Justia Injury Law Opinion Summaries

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While in office, Courser, a former Republican member of the Michigan House of Representatives, had an affair with another representative, Gamrat. The defendants were legislative aides assigned to Courser and Gamrat. Worried that he and Gamrat eventually would be caught, Courser concocted a plan to get ahead of the story by sending out an anonymous email to his constituents accusing himself of having an affair with Gamrat, but including outlandish allegations intended to make the story too hard to believe. Courser unsuccessfully attempted to involve one of the defendants in the “controlled burn.” The defendants reported Courser’s affair and misuse of their time for political and personal tasks to higher-ups. In retaliation, Courser directed the House Business Office to them. After they were fired, the defendants unsuccessfully tried to expose the affair to Republican leaders, then went to the Detroit News. Courser resigned and pleaded no contest to willful neglect of duty by a public officer.Courser later sued, alleging that the defendants conspired together and with the Michigan House of Representatives to remove him from office. The Sixth Circuit affirmed the dismissal of all of Courser’s claims: 42 U.S.C. 1983 and 1985; violation of the Fair and Just Treatment Clause of the Michigan Constitution; computer fraud; libel, slander, and defamation; civil stalking; tortious interference with business relationships; negligence and negligent infliction of emotional distress; RICO and RICO conspiracy; intentional interference with or destruction of evidence/spoliation; and conspiracy. View "Courser v. Allard" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court held that *Cal. Civ. Code 1431.2, subdivision (a) does not authorize a reduction in the liability of intentional tortfeasors for noneconomic damages based on the extent to which the negligence of other actors contributed to the injuries in question.While attempting to subdue Barley, law enforcement officers, including Defendant, used their knees to pin Barley to the ground. Burley eventually lost consciousness and died ten days later. The jury found Defendant had committed battery by using unreasonable force against Burley and that twenty percent of the responsibility for Burley's death was attributable to Defendant's actions. The court entered a judgment against Defendant for the entire amount of the jury's award of noneconomic damages. The Court of Appeal reduced the judgment in accordance with the jury's allocation of responsibility to Defendant, expressly disagreeing with the holding in Thomas v. Duggins Construction Co., 139 Cal.App.4th 1005 (2006), that an intentional tortfeasor is not entitled to a reduction or apportionment of noneconomic damages under section 1431.2, subdivision (a). The Supreme Court reversed, holding that because section 1431.2, subdivision (a) incorporates principles of comparative fault, the statute does not entitle Defendant to reduce his liability based on the acts of Burley or the other defendants. View "B.B. v. County of Los Angeles" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the district court finding in favor of Defendant, an anesthesiologist, on Plaintiff's medical negligence claim, holding that the district court did not abuse its discretion when it denied further investigation into a juror's communication with the court bailiff and that the erroneous admission of testimony regarding Defendant's character for truthfulness was harmless.Plaintiff brought this lawsuit claiming that Defendant negligently performed a regional block procedure in preparation for surgery to repair Plaintiff's broken wrist. After a trial, the jury unanimously found Defendant was not negligent. On appeal, Plaintiff argued that the district court erred when it refused to reopen voir dire after a juror spoke with the bailiff and abused its discretion when it allowed a defense witness to testify to Defendant's character for truthfulness. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) Plaintiff's waived her challenge to the participation of the juror at issue, and even if she hadn't, the district court did not abuse its discretion in its treatment of the juror's communication with the bailiff; and (2) the district court abused its discretion in admitting testimony vouching for Defendant's honest character, but this error did not prejudice Plaintiff. View "Lubing v. Tomlinson" on Justia Law

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Defendants Silverado Senior Living Management, Inc., and Subtenant 350 W. Bay Street, LLC dba Silverado Senior Living – Newport Mesa appealed a trial court's denial of its petition to compel arbitration of the complaint filed by plaintiffs Diane Holley, both individually and as successor in interest to Elizabeth S. Holley, and James Holley. Plaintiffs filed suit against defendants, who operated a senior living facility, for elder abuse and neglect, negligence, and wrongful death, based on defendants’ alleged substandard treatment of Elizabeth. More than eight months after the complaint was filed, defendants moved to arbitrate based on an arbitration agreement Diane had signed upon Elizabeth’s admission. At the time, Diane and James were temporary conservators of Elizabeth’s person. The court denied the motion, finding that at the time Diane signed the document, there was insufficient evidence to demonstrate she had the authority to bind Elizabeth to the arbitration agreement. Defendants argued the court erred in this ruling as a matter of law, and that pursuant to the Probate Code, the agreement to arbitrate was a “health care decision” to which a conservator had the authority to bind a conservatee. Defendants relied on a case from the Third District Court of Appeal, Hutcheson v. Eskaton FountainWood Lodge, 17 Cal.App.5th 937 (2017). After review, the Court of Appeal concluded that Hutcheson and other cases on which defendants relied are distinguishable on the facts and relevant legal principles. "When the Holleys signed the arbitration agreement, they were temporary conservators of Elizabeth’s person, and therefore, they lacked the power to bind Elizabeth to an agreement giving up substantial rights without her consent or a prior adjudication of her lack of capacity. Further, as merely temporary conservators, the Holleys were constrained, as a general matter, from making long-term decisions without prior court approval." Accordingly, the trial court was correct that the arbitration agreement was unenforceable as to Elizabeth. Furthermore, because there was no substantial evidence that the Holleys intended to sign the arbitration agreement on their own behalf, it could not be enforced against their individual claims. The Courttherefore affirmed the trial court’s order denial to compel arbitration. View "Holley v. Silverado Senior Living Management" on Justia Law

