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The Supreme Court held that chapter 2013-107, section 1, Laws of Florida, which revised section 90.702, Florida Statutes, which the Court previously declined to adopt to the extent it was procedural, infringes on the Court’s rulemaking authority. After developing mesothelioma, Plaintiff filed this personal injury action claiming that sixteen defendants caused him to be exposed to asbestos. The trial court awarded Plaintiff $8 million in damages apportioned to certain defendants. At issue on appeal was the admission of expert causation testimony. The Fourth District Court of Appeal reviewed the admission of the experts testimony under Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals, Inc. 509 U.S. 579 (1993), found that the trial court failed properly to exercise its gatekeeping function as to three experts, and reversed for a new trial as to R.J. Reynolds and remanded for entry of a directed verdict for Crane Co. The Supreme Court quashed the decision below, holding (1) Frye v. United States, 293 F. 1013 (D.C. Cir. 1923), not Daubert, is the appropriate test for Florida courts to determine the reliability of expert testimony before allowing it to be admitted into evidence; and (2) because the causation of mesothelioma is neither new nor novel, the trial court’s acceptance of the expert testimony was proper. View "DeLisle v. Crane Co." on Justia Law

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Plaintiff Ira Martel appealed the trial court’s decision granting summary judgment on his personal injury claims in favor of his employer, defendant Connor Contracting, Inc., and two co-employees, defendants Jason Clark and Stephen Connor. This case was about two separate exceptions to the exclusivity rule of workers’ compensation, the first of which applied when an employee is injured other than by accident, and the second of which applied when a person or entity could be held personally liable for an employee’s injuries. In August 2013, plaintiff was part of a four-person crew employed by Connor Contracting to perform roof repair work at the Montpelier Health Center. Defendant Jason Clark was the worksite foreperson, and defendant Stephen Connor was the treasurer of Connor Contracting and one of the company owners. While working on the project, plaintiff and the other members of the roofing crew used a personal-fall-arrest system (PFAS), which was safety equipment provided by Connor Contracting and required by the company’s safety program rules, the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration, and the Vermont Occupational Safety and Health Administration (VOSHA). Plaintiff was completing the soffit work when he fell from the edge of the roof, hit the ground below, and was injured. He was not wearing a PFAS at the time he fell. The parties disputed whether a complete PFAS system was still at the project site on that day and available for plaintiff’s use. Connor Contracting disputes the removal of the PFAS and states that defendant Clark left two harnesses and lanyards at the project site. The Vermont Supreme Court held plaintiff’s action against Connor Contracting was barred by the exclusive remedy provision of Vermont’s Workers’ Compensation Act. Furthermore, plaintiff’s action against the individual defendants is barred because the acts that plaintiff alleges give rise to liability fell within the scope of a nondelegable corporate duty and defendants, therefore, cannot be held personally liable for plaintiff’s injuries. View "Martel v. Connor Contracting, Inc." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the orders of the trial court setting aside the default judgment against certain defendants and denying Plaintiff’s motion to correct error, holding that the defendants made the requisite showing under Trial Rule 60(B)(1) of a meritorious defense. Matthew Joseph accidentally discharged a firearm while cleaning it, and the bullet struck Genia Wamsley, the occupant of the adjacent unit. Plaintiff, the personal representative of Genia’s estate, brought suit against the insurer of the apartment complex and its management company (collectively, Landlords) and Joseph. None of the defendants timely answered the complaint, and Wamsley was granted an entry of default judgment. Thereafter, Landlords moved to set aside the default judgment on grounds of excusable neglect. The trial court granted the motions and denied Plaintiff’s motion to correct error. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that there existed “even slight evidence of excusable neglect.” View "Wamsley v. Tree City Village" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part the district court’s dismissal of Plaintiff’s complaint alleging negligence and violations of 42 U.S.C. 1983 after Linda Gelok was injured after being left unattended for twenty-five hours at the Wyoming State Hospital (WSH), holding that the complaint alleged sufficient facts to state a claim for relief under 42 U.S. C. 1983 against Paul Mullenax, WSH Administrator, in his individual capacity. On behalf of Linda Gelok, an involuntarily committed incompetent person, Plaintiff sued the WSH, the Wyoming Department of Health, and Mullenax, WSH Administrator, in his official and individual capacities, alleging negligence and violation of her constitutional rights under 42 U.S.C. 1983. The district court dismissed the negligence action as time-barred. As to the constitutional claims, the district court found that the WSH, the Department, and Mullenax in his official capacity were entitled to Eleventh Amendment immunity and that Mullenax was entitled to qualified immunity in his individual capacity. The Supreme Court held (1) Wyo. Stat. Ann. 1-3-107 barred Plaintiff’s negligent health care claim; (2) the district court properly dismissed Plaintiff’s 42 U.S.C. 1983 claims against most defendants; but (3) Plaintiff’s complaint alleged sufficient facts to state a claim for relief under 42 U.S.C. 1983 against Mullenax in his individual capacity. View "Wyoming Guardianship Corp. v. Wyoming State Hospital" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court held that an employer owes a duty of care to an employee’s family member who alleges exposure to asbestos from the work clothes of an employee where the family member alleges the employer’s negligence allowed asbestos fibers to be regularly transported away from the place of employment to the employee’s home. Three years after Wanda Quisenberry was diagnosed with malignant pleural mesothelioma caused by exposure to asbestos dust and fibers, Wanda died. Plaintiff alleged that Wanda was exposed to asbestos when her father brought home on his clothes asbestos fibers from his place of work, that Employer had reason to know of the dangers that asbestos posed to workers’ family members, and that Employer was negligent in failing to exercise reasonable care to sufficiently warn workers not to wear work clothes home. Employer sought to dismiss the action on the basis that Virginia precedent did not support imposing a legal duty on an employer for injury to an employee’s family member that occurred outside the premises. The United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia then issued a certification order requesting that the Supreme Court consider this dispositive question of law. The Supreme Court answered as set forth above, holding that the take-home duty is recognized by Virginia law. View "Quisenberry v. Huntington Ingalls Inc." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed a district court order denying a pro se plaintiff’s (Plaintiff) motion to set aside the judgment under Nev. R. Civ. P. 60(b) that was filed five months and three weeks after the court dismissed Plaintiff’s case, holding that the district court’s decision was not an abuse of discretion. Plaintiff sued Fiesta Palms, LLC (Defendant) for injuries he sustained at the Fiesta Palms sportsbook. Plaintiff appeared pro se at several hearings. The district court eventually granted Defendant’s motion to dismiss in an order stating that Defendant’s motion was unopposed and therefore deemed meritorious. Five months and three weeks later, Plaintiff moved to set aside the district court’s order of dismissal pursuant to Rule 60(b), recounting his efforts to obtain legal representation. The district court denied relief. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the district court did not abuse its discretion in denying relief to Plaintiff, an unrepresented litigant who knowingly neglected procedural requirements and then failed promptly to move for relief. View "Rodriguez v. Fiesta Palms, LLC" on Justia Law

