Justia Injury Law Opinion Summaries

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Internet services and social media providers may not be held secondarily liable under the Anti-Terrorism Act (ATA) for aiding and abetting a foreign terrorist organization—here, Hamas—based only on acts committed by a sole individual entirely within the United States.In July 2016, plaintiff and thirteen other police officers were shot and either injured or killed during a tragic mass-shooting committed by Micah Johnson in Dallas, Texas. Plaintiff and his husband filed suit against Twitter, Google, and Facebook, alleging that defendants are liable because they provided material support to Hamas, a foreign terrorist organization that used Internet services and social media platforms to radicalize Johnson to carry out the Dallas shooting.The Fifth Circuit held, based on plaintiffs' allegations, that the Dallas shooting was committed solely by Johnson, not by Hamas's use of defendants' Internet services and social media platforms to radicalize Johnson. Therefore, it was not an act of international terrorism committed, planned, or authorized by a foreign terrorist organization. The court also held that defendants did not knowingly and substantially assist Hamas in the Dallas shooting, again because the shooting was committed by Johnson alone and not by Hamas either alone or in conjunction with Johnson. Therefore, the district court was correct in concluding that defendants are not secondarily liable under the ATA. The court affirmed the district court's judgment. View "Retana v. Twitter, Inc." on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs, parents of LD, filed suit against the school district and others after their daughter LD, a 13-year-old, 7th grade student, was sexually abused by her teacher, Brian Robeson.The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment in favor of the school district and the principal. The court concluded that plaintiffs failed to present any evidence that the principal had actual notice of the abuse, and the principal and the school district were entitled to summary judgment on plaintiffs' Title IX and 42 U.S.C. 1983 claims. The court also concluded that the district court did not err by granting summary judgment in favor of the school district and principal on plaintiffs' Nebraska Political Subdivisions Tort Claims Act where plaintiffs' claim arose out of Robeson's sexual assault of LD, an intentional tort to which the Act's intentional tort exception applies. The court further concluded that the district court did not err in granting summary judgment in favor of the principal on plaintiffs' aiding and abetting intentional infliction of emotional distress claim where nothing in the record, even when viewed in the light most favorable to plaintiffs, indicates that the principal encouraged or assisted Robeson in inflicting emotional distress on LD.The court joined its sister circuits in finding that there is no right to a jury trial on the issue of damages following entry of default judgment. The court affirmed the district court's order denying plaintiffs' request for a jury trial on the issue of damages against Robeson. Finally, the court affirmed the $1,249,540.41 amount of damages awarded against Robeson. View "KD v. Douglas County School District No. 001" on Justia Law

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In these appeals arising from adverse jury verdicts rendered in separate trials following an automobile accident involving Joseph Jenkins and Tessa Jordan, the Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part, holding that the circuit court erred in part.The first trial resulted in the jury's calculation of damages sustained by Jenkins and his wife as a result of the accident, which the parties stipulated was caused through the fault of Jordan. The Jenkins also sued Safeco Insurance Company of America and liberty Mutual Insurance Company (collectively, Safeco) for conversion. After a second trial on the Jenkins' claims for compensatory and punitive damages Safeco appealed the jury's determination that the Jenkins were entitled to punitive damages. The Supreme Court (1) reversed the circuit court's order denying the Jordans' motion to set aside the verdict and for a new trial and remanded that case for a new trial, holding that the jury should have been instructed on Jenkins' duty to mitigate the loss of his vehicle; and (2) reversed the court's order denying Safeco's motion to reduce the punitive damages award, holding that remand was necessary to review the punitive damages award for excessiveness. View "Jordan v. Jenkins" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court vacated the judgment of the circuit court in favor of Michael Holmes on his claim that the state legal expense fund (SLEF) was obligated to pay his 2016 judgment against two former officers of the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department, holding that Holmes failed to show that he was entitled to a declaration that the State was obligated to pay his judgment out of SLEF.On appeal, the State argued that the circuit court erroneously applied the version of Mo. Rev. Stat. 105.726.3 in effect when the former police officers filed a false report that caused Holmes's wrongful arrest and conviction rather than the version in effect when Holmes filed his claim in a suit against the former officers. The Supreme Court vacated the judgment below, holding (1) a right to payment from SLEF does not arise until a claim is made, and therefore, section 105.726.3 governed Holmes's claim; and (2) SLEF was prohibited from paying any claim or judgment against the police officers. View "Holmes v. Steelman" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court made permanent a preliminary writ of prohibition it issued ordering the circuit court to take no other action in this wrongful death action other than to dismiss Sergeant Dirk Helms and Chief Joe Edwards of the De Soto Police Department, holding that the doctrine of official immunity prohibited Missouri courts from holding Helms and Edwards personally liable for any negligence.Plaintiff's daughter was a passenger in a vehicle who died during an automobile accident in the course of a police pursuant by Officer David Karssinger. Helms and Edwards filed separate motions to dismiss the claims against them, alleging that the claims were barred by official immunity and the public duty doctrine. After the circuit court overruled the motions Helms and Edwards sought this writ of prohibition. The Supreme Court granted the requested relief, holding that Helms and Edwards may have been negligent in failing to fulfill discretionary duties with due regard for the public safety and in such a way as to protect Plaintiff's daughter, but they were protected from liability by the doctrine of official immunity. View "State ex rel. Helms v. Honorable Joseph Alfred Rathert" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court denied a writ of prohibition sought by Morgantown Health and Rehabilitation