Justia Injury Law Opinion Summaries
Norman v. Bodum USA
Plaintiffs seek to hold Bodum USA, Inc., responsible for an alleged manufacturing defect in one of its French press coffee makers (“the Press”) that they claim caused it to malfunction and injure their young child. The district court granted summary judgment for Bodum, concluding that no reasonable jury could find that the Press deviated from its intended design.The Fifth Circuit reversed and remanded. The court explained that a manufacturing defect may be established exclusively through circumstantial evidence and plaintiffs must allege a specific deviation from the product’s intended design that allegedly caused the injury. Here, Plaintiffs show the alleged defect was present when the Press left Bodum’s control, Plaintiffs point to French press coil assemblies advertised on Bodum’s website that also contain an outwardly protruding coil. Moreover, the court wrote that the following evidence creates a genuine issue of material fact as to whether the Press contained a manufacturing defect: (1) testimony from Plaintiffs that they purchased their Press in brand-new condition; (2) a specific alleged defect consisting of a metal coil protruding beyond its mesh enclosure; (3) the district court’s finding that “the metal mesh was intended to completely engulf the metal coil,” which is corroborated by expert testimony; (4) an expert witness who examined the Press, tested it, compared it with two exemplars, and opined that the protruding metal coil deviated from the Press’s intended design, and caused the glass to fracture and ultimately shatter; and (5) the shattering of the Press’s glass carafe allegedly during ordinary use, albeit by a five-year-old child. View "Norman v. Bodum USA" on Justia Law
Munoz v. Nucor Steel Kankakee, Inc.
The Seventh Circuit affirmed the order of the district court granting summary judgment for Defendant after finding that the injuries Plaintiff suffered while he was at Defendant's scrap facility were within the scope of a valid exculpatory clause that Plaintiff signed, holding that there was no error or abuse of discretion in the proceedings below.Plaintiff, an independent contractor for another business, delivered scrap metal to Defendant's scrap metal yard in Illinois. Before Plaintiff could enter Defendant's facility for the first time each year, Plaintiff signed an agreement containing an exculpatory clause releasing Defendant of any liability for injuries sustained at the facility. When Plaintiff was injured at Defendant's facility he filed suit, alleging negligence and willful and wanton conduct. The district court ruled in favor of Defendant, concluding that the exculpatory clause in the agreement barred the claims. The Seventh Circuit affirmed, holding that, while Defendant's conduct may have been negligent, the conduct was not outside the scope of the exculpatory clause. View "Munoz v. Nucor Steel Kankakee, Inc." on Justia Law
Boivin v. Somatex, Inc.
The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the summary judgment entered by the superior court in favor of Somatex, Inc. on Kim Boivin's complaint alleging that she suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as a result of the negligence of Somatex, Inc., holding that the superior court correctly determined that Somatex owed no duty to Boivin.Boivin was operating a crane when a Somatex employee was knocked out of the crane and feel thirty feet to the floor, where he landed in front of Boivin. The employee died from his injuries, and Boivin sustained PTSD and related disorders as a result of the accident. Boivin brought this action against Somatex, alleging negligence. The superior court granted summary judgment for Somatex. The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed, holding (1) Boivin failed to generate a genuine dispute of material fact as to whether Somatex breached its general negligence duty of care not to cause her physical injury or as to whether Somatex owed her a duty to avoid causing emotional harm; and (2) therefore, the superior court did not err in determining that Somatex was entitled to judgment as a matter of law. View "Boivin v. Somatex, Inc." on Justia Law
Mitchell v. Roberts
In 1981, defendant-appellee Richard Roberts was a federal prosecutor preparing for a murder trial. Appellant Terry Mitchell, then a teenager, was a key trial witness for the prosecution. Thirty-five years later, Mitchell sued Roberts alleging he sexually assaulted her through the criminal trial proceedings. Roberts moved to dismiss the complaint with prejudice, contending Mitchells’ claims were time barred. Mitchell conceded the claims had expired under the original statute of limitations, but claimed Utah’s Revival Statute made them timely. At Mitchell’s request, the magistrate judge certified questions to the Utah Supreme Court concerning the validity of the Revival Statute. The Utah Supreme Court issued a detailed opinion concluding the Utah legislature was prohibited from retroactively reviving time-barred claims in a manner that deprived defendants like Roberts of a vested statute of limitations defense. Based on the Utah Supreme Court’s conclusion that the Revival Statute was unconstitutional, Roberts again moved to dismiss with prejudice. Mitchell sought voluntary dismissal without prejudice under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 41(a)(2). According to Mitchell, the Utah Supreme Court had not foreclosed the possibility that the Utah Constitution would be amended to permit legislative revival of time-barred child sexual abuse claims, and on that basis, she proposed a curative condition that would allow her to sue Roberts if such an amendment came to pass. The magistrate judge rejected Mitchell’s argument and dismissed her complaint with prejudice. She appealed, but finding no reversible error, the Tenth Circuit affirmed the magistrate judge’s decision. View "Mitchell v. Roberts" on Justia Law
Holloway v. City of Milwaukee
The Seventh Circuit affirmed the order of the district court granting summary judgment in favor of Defendants and dismissing Plaintiff's suit brought under 42 U.S.C. 1983 against the City of Milwaukee and various police officers (collectively, Defendants), holding that Defendants were entitled to qualified immunity.Plaintiff was convicted of burglary and sexual assault and served twenty-four years in prison before he was exonerated by DNA evidence and his convictions were vacated. Plaintiff subsequently brought this lawsuit alleging that the police and City violated his due process rights in several ways. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of Defendants and dismissed the complaint in its entirety. The Seventh Circuit affirmed, holding that the officers' conduct was not "clearly established" as unlawful at the time of Plaintiff's arrest, and therefore, Defendants were entitled to qualified immunity. View "Holloway v. City of Milwaukee" on Justia Law
