Justia Injury Law Opinion Summaries
Z.D. v. Community Health Network, Inc.
The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part the order of the trial court granting summary judgment in favor of Plaintiff on her claims against Defendant, a hospital who mailed a letter containing Plaintiff's private health matter to a third party who posted the letter to social media, holding that genuine issues of material fact remained.Plaintiff filed suit against a hospital alleging that it invaded her privacy by publicly disclosing her private information and negligently failed to maintain the confidentiality of her information. The trial court granted summary judgment for the hospital. The Supreme Court reversed in part, holding (1) Defendant was not entitled to summary judgment on Plaintiff's privacy claim because the hospital did not negate the public-disclosure tort's publicity element; (2) Defendant was entitled to partial summary judgment on Plaintiff's negligence claim; and (3) genuine issues of material fact remained as to whether Plaintiff's pecuniary damages were recoverable and whether Defendant was the proximate cause of those damages. View "Z.D. v. Community Health Network, Inc." on Justia Law
In re Edwards v. New Century Hospice
At issue before the Colorado Supreme Court in this matter was a trial court’s order denying immunity to Defendant New Century Hospice, Inc. and its subsidiaries, Defendants Legacy Hospice, LLC, d/b/a New Century Hospice of Denver, LLC, and Legacy Hospice of Colorado Springs, LLC (collectively, “New Century”). New Century argued it was entitled to immunity under four different statutes. Tana Edwards filed suit against New Century (her former employer) and Kathleen Johnson, the Director of Operations for New Century Castle Rock (collectively, “Defendants”). As part of her employment with New Century, Edwards provided in-home care to an elderly patient. In December 2019, Johnson began to suspect that Edwards was diverting pain medications from the patient. Defendants reported the suspected drug diversion to the Castle Rock Police Department and the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (“CDPHE”). Defendants also lodged a complaint against Edwards’s nursing license with the Colorado Board of Nursing (“the Board”). After investigations, no criminal charges were filed and no formal disciplinary actions were taken against Edwards. Edwards subsequently brought this action against Defendants, alleging claims for negligent supervision and negligent hiring against New Century, as well as claims for defamation and intentional infliction of emotional distress against New Century and Johnson. Defendants moved for summary judgment. The trial court granted the motion as to Edwards’s claims for negligent hiring, defamation, and intentional infliction of emotional distress, finding that the claims were either time-barred or could not be proven. Three of the statutes New Century cited for its immunity claim, 12-20-402(1), C.R.S. (2022) (“the Professions Act”), 12-255-123(2), C.R.S. (2022) (“the Nurse Practice Act”), and 18-6.5-108(3), C.R.S. (2022) (“the Mandatory Reporter statute”), only authorized immunity for a “person.” Relying on the plain meaning of “person,” the Supreme Court held that New Century was not entitled to immunity under these three statutes because it was a corporation, not a person. The fourth statute, 18-8-115, C.R.S. (2022) (“the Duty to Report statute”), explicitly entitled corporations to immunity, but only if certain conditions were met. Applying the plain language of the statute, the Supreme Court held that New Century was not entitled to summary judgment on the issue of immunity under this statute because it did not carry its burden of demonstrating that all such conditions were met. View "In re Edwards v. New Century Hospice" on Justia Law
Johnson v. Freborg
The Supreme Court reversed the decision of the court of appeals reversing the order of the district court granting summary judgment in favor of Defendant in this defamation case, holding that before Plaintiff may recover presumed damages, he must show that Defendant's speech was not only false but was made with actual malice.Plaintiff, a private figure, sued Defendant after a post on Defendant's social media page accused Defendant and others of sexual assault. The district court granted summary judgment for Defendant on the grounds that the speech involved a matter of public concern and was not made with actual malice. The court of appeals reversed, holding that the truth or falsity of Defendant's statement presented a genuine issue of material fact. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) the dominant theme of Defendant's post involved sexual assault in the context of the #MeToo movement, and therefore, her statement was entitled to heightened protection under the First Amendment; and (2) remand was required for a trial on the veracity of Defendant's speech and actual malice. View "Johnson v. Freborg" on Justia Law
JAMIEN JENSEN, ET AL V. EXC INCORPORATED, ET AL
