Justia Injury Law Opinion Summaries

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The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the judgment of the district court granting Pat Doe's request for a ten-year extension of a protection from abuse order against Donald McLean, holding that the district court did not abuse its discretion. On appeal, Doe argued that the district court erred by refusing to hold a hearing on the issue of whether abuse had occurred and in declining to hold a hearing on her request for attorney fees. The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed, holding (1) the court's rejection of Doe's request to treat her motion to extend as a motion to modify that included a finding of abuse was well within the court's discretion; and (2) the court's decision not to award attorney fees was not an abuse of its discretion. View "Doe v. McLean" on Justia Law

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In October 2012, Jeske, working at a cemetery, was carrying a heavy casket when she stumbled, injuring her back. Four years later, she applied for disability insurance benefits and supplemental security income based on disability; she claimed that back and spine problems, anxiety, depression, and suicidal tendencies made her unable to work. At a hearing, Jeske told the ALJ that she was 44 years old and lived with her husband and three sons. She changed the date on which she allegedly became disabled to more than a year after her injury because she had substantial gainful activity in 2013. She explained that she received treatment through a workers’ compensation program and her employer allowed her to work from home many days. When the doctor released her from treatment, Jeske’s boss no longer permitted her to work from home and she quit. Since then she has worked as a part-time security guard. The ALJ found Jeske not disabled under the Social Security Act, 42 U.S.C. 423(d), 1382c(3). The Seventh Circuit affirmed. The ALJ applied the proper standards and sufficiently explained the decision. Although the evidence showed Jeske suffered from limiting back pain, abundant evidence supports the ALJ’s determination that her condition lacked the requirements of a presumptively disabling impairment. The use of daily-living activities, to assess credibility and symptoms, was not improper. The evidence supported a conclusion that Jeske could perform light work with specific restrictions. View "Jeske v. Saul" on Justia Law

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Brian Ehrhart died within days of contracting hantavirus near his Issaquah, Washington home in early 2017. His widow, Sandra Ehrhart, sued King County’s public health department, Swedish Medical Center, and an emergency room physician, arguing all three had negligently caused Brian's death. King County asserted public duty as an affirmative defense, arguing it was not liable for Brian’s death because it did not owe him any duty as an individual. Ehrhart moved for partial summary judgment asking the court to dismiss this defense and others. The trial court granted Ehrhart’s motion but conditioned its ruling on the jury finding particular facts. King County appealed, and the Washington Supreme Court accepted direct discretionary review. The issues presented were: (1) whether the trial court could properly grant summary judgment conditioned on the jury finding particular facts; and (2) whether the regulations governing King COunty's responsibility to issue health advisories created a duty owed to Brian individually as opposed to a non actionable duty owed to the public as a whole. The Supreme Court determined the trial court could not properly grant summary judgment conditioned on the jury finding particular facts; summary judgment was appropriate only when there were no genuine issues of material fact. The Court concluded King County did not owe an individualized duty to Brian, and no exception to the public duty doctrine applied in this case. The Supreme Court therefore reversed the trial court, and remanded for entry of judgment in favor of King County on its public duty doctrine defense. View "Ehrhart v. King County" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the circuit court in favor of Prussman Contracting, Inc., holding that the court did not abuse its discretion. Dennis Sedlacek commenced this suit against Prussman, alleging general negligence and failure to train and supervise its employees. Sedlacek sought damages for injuries he allegedly sustained while repairing a crane owned by Prussman. The jury returned a general verdict in favor of Prussman. On appeal, Sedlacek argued that he was prejudiced by the court's rulings restricting his ability to argue that Prussman violated Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) standards. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that even if this restriction was outside of the circuit court's range of permissible choices, Sedlacek could not establish that the error produced the adverse verdict. View "Sedlacek v. Prussman Contracting, Inc." on Justia Law

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After plaintiff was struck by a car while crossing a street on her way to school, she filed suit against the city. Plaintiff alleged that the intersection in which she was hit constituted a dangerous condition of public property within the meaning of Government Code section 835. A jury returned a defense verdict and found that the property was not a dangerous condition at the time of the accident. The Court of Appeal held that the trial court did not commit evidentiary error in relying on the privilege set forth pursuant to 23 U.S.C. 409 to preclude admission of a document in which defendant acknowledged the subject intersection was hazardous. The court also rejected plaintiff's claim that defense counsel committed misconduct during trial. Furthermore, any potential jury confusion was cured by the trial court's thorough instructions to the jury. View "Ford v. City of Los Angeles" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the district court granting summary judgment to the City of Billing on Appellant's claims that the City was vicariously liable for the tortious acts of former City employee Michael Glancy, holding that the district court erred in concluding as a matter of law that Glancy was not acting within the scope of his employment. After Appellant brought his lawsuit the City filed a motion for summary judgment on the asserted ground that Glancy engaged in the alleged tortious conduct outside the scope of his employment. The district court granted summary judgment for the City. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that genuine issues of material fact precluded summary judgment as to whether Glancy's conduct were incidental to implicitly authorized conduct and thus within the scope of his employment. View "Brenden v. City of Billings" on Justia Law

