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In this Indiana Product Liability Act (IPLA) design-defect case, the Supreme Court held that the the trial court erred in determining that a component-part manufacturer owed no duty, as a matter of law, to install safety features that the injury party alleged were necessary. PACCAR, Inc. was the manufacturer of a glider kit, a component part that becomes an operable semi-truck after a purchaser installs an engine, exhaust system, and transmission. The glider kit has a blind spot behind it, and PACCAR did not include certain safety features to mitigate the danger created by the blind spot unless a customer specifically requested them. A driver backed up a semi with an integrated PACCAR glider kit and stuck and killed a construction foreman. His widow brought a design-defect claim against PACCAR, claiming that the lack of the safety features rendered the glider kit defective. The trial court granted PACCAR's motion for summary judgment, concluding that PACCAR owed no duty to install the safety features because the duly fell solely on the final manufacturer of the completed semi. The Supreme Court reversed and remanded for further proceedings, holding that whether PACCAR owed the decedent a duty to includes the features was a question for the trier of fact. View "Brewer v. PACCAR, Inc." on Justia Law

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Daniel Donaldson appealed the grant of summary judgment in favor of Country Mutual Insurance Company ("Country Mutual"). The underlying action stemmed from a November 2015 accident in which Donaldson, while working in a construction zone on the west side of Bailey Cove Road in Madison County, Alabama, was struck by a sport-utility vehicle, owned and driven by Gregory Johnston. As a result of the collision, Donaldson suffered severe injuries to one of his legs that ultimately required the amputation of the leg. Donaldson sued Johnston and Country Mutual, asserting claims of negligence and wantonness against Johnston and asserting that Country Mutual was vicariously liable for Johnston's conduct under theories of agency and respondeat superior. At the time of the underlying accident, Johnston was working as an insurance agent under an "agent's agreement" with Country Mutual and a number of other companies that were collectively referred to in that agreement as "Country Insurance and Financial Services." Country Mutual filed a motion for a summary judgment, arguing that Johnston was not its agent or employee but, instead, was an independent contractor. Country Mutual further argued that, even assuming Johnston was its employee, his actions in relation to the accident were outside the line and scope of his alleged employment. The Alabama Supreme Court concluded Donaldson failed to submit substantial evidence of the existence of a genuine issue of material fact to support its claims against Country Mutual to defeat Country Mutual's summary judgment motion. Therefore, the Court affirmed the trial court. View "Donaldson v. Country Mutual Insurance Company" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the decision of the court of appeals affirming the judgment of the district court, holding that the noneconomic damages cap under Kan. Stat. Ann. 60-19a02 violated Plaintiff's right under section 5 of the Kansas Constitution Bill of Rights because it intrudes upon the jury's determination of the compensation owed her to redress her injury. In this auto-truck accident case, Plaintiff received a jury award of $335,000. The district court applied section 60-19a02 to reduce Plaintiff's jury award to a judgment of $283,490.86. The district court acknowledged that Plaintiff's case was distinguishable from Miller v. Johnson, 289 P.3d 1098 (Kan. 2012), in which a majority of the Court upheld the application of the noneconomic damages cap to a medical malpractice plaintiff's jury award, but ultimately ruled that section 60-19a02 was constitutional. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court reversed and remanded for entry of judgment in Plaintiff's favor on the jury's full award, holding that the cap on damages imposed by section 60-19a02 is facially unconstitutional because it violates section 5 of the Kansas Constitution Bill of Rights. View "Hilburn v. Enerpipe Ltd." on Justia Law

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In this wrongful death case arising from the deaths of two motorists whose vehicle struck an unbarricaded dirt mound completely blocking an unlit country road the Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the court of appeals dismissing the suit for want of jurisdiction, holding that Defendant, the City of Killeen, had actual notice as required by Tex. Civ. Prac. & Rem. Code 101.101(c) of the Tort Claims Act. The decedents' relatives brought this suit alleging that the dirt mount was a "special defect" on the City's premises. The relative conceded that formal notice under section 101.101(a) was lacking but argued that the City had actual notice under section 101.101(c). The trial court denied the City's plea to the jurisdiction. The court of appeals reversed and dismissed the case, holding that the evidence was legally insufficient to establish that the City had subjective awareness of its fault in producing or contributing to the decedents' injuries. The Supreme Court reversed and remanded the case, holding that the facts conclusively established that the City knew its investigators had concluded that the condition of a road under its putative jurisdiction contributed to the deaths of two motorists, and therefore, the City had actual notice of a claim within the meaning of section 101.101(c). View "Worsdale v. City of Killeen, Texas" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court answered questions certified to it by the United States District Court for the Northern District of Iowa, holding, among other things, that a municipality can assert qualified immunity to a claim for damages for violation of the Iowa Constitution based on its officers' exercise of "all due care." Specifically, the Supreme Court held (1) the due care exemption under Iowa Code 670.4(1)(c) could provide the City immunity; (2) section 670.4(1)(e) precludes an award of punitive damages against the municipality that employed the constitutional tortfeasor; (3) in a Godfrey v. State, 898 N.W.2d (Iowa 2017), action a court cannot award attorney fees against the municipal employer of the constitutional tortfeasor unless there is a statute expressly allowing such an award; and (4) it is appropriate to retroactively apply this Court's conclusion that in a Godfrey action, common law attorney fees may be available against the municipal employer of the constitutional tortfeasor. View "Baldwin v. City of Estherville, Iowa" on Justia Law

