Justia Injury Law Opinion Summaries

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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 Fifth Circuit withdrew its prior opinion and substituted the following opinion. The court affirmed the district court's dismissal, based on lack of subject matter jurisdiction, of plaintiff's action under the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA) and the Anti-Terrorism Act (ATA). Plaintiff, a security guard, was shot in the leg while on duty by a pair of Islamic terrorists. The court held that plaintiff failed to establish that the discretionary function exception does not apply under the FTCA, and thus sovereign immunity has not been waived. Although the district court erred in stating the standard for construing exceptions to the FTCA, the error was harmless because plaintiff's contentions failed either way. The court held that the district court correctly declined jurisdiction under a two-step framework. First, plaintiff failed to identify a nondiscretionary duty violated by an agency or employee of the United States. Furthermore, the government did not violate any directives prohibiting agents from engaging in acts of violence. Second, the court held that the discretion at issue here is precisely the kind that the exception was designed to shield. The court held that plaintiff's remaining arguments were unavailing. The court declined to forge new circuit precedent and adopt the state-created danger doctrine in such uncharted territory; the district court properly dismissed the ATA claims for lack of subject matter jurisdiction; and the district court did not abuse its discretion by barring additional discovery. View "Joiner v. United States" on Justia Law

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The Fifth Circuit affirmed the Board's order awarding benefits to claimant under the Longshore and Harbor Workers' Compensation Act. The court held that claimant was on navigable waters at the time of injury and thus his case was controlled by Dir., OWCP, U.S. Dep't of Labor v. Perini N. River Assocs., 459 U.S. 297, 299 (1983). In this case, because claimant was regularly employed by MMR on navigable waters and, under Perini, meets the "employee" definition, it follows that MMR had at least one employee engaged in maritime employment. View "MMR Constructors, Inc. v. Director, Office of Workers' Compensation Programs" on Justia Law

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In this appeal, the issue presented for the Delaware Supreme Court's review was whether the Superior Court abused its discretion when it accepted the Special Master’s report denying the plaintiffs a second extension to move the trial date. To warrant the extension, the plaintiffs had to show good cause. According to the court, the plaintiffs failed to show good cause because they were not diligent in meeting Texas law requirements for asbestos exposure claims, the time pressures faced by counsel were foreseeable, counsel should not have missed deadlines, and, under the circumstances, refusing to grant another trial date extension was not unfair. On appeal, the plaintiffs tried to switch to a new standard to evaluate the Superior Court’s decision. The Delaware Supreme Court, however, declined to do so. "The Superior Court applied the law correctly and based its findings on the record and reason. There was no abuse of discretion, and we affirm." View "In RE: Asbestos Litigation" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court allowed hundreds of former employees of W.R. Grace & Company's Zonolite Division in Libby (Grace) to continue their asbestos-related personal injury claims against Maryland Casualty Company (MCC), Grace's former workers' compensation insurance provider, holding that MCC owed Grace workers a direct common law duty under Restatement (Second) of Torts 324A(b)-(c) to use reasonable care under the circumstances to warn them of the known risk of exposure to airborne asbestos in certain Grace workplaces. The Supreme Court assumed supervisory control over proceedings pending before the Montana Asbestos Claims Court. Here the Court addressed on extraordinary review MCC's assertion that the district court erred in concluding that MCC owed a duty of care to warn third-party employees of Grace of a known risk of airborne asbestos exposure in or about Grace facilities in and about Libby, Montana between 1963 and 1970. The Supreme Court held that, based on MCC's affirmative assumption of employee-specific medical monitoring and Grace's reliance on MCC to perform that function, MCC owed Grace workers a legal duty to use reasonable care to warn them of the risk of airborne asbestos. View "Maryland Casualty Co. v. Asbestos Claims Court" on Justia Law