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In this property dispute, the Supreme Court affirmed in part and vacated in part the judgment of the superior court granting Defendants' motion for summary judgment based on the ground of prosecutorial immunity, holding that the hearing justice erred in applying prosecutorial immunity to the Building and Zoning Official for the Town of Cumberland (Building Official Hall) and the Town of Cumberland (Town). Plaintiffs sued the Solicitor for the Town of Cumberland (Solicitor Hefner), Building Official Hall, and the Town, claiming negligence, private nuisance, trespass, intentional infliction of emotional distress and seeking declaratory judgment and injunctive relief after Plaintiffs' neighbor prevailed on an action against the Town regarding its agreement with the Town regarding a retaining wall abutting Plaintiffs' property. The hearing justice granted summary judgment in favor of Defendants. The Supreme Court vacated the decision in part, holding (1) Solicitor Hefner was entitled to prosecutorial immunity; (2) Building Official Hall failed to meet his burden of proof as to prosecutorial immunity; and (3) because this Court is vacating the superior court's decision with respect to Building Official Hall, the summary judgment decision with respect to the Town is also vacated. View "Diorio v. Hines Road, LLC" on Justia Law

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The Second Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment in favor of the United States in a trip-and-fall case. Plaintiff tripped at a TSA checkpoint at JFK Airport when her suitcase's wheels locked up as she attempted to roll it over a thick mat that TSA placed in the flow of foot traffic. The court held that, under New York's trivial defect doctrine, any identified defect in the condition or placement of the mat was trivial and hence non-negligent as a matter of law. In this case, the presence of a floor mat placed on the floor, even a one-inch thick black mat on a black floor, is—under the triviality doctrine—simply not a sufficiently dangerous condition to constitute negligence. View "Coyle v. United States" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the circuit court granting summary judgment in favor of Cindy Langman on John Zsigray's claims for outrage and intentional infliction of emotional stress and reversed the order granting Langman's motion to dismiss the defamation claim regarding statements she made to a law enforcement officer, holding that Zsigray's complaint included sufficient allegations to withstand a motion to dismiss on this portion of the defamation claim. After a law enforcement officer's investigation into an incident at McDonald's Zsigray was charged with criminal harassment. Following a jury trial at which Langman testified Zsigray was found not guilty. Zsigray later filed a complaint against Langman, alleging, inter alia, defamation. The defamation claim was based on Langman's statements to the officer and her testimony. The circuit court granted Langman's motion to dismiss. The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part, holding that the circuit court (1) properly ruled that Langman's testimony during the magistrate court trial judge was entitled to absolute immunity from Zsigray's defamation claim; (2) erred in ruling that Langman's statements to the officer were also absolutely privileged; and (3) did not err by granting Langman's motion for summary judgment on the outrage and intentional infliction of emotional distress claims. View "Zsigray v. Langman" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the decision of the district court granting summary judgment to Defendants and dismissing Plaintiff's personal injury lawsuit, holding that Plaintiff produced evidence in support of the disputed elements of her claim. Plaintiff, who tripped and fell while walking across a park strip, asserted that she tripped over a metal rod protruding out of a hole in the ground. Plaintiff sued Defendants, including Herriman City, for negligence. In granting summary judgment for Defendants the district court ruled that Plaintiff had failed to produce enough evidence to create a disputed issue of fact as to when the unsafe condition arose, and therefore, Plaintiff could not show that Defendants had constructive notice of the unsafe condition and an opportunity to remedy the condition. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) the durable, non transitory nature of the unsafe condition itself is evidence from which a fact-finder could infer longevity, which is sufficient to create a genuine dispute as to the length of time the condition existed; and (2) in conjunction with evidence relevant to the noticeability of the metal rod, Plaintiff produced evidence in support of the contested elements of her claim. View "Cochegrus v. Herriman City" on Justia Law