Justia Injury Law Opinion Summaries

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Petitioner AmGUARD Insurance Group (Carrier), insurer of Pelmac Industries, Inc. (Pelmac), appealed a New Hampshire Compensation Appeals Board (CAB) decision awarding workers’ compensation death benefits to the respondent, the decedent-employee’s estate. The Carrier argued that the decedent’s original June 5, 2018 injury was not a work-related injury, and, in the alternative, that his subsequent death by suicide did not result from the original injury. The Carrier also argued that the CAB violated its due process rights. Finding no reversible error, the New Hampshire Supreme Court affirmed. View "Appeal of Pelmac Industries, Inc." on Justia Law

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Petitioner Estate of Peter Dodier, appealed a New Hampshire Compensation Appeals Board (CAB) order denying the estate’s claim for workers’ compensation and death benefits following Peter Dodier’s death. The CAB denied the estate’s claim based on its determination that Dodier’s anxiety and depression were not a compensable injury. It therefore did not reach the issue of death benefits. Because the New Hampshire Supreme Court concluded that Dodier’s anxiety and depression were compensable, it reversed the CAB’s decision and remanded for its consideration of whether the estate was entitled to death benefits. View "Appeal of Estate of Peter Dodier" on Justia Law

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Doe and Damron twice traveled together to California. In Riverside, according to Doe, Damron forcibly groped her on a sidewalk, attempted to force her to perform oral sex on him in the street, and then raped, battered, and strangled her in their hotel room. The hotel staff called the police; she received medical assistance. Damron pled guilty to willfully inflicting corporal injury on his spouse. Doe alleges that, during another trip, Damron grabbed her, shoved her to the floor, strangled her, and bruised her neck, and also assaulted her numerous times in Georgia. Apart from the Riverside incident, Damron denies assaulting Doe. A Georgia court granted the couple a divorce.Doe sued Damron in California, alleging domestic violence, sexual battery, and gender violence based on acts that took place in California. Damron moved to quash service of process, challenging the court's personal jurisdiction over him. He had never lived, owned property, paid taxes, registered to vote, opened a bank account, or held a driver’s license in California. His only contacts arose from his two trips to California with Doe. He identified witnesses and documents located in Georgia. The court of appeal reversed the dismissal of the suit. Absent compelling circumstances that would make the suit unreasonable, a court may exercise jurisdiction over a non-resident who commits a tort while present in the state. View "Doe v. Damron" on Justia Law

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Doe claims that in 1988, while he (then 10 years old) was attending catechism classes at a Catholic Church, Father Higson sexually molested Doe. Doe did not tell his teacher what happened; the teacher did not ask why Doe was upset. In 1987 or 1988, the Archdiocese had purchased sexual abuse insurance and began developing policies and procedures for preventing clergy sexual abuse.Doe filed suit in 2017, alleging the Archdiocese had a duty to protect him when he was entrusted to its care, including a duty to “educate, train and warn” Doe and other minors involved in youth programs “regarding prevention, detection, and reporting of child abuse” and a duty to educate, train and warn parents and other employees. Doe alleged the Archdiocese knew of the “epidemic” of priests sexually abusing minors and had received multiple complaints that its priests had sexually abused minors beginning in the 1950s. The trial court entered summary judgment, finding no triable issue of material fact as to whether the Archdiocese had reason to know that Higson committed any sexual misconduct before the purported abuse of Doe.The court of appeal reversed, A church has a duty to protect children from sexual abuse by clergy while the children are attending religious school or participating in other church-sponsored programs. The Archdiocese had a special relationship with Doe, who presented considerable evidence the Archdiocese was aware in the late 1980s that numerous priests had been accused of sexually abusing minors in the Archdiocese and around the country. It was reasonably foreseeable that minors attending catechism classes in 1988 might be sexually molested by a priest, even though the Archdiocese did not have knowledge of prior sexual misconduct by Higson specifically. View "Doe v. Roman Catholic Archbishop of Los Angeles" on Justia Law

