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Plaintiff Robert Ferrante was involved in an automobile accident in 2006 where the other motorist caused the collision. Without informing his auto insurance carrier, defendant New Jersey Manufacturers Insurance Group (“NJM”), Ferrante initiated a negligence lawsuit against the tortfeasor, who had a liability limit of $100,000 on his insurance policy. The parties participated in mandatory arbitration, which set Ferrante’s damages at $90,000. Again, without informing NJM and allowing it to exercise its subrogation rights, Ferrante rejected the award, and sought a trial de novo. He also refused a $50,000 settlement offer without notifying NJM. Prior to the trial, Ferrante entered into a high-low agreement with the tortfeasor, which set the range of damages between $25,000 and $100,000, notwithstanding a jury verdict. Ferrante did not communicate this agreement or the trial itself to NJM, either. Following the trial, a jury awarded plaintiff $200,000 in damages, but the Law Division entered a judgment of $100,000 based on the high-low agreement. For the first time in 2011, Ferrante sent NJM a letter required by Longworth v. Van Houten, 223 N.J. Super. 174 (App. Div. 1988), stating that he was seeking UIM benefits. In the letter, Ferrante wrote that the other motorist was willing to settle for $100,000. However, Ferrante failed to mention the arbitration, high-low agreement, completed trial, or jury verdict. Based on this information, NJM told Ferrante to accept the offer. NJM and Ferrante proceeded to litigation over UIM coverage; only during a pretrial discovery exchange did Ferrante finally disclose his past dealings. NJM moved to dismiss the complaint, and the Law Division granted the motion, finding that Ferrante violated Longworth by not notifying NJM of any of the proceedings with the other motorist. On appeal, a split panel of the Appellate Division reversed. The majority held that because the trial court did not consider if NJM was actually prejudiced by the lack of notice, a remand was needed to determine if NJM sustained any prejudice. The New Jersey Supreme Court reversed: due to the complete absence of notice by Ferrante to NJM at any point over years of litigation, including the lack of notice about the high-low agreement or completed jury trial during the UIM process, NJM could refuse to pay the UIM benefits. View "Ferrante v. New Jersey Manufacturers Insurance Group" on Justia Law

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Wright cut in front of Musanti as they were walking to their respective Manhattan offices during rush hour. Musanti responded by kicking Wright’s legs, and a verbal and physical altercation ensued. Musanti pressed criminal charges, telling the police that Wright was the initial aggressor, but the district court, relying on video footage and the testimony of both parties, found that Musanti had been the initial aggressor and had given false information to the police. Musanti was found liable for the battery, assault, and false arrest of Wright. The district court awarded Wright nominal, compensatory, and punitive damages (totaling $15, 001). The Second Circuit affirmed, upholding findings that Musanti gave false information to the police by failing to inform them that she initiated the physical contact, and by intentionally downplaying her aggressive conduct and that in requesting that the police press charges, Musanti had induced the police to arrest Wright, because Wright likely would have been released but for her request. It was within the court’s discretion to find that conduct amply egregious to merit punitive damages. View "Wright v. Musanti" on Justia Law

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In this personal injury case, the Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the court of appeals reversing the trial court’s grant of summary judgment in favor of Defendant based on limitations, holding that the court of appeals erred in applying the discovery rule. Plaintiff was injured when he was exposed to and burned by caustic chemicals while working at an oil well site. Less than two years later, Plaintiff sued several defendants. Plaintiff joined Defendant more than two years after he was injured but less than two years after he was diagnosed with cancer, which he attributed to the chemical exposure. Plaintiff argued that he sued Defendant in a timely manner because his cancer was inherently undiscoverable and that his cause of action did not accrue until he discovered the cancer. The court of appeals reversed the summary judgment for Defendant, concluding that Plaintiff raised a genuine issue of material fact about whether he knew or should have known the nature of his injury before his cancer diagnosis. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the court of appeals incorrectly applied the discovery rule and the latent occupational disease rule. View "Schlumberger Technology Corp. v. Pasko" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court conditionally granted Plaintiff mandamus relief from trial court discovery sanctions in this personal injury case arising from a traffic accident. The trial court judge in Jim Wells County, where the case was pending, denied Plaintiff’s motion for protective orders regarding discovery sought from some of her medical providers. The custodians of the medical providers’ records were located in Bear County and were not parties to the lawsuit. After the Bear County district court judge issued his order granting the custodians protective orders, the Jim Wells County district court judge granted Defendants’ motion to exclude and ordered that certain testimony, medical records, and charges be excluded from the trial as sanctions. Plaintiff sought mandamus relief. The Supreme Court conditionally granted relief, holding that the requirements for mandamus to issue were satisfied. View "In re Carolina Garza" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the court of appeals in this negligence case arising from a motor-vehicle accident that occurred while a drilling-company employee was driving his coworkers from a drilling site to employer-provided housing after a shift, holding that the employer was not entitled to summary judgment on the injured employee’s (Plaintiff) vicarious-liability claim. Plaintiff filed suit against Employer, alleging that Employer was vicariously liable for the driver’s negligence. The trial court granted summary judgment for Employer, and the court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that Employer was not entitled to summary judgment on either no-evidence or traditional grounds on Plaintiff’s vicarious-liability claim. View "Painter v. Amerimex Drilling I, Ltd." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court overruled the application of the collateral order doctrine to the extent that it authorized an interlocutory appeal from a denial of sovereign immunity. Plaintiff brought this negligence action against the Bellevue Public School District (BPS) and Bradley Nord, alleging that while Nord was a BPS teacher and Plaintiff was a student, Nord made nonconsensual sexual contact with Plaintiff that began a sexual relationship between the two occurring primarily on BPS premises. BPS and Nord filed separate motions to dismiss, claiming sovereign immunity under the Political Subdivisions Tort Claims Act’s intentional tort exception. The motions were denied. Nord filed a motion to reconsider or to alter or amend, which motion was also denied. BPS appealed, and Nord cross-appealed. The Supreme Court dismissed the appeal and cross-appeal because the appeal from the order at issue was not statutorily authorized. View "E.D. v. Bellevue Public School District" on Justia Law

