Justia Injury Law Opinion Summaries
State ex rel. Barron v. Honorable Beger
The Supreme Court made permanent a preliminary writ of prohibition it issued directing the circuit court to vacate its order denying Missouri Highway Patrol Trooper Mayela Barron's motion for summary judgment and sustain Trooper Barron's motion for summary judgment against Justin Osborn, holding that Trooper Barron was entitled to official immunity.Osborn brought this action alleging negligence claims against Trooper Barron in her official capacity after Osborn's vehicle collided with Trooper Barron's vehicle. Osborn moved for partial summary judgment, arguing that Trooper Barron was not entitled to official immunity or immunity because of the public duty doctrine. The circuit court denied the motion and granted partial summary judgment for Osborn, concluding that Trooper Barron was not entitled to official immunity. The Supreme Court granted a writ of prohibition, holding (1) the record established that Trooper Barron was a public official, working in the scope of her employment, performing a function that was not ministerial, and Trooper Barron performed these duties without malice; and (2) therefore, Trooper Barron was entitled to official immunity, and a writ of prohibition was appropriate. View "State ex rel. Barron v. Honorable Beger" on Justia Law
Mahdi v. Salt Lake Police Department, et al.
A police chase ended when the fleeing armed robber crashed into Plaintiff Thaer Mahdi’s tailor shop. Officers fired scores of bullets at the driver, and many hit the shop. The shop was badly damaged, and Mahdi was psychologically traumatized. Mahdi filed suit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against the Salt Lake City Police Department (SLCPD); the Unified Police Department (UPD); and four officers of the Utah Highway Patrol (UHP)—Superintendent Michael Rapich, Sergeant Chris Shelby, and Troopers Jed Miller and Jon Thompson. Plaintiff alleged: (1) the responding officers used excessive force in violation of his right to substantive due process under the Fourteenth Amendment; and (2) that the officers’ unconstitutional use of force resulted from Superintendent Rapich’s failure to train and supervise his subordinates and from the defendant law-enforcement agencies’ policies and customs, including their failure to properly train or supervise their employees. Defendants moved to dismiss Mahdi’s first amended complaint for failure to state any claims. In response, Mahdi moved for leave to file a second amended complaint. The United States District Court for the District of Utah denied the motion as futile and granted the defendants’ motions to dismiss. The court held that Mahdi had not adequately alleged that any officers violated his constitutional right to substantive due process and that in the absence of any such violation the police agencies also could not be liable under § 1983. Mahdi appealed, challenging the dismissal of his claims and denial of his motion for leave to file his second amended complaint. Finding no reversible error in the district court's judgment, the Tenth Circuit affirmed dismissal of plaintiffs claims and denial of his motion. View "Mahdi v. Salt Lake Police Department, et al." on Justia Law
Lagasse v. Horton
The Supreme Court reversed the decision of the Workers' Compensation Court of Appeals (WCCA) reversing the rulings of the compensation judge finding that C. Jeremy Lagasse was entitled to contingent fees under Minn. Stat. 176.081, subd. 1(c) and that Larry Horton was entitled to partial reimbursement of fees under Minn. Stat. 176.081, subd. 7, holding that the WCCA incorrectly applied subdivision 1(c) in its standard of review.Horton, who was injured during his employment with Aspen Waste Systems and sought permanent partial disability (PPD) benefits through Aspen's insurer (Insurer), retained Lagasse to represent him in the matter. The compensation judge determined that Lagasse was entitled to contingent fees and that Horton was entitled to partial reimbursement of fees. The WCCA reversed. The Supreme Court reversed and remanded the case for further proceedings, holding (1) the WCCA incorrectly applied subdivision 1(c); and (2) the compensation judge and the WCCA incorrectly applied subdivision 7. View "Lagasse v. Horton" on Justia Law
Ex parte Jeffrey Varoff.
After Clifford Bufford, an employee of Borbet Alabama, Inc., injured his left arm in a workplace accident, he sued seven of his co-employees claiming that his injury was the result of their willful conduct. The co-employees sought summary judgment, arguing that they were immune from suit under Alabama's Workers' Compensation Act ("the Act") because, they said, there was no evidence to support Bufford's claims. Bufford voluntarily dismissed his claims against all the defendants except the petitioner, maintenance supervisor Jeffrey Varoff. The circuit court then denied Varoff's motion for summary judgment. He petitioned the Alabama Supreme Court for a writ of mandamus directing the trial court to enter judgment in his favor on the basis of the immunity afforded by the Act. We grant the petition and issue the writ. The Supreme Court concurred there was not evidence in the trial court record that would support a finding that Varoff had engaged in willful conduct as that term was described in § 25-5-11(c). The Court held Varoff was immune from liability under § 25-5- 53. Accordingly, the trial court erred by denying Varoff's motion for summary judgment. His petition was therefore granted, and the trial court directed to vacate its order denying Varoff's motion. View "Ex parte Jeffrey Varoff." on Justia Law
In re Auburn Creek Limited Partnership
The Supreme Court conditionally granted a writ of mandamus sought by real parties in interest (the Paus) in this action brought against Relators (collectively, Auburn Creek) seeking $33 million in damages allegedly caused by carbon-monoxide exposure in a dwelling the Paus leased from Auburn Creek, holding that the trial court clearly abused its discretion in denying Auburn Creek's motion to compel.Auburn Creek filed a motion to compel a neuropsychological exam for each of the Pau family members. The trial court denied the motion with prejudice on the grounds that the scope of the exams was not sufficiently circumscribed and subsequently denied Auburn Creek's request for mandamus relief. The Supreme Court conditionally granted relief, holding that the trial court abused its discretion by concluding that Auburn Creek had not shown good cause for the exams. View "In re Auburn Creek Limited Partnership" on Justia Law
Beasley v. Tootsie Roll Industries, Inc.
