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Leone’s employer used a degasser, a large vat lined with brick, to extract gas impurities from molten steel. The degasser’s components include an alloy chute near the top of the vat. The employer hired BMI to “tearout” the degasser’s deteriorated face brick. Although the contract did not include any work on the alloy chute, a BMI employee testified that his team would dislodge loose material from the chute to ensure that nothing could fall. He did not notice any loose slag on the chute. After BMI finished, his employer assigned Leone to reline the degasser. Leone and his crew frequently climbed ladders near the alloy chute. They never spotted any loose slag on the chute but, 21 days after BMI completed its one-day job, a 40-pound piece of slag fell and struck Leone. Leone sued, claiming that the slag detached from the alloy chute. Because no molten metal could have created new slag, the court concluded that the slag must have existed when BMI finished but that BMI owed Leone no duty of care under Michigan law. The Sixth Circuit reversed. The district court interpreted Michigan law too narrowly. Although a contractor’s creation of a new hazard can trigger a duty to third parties, that is not the only way that such a duty might arise. A contractor can be liable to a third party if “any legal duty independent of the contract existed,” including by voluntary assumption of a duty. View "Leone v. BMI Refractory Services., Inc." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the superior court entering summary judgment in favor of Defendants, the City of Providence and various City officials, on Plaintiff’s complaint alleging, among other things, that Ira Lukens suffered serious injuries as a result of the City’s negligence in maintaining Roger Williams Park. On appeal, Plaintiff asserted that there remained genuine issues of material fact whether the City knew of the dangerous condition of a pothole on a park street and whether it “willfully and/or maliciously failed to warn against it,” which would strip the City of the protection against liability afforded under Rhode Islan d’s Recreational Use Statute (RUS). The Supreme Court held (1) immunity under the RUS clearly applied to the City; and (2) the exception provided in R.I. Gen. Stat. 32-6-5(a)(1) did not apply because there was no evidence that the City had actual knowledge of the pothole or had received complaints regarding the condition of the roadway. View "Cancel v. City of Providence" on Justia Law

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On October 8, 2016, Rita Kay filed a complaint against "Brookwood Baptist Health LLC" and fictitiously named defendants pursuant to the Alabama Medical Liability Act, based on injuries she allegedly suffered at the hands of another patient while she was being treated in the Psychiatric and Behavioral Health Inpatient Services Unit at Brookwood Baptist Medical Center from October 8, 2014, until October 12, 2014. She asserted claims of medical negligence, false imprisonment, negligence and wantonness, breach of contract, and negligent and/or wanton hiring, training, and/or supervision. Brookwood Health Services, Inc., filed a petition for a writ of mandamus directing the Circuit Court to dismiss Kay's action against it. Assuming, without deciding, that service on Brookwood Baptist Health LLC, the original defendant, was proper, the materials before the Alabama Supreme Court established that Brookwood Baptist Health LLC did not receive the complaint until February 13, 2017 -- 128 days after the lawsuit was commenced. Therefore, the Court concluded Brookwood established it was added as a defendant after the expiration of the applicable limitations period and that relation-back principles do not apply. Therefore, it has demonstrated that it had a clear legal right to the relief sought. Accordingly, the Supreme Court granted the petition for a writ of mandamus and directed the trial court to vacate its September 7, 2017, order denying the motion to dismiss filed by Brookwood Health Services, Inc., and to dismiss Kay's complaint. View "Ex parte Brookwood Health Services, Inc." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court conditionally granted a writ of mandamus sought by Melissa Dawson in this pretrial dispute. Dawson sued Defendant for injuries she received at a bar and restaurant. Upon serving Defendant with her original petition, Dawson also propounded a request for disclosures, interrogatories, and requests for production. More than two weeks after limitations expired, Defendant moved for leave to designate Michael Graciano as a responsible party. Dawson opposed the motion for leave on the ground that, under Chapter 33 of the Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code, a defendant may not designate a responsible third party after limitations has expired if the defendant has failed to comply with its obligations to timely disclose that the person may be designated as a responsible third party. The trial court, however, granted leave. After the court of appeals denied Dawson’s request for mandamus relief, she filed this proceeding. The Supreme Court conditionally granted the writ, holding that Dawson presented adequate grounds for relief by mandamus. View "In re Melissa Dawson" on Justia Law

