Justia Injury Law Opinion Summaries

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The Court of Appeals reversed the judgment of the Court of Special Appeals reversing the circuit court's judgment awarding damages to the Estate of Jeffrey Blair after finding that Baltimore City Police Officer David Austin used excessive force during his encounter with Blair, holding that the Court of Special Appeals erred when it overturned the jury's factual finding that Officer Austin exceeded the level of force that an objectively reasonable officer in his situation would have used. After Blair died of causes unrelated to the incident at issue Blair's Estate filed a complaint against Officer Austin. The jury determined that Officer Austin used excessive force in his interaction with Blair and awarded damages. The Court of Special Appeals reversed and held in favor of Officer Austin based on its independent weighing of a surveillance video. The Court of Appeals reversed, holding (1) the Court of Special Appeals erred when, based solely on its interpretation of the video evidence, it overturned the jury's factual finding that Officer Austin exceeded the level of force that an objectively reasonable officer in his situation would have used; and (2) legally sufficient evidence supported the trial court's decision to submit the case to the jury regarding Officer Austin's use of excessive force. View "Estate of Blair v. Austin" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit affirmed the judgment of the district court dismissing Appellant's federal and state civil rights claims and state wrongful death claims against the City of Lewiston, the Lewiston School Department (collectively, the City Defendants), and the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry (DACF), holding that Defendant was not entitled to relief on his allegations of error. Appellant brought this suit after his seventh-grade son died while on a Lewiston school field trip to a state park. The complaint alleged due process violations and wrongful death claims. DACF filed a motion to dismiss. The district court granted the motion, holding that sovereign immunity insulated DACF from Appellant's claims in federal court. The court then granted the City Defendants' motion to dismiss after construing Appellant's due process violation claim as a substantive due process claim under 42 U.S.C. 1983 and the Maine Civil Rights Act, Me. Rev. Stat. Ann. tit. 5, 4682. The First Circuit affirmed, holding (1) Appellant waived any challenge to the dismissal of his claims against DACF; and (2) Appellant's allegations were insufficient to state a constitutional tort claim against the City Defendants. View "Abdisamad v. City of Lewiston" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal of Appellant's complaint alleging that he received an injury that occurred in connection with his 2015 Delta Airlines flight to London, holding that Appellant's complaint fell within the scope of the Convention for the Unification of Certain Rules for Intentional Carriage by Air (Montreal Convention) and was, as a result, time barred. When an airline passenger suffers bodily injury on board an aircraft or in the course of embarking or disembarking, his only legal recourse is to sue the airline for recovery under the Montreal Convention, which preempts any local law claims the passenger could bring. Appellant, who missed the Montreal Convention's two-year deadline to sue, argued that his injury occurred after his disembarkation and was therefore outside the scope of the Montreal Convention. The district court dismissed the case, concluding that the Montreal Convention preempted and time barred Appellant's claims. The First Circuit affirmed, holding (1) Appellant's injury began inflight and therefore fell within the scope of the Convention; and (2) as a result, Appellant's claim was time barred. View "Dagi v. Delta Airlines, Inc." on Justia Law

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The Court of Appeal affirmed the trial court's grant of summary judgment in favor of the hospital in an action brought by the family of an emergency room patient who was released from the hospital and died eight hours later of "acute dissection of aorta." The court held that no evidence showed that the nursing staff caused or contributed to the patient's death; no evidence showed the hospital was negligent in the selection and retention of the two emergency room doctors who treated the patient; and the evidence conclusively established the emergency room doctors were not the ostensible agents of the hospital. View "Wicks v. Antelope Valley Healthcare District" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff Juan Morales-Hurtado filed a vehicular negligence claim against defendant Abel Reinoso. The Supreme Court shared the Appellate Division's view that the cumulative effect of multiple errors deprived plaintiff of a fair trial and of a verdict based on the merits of the parties’ claims, and that he was entitled to a new trial. The Court took the opportunity to comment on the Appellate Division’s reversal of the trial court’s decision to exclude the opinion of Dianne Simmons-Grab, a certified life care planner. Simmons-Grab was not a physician or other health care provider, and was in the Court's estimation, "clearly unqualified to opine on plaintiff’s prognosis or to identify any medication, surgery, therapy, or other care necessary to treat his injuries over his lifetime." The trial court found that Simmons-Grab’s opinion was based on unreliable sources of information and excluded her testimony. As the court observed, she relied on medical records and questionnaires that she “prepared in detail . . . and submitted to the doctors for their markings and then sign off.” Although the questionnaires were “purportedly filled out . . . by the medical providers,” the court noted that “[t]he responses . . . by the medical providers were not certified,” and there was no indication that each physician had offered an opinion to a reasonable degree of medical certainty within his area of expertise. The Supreme Court held that in appropriate circumstances, an expert witness could rely on the opinion of another expert in a relevant field. "That principle, however, does not obviate the need to demonstrate that the treating physician on whom the life care expert relies actually holds the opinion attributed to him or her, which can be accomplished by means of a report by the treating physician, his or her trial testimony, or other competent evidence. . . . In the event that plaintiff seeks to present the expert testimony of Simmons-Grab on remand -- and defendant challenges the reliability of that opinion -- the trial court should conduct a hearing pursuant to N.J.R.E. 104(c), and determine the question of admissibility in accordance with the standards prescribed by N.J.R.E. 702 and N.J.R.E. 703." View "Morales-Hurtado v. Reinoso" on Justia Law

