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Guzman was operating a soil compactor on a hillside with a 45-degree slope when the compactor hit a rock. The compactor rose in the air, causing Guzman to fall backward, and then fell on top of him. The workers’ compensation judge determined that Guzman sustained an injury to his back and psyche and that the psychiatric injury was caused by a “sudden and extraordinary employment condition,” Lab. Code, 3208.3(d). The workers’ compensation carrier for Guzman’s employer unsuccessfully sought reconsideration by the Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board, arguing that Guzman failed to meet his burden of proving that his psychiatric injury was caused by a “sudden and extraordinary employment condition.” The court of appeal annulled the Board’s order denying reconsideration. Guzman did not provide any evidence establishing that it is “uncommon, unusual, and totally unexpected” for a rock to be in soil, for a compactor to rise when striking a rock, or for an operator to become unbalanced and to fall when the compactor rises on a 45-degree hillside. He did not introduce any evidence regarding what regularly or routinely happens if a compactor hits a rock on a slope. Guzman admitted that he had previously worked on flat surfaces only. View "State Compensation Insurance Fund v. Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board" on Justia Law

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The City of Muscle Shoals ("the City") petitioned for a writ of mandamus directing the Colbert Circuit Court to vacate its denial of the City's motion for a summary judgment as to claims asserted against it by Reginald Harden stemming from injuries Harden sustained from falling through a grate at Gattman Park, a City-owned park. Because Harden failed to present substantial evidence in response to the City's properly supported motion for a summary judgment - evidence indicating that one of the two exceptions to municipal immunity detailed in 11-47-190 is implicated in this case- the Alabama Supreme Court felt compelled to conclude that the trial court erred in denying the City's motion. The City was thus entitled to immunity from Harden's action under 11-47-190, and the trial court’s order denying the City's motion for a summary judgment was vacated. View "Ex parte City of Muscle Shoals" on Justia Law

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In this personal-injury action, the DeKalb-Cherokee Counties Gas District ("DC Gas") appealed a circuit court order denying DC Gas's renewed motion for a judgment as a matter of law ("JML") or, in the alternative, for a new trial. Plaintiff Timothy Raughton, an employee of the City of Fort Payne, was working at the city landfill. One of his duties on that day was to tell users of the landfill where to dump their refuse. Neal Ridgeway, in his capacity as an employee of DC Gas, drove a dump truck to the landfill. The bed of the dump truck contained bricks and concrete blocks that had been collected from a site on which DC Gas planned to have constructed an office building. While Ridgeway dumped the contents of the truck at the landfill, Raughton stood next to the truck. In an effort to dump the remaining debris, while Ridgeway performed a maneuver, the side wall of the truck bed fell from the truck, striking and injuring Raughton. There was no evidence in this case indicating that the clutch-release maneuver violated any formal safety standards. Raughton sued DC Gas, alleging negligence and wantonness. The trial court entered a summary judgment in favor of DC Gas on Raughton's wantonness claim, but his negligence claim proceeded to trial. The jury rendered a verdict in favor of Raughton in the amount of $100,000. The trial court entered a judgment on that verdict and denied DC Gas's renewed motion for a JML. DC Gas appealed. After review of the circuit court record, the Alabama Supreme Court determined there was no evidence indicating that the side wall of the dump truck had become detached in the past or that DC Gas's agents knew that it might become detached. Moreover, no evidence was presented clearly showing how the side wall was attached to the truck or showing exactly why and how it had become detached. Thus, there was no evidence presented indicating that an inspection would have revealed that it might become detached and, therefore, that an inspection would have prevented the accident. Accordingly, the Court concluded that DC Gas could not be held liable based on its alleged negligence (failure to properly inspect the truck). Based on the foregoing, the Court reversed the trial court's judgment denying DC Gas's renewed motion for a JML, and rendered judgment in favor of DC Gas. View "DeKalb-Cherokee Counties Gas District v. Raughton" on Justia Law

