Justia Injury Law Opinion Summaries
Alexandria City Public Schools v. Handel
The Supreme Court vacated the judgment of the court of appeals affirming the decision of the Workers' Compensation Commission finding that Claimant suffered a compensable injury to her right shoulder, holding that the court of appeals erred in applying the legal standard for determining whether Claimant suffered a compensable "injury by accident" to her shoulder.Claimant, a math teacher, slipped on a puddle on her classroom floor and fell on her right side. Claimant filed claims for an award of benefits by the Commission, claiming that the fall injured her right shoulder. The Commission ruled that Claimant established a compensable injury by accident to her shoulder. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court vacated the court of appeals' judgment and remanded the case for further proceedings, holding that the court of appeals erred in applying the standard for determining whether Claimant had suffered an injury by accident to her shoulder. View "Alexandria City Public Schools v. Handel" on Justia Law
Prickett v. Bonnier Corp.
This case arose from a movie-making accident. After her father was injured diving in French Polynesia, Mira Chloe Prickett sued Bonnier Corporation and World Publications, LLC (collectively Bonnier) for compensatory and punitive damages under general maritime law. The trial court granted a judgment on the pleadings against her on the grounds that neither compensatory damages for loss of her father’s society nor punitive damages were available under general maritime law. Appellant Prickett did not cite on appeal any admiralty authority that would allow a child to recover loss of society damages for a nonfatal injury to a non-seaman on the high seas, and – without legislative impetus or compelling logic for such a result – the Court of Appeal declined to do so. The trial court's judgment was affirmed. View "Prickett v. Bonnier Corp." on Justia Law
Sherrer v. Boston Scientific Corp.
The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the circuit court in favor of Boston Scientific Corporation (BSC) and C.R. Bard Inc. on Plaintiff's claims related to Defendants' design and manufacture of polypropylene mesh slings that were surgically implanted in Plaintiff, holding that any errors were not prejudicial.Specifically, the Supreme Court held (1) the circuit court did not err in excluding evidence of Bard's prior convictions; (2) the circuit court erred by not sustaining Plaintiff's objections to BSC's and Bard's use of her claims brought in the original petition against former defendants, but the errors were not prejudicial; and (3) the circuit court did not manifestly abuse its discretion in denying Plaintiff's request for a mistrial after Bard displayed to the jury prejudicial evidence of Plaintiff's settlements with the dismissed defendants. View "Sherrer v. Boston Scientific Corp." on Justia Law
McDonald v. City of Portland
In this personal injury action, the Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the judgment of the superior court denying the motion for summary judgment filed by the City of Portland on immunity grounds, holding that the plaza where Plaintiff was injured fell within the public building exception to governmental immunity.Plaintiff slipped and fell on a patch of ice after exiting the lobby of the Portland Police Department headquarters building. Plaintiff filed a complaint alleging negligence. As an affirmative defense, the City asserted that it was immune from suit because the claims did not fall within an exception to immunity contained in the Maine Tort Claims Act, Me. Rev. Stat. 14, 8104-A(2). The court denied the City's motion. The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed, holding that the plaza where Plaintiff fell was an appurtenance to a public building within the meaning of the Act, and therefore, the City was not immune from Plaintiff's claims. View "McDonald v. City of Portland" on Justia Law
Henderson v. Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority
The First Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment on Plaintiff's racial discrimination and retaliation claims against the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA), holding that both challenges were meritless.Plaintiff brought claims of racial discrimination, unlawful retaliation, and negligent infliction of emotional distress against the MBTA. The district court granted summary judgment to the MBTA on all claims. The First Circuit affirmed, holding (1) Plaintiff did not produce sufficient evidence to get to a jury on his claim that he was denied a promotion based on his race; and (2) Plaintiff did not establish a prima facie case of retaliation. View "Henderson v. Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority" on Justia Law
Downing v. Country Life Insurance Company
In October 2015, Amy Downing purchased a life insurance policy from Country Life Insurance Company. She purchased both an “executive whole life” policy that would pay a flat amount of $500,000 to her beneficiaries upon her death and a “Paid-Up Additions Rider” (PUAR) that provided an additional death benefit and an investment opportunity. Although Amy's father Tom worked for Country, another employee, Robert Sullivan, met with Amy and Tom to describe the terms of the policy. Amy asked Sullivan why she needed one and a half million dollars in insurance coverage because it was a larger benefit than she expected to need and it required higher yearly premiums. Sullivan explained that although she might not need the large death benefit, the structure of the PUAR provided an investment opportunity because it maximized the policy’s cash value. Sullivan later testified that he never represented to Amy that the death benefit associated with the PUAR was a flat amount. After paying the premiums for a year, Amy informed her parents that she intended to abandon the policy and withdraw its existing cash value. Her mother Kathleen decided to look into the policy as an investment. Kathleen decided to take over payment of the premiums on Amy’s life insurance policy, including the PUAR, as an investment. With Tom’s assistance, Amy assigned her policy to Kathleen. Four months later, on January 27, 2017, Amy died in an accident. Her death occurred in the second year of her policy coverage. Country paid the death benefit of $500,000 on Amy’s whole life policy. Country also paid $108,855 on Amy’s PUAR. Kathleen sued, alleging that she was entitled to $1,095,741 on Amy’s PUAR, minus the $108,855 already paid. Judgment was rendered in favor of Country, and Kathleen appealed. The Alaska Supreme Court determined the superior court did not err in its interpretation of the insurance policy at issue, and affirmed the decision. View "Downing v. Country Life Insurance Company" on Justia Law