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This case involved an appeal brought by Aerocet, Inc., and its surety, the State Insurance Fund, in which they appealed an Idaho Industrial Commission decision involving two worker’s compensation claims brought by George McGivney. The Commission awarded McGivney benefits for injuries he sustained to his left knee while working for both Aerocet and Quest Aircraft (Quest). The Referee consolidated the two cases and issued a recommendation that attributed the vast majority of liability to Quest. The Commission rejected the bulk of the Referee’s recommendations and apportioned liability equally between Aerocet and Quest. Aerocet appealed, alleging the Commission inappropriately consolidated McGivney’s two injury claims. Aerocet also argued the Commission failed to determine McGivney’s disability in excess of impairment from his 2011 accident at Aerocet prior to his 2014 accident at Quest, and that the Commission erred in its application of Brown v. Home Depot, 272 P.3d 577 (2012). Aerocet also contended the Commission’s decision was not supported by substantial and competent evidence. After review, the Idaho Supreme Court affirmed the Commission’s decisions. The matter was remanded back to the Commission to enable it to calculate the amount due Quest’s surety from Aerocet’s surety for any amounts overpaid by Quest’s surety. View "McGivney v. Aerocet, Inc" on Justia Law

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Mar-Jac Poultry MS, LLC (Mar-Jac), appealed the denial of its motion for summary judgment on the Plaintiffs’ claims for negligence, negligence per se, and wrongful death under the theory of respondeat superior after a Mar-Jac employee’s vehicle collided with a school bus on the way to work, killing his two passengers, who were also Mar-Jac employees. Based on the evidence presented, the Mississippi Supreme Court found the trial court erred in denying Mar-Jac’s motion for summary judgment, because it was undisputed that the driver was not acting in the course and scope of his employment with Mar-Jac when the accident occurred. Thus, the Court reversed and entered judgment in favor of Mar-Jac. View "Mar-Jac Poultry MS, LLC v. Love" on Justia Law

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Cesar Beltran-Serrano, mentally ill and homeless, was shot multiple times by a Tacoma, Washington Police Officer, Michel Volk. Beltran-Serrano survived the shooting, and through a guardian ad liter, filed suit for negligence and assault and battery against the City of Tacoma. The superior court dismissed the negligence claims on summary judgment, agreeing with the City that Beltran-Serrano’s legal redress would have been as an intentional tort claim for assault and battery. The Washington Supreme Court reversed: “the fact that Officer Volk’s conduct may constitute assault and battery does not preclude a negligence claim premised on her alleged failure to use ordinary care to avoid unreasonably escalating the encounter to the use of deadly force.” The Court concluded Beltran-Serrano presented evidence to allow a jury to find that the City failed to follow accepted practices in Officer Volk’s interactions with him leading up to the shooting, and that his negligence resulted in his injuries. View "Beltran-Serrano v. City of Tacoma" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court vacated the decision of the court of appeals in this interlocutory appeal from the denial of a judicial statements privilege in litigation between two physicians, holding that the matter at issue was beyond the parameters of appellate interlocutory jurisdiction. Plaintiff alleged that Defendant engaged in a pattern of conduct intended to damage Plaintiff's reputation and lure her patients to Defendant's medical practice. Defendant filed a motion to dismiss asserting the protections of the judicial statements privilege for absolute immunity based on a previous medical malpractice action that both physicians were involved in. The trial court denied the motion to dismiss. The court of appeals concluded that Defendant was immune from some, but not all, of Plaintiff's claims. The Supreme Court vacated the court of appeals' decision, holding (1) the collateral order doctrine is a narrowly circumscribed exception to the final judgment rule; and (2) the judicial statements privilege is not a form of immunity, the denial of which allows for an interlocutory appeal under the collateral order doctrine. View "Maggard v. Kinney" on Justia Law

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In this wrongful death suit, the Supreme Court overruled Chambers v. Ideal Pure Milk Co., 245 S.W.2d 589 (Ky. 1952), insofar as it holds a police officer cannot be the proximate or legal cause of damage inflicted on a third party by a fleeing suspect and adopted the majority rule that will allow juries to determine whether a pursuing officer's actions were a substantial factor in causing injury to a third party and apportion fault accordingly. Luiz Gonzales was killed when a criminal suspect crashed into Gonzales' vehicle during a high-speed chase initiated by a Scott County deputy sheriff. Gonzales' estate filed a wrongful death suit against the deputy sheriff and the county sheriff. The circuit court granted summary judgment for Defendants based on Chambers and its per se no proximate cause rule. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court reversed and remanded, holding that, applying the new standard announced today, the factual allegations in this case were sufficient to create a disputed issue of material fact as to whether the deputy sheriff negligently conducted his pursuit of the criminal suspect. View "Gonzalez v. Johnson" on Justia Law