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The estates of New Jersey nursing home residents, who died from COVID-19, alleged that the nursing homes acted negligently in handling the COVID-19 pandemic. The nursing homes removed the case to federal court. The district court dismissed the cases for lack of subject-matter jurisdiction.The Third Circuit affirmed rejecting three arguments for federal jurisdiction: federal-officer removal, complete preemption of state law, and the presence of a substantial federal issue. The 2005 Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness Act (PREP Act), 42 U.S.C. 247d-6d, 247d6e, which protects certain individuals—such as pharmacies and drug manufacturers—from lawsuits during a public-health emergency, was invoked in March 2020 but does not apply because the nursing homes did not assist or help carry out the duties of a federal superior. The PREP Act creates an exclusive cause of action for willful misconduct but the estates allege only negligence, not willful misconduct; those claims do not fall within the scope of the exclusive federal cause of action and are not preempted. The PREP Act’s compensation fund is not an exclusive federal cause of action. The estates would properly plead their state-law negligence claims without mentioning the PREP Act, so the PREP Act is not “an essential element" of the state law claim. View "Estate of Joseph Maglioli v. Alliance HC Holdings, LLC" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs, employees of civilian and military contractors who used Combat Arms Version 2 earplugs, filed separate suits against 3M in Minnesota state court, asserting failure-to-warn claims under state law. After removal to federal court, the district court granted plaintiffs' motions to remand the cases to state court for lack of federal jurisdiction, concluding that 28 U.S.C. 1442(a)(1) was not a basis for removal.Reviewing de novo, the Eighth Circuit affirmed the remand orders in the Graves and Hall actions, whose members acquired commercial earplugs. The court concluded that 3M failed to establish it was "acting under" a federal officer or agency in developing and disseminating warnings and instructions for its commercial earplugs. However, the court affirmed in part and reversed in part the remand orders in the Copeland cases and remanded for further proceedings. The court concluded that 3M has a colorable federal contractor defense for claims made by Copeland plaintiffs who acquired earplugs through the military, and has satisfied the other elements required for section 1442(a)(1) removal as to these plaintiffs. Therefore, the district court's remand orders are reversed as to this group, whose members will need to be determined on remand. View "Graves v. 3M Company" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the trial court's grant of summary judgment for Defendant in this personal injury case, holding that the trial court did not err.Plaintiffs were shopping for a sink in Menard, Inc. when a box containing a sink came apart and the sink fell on one of the plaintiffs, causing him injuries. Plaintiffs sued Defendant for damages, alleging premises liability and a loss of consortium. The trial court granted summary judgment for Defendant. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) Plaintiffs did not meet their burden on their premises liability claim; and (2) Plaintiffs' res ipsa loquitur claim failed. View "Griffin v. Menard Inc." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the court of appeals denying a writ of mandamus compelling the Ohio Industrial Commission to vacate its orders rejecting a proposed settlement between Employee and Employer, holding that the court of appeals correctly denied the writ.Employee suffered a work-related injury, and his workers' compensation claim was allowed. Employee applied for an award of additional compensation due to Employer's alleged violation of specific safety requirements (VSSRs). Employer and Employee subsequently submitted a proposed settlement for approval by the Commission. A staff hearing officer rejected the settlement as neither fair nor equitable and then granted Employee's request for a VSSR award. Employer sought a writ of mandamus compelling the Commission to vacate its orders and approve the settlement, but the court of appeals denied the writ. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Employer's three propositions of law are rejected. View "State ex rel. Zarbana Industries, Inc. v. Industrial Commission" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed suit alleging that neoprene production from the Pontchartrain Works Facility (PWF) exposed residents of St. John the Baptist Parish, Louisiana, to unsafe levels of chloroprene. Plaintiff filed suit against Denka and DuPont—the current and former owners of the facility—as well as the DOH and DEQ in state court. After removal to federal court, the district court denied plaintiff's motion to remand, granted each defendants' motion to dismiss, and dismissed the amended petition for failure to state a claim.After determining that removal was proper under the Class Action Fairness Act (CAFA) and that the state agencies have consented to federal jurisdiction, the Fifth Circuit concluded that the equitable doctrine of contra non velentem tolls prescription of plaintiff's claims against DuPont and DOH. Consistent with Louisiana's contra non valentem analysis as to what plaintiff reasonably knew or should have known at the time, the court disagreed that, on the record before it, plaintiff had constructive knowledge sufficient to trigger the running of prescription over a year before she filed suit in June 2018. Therefore, the court reversed the district court's holding that plaintiff's claims were prescribed.The court concluded that plaintiff's custodial liability claims against DuPont fail for the same reason as her claims against Denka: a failure to state a plausible duty and corresponding breach. The court agreed with the district court's grant of Denka's motion to dismiss for failure to state a plausible claim of negligence and strict custodial liability arising from Denka's past and current neoprene manufacturing at the PWF. In this case, plaintiff fails to adequately allege a duty owed by Denka, and consequently whether Denka breached such a duty. Finally, the court affirmed the district court's dismissal of plaintiff's declaratory relief claims against DEQ. The court remanded for further proceedings. View "Butler v. Denka Performance Elastomer, LLC" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the decision of the Workers' Compensation Court of Appeals (WCCA) upholding a compensation judge's order requiring Employer to reimburse Employee for medical cannabis, holding that the WCCA erred.Employee was injured while working for Employer. After multiple rounds of medical intervention proved to be unsuccessful, Employee's doctor certified her for participation in the state's medical cannabis program. Employee sought reimbursement for the cost of the cannabis from Employer. Employer asserted in response that the federal prohibition in the federal Controlled Substances Act (CSA), 21 U.S.C. 801-971, on the possession of cannabis preempted the requirement under Minnesota law that an employer pay for an injured employee's medical treatment when that treatment is medical cannabis. The WCCA declined to address the preemption argument and upheld the compensation judge's order. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) the WCCA lacked subject matter jurisdiction to determine the preemption issue; and (2) the CSA preempted the compensation court's order mandating Employer to pay for Employee's medical cannabis. View "Musta v. Mendota Heights Dental Center & Hartford Insurance Group" on Justia Law