by
The Fifth Circuit granted a pending joint motion for clarification and withdrew the prior panel opinion, substituting the following opinion. Plaintiff and his wife filed suit after a contract driver for RCX, a licensed motor carrier, crashed into plaintiff's truck and significantly injured him. A jury found RCX liable for the driver's negligence and awarded plaintiff damages and his wife loss of consortium damages. The court affirmed the district court's ruling with respect to all issues except the wife's award for past consortium damages in light of West Star Transportation, Inc. v. Robison, 457 S.W.3d 178, and remanded for the exact calculation of the wife's maximum recovery. Finally, RCX was entitled to a settlement credit under Texas law and the court remanded for the district court to calculate that amount. View "Puga v. About Tyme Transport, Inc." on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the circuit court granting summary judgment in favor of Defendant insurer in this breach of contract action, holding that Defendant did not have a duty to defend Plaintiff in a case brought against him by his neighbors. Plaintiff was insured under a farm liability policy issued by Defendant. Plaintiff sold a portion of his property, and the purchaser operated a hog confinement facility on that property. Plaintiff's neighbors sued Plaintiff and the owner of the hog facility, alleging nuisance, trespass, and negligence. Defendant refused to defend Plaintiff against the lawsuit. After successfully defending the suit Plaintiff filed this action against Defendant, alleging that Defendant had a duty to defend. The circuit court granted summary judgment for Defendant. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Defendant did not have a duty to defend where Defendant established that none of the claims against Plaintiff, if true, arguably fell within Defendant's policy coverage. View "Geidel v. De Smet Farm Mutual Insurance Co." on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the circuit court finding in favor of Plaintiff in this declaratory judgment action seeking underinsured motorist benefits under two insurance policies with Defendant, holding that the policy language was ambiguous and that underinsured motorist coverage applied. Plaintiff, special administrator of the Estate of Nehemiah Larimer, brought this action following Nehemiah's death in an accident. Defendant denied coverage pursuant to an "owned but not insured" exclusion in the underinsured motorist benefits endorsement. The circuit court, finding the language of the policy ambiguous, granted Plaintiff's motion for summary judgment. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the language of the underinsured motorist endorsement was ambiguous, and therefore, the interpretation most favorable to the insured must be adopted. View "Larimer v. American Family Mutual Insurance Co." on Justia Law

by
In June 2016, Mateen entered the Pulse Nightclub in Orlando and opened fire, killing 49 people and injuring another 53. Victims and family members of deceased victims brought sought damages, not from Mateen, nor from ISIS, the international terrorist organization that allegedly motivated Mateen through social media, but from social media giants Twitter, Facebook, and Google under the Anti-Terrorism Act. Plaintiffs alleged ISIS used those social media platforms to post propaganda and “virtually recruit” Americans to commit terrorist attacks. Mateen allegedly viewed ISIS-related material online, became “self-radicalized,” and carried out the shooting. Following the attack, ISIS claimed responsibility. The complaint alleged aiding and abetting international terrorism, 18 U.S.C. 2333; conspiracy in furtherance of terrorism; providing material support and resources to terrorists, 18 U.S.C. 2339A, 2339B(a)(1); negligent infliction of emotional distress; and wrongful death The Sixth Circuit affirmed the dismissal of the suit. Plaintiffs’ complaint includes no allegations that Twitter, Facebook, or Google had any direct connection to Mateen or his action. Plaintiffs did not suggest that those defendants provided “material support” to Mateen. Without these connections, Plaintiffs cannot state a viable claim under the Act. View "Crosby v. Twitter, Inc." on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court vacated the judgment of the superior court granting summary judgment in favor of Defendant, NAMCO, LLC, the company that sold the swimming pool in which a four-year-old child drowned to the child's grandmother, holding that there existed issues of material fact precluding summary judgment. Plaintiffs filed negligence claims alleging that Defendants negligently installed or allowed the safety ladder and pool to be installed without proper permitting and in violation of applicable ordinances, building codes and health regulations. NAMCO filed a motion for summary judgment, arguing that because NAMCO did not install the pool or ladder and because the entity that did the installation was not its agent, NAMCO had no duty to Plaintiffs regarding the installation of the pool. Further, NAMCO argued that Plaintiffs could not prove that its actions were the proximate cause of the child's death. The hearing justice granted summary judgment for NAMCO. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) a factual issue remained in dispute as to whether the installer acted as NAMCO's agent; and (2) the issue of whether NAMCO had a duty to vet the installers it recommended could not be resolved on summary judgment. View "Oliver v. Narragansett Bay Insurance Co." on Justia Law