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In 2005, 81-year-old Novak was injured when the van in which he was a passenger suffered a tire blowout and collided with a power pole. Novak sued for strict product liability and negligence for failure to warn that tires degrade with age and should be replaced even if the tire shows good tread depth. Novak was disabled as a result of the accident and had to use a motorized scooter. Six years after the blowout, Novak was injured when a car collided with his scooter in a crosswalk. Novak died days later. A defense judgment in the tire blowout case was reversed for evidentiary and instructional errors. The action was not retried. Novak’s daughter filed a wrongful death action against Continental Tire and an auto mechanic, based on the 2005 tire blowout and extending that fault to her father’s death. The court of appeal affirmed a defense judgment. Novak’s scooter being struck by a motorist who failed to yield was not a foreseeable consequence of defendants’ failure to warn that tires on another vehicle, driven years earlier by another motorist, were prone to blowouts. The connection is too attenuated to show the later accident to be within the scope of the risk created by defendants’ conduct. The driver in the crosswalk accident was the superseding cause of Novak’s death. View "Novak v. Continental Tire North America" on Justia Law

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Rebecca Keyes, a former employee of Dollar General, filed suit against Dollar General Corporation; DG Mize, LLC; Dolgencorp, LLC d/b/a Dollar General Store #11775 (collectively “Dollar General”), alleging counts of malicious prosecution, infliction of emotional distress, defamation, false imprisonment, fraud, deceit, and misrepresentation, after Dollar General filed a criminal affidavit against Keyes in the Municipal Court of Mize, Mississippi, causing Keyes to be arrested for embezzlement. Keyes performed a "cash reload" to a money network card for $500.00, which did not go through properly. Rebecca Keyes informed her manager of the problem and placed the receipt on the office desk. Rebecca was told not to worry about the problem and that it would be fixed. On June 2, 2015, Rebecca Keyes was arrested for embezzlement. Thereafter, on July 16, 2015, Rebecca was found not guilty of the charges. Keyes moved to have the charges dismissed for failure of a Dollar General representative to appear and prosecute the claims. Her motion was granted. She then filed the instant lawsuit. Dollar General filed a motion to dismiss and compel arbitration, which was granted by the Circuit Court of Smith County. With the exception of the defamation claim, the Mississippi Supreme Court found the trial court erred in compelling arbitration, for Keyes’s remaining claims were not within the scope of the arbitration agreement. The Court affirmed the trial court’s order as to the defamation claim and reversed its judgment as to the remaining claims, remanding for further proceedings. View "Keyes v. Dollar General Corp." on Justia Law

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On April 19, 2011, the vehicles driven by Victor May and Kenneth Austin collided at the intersection of Northside Drive and Hanging Moss Road in Jackson, Mississippi. Claiming that the wreck produced injuries to his neck, lower back, and right shoulder, May filed suit seeking damages for Austin’s alleged negligence in causing the accident. Shortly after May filed his complaint, the parties engaged in discovery. A year and a half later, the defendants filed a motion requesting that the circuit court dismiss the matter with prejudice, due to May’s inconsistent and deliberately false testimony throughout the discovery process. The circuit court entered its decision after finding that May willfully concealed his past injuries and accidents, significantly prejudicing the defendants’ ability to proceed with their case. After reviewing the circuit court’s decision for an abuse of discretion, the Mississippi Supreme Court found the circuit court did not err in finding that the plaintiff committed numerous discovery violations which resulted in inordinate delay and increased costs to the defendants. As a result, the Court affirmed dismissal. View "May v. Austin" on Justia Law

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Purnell hired Plaintiffs (Gabarette and Castillo) as independent contractors to deliver furniture in Virginia. Because it was a last-minute request, Plaintiffs did not have a vehicle available, so Purnell permitted them to use a truck that Purnell had rented from Penske. Driving to their destination, Plaintiffs stopped on the side of the interstate so Castillo could check on the security of the furniture load. Another driver struck the rented truck, killing Castillo and injuring Gabarette. Purnell’s motor vehicle insurance policy, issued by Wausau, included an uninsured/underinsured motorists (UIM) endorsement required by Virginia law, with coverage limited “to those autos shown as covered autos.” For UIM coverage—as opposed to liability coverage—the policy restricted coverage to “Owned Autos Only” and listed three vehicles on the “Schedule of Covered Autos You Own,” not including the rented Penske truck. The Declarations Pages provided that Wausau would “pay in accordance with the Virginia Uninsured Motorists Law, all sums the insured is legally entitled to recover as damages from the owner or operator of an uninsured motor vehicle.” For UIM purposes, an insured party is “[a]nyone . . . occupying a covered auto.” The UIM endorsement defines “covered auto” as “a motor vehicle, or a temporary substitute, with respect to which the bodily injury or property damage liability coverage of the policy applies.” The district court granted Wausau summary judgment regarding UIM coverage. The Fourth Circuit affirmed, based on the plain language of the policy. View "Levine v. Employers Insurance Co. of Wausau" on Justia Law