Justia Injury Law Opinion Summaries

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Dylan Devore appealed summary judgments dismissing his negligence and gross negligence claims against defendants American Eagle Energy Corporation, Integrated Petroleum Technologies, Inc. (“IPT”), and Brian Barony. Devore was a crew supervisor for Fort Berthold Services (“FBS”), which provided water transfer services for hydraulic fracturing operations at oil wells. In February 2014, American Eagle Energy Corporation began hydraulic fracturing operations on an oil well in Divide County, North Dakota and contracted with FBS to provide water. American Eagle also contracted with IPT, a consulting company. Though IPT coordinated American Eagle’s independent contractors, American Eagle authorized any contractor to stop work at any time if a work condition was unsafe. IPT had no contractual relationship with FBS. FBS took direction from IPT, but FBS controlled its own day-to-day activities, including how it performed its work. On the morning of March 2, 2014, ice had formed in a hose between a pond near the well site and a tank. While the hose was still pressurized from the compressed air, at least one FBS crew member struck it with a sledgehammer in an attempt to dislodge the ice obstruction. The sledgehammer blows caused the hose to break apart and uncontrollably jump and whip around. The flailing hose struck and injured Devore. After review, the North Dakota Supreme Court concluded the facts, viewed in a light most favorable to Devore, did not support a conclusion that American Eagle, IPT, or Barony owed Devore a duty of care or proximately caused his injuries. Therefore the Court affirmed the summary judgments. View "Devore v. American Eagle Energy Corporation, et al." on Justia Law

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Workforce Safety and Insurance (WSI) appealed a district court judgment reversing an Administrative Law Judge's (ALJ) confirmation of a prior order of WSI. In 2014, Ellis began receiving partial disability benefits. In 2016, Ellis underwent a functional capacity assessment and further review by WSI. WSI determined Ellis continued to be eligible to receive partial disability benefits, but at a reduced amount. WSI ordered his partial disability benefits be reduced by the greater of his actual wages or his retained earning capacity as had been determined by WSI. Ellis appealed the WSI order, triggering review by the ALJ. WSI contended the district court lacked subject matter jurisdiction over Ellis’ appeal of the ALJ’s decision because his appeal to the district court was untimely. The North Dakota Supreme Court found the district court lacked subject matter jurisdiction because Ellis failed to timely file his appeal of the ALJ's decision. The Court therefore ordered the district court judgment vacated, and reinstated the decision of the ALJ. View "Ellis v. WSI" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the circuit court dismissing Appellant's wrongful death complaint as barred by the applicable statute of limitations, holding that the circuit court did not abuse its discretion when it dismissed the complaint as being untimely filed. Appellant, as personal representative of the estate of David Henson, filed a pro se wrongful death complaint against the Benton County Jail, the Benton County Sheriff's Office and Kelly Cradduck, individually and in his official capacity. Appellant later abandoned certain claims and defendants. The circuit court found that Appellant's claims were time-barred by the applicable statutes of limitations and granted all motions to dismiss. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the complaint was properly dismissed as time-barred. View "Henson v. Cradduck" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Judicial Court vacated the judgment of the superior court dismissing Plaintiff's putative class action suit alleging that the City of Gardner and its private water supply contractors were negligent and grossly negligent and created a nuisance in knowingly supplying corrosive water to the City's residents, holding that the superior court judge erred in dismissing the complaint for lack of timely presentment. In allowing the City's motion to dismiss the judge concluded that Plaintiff failed to make timely presentment as required by the Tort Claims Act, Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 258, 4. The Supreme Judicial Court vacated the dismissal, holding (1) the Act covers all claims brought against a city, even claims arising from the city's sale of water to its residents; and (2) the trial judge erred in dismissing Plaintiff's complaint for lack of timely presentment. View "Magliacane v. City of Gardner" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff and her spouse filed suit alleging that the Shower to Shower cosmetic powder and Johnson's Baby Powder plaintiff used for two decades were contaminated with asbestos and a substantial factor in causing her mesothelioma. The Court of Appeal affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment in favor of JJCI, holding that JJCI's expert's declaration -- that JJCI's talcum powder and the talc from its source mines did not contain asbestos -- shifted the burden to plaintiff to produce evidence of threshold exposure to asbestos from JJCI's products. The court also held that plaintiff failed to demonstrate the existence of a triable issue of fact as to the presence of asbestos in the JJCI talc products plaintiff used. In this case, plaintiff failed to present expert testimony to counter JJCI's expert's opinion, and failed to offer verified admissions or interrogatory answers by JJCI. View "Gibbons v. Johnson & Johnson Consumer Inc." on Justia Law

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Douglas Roger, an orthopedic surgeon, sued respondents Riverside County (the County) and its sheriff’s department after they falsely reported he had been charged with a felony. In an earlier civil action, the Riverside Superior Court held Roger in civil contempt for refusing to produce his patients’ medical records in discovery, and remanded him to jail, where he spent 52 days in custody. When the sheriff’s department booked him into custody, they incorrectly entered his civil violation in their electronic database as a felony charge, and then reported that inaccurate charge to the California Department of Justice (DOJ), creating a false criminal record for Roger. Among other things, he alleged he lost a lucrative hospital contract he had maintained for the previous 12 years as a result of the respondents’ error. The trial court sustained respondents’ demurrer to Roger's 42 U.S.C. 1983 claim and later disposed of the remaining causes of action at the summary judgment stage. The court concluded Roger had failed to state a section 1983 claim as a matter of law because he had not alleged facts “establishing the nature of [respondents’] training program” and therefore failed to allege the training was so obviously inadequate as to amount to deliberate indifference to inmates’ civil rights. The court dismissed the defamation claims because the undisputed evidence showed Roger had failed to comply with the claim presentation requirements in the Government Claims Act by filing a late claim for damages with the County. The court concluded the writ claim failed because the undisputed evidence showed respondents had fixed the error in Roger’s record during the litigation, and therefore their recordkeeping errors amounted to a past wrong, not a present controversy. Finally, the court concluded there was no legal basis for declaratory relief because respondents were under no ministerial duty to act— that is, to maintain correct records. On appeal, Roger challenged the court’s dismissal of each of his claims. After review, the Court of Appeals determined there was merit to all of Roger's claims and reversed judgment. View "Roger v. County of Riverside" on Justia Law

