. Pedigo decided to make the rental- purchase of a back-lit, LED television and entered a Rental Purchase Agreement (RPA) for the lease. Pedigo had failed to fulfill his payment obligations under the RPA and was more than twenty days past-due under the agreement. Finding the contract had been breached, RAC manager Kristopher Robertson sought to recover the television from Pedigo. Through his attempts at recovery, Robertson discovered that the television was pawned shortly after it was leased. After discovering Pedigo had pawned the television, Robertson filed a complaint with the police. Based on this information, an arrest warrant for the theft of rental property was issued for Pedigo on May 1, 2013. He was indicted on October 22, 2013, for defrauding RAC, and was arrested and incarcerated on December 11, 2013. On June 9, 2014, the State retired the October 2013 felony charge, ending the prosecution of the criminal matter. After a preliminary review of this matter, the Circuit Court found in favor of Rent-A-Center, ruling that the parties entered a valid and enforceable arbitration agreement which covered Pedigo’s claims. The Mississippi Supreme Court found however, such a ruling was in error. Though broad, the arbitration agreement did not contemplate Pedigo having to arbitrate his claim that Rent-A-Center maliciously swore out a criminal affidavit, causing his wrongful incarceration. Accordingly, the Supreme Court reversed the previous ruling and remanded the case to the circuit court for further proceedings. View "Pedigo v. Robertson" on Justia Law

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This appeal stemmed from Brian Pedigo’s suit against Rent-A-Center, Inc., for actual and punitive damages, alleging claims of malicious prosecution, false imprisonment, and intentional infliction of emotional distress. Pedigo decided to make the rental- purchase of a back-lit, LED television and entered a Rental Purchase Agreement (RPA) for the lease. Pedigo had failed to fulfill his payment obligations under the RPA and was more than twenty days past-due under the agreement. Finding the contract had been breached, RAC manager Kristopher Robertson sought to recover the television from Pedigo. Through his attempts at recovery, Robertson discovered that the television was pawned shortly after it was leased. After discovering Pedigo had pawned the television, Robertson filed a complaint with the police. Based on this information, an arrest warrant for the theft of rental property was issued for Pedigo on May 1, 2013. He was indicted on October 22, 2013, for defrauding RAC, and was arrested and incarcerated on December 11, 2013. On June 9, 2014, the State retired the October 2013 felony charge, ending the prosecution of the criminal matter. After a preliminary review of this matter, the Circuit Court found in favor of Rent-A-Center, ruling that the parties entered a valid and enforceable arbitration agreement which covered Pedigo’s claims. The Mississippi Supreme Court found however, such a ruling was in error. Though broad, the arbitration agreement did not contemplate Pedigo having to arbitrate his claim that Rent-A-Center maliciously swore out a criminal affidavit, causing his wrongful incarceration. Accordingly, the Supreme Court reversed the previous ruling and remanded the case to the circuit court for further proceedings. View "Pedigo v. Robertson" on Justia Law