Clark County v. Bean
The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the district court denying Clark County's petition for judicial review of the decision of an appeals officer reversing Clark County's denial of a retiree's claim for ongoing partial disability benefits, holding that the appeals officer correctly found that the retiree was entitled to benefits based on the wages he was earning at the time he retired.Brent Bean worked as a Clark County firefighter and retired in 2011. In 2014, Bean was diagnosed with prostate cancer and had part of his prostate removed. Clark County rejected Bean's claim for occupational disease benefits insofar as it sought ongoing permanent partial disability benefits, concluding that because Bean was retired at the time he became permanently partially disabled, he was not earning wages upon which to base a permanent partial disability benefits award. The appeals officer reversed, and the district court rejected Clark County's petition for judicial review. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the appeals officer correctly found that compensation for Bean's permanent partial disability rating must be based on the wages he was earning at the time of his retirement. View "Clark County v. Bean" on Justia Law
Glover v. Allstate Property & Casualty Insurance Co.
In this insurance dispute stemming from a fatal car collision, the Supreme Court vacated the judgment of the trial court granting summary judgment in favor of Insurer, holding that the decedent's estate was entitled to summary judgment on the issues of whether the decedent was an "insured person" and the availability of $25,000 in further UIM coverage under the decedent's parents' Allstate policy.Shelina Glover died in a car accident. The insurers of the two responsible drivers paid policy limits, and Glover's estate received separate settlements for underinsured-motorist (UIM) coverage from Glover's own carrier and from that of Glover's husband, who was driving the vehicle on the day of the accident. The Estate requested further UIM coverage under Glover's parents' Allstate policy. The trial court granted summary judgment for Allstate, concluding that the policy's offset and anti-stacking provisions barred the Estate from recovery because the amount the Estate received from other insurers exceeded the limits under the policy. The Supreme Court vacated the judgment, holding (1) Glover was an "insured person" under the policy; and (2) the Estate's UIM settlements were not offset against the policy's UMI limit, and therefore, the Estate had an additional $25,000 UIM coverage available to it under the Allstate policy. View "Glover v. Allstate Property & Casualty Insurance Co." on Justia Law
Jordan v. Maxfield & Oberton Holdings, LLC
After their twenty-two month old son suffered terrible injuries by ingesting eight Buckyball magnets, plaintiffs filed suit against M&O for manufacturing and distributing Buckyball magnets in the United States. The jury returned a verdict for M&O and plaintiffs moved for a new trial and for relief from judgment, which the district court denied.The Fifth Circuit affirmed and held that the district court did not abuse its discretion in determining that plaintiffs failed to demonstrate that its evidentiary rulings constituted prejudicial error. In this case, the district court did not commit prejudicial error by granting the motion in limine and otherwise excluding post-sale evidence at trial. The court also held that the district court did not err in denying plaintiffs' motion to set aside the final judgment where plaintiffs failed to proffer bias evidence. Finally, the court held that the district court did not err in denying plaintiffs' request for a preemption jury instruction. View "Jordan v. Maxfield & Oberton Holdings, LLC" on Justia Law
Ouellette v. Beaupre
The First Circuit vacated the decision of the district court granting summary judgment for Defendants and dismissing Plaintiff's 42 U.S.C. 1983 action on the grounds that Plaintiff's claims were time barred, holding that there was no basis for summary judgment on the record.Plaintiff filed suit against the City of Biddeford, Captain Norman Gaudette with the Biddeford Police Department (BPD), and Chief of Police Roger Beaupre, alleging that Gaudette sexually abused him as a teenager in the later 1980s and that the City and Baupre were deliberately indifferent to Gaudette's violation of his constitutional rights when Plaintiff reported the abuse. Defendants argued that the suit was barred by the statute of limitations. In response, Plaintiff asserted that his claims did not accrue until 2015, when he learned that the BPD and Baupre allegedly knew of at least one other report of Gaudette sexually abusing a minor that pre-dated Plaintiff's experience. The district court granted summary judgment for Defendants. The First Circuit reversed, holding (1) a reasonable jury could find that Plaintiff had no duty to diligently investigate his claims against Defendants before 2015; and (2) therefore, the district court erred in concluding as a matter of law that Plaintiff's claims accrued at the time of his injury in the late 1980s. View "Ouellette v. Beaupre" on Justia Law