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In this personal-injury action, the DeKalb-Cherokee Counties Gas District ("DC Gas") appealed a circuit court order denying DC Gas's renewed motion for a judgment as a matter of law ("JML") or, in the alternative, for a new trial. Plaintiff Timothy Raughton, an employee of the City of Fort Payne, was working at the city landfill. One of his duties on that day was to tell users of the landfill where to dump their refuse. Neal Ridgeway, in his capacity as an employee of DC Gas, drove a dump truck to the landfill. The bed of the dump truck contained bricks and concrete blocks that had been collected from a site on which DC Gas planned to have constructed an office building. While Ridgeway dumped the contents of the truck at the landfill, Raughton stood next to the truck. In an effort to dump the remaining debris, while Ridgeway performed a maneuver, the side wall of the truck bed fell from the truck, striking and injuring Raughton. There was no evidence in this case indicating that the clutch-release maneuver violated any formal safety standards. Raughton sued DC Gas, alleging negligence and wantonness. The trial court entered a summary judgment in favor of DC Gas on Raughton's wantonness claim, but his negligence claim proceeded to trial. The jury rendered a verdict in favor of Raughton in the amount of $100,000. The trial court entered a judgment on that verdict and denied DC Gas's renewed motion for a JML. DC Gas appealed. After review of the circuit court record, the Alabama Supreme Court determined there was no evidence indicating that the side wall of the dump truck had become detached in the past or that DC Gas's agents knew that it might become detached. Moreover, no evidence was presented clearly showing how the side wall was attached to the truck or showing exactly why and how it had become detached. Thus, there was no evidence presented indicating that an inspection would have revealed that it might become detached and, therefore, that an inspection would have prevented the accident. Accordingly, the Court concluded that DC Gas could not be held liable based on its alleged negligence (failure to properly inspect the truck). Based on the foregoing, the Court reversed the trial court's judgment denying DC Gas's renewed motion for a JML, and rendered judgment in favor of DC Gas. View "DeKalb-Cherokee Counties Gas District v. Raughton" on Justia Law

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Stephen Hrobowski, one of two named defendants in a civil action pending with the Lowndes Circuit Court, petitioned the Alabama Supreme Court for a writ of mandamus to direct the trial court to vacate its August 30, 2017, order denying Hrobowski's motion for a change of venue and to enter an order transferring this action to the Montgomery Circuit Court on the basis of the doctrine of forum non conveniens. The Alabama Supreme Court determined it was undisputed: that the accident that was the subject of the action occurred in Montgomery County; that the accident was investigated by law-enforcement personnel based in Montgomery County; and that both the plaintiff and the other named defendant resided there at all pertinent times. Even assuming, that there might be some question as to whether Hrobowski remained domiciled in Lowndes County, the fact that a defendant resides in a particular forum does not, for purposes of the interest-of-justice prong of 6-3-21.1, Ala. Code 1975, outweigh the forum where the tortious conduct occurred. The Supreme Court held the trial court exceeded its discretion in denying Hrobowski's motion for a change of venue based on the interest-of-justice prong of the forum non conveniens statute. Therefore, the Court granted Hrobowski's petition and issued a writ of mandamus directing the Lowndes Circuit Court to vacate its August 30, 2017, order denying Hrobowski's motion and to enter an order transferring the underlying action to Montgomery County. View "Ex parte Stephen Hrobowski." on Justia Law

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Stephen Hrobowski, one of two named defendants in a civil action pending with the Lowndes Circuit Court, petitioned the Alabama Supreme Court for a writ of mandamus to direct the trial court to vacate its August 30, 2017, order denying Hrobowski's motion for a change of venue and to enter an order transferring this action to the Montgomery Circuit Court on the basis of the doctrine of forum non conveniens. The Alabama Supreme Court determined it was undisputed: that the accident that was the subject of the action occurred in Montgomery County; that the accident was investigated by law-enforcement personnel based in Montgomery County; and that both the plaintiff and the other named defendant resided there at all pertinent times. Even assuming, that there might be some question as to whether Hrobowski remained domiciled in Lowndes County, the fact that a defendant resides in a particular forum does not, for purposes of the interest-of-justice prong of 6-3-21.1, Ala. Code 1975, outweigh the forum where the tortious conduct occurred. The Supreme Court held the trial court exceeded its discretion in denying Hrobowski's motion for a change of venue based on the interest-of-justice prong of the forum non conveniens statute. Therefore, the Court granted Hrobowski's petition and issued a writ of mandamus directing the Lowndes Circuit Court to vacate its August 30, 2017, order denying Hrobowski's motion and to enter an order transferring the underlying action to Montgomery County. View "Ex parte Stephen Hrobowski." on Justia Law