This diversity suit involves personal injury and wrongful death claims arising from a collision between a sedan and a tour bus on a U.S. highway within the boundaries of the Navajo Nation reservation. Before trial, the district court held that Arizona law applies to the accident, and it therefore dismissed all claims based on Navajo law. At trial, the jury rejected all remaining claims asserted by the sedan’s surviving passengers and by the estate of the sedan’s driver, and the district court entered judgment in favor of the tour bus driver, the tour organizer, and other related corporations. The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court’s judgment in favor of Defendants to the extent that it dismissed all claims that had been asserted solely under Navajo law; reversed the district court’s judgment on the claims that were submitted for trial because the district court erroneously allowed the introduction of hearsay opinions of a non-testifying putative expert; and remanded for a new trial. The panel held that the district court abused its discretion in allowing, under the guise of impeachment evidence against Plaintiffs’ expert witnesses, Defendants’ counsel to elicit the opinions expressed in a police report prepared by the Arizona Department of Public Safety as to the cause of the accident. Next, the panel affirmed the district court’s conclusion that Arizona law applied and its resulting dismissal of all claims that were asserted only under Navajo law. View "JAMIEN JENSEN, ET AL V. EXC INCORPORATED, ET AL" on Justia Law
Saylor v. State
The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the district court dismissing Defendant's lawsuit under the State Tort Claims Act (STCA), Neb. Rev. Stat. 81-8,209 to 81-8,235, based on a finding that Defendant's action was barred by the doctrine of claim preclusion, holding that claim preclusion applied.Defendant, an inmate, filed two cases against the State under the STCA. The district court entered two judgments. One judgment dismissed the first action with prejudice as barred by the STCA's statute of limitations and the other dismissed the second action with prejudice because Defendant had failed to comply with the preset claim presentment provisions of the STCA. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the district court properly dismissed the second action as barred by claim preclusion because Defendant could have, and should have, brought all of his claims in the first action but failed to do so. View "Saylor v. State" on Justia Law
Ingram Barge v. Ratcliff
Appellant worked as a barge cleaner for T.T. Barge Services, which provides barge cleaning services to Ingram Barge Company. Appellant asserted negligence claims against Ingram after Appellant was injured by caustic soda that he was cleaning up on Ingram Barge 976, which was moored to one of T.T.’s work barges at the time of his injury. After Ingram filed a district court complaint to limit liability, Appellant counterclaimed and asserted claims of negligence against Ingram. T.T. also filed a claim for contribution and indemnity against Ingram. The district court granted summary judgment (1) as to Appellant’s lack of seaman status under the Jones Act and (2) as to all of Appellant’s negligence claims against Ingram. The district court then dismissed the case with prejudice. Appellant challenged the district court’s orders. The Fifth Circuit affirmed. The court explained that T.T.’s Cleaning Barge is semi-permanently and indefinitely attached to land by steel cables, except for rare moves during repairs or to accommodate nearby dredging operations. Therefore, the district court did not err in finding that T.T.’s Cleaning Barge lacked vessel status at summary judgment. Further, the court explained that to qualify as a Jones Act seaman, a plaintiff must satisfy two requirements. First, an employee’s duties must ‘contribute to the function of the vessel or to the accomplishment of its mission. Second, that employee must have a connection to a vessel in navigation that is substantial in terms of both its duration and its nature. Here, Ratcliff lacks a substantial connection to Ingram’s barges. View "Ingram Barge v. Ratcliff" on Justia Law
El Jen Medical Hospital, Inc. v. Tyler
The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the district court compelling an estate's claims to arbitration pursuant to an arbitration agreement signed during the decedent's admission to El Jen Convalescent Hospital and Retirement Center (El Jen), holding that a nonsignatory heir's wrongful death claim is not bound to an agreement like the arbitration agreement in his case that does not implicate the viability of the underlying personal injury claim.Following the death of her husband, Gary Tyler, Stacy Tyler brought this action against El Jen, asserting negligence, wrongful death, and survivorship claims individually and on behalf of Gary's estate and their minor child, and was joined by two adult statutory heirs. The district court (1) compelled the estate's claims to arbitration pursuant to the arbitration signed during Gary's admission to El Jen; and (2) concluded that the statutory heirs were not bound by the agreement because they did not sign it. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the district court (1) properly rejected Plaintiffs' challenge to the arbitration agreement's validity; and (2) did not err in holding that the heirs were not bound by the agreement because they were nonsignatories who were pursuing their own individual claims. View "El Jen Medical Hospital, Inc. v. Tyler" on Justia Law
United States ex rel. Kenneth Kraemer v. United Dairies, L.L.P.
