Justia Injury Law Opinion Summaries
Harris v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co.
In this "Engle progeny" case, where Florida-resident smokers sought recovery from tobacco companies for cigarette-related injuries, the Eleventh Circuit reversed the district court's denial of defendants' motion for judgment in accordance with the verdict. Plaintiff brought an individual Phase III suit on behalf of her deceased husband, seeking the benefit of the Phase I jury's findings, arguing that her husband was a member of the original class based on two medical conditions.The court concluded that plaintiff's husband had no medical condition that both was caused by cigarette addiction and manifested on or before the class cut-off date. Therefore, plaintiff's husband was not an Engle class member, and nothing in the Florida Supreme Court's treatment of Angie Della Vecchia, one of the three representative plaintiffs, requires the court to conclude otherwise. Furthermore, because plaintiff's husband was not a class member, Florida courts would not give preclusive effect to the Engle Phase I findings in this case. Neither did the court under the Full Faith and Credit Act. Without the preclusive effect of the Phase I findings, plaintiff failed to prove essential elements of her claims. In this case, plaintiff failed to demonstrate that the tobacco-company defendants acted tortiously, relying only on the Phase I findings. View "Harris v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co." on Justia Law
Siercke v. Siercke
This case arose from a domestic dispute between Analli Salla and Duane Siercke, and centered on whether any privilege from defamation claims applied to statements made to law enforcement. Salla appealed the district court’s entry of judgment and denial of her motion for a new trial. After misdemeanor domestic battery charges against him were dropped, Siercke filed a civil action against Salla alleging, among other things, defamation. Following a five-day trial, a jury awarded Siercke $25,000.00 on his defamation claim. Salla filed a motion for a new trial, contending the district court erred in instructing the jury on defamation per se because her statements to law enforcement were privileged and her statements did not allege that Siercke had committed a felony. The district court denied the motion and Salla appealed. The Idaho Supreme Court: (1) affirmed the district court’s decision refusing to apply an absolute litigation privilege to the statements made by Salla to law enforcement officers; (2) could not address whether the district court erred in not giving a qualified privilege instruction because that issue was never raised below; and (3) the district court erred in delivering a defamation per se instruction; and (4) reversed the district court’s final judgment and order on Salla’s motion for a new trial. The case was remanded for further proceedings. View "Siercke v. Siercke" on Justia Law
Spanton v. Bellah
In this negligence action, the Supreme Court vacated the default judgment entered by the trial court in favor of Plaintiff after Defendants failed timely to file an answer or otherwise appear, holding that the substitute service in this case did not strictly comply with the order permitting such service.More than thirty days after the trial court's default judgment entry, Defendants filed a restricted appeal asserting that Plaintiff had failed properly to serve them with process. The court of appeals affirmed, holding that a discrepancy between the address at which the trial court authorized substitute service and the address where the process server actually sent substitute service did not invalidate service or the default judgment. The Supreme Court vacated the default judgment, holding that substitute service did not strictly comply with the trial court's order. View "Spanton v. Bellah" on Justia Law
AEP Texas Central Co. v. Arredondo
In this personal injury case, the Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part the judgment of the court of appeals reversing in part the trial court's summary judgments in favor of an electric utility and its independent contractor, holding that fact issues precluded summary judgment in favor of the contractor.Plaintiff sued the utility and its contractor (collectively, Defendants) for negligence, negligence per se, and gross negligence. The trial court granted summary judgment for Defendants. The court of appeals reversed the summary judgment as to the negligence claim against the independent contractor and as to all claims against the utility and remanded for further proceedings. The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part, holding (1) a genuine issue of material fact existed as to whether the contractor breached a duty of care; but (2) because the utility owed no duty with respect to the independent contractor's work, the court of appeals erred in reversing summary judgment as to Plaintiff's claims against the utility. View "AEP Texas Central Co. v. Arredondo" on Justia Law
Berkel & Co. Contractors, Inc. v. Lee
The Supreme Court affirmed the court of appeals' judgment notwithstanding the verdict but reversed its remand in the interest of justice, holding that the court of appeals correctly concluded that the evidence did not show that Employer believed that its actions were substantially certain to injure Plaintiff and that remand was not appropriate.Plaintiff was injured in a workplace accident. Plaintiff received workers' compensation medical and disability benefits for his injuries. Plaintiff then sued Employer for negligence and gross negligence, arguing that the common-law exception to the rule that the Texas Workers' Compensation Act is the exclusive remedy for employees who sustain nonfatal work-related injuries requiring that the defendant have a specific intent to injure the plaintiff applied. The jury entered a verdict in favor of Plaintiff, and the trial court entered judgment on the jury's verdict. The court of appeals reversed and rendered judgment for Employer. The Supreme Court affirmed the court of appeals' judgment notwithstanding the verdict and reversed its remand in the interest of justice, holding that the evidence confirmed that the accident fell short of a "genuine intentional injury." View "Berkel & Co. Contractors, Inc. v. Lee" on Justia Law
Bell v. Nicholson Construction Co.