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The Ninth Circuit affirmed in part and reversed in part the district court's dismissal of a third amended complaint (TAC) brought by plaintiffs, a putative class of former NFL players, alleging that the NFL negligently facilitated the hand-out of controlled substances to dull players' pain and to return them to the game in order to maximize profits. The NFL allegedly conducted studies and promulgated rules regarding how Clubs should handle distribution of the medications at issue, but failed to ensure compliance with them, with medical ethics, or with federal laws such as the Controlled Substances Act and the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act.The panel agreed with the district court that two of plaintiffs' theories of negligence, negligence per se and special relationship, were insufficiently pled. However, the panel held that plaintiff's voluntary undertaking theory survives dismissal, given sufficient allegations in the TAC of the NFL's failure to "use its authority to provide routine and important safety measures" regarding distribution of medications and returning athletes to play after injury. Furthermore, if proven, a voluntary undertaking theory could establish a duty owed by the NFL to protect player safety after injury, breach of that duty by incentivizing premature return to play, and liability for resulting damages. View "Dent v. National Football League" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs filed suit against TIAA, and the companies that managed TIAA's property, after their son died when a hair care product he was handling at work exploded and he was engulfed in the resulting fire. In this case, the employer did not know the product was dangerous and thus did not comply with legal requirements for storing and labeling hazardous materials, or with provisions in the lease of the premises where the fire occurred. The trial court granted defendants' motions for summary judgment.The Court of Appeal affirmed, agreeing with the trial court that there was no evidence defendants had actual or constructive knowledge the employer was storing and handling a hazardous material, and thus defendants owed no duty to the decedent. Therefore, the evidence shows no triable issue of material fact and defendants were entitled to summary judgment on the negligence per se, wrongful death, and survival causes of action. View "Oh v. Teachers Insurance & Annuity Ass'n of America" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the district court denying a civil stalking injunction sought by Kristi Ragsdale against George Fishler, holding that the district court erred.Ragsdale ran Eva Carlton Academy (ECA), a residential treatment program for young women, out of her home in a suburb. Fishler, Ragsdale's neighbor, expressed his objection to ECA's presence in the neighborhood by flipping off and swearing at Ragsdale and others entering or exiting ECA and by placing provocative signs in his yard. The district court denied Ragsdale's request for an injunction. The Supreme Court reversed on each issue raised by Ragsdale and vacated the district court's ruling on Fishler's fee request, holding that the district court erred by (1) concluding that Fishler's conduct was directed only at ECA; (2) failing to determine whether Fishler's conduct would cause a reasonable person in Ragsdale's circumstances to suffer fear or emotional distress; and (3) denying Ragsdale's injunction on the ground that the First Amendment protects Fishler's conduct. Because the Court's reversal of these issues may affect the basis for the district court's denial of Fishler's attorney-fees request, the Court vacated that decision and remanded for a new determination. View "Ragsdale v. Fishler" on Justia Law

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After plaintiff was injured after being thrown from his ATV when its right wheel came off, he filed suit against DTG, the manufacturer of the wheel, seeking redress for his injuries. The complaint alleged causes of action for product liability, negligence, breach of implied warranty, failure to warn, and post-sale failure to warn. The first three claims merge by operation of law under Minnesota's single product-liability theory. Plaintiff has abandoned his post-sale failure-to-warn claim by not including any argument on the issue in his brief.The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment in favor of DTG on the product-liability claim where plaintiff's expert specifically disclaims an opinion as to whether the subject wheel had a design defect that made it unreasonably dangerous. The court also affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment in favor of DTG on the failure-to-warn claim where the summary judgment record is completely devoid of evidence that an inadequate warning caused plaintiff's injuries. View "Markel v. Douglas Technologies Group, Inc." on Justia Law

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The City of Flint and city and state officials allegedly caused, sustained, and covered up the poisoning of the people of Flint. Plaintiffs filed a 2017 “Master Complaint,” containing the allegations and claims made by plaintiffs across the coordinated litigation; “short-form” complaints charted certain components of the Master Complaint, including named defendants, alleged injuries, and claims. In this case, the district court declined to dismiss all defendants other than former State Treasurer Andy Dillon.Earlier in 2020, the Sixth Circuit, in "Waid," decided that the same officials who are defendants in this case plausibly violated plaintiffs’ substantive due process right to bodily integrity and are not entitled to qualified immunity and rejected Flint’s and Michigan Governor Whitmer’s arguments that the Eleventh Amendment required their dismissal. Defendant Johnson argued that the allegations against him in this case differently than those levied against him in Waid. The court concluded that there is no reason to treat Johnson differently. The Sixth Circuit affirmed, rejecting an argument that higher-ups should be treated differently than officials making decisions on the ground. . View "In re Flint Water Cases" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the order of the district court dismissing Plaintiff's complaint on the ground that his state common-law tort claims for slander and emotional distress were preempted by the federal Civil Reform Act (the Act), holding that the district court prematurely dismissed the case without the factual record needed to determine preemption.While working at the Montana Veterans Administration Health Care System (Montana VA), Plaintiff had consensual sex with fellow employee Tori Marino. Marino reported that Plaintiff had sexually assaulted her and later recanted her allegation. Marino later told Plaintiff that two other employees of the Montana VA who served as a union president and union steward had told her to falsely accuse Plaintiff in order to avoid losing her job. Plaintiff filed a complaint against Marino, the two employees, and the union seeking damages for slander and emotional distress. The union defendants moved to dismiss the complaint, arguing that the Act preempted Dickson's state-law tort claims. The district court agreed, holding that the union defendants' conduct constituted a "prohibited personnel practice," and therefore, the Act preempted Plaintiff's claims. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the district court erred in concluding on the allegations of Plaintiff's complaint alone that his claims were preempted by the Act. View "Dickson v. Marino" on Justia Law