Justia Injury Law Opinion Summaries
Hamer v. LivaNova Deutschland GMBH
Hamer underwent open-heart surgery using LivaNova’s 3T Heater-Cooler System. He developed an infection in the incision, which his physicians suspected stemmed from a non-tuberculosis mycobacterium (NTM). The hospital had experienced an outbreak of NTM infections in other patients who had undergone surgery using the 3T System. Hamer’s treatment team never isolated NTM from any of the swabs or cultures. Hamer, alleging that his treatment caused him lasting injuries, filed suit under the Louisiana Products Liability Act (LPLA) for failure to warn and inadequate design.Hamer’s case was transferred to Multidistrict Litigation case 2816, along with other cases alleging damages from the NTM infection caused by the 3T System. Case Management Order 15 (CMO 15) required plaintiffs to show “proof of NTM infection” through “positive bacterial culture results.” Hamer did not comply but opposed dismissal, claiming he had stated a prima facie claim under Louisiana law and sought remand.The Third Circuit reversed the dismissal. The court could have dismissed Hamer’s claims without prejudice, could have suggested remand, or could have dismissed Hamer’s claims with prejudice, if it found that Hamer had not stated a prima facie case under Louisiana law. .Under the LPLA, Hamer’s facts might state a prima facie case for defective design. Hamer’s allegations may diverge from those of other cases in MDL 2816 in which an NTM infection was verified but stating alternative theories of liability cannot justify foreclosing his claims. View "Hamer v. LivaNova Deutschland GMBH" on Justia Law
Ex parte Dalton Teal.
Dalton Teal, a defendant in a pending personal-injury action, petitioned the Alabama Supreme Court for a writ of mandamus to direct the Jefferson Circuit Court to vacate its partial summary judgment in favor of plaintiff Paul Thomas, pursuant to which it struck Teal's affirmative defenses of self-defense and statutory immunity. Thomas, accompanied by a friend, Brian Pallante, were at a Birmingham bar when an altercation between Pallante and Teal arose on the premises. Bar staff separated the two; Pallante and Thomas left through the front door, and Teal left through the back. Following his exit, Teal waited on a nearby bench for friends who had accompanied him. Within minutes of their exit from the bar, Pallante and Thomas again encountered Teal, and Pallante allegedly initiated another confrontation. Thomas confirmed that Teal was on his back on the ground with Pallante above him, and that Pallante was obviously "getting the better of" Teal in the struggle. Teal testified that, after having been choked for approximately 15 to 20 seconds, he realized that he was not going to be able to get up and became "afraid that they were going to kill [him]." At that point, Teal drew a pistol and fired a single shot in an effort "to get them off of [him]." Teal, who indicated that his ability to aim his weapon was affected by the fact that Pallante had "[Teal's] arm pinned down," missed Pallante, at whom Teal was apparently aiming, but the shot struck Thomas in the abdomen, seriously injuring him. The Jefferson County District Attorney declined to bring criminal charges against Teal based on the conclusion that Pallante's actions had "led to the shooting that injured [Thomas]." Thomas filed a personal-injury action against Teal and other defendants. The Alabama Supreme Court determined Teal presented substantial evidence demonstrating the existence of genuine issues of material fact regarding whether he was entitled to assert the affirmative defense of self-defense to Thomas's tort claims and whether he was entitled to statutory immunity. Therefore, the trial court erred in entering a partial summary judgment striking Teal's affirmative defenses premised on a theory of self-defense. Teal's petition was granted and a writ of mandamus issued to direct the trial court to vacate its order. View "Ex parte Dalton Teal." on Justia Law
State ex rel. U.S. Tubular Products, Inc. v. Industrial Commission of Ohio
The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the court of appeals denying U.S. Tubular Products, Inc.'s complaint in mandamus ordering the Industrial Commission to vacate its decision requesting John Roush's request for an award of additional compensation, holding that the Commission's decision was supported by evidence in the record.Under Ohio Const. art. II, 35, a worker who sustains injuries as a result of her employer's violation of a specific safety requirement (VSSR) may seek an award of additional compensation. Roush sustained injuries while working at U.S. Tubular, and his workers' compensation claim was allowed for numerous conditions. Roush later filed an application for a VSSR award, claiming that U.S. Tubular had violated specific safety requirements set forth in the Ohio Administrative Code. The Commission granted a VSSR award of an additional twenty-five percent in compensation. U.S. Tubular filed a mandamus complaint seeking a writ compelling the Commission to vacate the VSSR award. The court of appeals denied the writ. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the Commission's determinations were supported by evidence in the record. View "State ex rel. U.S. Tubular Products, Inc. v. Industrial Commission of Ohio" on Justia Law
Bryant-Shannon v. Hampton Roads Community Action Program, Inc.