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The common law rule against perpetuities does not invalidate a grantee’s future interest in the grantor’s reserved non-participating royalty interest (NPRI). Lorene Koopmann and her two children sought declaratory judgment against Burlington Resources Oil & Gas Company, L.P. and Lois Strieber to construe a warranty deed by which Strieber conveyed fee simple title to a tract of land to Lorene and her late husband. Under the deed, Strieber reserved a fifteen-year, one-half NPRI. The Koopmans claimed that they were the sole owners of an NPRI as of December 27, 2011. They also asserted claims against Burlington, which leased the tract from the Koopmanns, for breach of contract and other claims. The trial court granted summary judgment for the Koopmans as to the declaratory action and granted summary judgment for Burlington on the negligence and negligence per se claims. The court of appeals affirmed in part and reversed in part. The Supreme Court held (1) the rule against perpetuities does not invalidate the Koopmann’s future interest in the NPRI; (2) Tex. Nat. Res. Code 91.402 does not preclude a lessor’s common law claim for breach of contract; and (3) the court of appeals properly entered judgment as to attorney’s fees pursuant to Tex. R. Civ. P. 91a. View "ConocoPhillips Co. v. Koopmann" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part the judgment of the court of appeals in this defamation, breach of contract, and fraudulent inducement case. After Defendant, Plaintiff’s employer, offered him an oral deal to “buy in” the business in exchange for managing two automobile dealerships, Plaintiff was falsely accused of taking illegal kickbacks on used-car acquisitions and lost his job. The jury found that Defendant defrauded and defamed Plaintiff but did not find that the parties agreed to a buy-in deal that included interests in the dealerships and their underlying real estate. The jury awarded Plaintiff $2.2 million in defamation damages and $383,150 in fraud damages. The trial court rendered judgment on the jury’s verdict. The court of appeals reversed and rendered a take-nothing judgment. The Supreme Court held (1) the jury’s failure to find that the parties agreed to the specific contract terms submitted in the contract question did not preclude Plaintiff from recovering the value of the disputed dealership interests as benefit-of-the-bargain damages under a fraud theory that required proof of an enforceable contract; and (2) legally sufficient evidence supported the damages awarded for loss of reputation and mental anguish in the past, but no evidence supported the existence of future damages or a finding that the kickback allegations caused any lost-income damages. View "Anderson v. Durant" on Justia Law

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There is no cause of action in Texas for intentional interference with an inheritance. Richard Archer and Richard’s six children (the Archers) brought this action against Ted Anderson’s estate for intentional interference with their inheritance, alleging that Anderson influenced Jack Archer to disinherit them. The jury found in favor of the Archers. On appeal, the court of appeals concluded that the Supreme Court has never recognized tortious interference with inheritance as a cause of action in Texas and deferred to the Supreme Court to decide whether to do so. The court then reversed and rendered judgment for Anderson. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the tort of interference with inheritance is not recognized in Texas. View "Archer v. Anderson" on Justia Law

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At issue was whether property owners’ state-law damage claims against the railroad bridge owners alleging that the design and operation of the railroad bridges resulted in flood damage to other properties were preempted by the Federal Interstate Commerce Commission Termination Act (ICCTA), 49 U.S.C. 10501(b). Plaintiffs, property owners in Cedar Rapids, sued the owners of certain railroad bridges across the Cedar River alleging that their efforts to protect the bridges from washing out exacerbated the effects of the 2008 flooding for other property owners. The district court granted Defendants’ motion for judgment on the pleadings, concluding that the ICCTA expressly preempted Plaintiffs’ state law claims. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the ICCTA did indeed preempt Plaintiffs’ action. View "Griffioen v. Cedar Rapids" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed and remanded the case to the district court for further proceedings, holding that because the district court did not make specific findings of fact relative to any plaintiff when concluding that Iowa Code 657.11(2), as applied to Plaintiffs, violated Iowa Const. art. I, 1, the issue could not be resolved on this record. Plaintiffs, the owners and/or residents of real estate located near the confined animal feeding operations (CAFOs), brought this action claiming that Defendants were negligent in their operation of the CAFOs and that the CAFOs constituted a nuisance, entitling Plaintiffs to damages. Defendants filed a motion for summary judgment on the nuisance claims, asserting that section 657.11(2) barred the claims because Plaintiffs could not meet the requirements under the statute to recover the requested special damages against the CAFOs. The district court denied the motion, finding that section 657.11(2) was unconstitutional as applied to Plaintiffs because it denied Plaintiffs access to a remedy for their alleged injuries. The Supreme Court reversed and remanded with directions that the district court engage in a fact-based analysis by applying the three-prong test set forth Gacke v. Pork Xtra, LLC, 684 N.W.2d 168 (Iowa 2004). View "Honomichl v. Valley View Swine, LLC" on Justia Law

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B&B Management Company, LLC (“B&B”) and Terence McGee (“McGee”) appealed the circuit court’s denial of their Motion to Dismiss and Transfer Venue. Y.X. first filed a premises-liability case in Madison County, Mississippi against B&B and five John Does, alleging she was injured on a treadmill in the fitness room of an apartment complex located in Madison County. Prior to B&B making an appearance, Y.X. voluntarily dismissed that case and refiled essentially an identical case in Hinds County, adding McGee, a former employee of B&B and resident of Hinds County, as a defendant. Accepting Y.X.’s testimony that she saw McGee leaving the complex, despite McGee’s denial of being there that on the day Y.X. was injured, does not change the fact that no evidence was presented which established that McGee owed an individual, legal duty to Y.X., or that he personally breached any legal duty that day. No actions imposing legal liability on McGee individually were developed during discovery. Applying principles set forth in the controlling Mississippi case law, the Mississippi Supreme Court found that McGee was joined fraudulently and/or frivolously with the intention of depriving B&B of its right to be sued in Madison County and that no reasonable claim of liability was established against McGee. Thus, the Court concluded, venue was improper in Hinds County. View "B&B Management Company, LLC v. Y.X." on Justia Law