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The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's judgment for Petco in a negligence and premises liability action filed by plaintiff against the company. The court held that the district court did not abuse its discretion by excluding plaintiff's expert evidence notwithstanding that Petco did not attempt to meet and confer with him before seeking sanctions. The court also held that the district court did not abuse its discretion in excluding the statements of plaintiff's treating physician to show causation. In this case, plaintiff failed to make any timely expert witness disclosures to Petco and never provided a summary of his treating physicians' expected testimony. View "Vanderberg v. Petco Animal Supplies Stores" on Justia Law

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In this action filed by Petitioner seeking attorney’s fees, the Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the Fifth District Court of Appeal concluding that the proposals for settlement in the underlying case were ambiguous and therefore unenforceable. Petitioner sued Respondents for negligence and then served a separate proposal for settlement on each Respondent. Neither Respondent accepted Petitioner’s respective proposal. After securing final judgment, Petitioner filed a motion for attorney’s fees under Fla. Stat. 768.79 and Fla. R. Civ. P. 1.442. The trial court granted the motion, finding that the proposals for settlement were sufficiently clear and unambiguous. The district court reversed, concluding that the language in the proposals were ambiguous. The Supreme Court quashed the decision below, holding that Petitioner’s offers to settle his claims against Respondents were unambiguous and that Petitioner’s entitlement to attorney’s fees was actualized after he submitted sufficient offers and obtained satisfactory judgments in his favor. View "Allen v. Nunez" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the circuit court striking Plaintiff’s evidence at the trial of her personal injury action against Defendants, holding that the circuit court did not err in ruling that Defendants only owed a duty of care to Plaintiff commensurate with the duty a landlord owes its tenant. Plaintiff rented Defendants’ vacation rental house for her family’s one-week vacation at Virginia Beach. Plaintiff alleged in her complaint that Defendants were negligent because they failed to maintain the house’s floors in a safe and fit condition and failed to warn her of the dangerous condition that caused her to fall. At the conclusion of Plaintiff’s evidence Defendants moved to strike her evidence and enter judgment for Defendants. The circuit court granted the motion on the grounds that Defendants only owed Plaintiff a duty of care commensurate with that of landlord and tenant. The court then entered judgment in Defendants’ favor. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Defendants did not owe Plaintiff the elevated duty of care that an innkeeper owes its guest but rather, under the evidence presented by Plaintiff, Defendants only owed Plaintiff the duty of care that a landlord owes its tenant. View "Haynes-Garrett v. Dunn" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the circuit court granting summary judgment in favor of the City of Sioux Falls on Plaintiff’s complaint for negligence, holding that there was not a genuine issue of material fact as to whether the City’s conduct amounted to gross negligence or willful or wanton misconduct. Plaintiff was seriously injured while riding a bicycle through a public park in the City. Plaintiff sued the City for negligence. The circuit court concluded that the City was immune from liability for such negligence claims and granted summary judgment based on S.D. Codified Laws 20-9-20 and -21, which immunize a municipality for liability for negligence in connection with land open to the public for recreational use. On appeal, Defendant argued that there remained a question of fact as to whether the City was liable for his injury due to the City’s gross negligence or willful or wanton misconduct. The Supreme Court disagreed, holding that Plaintiff could not survive summary judgment when he simply alleged negligence as a cause of action and that Plaintiff failed to provide sufficient probative evidence that would permit a fining of willful or wanton misconduct on more than mere speculation or conjecture. View "Fischer v. City of Sioux Falls" on Justia Law