Justia Injury Law Opinion Summaries

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Smith suffered an injury from a car accident, retained an attorney for a personal injury lawsuit, and authorized her attorney to obtain her healthcare information. The attorney requested Smith’s medical records from MHS, on three occasions. RecordQuest, not MHS, answered those requests and charged Smith’s attorney (who paid on her behalf) a $20.96 handling fee and an $8.26 certification fee each time.Smith brought a class action, alleging these charged fees contravened the permissible fee schedule set out in Wis. Stat. 146.83(3f)(b) for healthcare records requests and resulted in the unjust enrichment of RecordQuest. The district court dismissed both claims, reasoning that the statute imposes a duty upon only healthcare providers.” RecordQuest is not a healthcare provider but is the agent of MHS; “no principle of agency law holds that a principal’s liability is imputed to the agent when the agent performs the act that results in the principal’s liability.” Smith’s unjust enrichment claim failed because any unjust benefit that Smith allegedly conferred to RecordQuest belonged to MHS.The Wisconsin Court of Appeals subsequently expressly disagreed with the district court’s analysis of Smith’s statutory claim. The Seventh Circuit reversed the dismissal of the statutory claim but affirmed as to Smith’s unjust enrichment claim. Under section 146.83(3f)(b), Smith has a remedy at law for any “injustice” that allegedly resulted from excessive payments; the equitable remedy of unjust enrichment is derivative of and predicated upon the statutory claim. View "Smith v. RecordQuest LLC" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff, an inmate in a federal prison, filed suit against several corrections officers, the prison’s warden, and the United States, claiming that the officers restrained him, removed his clothes, and fondled his genitals and buttocks in violation of, among other things, the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA). The district court concluded that plaintiff failed to demonstrate that he suffered a physical injury as required by 28 U.S.C. 1346(b)(2).The Eleventh Circuit affirmed the district court's judgment, concluding that plaintiff's argument—that allegations amounting to "sexual contact," but not a "sexual act," necessarily constitute "physical injury" within the meaning of section 1346(b)(2)—defies the FTCA's language and structure. The court also concluded separately that Congress's inclusion of the term "sexual act" in the 2013 amendment to section 1346(b)(2) implies an intention to exclude the conduct of the sort that plaintiff has alleged—"sexual contact." Therefore, plaintiff has failed to satisfy section 1346(b)(2) and his claim does not fall into the category of cases with respect to which the government has waived its sovereign immunity under the FTCA. The court noted that it does not for a moment condone the corrections officers' alleged misconduct, but rather condemned it in the strongest possible terms. View "Johnson v. White" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the determination of the trial court that James Charles St. John must pay attorney fees to the person he defrauded, holding that the circuit court did not err.St. John befriended his neighbor, Ernest Stuart Elsea, II. St. John subsequently persuaded Elsea to transfer his extensive firearm collection to a firearm trust that St. John established and controlled and had Elsea sign a durable power of attorney. St. John then induced Elsea to sign a codicil to his will naming St. John and St. John's partner as beneficiaries. Elsea filed a complaint seeking an accounting and a recovery of the firearms, alleging breach of fiduciary duty, and alleging fraud an undue influence. The circuit court rejected counts one and two but ordered St. John to either return the firearms to Elsea or pay Elsea the value of the firearms. The circuit court then ordered St. John to pay attorney's fees. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the circuit court properly awarded fees under Prospect Development Co. v. Bershader, 258 Va. 75 (1999). View "St. John v. Thompson" on Justia Law

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After plaintiff experienced a serious fall down a short flight of stairs, she filed a premises liability action against defendants for negligence and negligence per se. The district court granted summary judgment to defendants, holding that plaintiff did not offer sufficient evidence that there was a dangerous condition, defendants had notice of the condition, or the alleged dangerous condition caused her fall.The Fourth Circuit reversed and remanded, concluding that plaintiff has produced sufficient evidence from which a reasonable jury could conclude the loose bricks and the gap between them and the step posed a dangerous condition; there is a genuine issue of material fact as to whether defendants had constructive notice of the hazard; and there is sufficient evidence for a reasonable inference of causation. View "Sedar v. Reston Town Center Property, LLC" on Justia Law

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Shirley English sued Murphy Oil USA, Inc., after she slipped and fell in the restroom of a Murphy Oil gas station. Murphy Oil moved for summary judgment, but the trial court denied the motion. After a bench trial, the court entered a judgment in favor of English. The trial court made no findings of fact during the trial and instead took the matter under consideration after inviting the parties to submit briefs. One day after the briefing deadline had passed, the trial court entered a judgment in favor of English and awarded her compensatory damages in the amount of $125,000. The trial court did not make any written factual findings as a part of its judgment. It appeared from the record that Murphy Oil did not move for a new trial or for judgment as a matter of law, and it did not otherwise challenge the sufficiency of the evidence before it appealed to the Alabama Supreme Court. Murphy Oil argued on appeal that: (1) the trial court erred by denying its summary-judgment motion; (2) English offered no evidence at trial to sustain a judgment holding it liable for negligence; and (3) the trial court erred by admitting evidence of medical expenses that was unsupported by expert testimony. The Supreme Court determined none of Murphy Oil's arguments provided a ground for reversing the trial court judgment: Murphy Oil did not establish the Supreme Court should disregard the general rule against reviewing a trial court's denial of a summary- judgment motion after a trial on the merits. And its argument about the sufficiency of the evidence at trial was not properly before the Supreme Court. Finally, based on the record before it, the Supreme Court could not say that the trial court erred by admitting evidence of English's medical expenses. View "Murphy Oil, USA, Inc. v. English" on Justia Law