The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the circuit court dismissing with prejudice an amended complaint filed by Lisha Bryant-Shannon (Shannon) against the Hampton Roads Community Action Program, Inc. (HRCAP) alleging its liability for defamatory statements made by Tina Vick, the HRCAP interim executive director, holding that the circuit court properly granted HRCAP's special plea of absolute privilege.After Shannon was terminated from her position she applied for unemployment benefits, but the Virginia Employment Commission (VEC) denied the application following a hearing. Shannon subsequently filed this action stating claims for defamation based in part on allegedly defamatory statements made during employment-related disciplinary proceedings and in part on Vick's allegations during the VEC proceedings. The circuit court dismissed the complaint with prejudice. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the statements in the disciplinary form (1) Va. Code 60.2-623(B) grants absolute privilege to statements made during VEC proceedings; and (2) the circuit court did not err in granting HRCAP's special plea of absolute privilege. View "Bryant-Shannon v. Hampton Roads Community Action Program, Inc." on Justia Law
Branscomb v. Wal-Mart Stores East, L.P.
The Supreme Court answered in the negative a certified question as to whether a store manager can be held liable for negligence when he is not directly involved in the accident at issue.In the underlying personal injury case Plaintiff sued Wal-Mart and Wal-Mart's store manager, Jim Clark, seeking damages. Plaintiff sued in state court, but Defendants sought to remove the case to federal court and the grounds that Clark, an Indiana citizen, was added solely to defeat federal diversity jurisdiction. Plaintiffs sought to remand the matter back to state court, alleging that there were issues of fact precluding a conclusion that Clark, who played on personal or direct role in the alleged injury, was fraudulently joined. The United States District Court sua sponte entered an order seeking guidance in resolving the issue of whether Clark could be liable as a defendant. The Supreme Court answered by holding that when there are no allegations that a store manager controlled the premises where the harm occurred, he cannot be held liable under Indiana law. View "Branscomb v. Wal-Mart Stores East, L.P." on Justia Law
Weiss v. National Westminster Bank PLC
The Second Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal of the operative amended complaints in two actions seeking to hold defendant bank liable under the Antiterrorism Act of 1990 (ATA), for providing banking services to a charitable organization with alleged ties to Hamas, a designated Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO) alleged to have committed a series of terrorist attacks in Israel in 2001-2004. The actions also seek to deny leave to amend the complaints to allege aiding-and-abetting claims under the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act (JASTA).The court concluded that 18 U.S.C. 2333(a) principles announced in Linde v. Arab Bank, PLC, 882 F.3d 314 (2d Cir. 2018), were properly applied here. The court explained that, in order to establish NatWest's liability under the ATA as a principal, plaintiffs were required to present evidence sufficient to support all of section 2331(1)'s definitional requirements for an act of international terrorism. The court saw no error in the district court's conclusion that plaintiffs failed to proffer such evidence and thus NatWest was entitled to summary judgment dismissing those claims. The court also concluded that the district court appropriately assessed plaintiffs' request to add JASTA claims, given the undisputed evidence adduced, in connection with the summary judgment motions, as to the state of NatWest's knowledge. Therefore, based on the record, the district court did not err in denying leave to amend the complaints as futile on the ground that plaintiffs could not show that NatWest was knowingly providing substantial assistance to Hamas, or that NatWest was generally aware that it was playing a role in Hamas's acts of terrorism. The court dismissed the cross-appeal as moot. View "Weiss v. National Westminster Bank PLC" on Justia Law
Kristensen v. United States
