Justia Injury Law Opinion Summaries

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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The Supreme Court reversed the order of the circuit court disqualifying Risie Howard as the attorney representing the estate of Mrs. George Howard in a case arising from Mrs. Howard's medical treatment, holding that the circuit court's ruling represented a manifest abuse of discretion.On appeal, Howard argued that the circuit court erroneously interpreted Rule 3.7 of the Arkansas Rules of Professional Conduct and misapplied the test promulgated in Weigel v. Farmers Insurance Co., 158 S.W.3d 147 (Ark. 2004), in granting Defendants' motion to disqualify her. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the circuit court did not faithfully apply Rule 3.7 and the precedent established by Weigel and its progeny in disqualifying Howard. View "Howard v. Baptist Health" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court held that a negligent credentialing is a separate and independent claim from medical negligence but that a negligent credentialing claim cannot proceed without either a simultaneous or prior adjudication of or stipulation to medical negligence.At issue was whether a hospital's grant of staff privileges to a physician, otherwise known as credentialing a physician, confers a duty upon the hospital that is separate and independent of the duty the physical owes to the hospital's patients. If so, the question remained whether a patient's negligent credentialing claim can proceed in the absence of a prior adjudication or stipulation that the physician was negligent in his care of the patient. The trial court in this case granted the hospital's motion for summary judgment on the negligent credentialing claim. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) a negligent credentialing claim cannot proceed without either a simultaneous or prior adjudication of or stipulation that a doctor committed medical malpractice; and (2) because such an adjudication or stipulation was not present in this case, the negligent credentialing claim was properly dismissed. View "Walling v. Brenya" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the circuit court granting summary judgment to Liosha Miles on the issue of whether each of the two insurance policies in this case provided separate tranches of insurance of uninsured motorist (UM) coverage and underinsured motorist (UIM) coverage, holding that the circuit court erred.Given her disagreement with GEICO Advantage Insurance Company and GEICO Choice Insurance Company (collectively, GEICO), Miles filed this action seeking a declaration that each policy at issue contained separate $50,000 limits for UM and UIM coverage and that GEICO owed her addition amounts for her UIM claims related to a single automobile accident caused by the negligence of two different drivers other than herself. The circuit court granted summary judgment in favor of Miles. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) UIM coverage is a constituent part of UM coverage; and (2) consequently, the circuit court erred in concluding that Va. Code 38.2-2206(A) required each policy to provide Miles with separate UM and UIM coverage limits for injuries arising from a single accident. View "GEICO Advantage Insurance Co. v. Miles" on Justia Law