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In the absence of any clear legislative statement on the issue, a physician assistant acts within the scope of his or her license for purposes of Civil Code section 3333.2, subdivision (c)(2) if he or she has a legally enforceable agency agreement with a supervising physician, regardless of the quality of actual supervision. After plaintiff prevailed in her negligence claims, the trial court awarded noneconomic damages, but reduced them under section 3333.2, subdivision (b). The Court of Appeal affirmed the trial court's reduction of the damages awarded, rejecting plaintiff's claim that the negligence of the physician assistants is included within the scope of the proviso excluding certain conduct from statutory damages because the physician assistants acted without the supervision of a physician in violation of the governing statutes and regulations. View "Lopez v. Ledesma" on Justia Law

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The Court of Appeal affirmed the trial court's judgment in favor of plaintiffs on their negligence cause of action against Technicolor. The jury found that Technicolor had been negligent and that its negligence was a substantial factor in causing harm to plaintiffs, assigning 95 percent responsibility to Technicolor. After the trial court reduced the jury's damages awards, judgment was entered in the amount of $803,838.30 for economic damages and $2,083,920 for noneconomic damages, for a total award of $2,887,758.30. The court held that substantial evidence supported the verdict where there was substantial evidence that Technicolor could have satisfied the labor verification requirement, and that Technicolor's negligence left plaintiffs in a worse position. The court also held that workers' compensation exclusivity was inapplicable and rejected Technicolor's remaining claims. View "Reynaud v. Technicolor Creative Services USA" on Justia Law

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The Tobacco Companies challenged the amount of damages a jury awarded to plaintiff for his intentional tort claims, and the sufficiency of the evidence to prove his fraudulent concealment and conspiracy to fraudulently conceal claims. The court held that the district court did not abuse its discretion by denying the Tobacco Companies' motion for a new trial or remittitur, because the compensatory damages award was not excessive under Florida law. The court also held that the district court correctly denied the Tobacco Companies' motion for judgment as a matter of law on the constitutionality of the punitive damages award, because the award was not constitutional excessive. Finally, the court held that the district court did not err by allowing plaintiff's fraud-based claims to go to the jury. View "Kerrivan v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the circuit court affirming the decision of the South Dakota Department of Labor dismissing Plaintiff's petition seeking workers' compensation benefits for lack of prosecution, holding that Plaintiff engaged in activity within a year before the motion to dismiss was filed. Plaintiff filed a petition with the Department seeking disability benefits and medical expenses arising from her workplace injury. Eventually, Employer/Insurer filed a motion to dismiss for lack of prosecution under ARSD 47:03:01:09, asserting that there had been no activity for at least one year and that Plaintiff had failed to show good cause for the delay. The Department granted the motion to dismiss. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the Department abused its discretion in dismissing the appeal because its decision was based upon its erroneous conclusion that Plaintiff's participation in a vocational rehabilitation program was not "activity" under ARSD 47:03:01:09. View "Laplante v. GGNSC Madison, S.D." on Justia Law

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Michael Richardson was injured while working, and attempted to recover personal injury damages outside of the worker’s compensation system. Hayden Homes subcontracted with Z&H Construction, LLC, Plumbing Unlimited, LLC, and Alignment Construction, LLC for various aspects of a new construction project. Richardson was employed by Alignment, and worked on Hayden’s construction project. He was injured when he fell through a crawl space cover at the construction site. He received a worker’s compensation award from the worker’s compensation insurer for his direct employer, Alignment. After Richardson received his worker’s compensation award, he sued Z&H, Hernandez Framing, LLC (a subcontractor of Z&H), and Plumbing Unlimited (collectively, “Respondent LLCs”), alleging negligence in the construction of the crawl space cover. The district court granted the Respondent LLCs’ motion for summary judgment, determining that the Respondent LLCs were Richardson’s statutory co-employees and immune from suit pursuant to Idaho Code section 72- 209(3). Finding no reversible error in that reasoning, the Idaho Supreme Court affirmed the district court’s order granting summary judgment. View "Richardson v. Z&H Construction, LLC" on Justia Law