by
Burch contracted mesothelioma following many years of installing asbestos-cement (A/C) pipe throughout California. Burch sued CertainTeed, an A/C pipe manufacturer, and won a verdict on claims for negligence, failure to warn, strict product liability, intentional concealment, and intentional misrepresentation. The court entered a judgment holding CertainTeed 100 percent liable for Burch’s economic damages and 62 percent liable for the noneconomic damages according to the jury’s fault apportionment. The court later granted judgment notwithstanding the verdict (JNOV) on the intentional misrepresentation claim and denied JNOV on the intentional concealment claim. The court of appeal affirmed the JNOV order and upheld the trial court’s refusal to give a special jury instruction on the duty of Burch’s employers to provide a safe workplace and refusal to compel Burch to execute an acknowledgment of partial satisfaction of the judgment. The court reversed the original judgment and remanded with directions to enter a new judgment for Burch, holding CertainTeed jointly and severally liable for all of Burch’s economic and noneconomic damages. The trial court erred in allocating noneconomic damages according to CertainTeed’s proportion of fault because Civil Code section 1431.21 (Proposition 51) does not eliminate an intentional tortfeasor’s joint and several liability for noneconomic damages. View "Burch v. CertainTeed Corp." on Justia Law

by
In this appeal concerning the statutory definition of "idiopathic causes" contained in the statute excluding benefits for certain accidents or injuries the Supreme Court held that the Workers Compensation Appeals Board improperly denied benefits to Terrill Graber, who was injured when he fell down a workplace stairway, holding that there was not substantial competent evidence to support the Board's finding that the accident or injury arose directly or indirectly from an idiopathic cause under the statutory exclusion. There was no evidence presented in this case showing why Graber fell down the workplace stairway. The Board construed the term "idiopathic causes" in Kan. Stat. Ann. 44-508(f)(3)(A)(iv) broadly to cover all unknown causes and denied compensation. The court of appeals reversed after defining the term more narrowly. The Supreme Court affirmed and remanded the case to the Board for reconsideration consistent with this opinion, holding that the term "idiopathic causes" in this context means medical conditions or medical events of unknown origin that are peculiar to the injured individual. View "Estate of Graber v. Dillon Companies" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the court of appeals in part and rendered judgment dismissing all of Plaintiffs' claims against the Tarrant Regional Water District, which constructed and maintained the dam from which Plaintiffs' daughter fell and drowned, holding that section 101.056 of the Tort Claims Act, known as the discretionary function exception, applied in this case, and therefore, governmental immunity barred Plaintiffs' claims. Plaintiffs' daughter was attempting to walk across a dam when she lost her footing and slipped into the river and drowned. Plaintiffs sued the District. The District filed a plea to the jurisdiction, arguing that Plaintiffs' claims were barred because of section 101.056, which creates an exception to the waivers of immunity otherwise provided by the Tort Claims Act. The trial court denied the District's plea to the jurisdiction. The court of appeals reversed in part but upheld the trial court's denial of the District's plea to the jurisdiction as to Plaintiffs' premise-defect claim based on the scoured or eroded riverbed and the resulting possibility of a "hydraulic boil." The Supreme Court reversed in part, holding that the District's failure to make the judgments Plaintiffs claim it should have made was the kind of "policy decision[] committed to the other branches of government" that section 101.056 shields from second-guessing. View "Tarrant Regional Water District v. Johnson" on Justia Law

by
The Eleventh Circuit held that substantial evidence supported the ALJ's decision that one of the mining company's former miners was entitled to benefits under the Black Lung Benefits Act. In regard to the Act's automatic entitlement provision in 30 U.S.C. 932(l), the court held that "at the time of his or her death" modifies the adjective "eligible," such that survivors' entitlement to benefits depends on whether the miner was eligible before his or her death, not whether, by that time, the pertinent decisionmaker had formally determined the miner to be so. In this case, two surviving spouses qualified for survivor benefits under 932(l)'s automatic-entitlement provision because their husbands were eligible for benefits under the Act at the times of their respective deaths and despite the fact that the men were only thereafter formally determined to be eligible. View "Oak Grove Resources, LLC v. Director, OWCP" on Justia Law

by
The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals certified a question of Washington law to the Washington Supreme Court concerning premises liability. Shannon Adamson, an employee of the Alaska Marine Highway System (AMHS), fell approximately 15 feet when the passenger ramp at the Port of Bellingham's (Port) Bellingham Cruise Terminal (BCT) collapsed. The accident caused severe, life-changing injuries. The State of Alaska leased the BCT from the Port, allowing ferries to dock at the BCT and load and unload passengers and their vehicles. The Port elected to not implement an interlock device; when Adamson was operating the passenger ramp, slack was created in some attached cables. When she removed the locking pins, the ramp collapsed, snapped the cables, and Adamson and the ramp fell approximately 15 feet until the ramp caught on the ferry. Adamson and her husband sued the Port in federal court, alleging negligence and seeking damages for medical expenses, loss of wages, pain and suffering and loss of consortium. The federal court determined Adamson was the Port's business invitee; the jury returned a verdict in favor of Adamson and awarded over $16 million in damages. The court found the Port under three separate theories of liability: duty to a business invitee, duty as a landlord, and a promise to perform repairs under the lease contract. The issue presented to the Washington Supreme Court centered on whether a property owner-landlord was liable for injuries that occur on its property when the lessee has exclusive possession at the time of the accident but only priority use under the lease and the landlord has contracted to maintain and repair the premises. The Supreme Court answered the first certified question in the affirmative and consequently, did not address the second question. View "Adamson v. Port of Bellingham" on Justia Law