Beasley alleged that, during the proposed class period— January 1, 2010, through December 31, 2016—Tootsie Roll manufactured, distributed, and sold products that contained artificial trans fats in the form of partially hydrogenated oils (PHOs) and that trans fats are harmful and cause cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, and organ damage. Beasley alleged she purchased Tootsie Roll products containing PHOs during the class period. She sought to represent a class defined as: “All citizens of California who purchased Tootsie Products containing partially hydrogenated oil in California” during the class period. Beasley asserted the use of PHOs was unlawful and unfair under the Unfair Competition Law (UCL) (Bus. & Prof. Code, 17200 ) and breached the implied warranty of merchantability.The court of appeal affirmed the dismissal of the complaint. Beasley failed to allege cognizable injury and some of her claims were preempted by federal law (specifically a congressional enactment providing the use of PHOs is not to be deemed violative of food additive standards until June 18, 2018). The claim for breach of warranty is also preempted. Permitting the use of broad state statutory provisions governing “adulterated” foods to impose liability for PHO use before the federally established compliance date would create an obstacle to the achievement of Congress’s evident purpose of confirming the 2018 compliance date. View "Beasley v. Tootsie Roll Industries, Inc." on Justia Law
United Parcel Service v. Strothers
The Court of Appeals affirmed the judgment of the court of special appeals affirming the circuit court's judgment affirming the decision of the Maryland Workers' Compensation Commission granting Respondent's request for compensation for his hernia, holding that the court of special appeals did not err.In granting Respondent's request for compensation, the Commission found that Respondent sustained an accidental injury during employment, that his current hernia was the result of the accidental injury, and that, as a result of the hernia, Respondent was totally disabled for several months. The circuit court and court of special appeals affirmed. The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding that the court of special appeals did not err when it (1) held that "definite proof" under L&E 9-504(a)(1) applies to the quality of evidence presented and not the standard of proof a claimant must meet; and (2) concluded that Respondent met his burden of persuasion when producing medical evidence to a preponderance of the evidence standard. View "United Parcel Service v. Strothers" on Justia Law
Phillip Alberty v. United States
Plaintiff sued the United States of America for injuries sustained from a fall on federal property. Specifically, he points to the General Services Administration’s (“GSA”) commitment to “making Federal buildings and facilities fully accessible to all people” and to “ensuring the full integration of individuals with disabilities who use [government] facilities.”He also asserts that the southwalk design violates the International Building Code (“IBC”) requirements for stairs. The district court determined that Plaintiff’s tort claim was barred by the discretionary-function exception to the Government’s waiver of sovereign immunity for tort claims. The district court therefore dismissed Plaintiff’s suit for lack of subject-matter jurisdiction. The Eighth Circuit affirmed. The court explained that because Plaintiff has not pointed to any statutes or mandatory regulations that sufficiently constrain the GSA’s discretion over the building’s design, he has failed the first step in overcoming the discretionary-function exception. Further, the court held that because Plaintiff has failed to show that the Government’s discretion was not susceptible to policy analysis, the discretionary function exception bars his claim. View "Phillip Alberty v. United States" on Justia Law
Lovato v. Case
The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the district court granting summary judgment to Defendant and dismissing Plaintiff's action alleging that Defendant was liable as his co-employee "for reckless, willful, wanton and/or reprehensible conduct" that led to him being run over with a concrete truck while working on a construction project, holding that there was no error.In granting summary judgment for Defendant, the district court concluded that Defendant was immune from liability because, under Wyoming law, Plaintiff's sole remedy was workers' compensation benefits. On appeal, Plaintiff argued that genuine issues of material fact existed as to whether Defendant lost statutory immunity because his actions were willful and wanton. The Supreme Court disagreed and affirmed, holding that the district court (1) erred by ruling that Defendant was not responsible for Plaintiff's safety and work conditions because he was not Plaintiff's supervisor; (2) did not err in ruling that Plaintiff did not present evidence showing that Defendant knew his actions presented a serious risk to Plaintiff or that it was highly probable harm would result if he disregarded the risk; and (3) did not err by ruling that there were no genuine issues of material fact as to whether Defendant acted willfully and wantonly. View "Lovato v. Case" on Justia Law
Access Funding, LLC v. Linton
In this appeal centering on the existence of a valid arbitration agreement the Court of Appeals affirmed the decision of the court of appeals reversing the judgment of the circuit court, holding that the circuit court erred in compelling arbitration of the question of whether the arbitration clause in the agreements at issue was valid.The arbitration clause in this case stemmed from transactions between lead paint tort plaintiffs who received structured settlements and affiliated factoring companies that specialize in purchasing structured settlement rights. Defendants filed motions to compel arbitration and stay the case, but Plaintiffs challenged the existence of a valid agreement to arbitrate. The trial court granted the motion to compel arbitration, finding that the arbitrator was to determine the issue of arbitrability. The Court of Special Appeals reversed. The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding that the circuit court erroneously compelled arbitration and that the issue of whether a valid arbitration agreement exists is an issue for the court to determine. View "Access Funding, LLC v. Linton" on Justia Law