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Shane Berryhill fainted and fell out of an 18-foot deer stand while hunting five days after undergoing major heart surgery. Plaintiffs Berryhill and his wife sued his surgeon, Dr. Dale Daly, and Savannah Cardiology (collectively “defendants”), claiming Daly’s negligent prescribing caused him to faint. The trial court instructed the jury on assumption of risk, and the jury returned a defense verdict. The Court of Appeals reversed and held that the instruction should not have been given. The Georgia Supreme Court granted certiorari and found there was at least slight evidence presented at trial to warrant the instruction: Berryhill knew he had just had major surgery for serious cardiac problems, and evidence (although contradicted) existed to show that he had been instructed not to engage in strenuous activity and not to lift more than ten pounds, bend, or stoop over for at least seven days after his procedure. Even though Berryhill was not informed of the specific risk of fainting, violating such explicit medical instructions immediately after major heart surgery "poses an obvious cardiovascular risk to which competent adults cannot blind themselves," and constituted the slight evidence needed here to warrant a jury instruction. Judgment was reversed. View "Daly v. Berryhill" on Justia Law

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David Turner appealed the grant of summary judgment entered in favor of State Farm Mutual Insurance Company. In August 2017, Turner was on duty as a paramedic and was riding in the passenger seat of an ambulance while responding to an emergency call. While traversing an intersection, the ambulance collided with a vehicle being driven by Michael Norris. Turner suffered multiple injuries, including a broken leg. In November 2017, Turner sued Norris, asserting claims of negligence and "recklessness." Norris answered the complaint, denying that he had been negligent or reckless. Because the Alabama Supreme Court Held that State Farm was discharged from its obligation to pay Turner UIM benefits based on State Farm's payment of a "Lambert" advance and Turner's repudiation of his policy with State Farm, the Court pretermitted consideration of Turner's alternative argument regarding State Farm's failure to disclose the substance of its investigation of Turner's claim for UIM benefits, and expressed no opinion concerning that issue. The Court also expressed no opinion regarding any potential liability State Farm may or may not have to Turner in tort because Turner did not assert such a claim in this action. View "Turner v. State Farm Mutual Insurance Company" on Justia Law

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After Gregory Tramaine Miller was crushed to death between the couplers of two rail cars while working as a conductor trainee with the railroad, plaintiffs filed suit under the Federal Employers Liability Act (FELA). The Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment to the railroad, holding that Miller's failure to establish 3-Step Protection before going between rail cars was the sole cause of his death, that his going between moving rail cars was unforeseeable, and that plaintiffs failed to produce evidence of any negligent acts by the railroad attributable to causing Miller's death. View "Gray v. Alabama Great Southern Railroad Co." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the circuit court in favor of Plaintiff on her slip and fall action, holding that the circuit court did not err or abuse its discretion. Specifically, the Supreme Court held that the circuit court (1) did not err by not granting Defendants' motion for a directed verdict because substantial evidence supported the jury's verdict; (2) did not abuse its discretion as a matter of law by allowing a chiropractor to testify as an expert regarding the causal connection between Plaintiff's fall and the treatment provided by other physicians; and (3) did not abuse its discretion by allowing Plaintiff to give causation testimony regarding her treatments that were not rendered in temporal proximity to the occurrence of the accident. View "Dollar General Corp. v. Elder" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the district court denying the motion to dismiss filed by State Representative John Lesch on a claim brought by Lyndsey Olson, Saint Paul City Attorney, for defamation per se based on statements Lesch made in a letter sent to the mayor of Saint Paul, holding that legislative immunity did not protect Lesch's letter. Lesch's letter, which was written on Lesch's official letterhead from the Minnesota House of Representatives but was marked "personal and confidential," suggested that Olson was not the right person for the position of City Attorney. Olson brought a defamation suit against Lesch, alleging that Lesch "knowingly, intentionally and maliciously made false and defamatory" statements about her in the letter. Lesch moved to dismiss the complaint, asserting that his statements were communications that were protected by legislative immunity under the Speech or Debate Clause of the Minnesota Constitution and under Minn. Stat. 540.13. The district court denied the motion to dismiss, and the court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that neither Article IV, Section 10 nor section 540.13 extended legislative immunity to Lesch's letter. View "Olson v. Lesch" on Justia Law