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The Pennsylvania Supreme Court granted allocatur to determine whether the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (“PennDOT”) was liable for injuries caused by negligently and dangerously designed guardrails erected on Commonwealth real estate. Specifically, the Court found the issue reduced to whether the Commonwealth owed a duty of care when PennDOT installed a guardrail alleged to be dangerous. Pursuant to the plain language of the Sovereign Immunity Act, 42 Pa.C.S. sections 8521-8528, the Court found the Pennsylvania General Assembly waived PennDOT’s immunity as a bar to damages caused by dangerous guardrails affixed to Commonwealth real estate. Dean v. Dep’t of Transp., 751 A.2d 1130 (Pa. 2000) did not control under the facts presented here. The Court reversed the decision of the Commonwealth Court and remanded for further proceedings. View "Cagey v. PennDOT" on Justia Law

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After sustaining serious internal injuries in a personal watercraft (PWC) accident, plaintiff filed suit against the manufacturers of the PWC (Yamaha). On appeal, plaintiff argued that the district court erred in requiring expert testimony on her claims and in failing to conduct an appropriate Daubert analysis before excluding her expert's testimony. The Fourth Circuit held that the district court did not abuse its discretion when it excluded the expert's inadequate warning opinion and the district court properly concluded that the PWC's warnings were adequate as a matter of law. In this case, plaintiff based her claims of strict liability, negligence, and breach of warranties on theories of warning and design defects. The Fourth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment for Yamaha on all claims because the record was devoid of admissible evidence on either theory of defect. View "Hickerson v. Yamaha Motor Corporation, U.S.A." on Justia Law

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Defendants Long Island Power Authority (LIPA), Long Island Lighting Company (LILCO), and National Grid Electric Services, LLC failed to demonstrate that the actions challenged by Plaintiffs in their amended complaints were governmental in the context of pre-answer, pre-discovery motions to dismiss, and therefore, the intermediate appellate court and Supreme Court properly denied Defendants’ motions to dismiss. In their complaints, Plaintiffs alleged that their property was destroyed by fire as a result of Defendants’ negligent failure to preemptively de-energize the Rockway Peninsula prior to or after Hurricane Sandy made landfall. Defendants moved to dismiss the amended complaints pursuant to N.Y. C.P.L.R. 3211(a)(7), contending that their actions were governmental and discretionary as a matter of law, and even if their actions were not discretionary, that Plaintiffs’ failure to allege a special duty was a fatal defect. The Court of Appeals affirmed the lower courts, holding that, given the procedural posture, Defendants failed to establish as a matter of law that they were acting in a governmental, rather than a proprietary, capacity when engaged in the conduct claimed to have caused Plaintiffs’ injuries. View "Connolly v. Long Island Power Authority" on Justia Law

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This case was the second arising from the near-fatal assault of Michael Kuligoski by Evan Rapoza, who had previously been diagnosed with schizophreniform disorder. Here, members of the Kuligoski family(plaintiffs) brought suit against Evan’s grandparents, claiming that they were liable for Evan’s assault of Mr. Kuligoski while Mr. Kuligoski was repairing the furnace at their rental property. Plaintiffs claimed, among other things, that the grandparents were vicariously liable for Evan’s father’s negligent hiring or supervision of Evan, who was there to help his father repaint an apartment. On appeal, plaintiffs sought to reverse the grant of summary judgment in favor of the grandparents. Plaintiffs argued the trial court erred by determining that grandparents could not be held vicariously liable for the attack because it was not reasonably foreseeable. In granting the grandparents' motion, the trial court concluded: (1) to the extent plaintiffs were alleging direct liability on the part of grandparents based on a claim of negligent supervision, that claim failed as a matter of law because it was undisputed that on the day of the assault grandparents were unaware of Evan’s mental-health issues; and (2) notwithstanding the ambiguity as to whether father was grandparents’ employee, grandparents owed no duty to Mr. Kuligoski because Evan’s parents did not undertake to render services by monitoring Evan’s treatment after his release from the Brattleboro Retreat and because, even assuming that father was grandparents’ employee, Evan’s assault against Mr. Kuligoski was not foreseeable. Given the Vermont Supreme Court's determination that, as a matter of law, no employer-employee relationship existed between grandparents and father that would subject grandparents to vicarious liability for any negligence on father’s part in bringing Evan to the workplace on the day he assaulted Mr. Kuligsoki, plaintiffs’ remaining claim in this lawsuit was unsustainable. The Court therefore affirmed, but on grounds different than those used by the trial court. View "Kuligoski v. Rapoza" on Justia Law