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Lonas Goins was injured when a train locomotive that he was operating collided with a garbage truck at a railroad intersection. Goins sued the owner and the driver of the truck. After a five-day trial, a jury found in favor of Goins and awarded him damages. Dissatisfied with the jury's damages award, Goins appealed the judgment, arguing that the trial court committed multiple errors that warranted a new trial. Finding no reversible error, the Alabama Supreme Court rejected Goins's arguments and affirmed the judgment. View "Goins v. Advanced Disposal Services Gulf Coast, LLC" on Justia Law

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Chris and Suzanne Moore, as parents and next friends of Sydney Moore, a minor, appealed the grant of summary judgment entered in favor of Pamela Tyson and Jennifer Douthit, two employees of the Huntsville City Board of Education ("the Board"), with regard to negligence and wantonness claims asserted against Tyson and Douthit by the Moores arising from injuries suffered by Sydney at her elementary school. Tyson was employed by the Board as a teacher at Goldsmith-Schiffman Elementary School. Douthit was employed as the principal of the school. Sydney was enrolled at the school as a third-grade student in Tyson's class. Tyson left the students unsupervised in the classroom while she went to the restroom. During that time, Sydney and another student in the class left their seats, and, according to Sydney, the other student caused her to fall and hit her head and face on a counter in the classroom. Sydney suffered injuries from her fall, including fractures of her left orbital bone, her eye socket, and her nose and entrapment of her eye. Sydney was admitted for treatment at a hospital and underwent surgery as a result of the injuries. THe Alabama Supreme Court determined the Moores did not demonstrate the trial court erred in entering summary judgment in favor of Tyson and Douthit based on immunity. Accordingly, the Court affirmed the trial court's judgment. View "Moore v. Tyson" on Justia Law

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Defendant Allstate Property and Casualty Insurance Company ("Allstate"), appealed a circuit court's order granting the posttrial motion of the plaintiff, Doyle Harbin, which sought the imposition of sanctions based on Allstate's purported violation of a pretrial mediation order. In 2015, Harbin was injured as the result of a motor-vehicle accident that he alleged was caused by Irvin Stewart. Harbin subsequently filed a complaint in the trial court asserting a negligence claim against Stewart. In the same complaint, Harbin also named Allstate, Harbin's automobile insurance carrier, as a defendant and sought to recover uninsured/underinsured-motorist ("UIM") benefits under his Allstate policy. Following Stewart's dismissal, Harbin, without opposition from Allstate, requested that the scheduled trial date be continued and the matter referred to mediation. Unable to reach a settlement, the matter proceeded to trial. A jury returned a $690,000 verdict in Harbin's favor. Approximately two weeks later, Harbin filed a "Motion for Entry of Judgment and Motion for Sanctions," essentially contending Allstate in bad faith failed to abide by the Order which set the Court-ordered mediation in which Allstate had agreed to participate. The motion requested Allstate pay Harbin's trial-related attorneys' fees. The Alabama Supreme Court found the evidence failed to show Allstate violated the trial court's mediation order, thus it exceeded its discretion by issuing Harbin's requested sanctions. The Court therefore reversed the portion of the trial court's order imposing sanctions exceeding Harbin's request for costs and fees totaling $57,516.36, and remanded this matter for further proceedings. View "Allstate Property & Casualty Ins. Co. v. Harbin" on Justia Law

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The issue this case presented for the Colorado Supreme Court's review centered on whether an injured passenger riding in a vehicle negligently driven by one co-worker and owned by another co-worker, when all three were acting within the course and scope of their employment, could recover UM/UIM benefits under the vehicle owner’s insurance policy. Although the parties disputed the meaning of the phrases “legally entitled to recover” and “legally entitled to collect” under section 10-4-609, C.R.S. (2020) the Court did not resolve that dispute here because, assuming without deciding that plaintiff Kent Ryser’s interpretation was correct, the Court concluded that he still could not prevail. Specifically, the Court found an injured co-worker was barred by operation of the Workers’ Compensation Act's (“WCA”) exclusivity and co-employee immunity principles from recovering UM/UIM benefits from a co-employee vehicle owner’s insurer for damages stemming from a work-related accident in which another co-employee negligently drove the owner’s vehicle and the injured party was an authorized passenger. Though the Court's reasoning differed from the appellate court's judgment, it affirmed the outcome: summary judgment was properly entered in favor of the insurance company. View "Ryser v. Shelter Mutual Insurance" on Justia Law

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After Norris Morgan was diagnosed with mesothelioma in December 2017, he and his wife filed suit against J-MM and others. The jury concluded that Morgan was exposed to asbestos from products that J-MM sold, and that J-MM was partly responsible for Morgan’s mesothelioma; awarded compensatory damages; and concluded that J-MM had acted with malice, oppression, or fraud, and awarded an additional $15,000,000 as punitive damages. Based on the jury's apportionment of fault, the trial court entered judgment for plaintiff and his wife against J-MM for $22,213,704.39. The trial court subsequently denied J-MM's motions for judgment notwithstanding the verdict and new trial.The Court of Appeal concluded that the record contains evidence from which the jury could reasonably have concluded that Morgan was exposed to asbestos from pipe supplied by J-MM; the trial court was not required to give J-MM's requested jury instruction that J-MM was not liable for the conduct of another company; and the jury's punitive damage award is not supported by substantial evidence. Accordingly, the court reversed the award of punitive damages and affirmed in all other respects. View "Morgan v. J-M Manufacturing Co., Inc." on Justia Law