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Farid Hedayatzadeh (Hedayatzadeh) appealed following the trial court's summary judgment in favor of the City of Del Mar (the City) in his lawsuit arising out of the death of his 19-year-old son, who was struck by a train on an oceanfront bluff in Del Mar on property owned by North County Transit District (NCTD). Specifically, Hedayatzadeh argued the trial court erred in granting summary judgment on his single cause of action alleging a dangerous condition of public property based primarily on the City's failure to erect any barriers to prevent pedestrians from accessing NCTD's train tracks. On the night at issue, Javad Hedayatzadeh and his friends walked around the guardrail at the end of 13th Street, down an unimproved dirt embankment, and crossed the train tracks. The group then walked northbound on the west side of the tracks to a spot where they sat and smoked marijuana. They knew they were trespassing on NCTD property. At various points along the railroad right-of-way, NCTD has installed signs stating "No Trespassing," "Danger" and "Railroad Property." Javad noticed a freight train coming from the south and told his friends that he was going to use his phone to take a video "selfie" of himself next to the train. As Javad was near the train tracks taking the selfie, he was struck by the train and killed. After filing an unsuccessful claim under the Government Claims Act, Javad's father, Hedayatzadeh, filed this lawsuit against the City, NCTD, and BNSF Railway Company, which allegedly operated the freight train. The Court of Appeal concluded that, as a matter of law, the City's property at the end of 13th Street did not constitute a dangerous condition of public property even though the City did not take action to prevent pedestrians from accessing the train tracks on NCTD's adjacent right-of-way by walking around the guardrail at the end of the street. View "Hedayatzadeh v. City of Del Mar" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reinstated the district court's award granting Plaintiff substitution benefits after a court of appeals panel held that married persons cannot be a provider or recipient of substitution services to each other, holding that Plaintiff was entitled to substitution benefits for the amount he promised to pay his wife for what she did resulting from Plaintiff's automobile accident. Insurer insured Plaintiff when he was injured in an automobile accident. When Plaintiff returned from the rehabilitation hospital, he and his wife agreed she would provide caregiver services for $25 a day. Plaintiff sought payment for personal injury protection (PIP) substitution benefits available to him under his policy, but Insurer refused. Litigation ensued, and the district court granted judgment for Plaintiff. The court of appeals reversed, concluding that an injured person's spouse is excluded from providing substitution services. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) Kan. Stat. Ann. 40-3103(w) does not expressly preclude Plaintiff's wife from providing substitution services simply because of her marital relationship with Plaintiff; (2) Plaintiff incurred an obligation to pay his wife by entering into a contract with her to perform specific services for him that she would not otherwise have performed while Plaintiff convalesced; and (3) Plaintiff was entitled to PIP substitution benefits. View "Williams v. Geico General Insurance Co." on Justia Law

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Young, diagnosed with emphysema in 2002, had worked in coal mines for 19 years, retiring from Island Creek Coal in 1999. During and after work, Young would often cough up coal dust. For 35 years, Young smoked at least a pack of cigarettes a day. Young sought benefits under the Black Lung Benefits Act, 30 U.S.C. 902(b). Because Young had worked for at least 15 years as a coal miner and was totally disabled by his lung impairment, he enjoyed a statutory presumption that his disability was due to pneumoconiosis. If Young was entitled to benefits, Island Creek, Young’s last coal-mine employer, would be liable. After reviewing medical reports, the ALJ awarded benefits. The Benefits Review Board affirmed, noting that if there was any error in the ALJ’s recitation of the standard, that error was harmless. The Sixth Circuit denied a petition for review, first rejecting an Appointments Clause challenge as waived. The ALJ did not err by applying an “in part” standard in determining whether Island Creek rebutted the presumption that Young has legal pneumoconiosis. To rebut the “in part” standard, an employer must show that coal-mine exposure had no more than a de minimis impact on a miner’s lung impairment. The ALJ reasonably weighed the medical opinions and provided thorough explanations for his credibility determinations. View "Island Creek Coal Co. v. Young" on Justia Law

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In this case involving the report of a neutral investigator - an employee of a law firm and the law firm - retained to provide a report to a governmental entity in a personnel matter, the Supreme Judicial Court held that that the employee and the law firm were protected by the employee immunity provision of the Maine Tort Claims Act (MTCA), Me. Rev. Stat. 14, 8108-8188. Appellee filed a claim alleging that Appellants, a law firm and its nonattorney employee, were negligent and preparing and presenting an investigative report regarding Appellee's conduct while serving as the coordinator of the University of Southern Maine's Multi-Cultural Student Affairs. The district court denied Appellants' special motion to dismiss pursuant to the anti-SLAPP law and denied Appellants' motion asserting immunity pursuant to the MTCA. The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the order on the special motion to dismiss and vacated the motion to dismiss on MTCA grounds, holding (1) the trial court correctly determined that the investigative report at issue in this appeal did not constitute petitioning activity within the meaning of the anti-SLAPP statute; and (2) because Appellants were performing a governmental function on behalf of a governmental entity, the trial court erred in denying the motion to dismiss based on MTCA immunity. View "Hamilton v. Woodsum" on Justia Law