Hannah Jesski v. Dakota, MN & Eastern RR
Two people were killed and one was injured when a locomotive owned by Dakota, Minnesota & Eastern Railroad Corporation (“DM&E”) collided with their SUV at a railroad crossing Collectively, “Appellants” sued DM&E for negligence. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of DM&E.Appellants argued the district court erred in granting summary judgment to DM&E with respect to two of Appellants’ theories of negligence. The Eighth Circuit affirmed. The court explained that Appellants offer no evidence that the driver's SUV was doing anything other than unwaveringly approaching the crossing prior to 5.4 seconds before the collision. And to avoid summary judgment, Appellants “must provide more than conjecture and speculation,” but must “designate specific facts creating a triable controversy.”Further, the court wrote that the FRSA clarifies that an action under state law seeking damages for personal injury, death, or property damage is not preempted by federal regulation where the action is based on a railroad’s failure to comply with the standard of care provided by federal regulation. Because Appellants do not argue that a lack of lighting contributed to the collision, the gravamen of Appellants’ excessive speed theory is simply that the locomotive was moving too fast (as Appellants’ own “excessive speed” label would suggest). FRA regulations set the speed limit for the subject locomotive at forty miles per hour. The court wrote that they are not persuaded by Appellants’ attempt to rebrand the lighting requirements under Section 229.125(d) into an alternative speed limit. Accordingly, the Appellants’ excessive speed claim is preempted by 49 C.F.R. Section 213.9 and the FRSA. View "Hannah Jesski v. Dakota, MN & Eastern RR" on Justia Law
Glover v. Bausch & Lomb, Inc.
Plaintiffs appealed from a district court judgment dismissing, as preempted by the federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (“FDCA”), their claims under the Connecticut Product Liability Act (“CPLA”) for injuries caused by a medical device, and denying leave to amend the complaint to include a claim under the Connecticut Unfair Trade Practices Act (“CUTPA”). Because both issues turned on unresolved questions of state law, the Second Circuit certified two questions to the Supreme Court of Connecticut to clarify the scope of the CPLA and CUPTA. In view of the Connecticut Supreme Court’s answers to those questions, the court held: (1) that the Plaintiffs’ CPLA claims are not preempted by the FDCA because traditional Connecticut tort law provides a cause of action for failing to provide adequate warnings to regulators such as the United States Food and Drug Administration; and (2) that Plaintiffs’ proposed CUTPA claim would be precluded by the CPLA. Accordingly, the court vacated the district court’s dismissal of the CPLA claims, affirm the district court’s denial of leave to amend the complaint, and remanded for further proceedings. View "Glover v. Bausch & Lomb, Inc." on Justia Law
Christopher Beaty, Jr. v. Fair Acres Geriatric Center
Two nursing homes bring interlocutory appeals to this court from orders in two separate cases in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. The plaintiff estate in each case claims that a defendant nursing home failed to provide adequate care and should therefore be held liable for the resident’s death from COVID-19. The district courts denied the defendants’ motions to dismiss based on PREP Act immunity. Defendants invoke a provision of the PREP Act that they claim gives us jurisdiction over these appeals.These cases raise the common threshold question of whether 42 U.S.C. Section 247d-6d(e)(10) empowers us to hear interlocutory appeals from decisions of out-of-circuit district courts rejecting assertions of PREP Act immunity.The DC Circuit concluded that the PREP Act confers interlocutory appellate jurisdiction on the court only from orders of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia (D.D.C.) denying motions to dismiss or for summary judgment in willful misconduct cases—a distinct, limited cause of action that subsection 247d-6d(d) of the PREP Act excepts from its broad grant of immunity and channels to the federal district court here. Because PREP Act subsection 247d6d(e)(10) does not authorize interlocutory appeals to this court from orders of district courts elsewhere allowing other types of claims to proceed despite assertions of PREP Act immunity, the court dismissed the appeals. View "Christopher Beaty, Jr. v. Fair Acres Geriatric Center" on Justia Law
Anne Cannon v. Watermark Retirement Communities, Inc.
Two nursing homes bring interlocutory appeals to this court from orders in two separate cases in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. The Plaintiffs' estate in each case claims that a defendant nursing home failed to provide adequate care and should therefore be held liable for the resident’s death from COVID-19. The district courts denied Defendant's motions to dismiss based on PREP Act immunity. Defendants invoked a provision of the PREP Act that they claim gives us jurisdiction over these appeals.The DC Circuit dismissed the appeals, holding that the PREP Act subsection 247d6d(e)(10) does not authorize interlocutory appeals to this court from orders of district courts elsewhere allowing other types of claims to proceed despite assertions of PREP Act immunity. View "Anne Cannon v. Watermark Retirement Communities, Inc." on Justia Law
North American Elite Insurance v. Menard, Inc.
The Seventh Circuit affirmed the judgment of the district court dismissing North American Elite Insurance Company's (North American) claims against Menard, holding that there was no error.After a Menard employee hit a customer with a forklift the customer brought a negligence suit against Menard and its employee in state court. Menard carried two levels of personal injury liability insurance at the time. Liability exceeding $3 million fell under an umbrella policy with North American. The jury returned a $13 million verdict, which was reduced to a $6 million settlement. North American indemnified Menard for liability in excess of $3 million then brought this action against Menard in federal court, arguing that Menard violated its duties under Illinois law by rejecting a settlement offer and proceeding to trial. The district court dismissed all claims. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that North American was not entitled to relief on its claims of error. View "North American Elite Insurance v. Menard, Inc." on Justia Law