The Supreme Court affirmed in part and dismissed for lack of appellate jurisdiction in part three consolidated appeals from the circuit court's orders relating to the same underlying civil action involving a workplace incident, holding that two of the orders appealed were not final orders.The orders at issue ruled on motions to dismiss filed by several of the parties in the underlying action. The circuit court dismissed claims for deliberate intent and loss of consortium asserted by the plaintiffs and denied several motions to dismiss. These appeals followed. The Supreme Court held (1) the circuit court's order dismissing the deliberate intent and loss of consortium claims was correct because the claims were time barred; and (2) the orders being appealed in the remaining two cases were not final and appealable. View "Bell v. Nicholson Construction Co." on Justia Law
WSI v. Oden
Chris Oden appealed a judgment entered against him in a collection action after the district court granted summary judgment in favor of the State, through Workforce Safety and Insurance, (“WSI”). In May 2010, Oden was injured in Missouri while employed by Minot Builders Supply Associates as a truck driver. After review, the North Dakota Supreme Court concluded the court did not abuse its discretion in denying Oden’s motion to dismiss for insufficient service of process, and did not err in granting summary judgment to WSI. View "WSI v. Oden" on Justia Law
Cleveland v. Advance Auto Parts
After suffering two work-related injuries, Sheree Cleveland settled her workers’ compensation claims with Advance Auto Parts and its workers’ compensation insurance carrier, Indemnity Insurance Company of North America. The Workers’ Compensation Commission approved the settlement. Approximately one month later, the Employer/Carrier filed a Form B-31 indicating the last payment had been made. More than a year after that, Cleveland filed a motion asserting that the Employer/Carrier had not paid all compensation due under the settlement and that two medical bills remained outstanding. The Commission found that, because a one-year statute of limitations had expired, it lacked jurisdiction to enforce its order approving the settlement agreement. Cleveland appealed, and the Court of Appeals reversed, questioning whether the one-year statute of limitations applied to the claim. But instead of answering that question, the Court of Appeals found that the Employer/Carrier had been estopped from asserting a statute of limitations defense because it had agreed to pay the outstanding bills and had represented to the administrative law judge that it would do so. Further, the Court of Appeals also found Cleveland's contact with the Employer/Carrier within the limitations period tolled the statute of limitations, if, in fact, it applied. The Mississippi Supreme Court affirmed, but for different reasons than the appellate court. The Supreme Court determined the statute of limitations did not apply to Cleveland's motion for enforcement of the settlement order, therefore, her motion was timely filed. View "Cleveland v. Advance Auto Parts" on Justia Law
Ilercil v. Williams
James Williams suffered a severe brain injury from complications following cervical spine surgery. A lawsuit was brought against the hospital and the surgeon for medical malpractice, which included a claim for wrongful death after Williams died. Dr. Orhan Ilercil was ultimately found to be 15 percent responsible for Williams’s injuries and death, which amounted to a judgment against him for $205,800. Dr. Ilercil appealed, contending, among other things, that the trial court erred by refusing to give an intervening/superseding-cause instruction. To this, the Mississippi Supreme Court agreed, reversed judgment and remanded for a new trial. View "Ilercil v. Williams" on Justia Law
Ewing v. Westport Ins. Co., et al.
The Louisiana Supreme Court granted this writ application to determine whether “collectibility” was a relevant consideration in a legal malpractice action. Specifically, the issue presented was whether plaintiff’s damages in this legal malpractice action were limited to the amount she could have actually collected on a judgment against the tortfeasor in the underlying lawsuit. Elaine Ewing was injured in an automobile accident in 2015, when her vehicle was hit by a vehicle driven by Marc Melancon. Her counsel failed to forward the original petition for damages within seven days as required by La. R.S. 13:850. The original petition was filed on April 22, 2016, after the one-year prescriptive period had passed. Ms. Ewing’s suit was dismissed on an exception of prescription. Ms. Ewing subsequently filed a legal malpractice action against her attorney and Westport Insurance Corporation, counsel's malpractice insurer. Defendants filed a motion for partial summary judgment asserting the court should apply the “collectibility rule.” Defendants alleged Ms. Ewing’s recovery could be no greater than her potential recovery in the underlying personal injury lawsuit, and recovery in this case should have been capped at Mr. Melancon’s insurance policy limits. The Supreme Court held that proof of collectibility of an underlying judgment was not an element necessary for a plaintiff to establish a claim for legal malpractice, nor could collectibility be asserted by an attorney as an affirmative defense in a legal malpractice action. View "Ewing v. Westport Ins. Co., et al." on Justia Law