Kenneth Kraemer and Kraemer Farms, LLC (collectively, “Plaintiffs”) commenced this qui tam action under the False Claims Act (“FCA”), against United Dairies, other dairy farms, and their partners and agents (“Defendants”) alleging that they knowingly filed false crop insurance claims. Plaintiffs’ FCA Complaint alleged that Defendants (1) fraudulently obtained crop insurance payments by falsely reporting a silage-use-only variety of corn as grain and using that false statement to obtain the payments, and (2) were unjustly enriched by receiving the payments. The district court held that Defendants submitted materially false claims but denied Plaintiffs FCA relief because they failed to prove that Defendants knowingly defrauded the United States. However, the court found that certain Defendants had been unjustly enriched and awarded damages to the United States. The United States then filed a post-trial motion urging the district court to vacate or amend its judgment because Plaintiffs do not have standing to seek common law unjust enrichment relief on behalf of the United States. The district court granted the motion and vacated its judgment for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. The Eighth Circuit affirmed. The court explained that the dismissal of Plaintiffs’ FCA claims must be affirmed even if Plaintiffs are correct that the district court erred in ruling that any violations were not knowing. The court wrote that because it concludes that Defendants in submitting Acreage Reporting Forms supporting their crop insurance applications did not submit materially false claims for crop insurance payments, Plaintiffs contention -the district court applied the wrong legal standard in denying FCA relief on other grounds is of no moment. View "United States ex rel. Kenneth Kraemer v. United Dairies, L.L.P." on Justia Law
Jimenez v. Mrs. Gooch’s Natural Food Markets, Inc.
Decedent was hit by a pickup truck in a crosswalk at a major intersection. After the accident, the decedent, who was on a 15-minute work break, walked back to the Whole Foods Market (the store) where he worked. There, store employees gave him an ice pack, a form to fill out relating to his injury, and a ride home. He died several hours later. The decedent is survived by his wife and three children (Plaintiffs), who filed this wrongful death action against several parties, including Mrs. Gooch’s Natural Food Markets, Inc. (Mrs. Gooch’s), the parent company of the store and the decedent’s employer. Mrs. Gooch’s demurred to the operative first amended complaint because an administrative law judge and the Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board had found the decedent’s injury and death to be employment-related and, therefore within the scope of workers’ compensation. The trial court sustained the demurrer. The Second Appellate District affirmed. Plaintiffs first argued that Mrs. Gooch’s, through its employees, acted in a dual capacity following the accident. The court explained that Plaintiffs cite no case holding that a negligent undertaking theory is viable in the circumstances of the case. Plaintiffs also argued that the fraudulent concealment exception to the exclusive remedy rule applies. The court explained that the complaint does not allege that the decedent was unaware of his injury. Moreover, according to the operative complaint, Mrs. Gooch’s was unaware of the decedent’s injury until he advised his supervisors that he had been in an accident. View "Jimenez v. Mrs. Gooch's Natural Food Markets, Inc." on Justia Law
Murrow v. Penney
Defendant-appellee Malcolm Penney left a wedding which was held at The Springs Event Venue and proceeded to drive the wrong way down a highway. He crashed head-on into a vehicle driven by Marissa Murrow, killing her. Murrows' parents sued The Springs. They did not allege that The Springs over-served Penney. Rather, they alleged The Springs had a duty to prevent Penney from leaving, and to enforce their policies which prohibited outside alcohol from being brought onto the premises. The trial court determined that the event venue had no duty to prevent harm to third-parties such as the deceased, and it granted summary judgment to The Springs. The Oklahoma Supreme Court held that Oklahoma law did not recognize a duty on the part of a private event venue extending to third parties killed by a voluntarily intoxicated adult who attended, but was not "over-served" by the event venue. The trial court therefore did not err in denying the parents' Motion to Vacate/Modify. View "Murrow v. Penney" on Justia Law