Center, a nursing home, holding that the circuit court erred in applying the statute of limitations contained in the Wrongful Death Act, W. Va. Code 55-7-6, instead of that contained in the Medical Professional Liability Act (MPLA), W. Va. Code 55-7B-4(b).More than one year after Jacqulin Cowell, a resident of Morgantown Health, died, her daughter and administratrix of her estate sued Morgantown Health, alleging that poor care, neglect, and abuse resulted in Cowell's death. Morgantown Health filed a motion, arguing that the one-year statute of limitations in section 55-7B-4(b) had lapsed and, therefore, the complaint was untimely. The circuit court denied the motion to dismiss, concluding that the statute of limitations in the Wrongful Death Act, rather than that contained in the MPLA, applied. Morgantown Health requested a writ of prohibition. The Supreme Court denied the writ, holding that the circuit court did not clearly err in applying the Wrongful Death Act's statute of limitations to Plaintiff's wrongful death claim. View "State ex rel. Morgantown Operating Co. LLC v. Gaujot" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff Darren Hulbert, a self-represented indigent inmate, appealed the dismissal of his medical malpractice suit Richard Cross, M.D. Dr. Cross performed a radial head resection and arthroplasty on Hulbert’s right elbow. Hulbert alleged that Dr. Cross negligently failed to tighten a screw in the implant, which resulted in the screw coming loose and damaging Hulbert’s elbow joint, cartilage, and surrounding tissue. To help establish his claim, Hulbert filed a motion for appointment of legal counsel and a medical expert. The trial court denied the motion and subsequently found that Hulbert could not rebut the declaration of Dr. Cross’s medical expert without providing medical expert evidence of his own. On this basis, the trial court granted Dr. Cross’s motion for summary judgment. On appeal, Hulbert contended: (1) he was deprived of meaningful access to the courts because the trial court denied him the assistance of a medical expert while requiring a medical expert to establish a triable issue of material fact; (2) the trial court failed to exercise its discretion by considering all of the remedies available to ensure that he had meaningful access to the courts; (3) the trial court erred in determining there was no triable issue of material fact because the loose screw itself did not prove medical negligence; (4) the trial court erred in refusing to appoint legal counsel; (5) Dr. Cross did not provide informed consent prior to the procedure; (6) the declaration by Dr. Cross’s medical expert was insufficient to overcome a presumption of negligence because Dr. Cross’s operation notes failed to show compliance with the implant manufacturer’s instructions. After review, the Court of Appeal concluded the trial did not properly exercise informed discretion with respect to ensuring access to the courts when it denied Hulbert’s motion for appointment of a medical expert. The trial court’s statement that it lacked authority to appoint legal counsel required remand to allow the trial court to consider and clarify which remedies were appropriate in this case to protect Hulbert’s right to meaningful access to the court. View "Hulbert v. Cross" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff Cameron Crogan was seriously injured when he rode his motorbike into a cable strung across a beach access road at the lakeside residential development where he lived with his family. As a result, his mother filed a negligence action against several entities related to the development, including the homeowners’ association and a separately formed beach association, as well as certain individuals in both their individual and representative capacities. The civil division granted defendants’ motions for summary judgment primarily on the grounds that, given the undisputed facts of this case, Vermont’s Recreational Use Statute protected them from liability, and the individual defendants did not owe plaintiff a duty of care in connection with the accident that led to this lawsuit. The Vermont Supreme Court concluded the individual defendants were entitled to summary judgment, but reversed the trial court’s determination that the Recreational Use Statute was applicable in this case. Accordingly, the case was remanded for further proceedings concerning plaintiff’s claims against the non-individual defendants. View "Crogan v. Pine Bluff Estates et al." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court conditionally granted a petition for writ of mandamus sought by the Diocese of Lubbock, as relator, asserting that ecclesiastical abstention prohibits the trial court from assuming jurisdiction over a suit brought by one of its ordained deacons against the Diocese and that, therefore, the trial court should have granted the Diocese's plea to the jurisdiction, holding that dismissal of the deacon's underlying lawsuit was required.This lawsuit arose out of an investigation by the Diocese into its clergy and the inclusion of the deacon's name on a list of the Diocese's clergy credibly accused of sexual abuse of a minor, as well as the Diocese's public statements regarding the list following its release to the Diocese's public website. The court of appeals concluded that the Diocese's investigation lost ecclesiastical protection when it related to the issue of sexual abuse, which is not strictly and purely ecclesiastical. The Supreme Court granted the Diocese's petition for writ of mandamus and directed the trial court to dismiss the deacon's underlying lawsuit, holding that exercising jurisdiction over the underlying case would encroach on the Diocese's decision to investigate its clergy consistent with its internal policies. View "In re Diocese of Lubbock" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court vacated the trial court's underlying interlocutory order denying a motion to dismiss under the Texas Citizens Participation Act (TCPA), Tex. Civ. Prac. & Rem. Code 27.003, and the judgment of the court of appeals denying the Diocese of Lubbock's mandamus petition, holding that the trial court lacked jurisdiction to proceed in the underlying litigation.The claims at issue arose out of the Diocese's inclusion of Jesus Guerroro's name on a list of clergy credibly accused of sexual abuse. Guerroro sued, claiming defamation and intentional infliction of emotional distress. The Diocese filed a plea to the jurisdiction and followed the plea with a motion to dismiss under the TCPA. The trial court denied both. The court of appeals denied the Diocese's mandamus petition and affirmed the trial court's TCPA order with respect to the defamation claim. The Supreme Court vacated the orders below, holding (1) the ecclesiastical abstention doctrine deprived the trial court of jurisdiction over Guerroro's suit; and (2) therefore, the trial court erred by not sustaining the Diocese's plea to the jurisdiction and dismissing the underlying case. View "Diocese of Lubbock v. Guerrero" on Justia Law