In 2015, a solder stationed at Fort Hood fatally shot his neighbors, his wife, and himself. The victims' families filed suit under the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA) and the district court entered final judgment in favor of the United States, dismissing the case with prejudice.The Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal, concluding that the district court did not commit clear error in finding that the harm to the victims was not foreseeable to the Army. The court explained that, under Texas law, a plaintiff must show both forseeability and cause in fact to establish proximate causation. In this case, there were no red flags regarding the soldier's behavior preceding the shootings; the evidence at trial showed that the Army was getting mixed messages about who was the victim of the altercation between the solider and his wife twelve days earlier; and the murders and shootings committed by the solider could not have been reasonably anticipated by the Army. The district court also found that the soldier's killings were "a superseding, unforeseeable event that could not have been anticipated by the Army based on the information they had during that 12-day period" between the February 9 altercation and the February 22 killings. The court also concluded that substantial evidence supported the district court's forseeability finding, and the district court did not commit clear error in making its finding. View "Kristensen v. United States" on Justia Law
State ex rel. Beutler, Inc. v. Honorable Sandra C. Midkiff
The Supreme Court made permanent a preliminary writ of prohibition directing the circuit court to enter summary judgment in favor of Brian Henderson and Beutler, Inc., d/b/a George J. Shaw Construction Co. (Shaw), for injuries Joshua McArthur sustained while operating a dump truck on a construction site, holding that both Henderson and Shaw were immune from suit.In their motion for summary judgment, Henderson and Shaw asserted immunity from suit under the workers' compensation exclusivity doctrine. The circuit court overruled the motion, finding that the exception from workers' compensation exclusivity found in Mo. Rev. Stat. 287.040.4 applied. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the circuit court's findings regarding the application of section 287.040.4 were erroneous. View "State ex rel. Beutler, Inc. v. Honorable Sandra C. Midkiff" on Justia Law
John Doe 122 v. Marianist Province of the United States
The Supreme Court affirmed in part and vacated in part the grant of summary judgment in favor of the Marianist Provice of the United States and Chaminade College Preparatory, Inc. (together, Chaminade) and dismissing Plaintiff's claim that he suffered sexual abuse at the school in the early 1970s, holding that summary judgment for Chaminade on Plaintiff's claim of intentional failure to supervise was error.In granting summary judgment, the circuit court determined that Gibson v. Brewer, 952 S.W.2d 239 (Mo. band 1997), barred Plaintiff's negligence-based claims and that his intentional failure to supervise clergy claim was not supported by sufficient competent evidence. The Supreme Court vacated the summary judgment in part, holding (1) Gibson was properly decided, and the circuit court did not err in granting summary judgment as to the negligence counts as required by Gibson; and (2) given Chaminade's statement of material fact and the deposition testimony of Plaintiff's expert, summary judgment was improper on Plaintiff's claims of intentional failure to supervise. View "John Doe 122 v. Marianist Province of the United States" on Justia Law
Butala v. Curators of the University of Missouri
The Supreme Court retransferred this case to the court of appeals for consideration of the merits of Appellants' claims after the court of appeals dismissed the appeals for lack of jurisdiction, holding that the circuit court's orders were eligible for certification as final under Rule 74.01(b).Appellants sued certain doctors and curators of the University of Missouri for injuries related with unsuccessful surgeries that Appellants underwent, alleging several torts, negligent misrepresentation, and violations of the Missouri Merchandising Practices Act. The circuit court entered orders dismissing the curators from each case and then certified those judgments as final under Rule 74.01(b). The court of appeals dismissed the appeals for lack of jurisdiction. The Supreme Court granted transfer and retransferred the case to the court of appeals for consideration of the merits of Appellants' claims, holding that the circuit court's orders were eligible for certification as final under Rule 74.01(b). View "Butala v. Curators of the University of Missouri" on Justia Law