Justia Injury Law Opinion Summaries

by
After plaintiff and her four children died from smoke inhalation as a result of a kitchen fire in their apartment, administrators of their estate filed suit against the JHA, the manufacturer of the smoke alarm, the City, the fire department, and others. Plaintiffs appealed the district court's judgment in favor of defendants. The Eighth Circuit affirmed, holding that the district court did not err in granting summary judgment to the Housing Authority Defendants and BRK, because no reasonable factfinder could determine, absent speculation, that the fire alarm failed to sound, causing the tragic deaths of plaintiffs; the district court did not err in granting summary judgment to the City Defendants, because there was lack of evidence showing that the firefighters' actions caused plaintiffs' deaths; the district court did not abuse its discretion by denying a motion to strike the affidavit of a defense expert; and the district court did not abuse its discretion by requiring one of plaintiff's counsel to pay for part of defendants' costs. View "Beavers v. Arkansas Housing Authorities Property & Casualty Self-Insured Fund, Inc." on Justia Law

by
The Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment in favor of Walgreens in an action alleging that Walgreens negligently gave medication prescribed for another patient to the driver of the car that caused fatal accidents killing himself and another individual. Under Texas law, a pharmacy does not owe a duty of care to third parties injured on the road by a customer who was negligently given someone else's prescription. Looking to the factors the Texas Supreme Court would consider—in particular, the foreseeability of the harm, the presence of other protections, and the danger of interference with the legislature's balancing of public policies—the court held that the Texas Supreme Court would not recognize a duty between a pharmacy and third parties injured as a result of a customer taking the incorrect prescription. The court declined to exercise its discretion to certify the issue to the Texas Supreme Court. View "Martinez v. Walgreens Co." on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the district court dismissing Plaintiff's medical malpractice claim against the University of Utah, holding that the district court properly found that Plaintiff's notice of claim was untimely. Plaintiff sought damages for injuries she suffered during a surgery performed by a University of Utah School of Medicine professor at LDS Hospital. Under the Utah Governmental Immunity Act (UGIA), Plaintiff was required to give notice of her claim to the State within one year of the date Plaintiff knew or should of known that she had a claim against a State entity or employee. On appeal, Plaintiff argued that her notice of claim was timely because it was filed within one year of when she knew or should have known she had a claim against the University. The Supreme Court disagreed, holding (1) Plaintiff had sufficient information to put a reasonable person on notice that her claim might be against the State, instead of LDS Hospital; (2) because Plaintiff had reason to inquire long before she filed her notice of claim, her notice was untimely under the UGIA; and (3) Plaintiff's arguments based on the doctrine of res judicata and the Open Courts provision of the Utah Constitution were without merit. View "Amundsen v. University of Utah" on Justia Law

by
In this defamation action, the Court of Appeals reversed the judgment of the court of special appeals reversing the trial court's judgment granting judgment at the end of Plaintiff's case in favor of Defendants, holding that the trial court did not abuse its discretion in concluding that a plaintiff in a defamation action, who is also the defendant in a related criminal case, is not entitled to a stay of the civil lawsuit she initiated pending resolution of the criminal case. Plaintiff filed a defamation complaint against Defendants alleging defamation, alleging that Defendants made false statement to the police that Plaintiff stole money from them and committed identity fraud. Plaintiff was later indicted for the same events underlying the defamation action. Plaintiff moved to stay the civil action, asserting that Plaintiff's testimony in the civil action would implicate her constitutional right against self-incrimination in her criminal case. The circuit court denied the motion and later granted judgment for Defendants on all counts. The court of special appeals vacated the judgment, holding that the circuit court abused its discretion in denying Plaintiff's motion to stay the proceedings. The Court of Appeals reversed, holding that the circuit court's decision to deny the stay was not an abuse of discretion. View "Moser v. Heffington" on Justia Law

by
The Court of Appeals reversed the judgment of the court of special appeals reversing the trial court's grant of Petitioners' motion for judgment notwithstanding the verdict (JNOV) on the basis that Petitioners were grossly negligent and their gross negligence caused the ultimate demise of Kerry Butler, Jr., holding that Petitioners were not grossly negligent in their treatment of Butler and were therefore afforded immunity under the Fire and Rescue Company Act, Md. Cts. & Jud. Proc. 5-604(a). The Estate of Kerry Butler and several of Butler's family members (collectively, Respondents) filed this wrongful death and survival action against Petitioners, two Baltimore City Fire Department medics. A jury found that Petitioners were grossly negligent. The trial court granted Petitioners' motion for JNOV, concluding that the evidence of gross negligence was insufficient. The court of special appeals reversed, concluding that Respondents were grossly negligent and not entitled to immunity under the Act. The Court of Appeals reversed, holding (1) the jury could not have found that Petitioners were grossly negligent by a preponderance of the evidence; and (2) section 5-604(a) unambiguously confers immunity upon municipal fire departments in simple negligence claims. View "Stracke v. Estate of Butler" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the Court of Appeal affirming in part and reversing in part the judgment of the trial court granting Defendant's motion for judgment on the pleadings on certain stock and wage conversion claims, holding that Plaintiff's stock conversion claims should be permitted to proceed but that Plaintiff did not plead a cognizable claim for conversion of wages. Plaintiff worked alongside Defendant to launch three start-up ventures in return for a promise of later payment of wages. Later, Plaintiff was fired and never paid. Plaintiff successfully sued the companies invoking both contract-based and statutory remedies for the nonpayment of wages. In this lawsuit, Plaintiff sought to hold Defendant personally responsible for the unpaid wages on a theory of common law conversion. The trial court granted Defendant's motion for summary judgment. The court of appeal reversed in part but concluded that extending the tort of conversion to the wage context was not warranted. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that a conversion claim was not an appropriate remedy for the wrong alleged in this case. View "Voris v. Lampert" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the circuit court holding that a settlement agreement between Plaintiff and her underinsured motorist carrier did not entitle the underinsured defendant (Defendant) to a statutory reduction of the jury verdict rendered against her pursuant to the offset provision of Va. Code 8.01-35.1, holding that the tortfeasor remains primarily responsible for fully compensating the plaintiff for the injury the tortfeasor has caused. Plaintiff sustained injuries when her vehicle was struck by Defendant's vehicle. Plaintiff sued Defendant, asking for compensatory and punitive damages. Prior to trial, Plaintiff settled her underinsured motorist (UIM) claims against her insurance provider. The jury returned a verdict awarding Plaintiff damages against Defendant. Defendant moved to reduce the verdict against her because of the amount paid to Plaintiff by Plaintiff's insurer. The circuit court denied the motion. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the circuit court did not err in refusing to reduce the judgment Plaintiff obtained against Defendant by the amount of the proceeds Plaintiff received from her UIM policy. View "Llewellyn v. White" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court reversed in part the judgment of the circuit court dismissing Plaintiff's complaint against a church deacon and his wife, the local church, and the national denomination claiming that the local church and the national denomination (collectively, the church defendants) had known of a prior sexual-abuse allegation against the deacon and had done nothing to warn or protect her, holding that Plaintiff stated legally viable claims of negligence and respondent superior against the church defendants. The church deacon was convicted of sexually abusing minors over the span over several years and received two life sentences. Plaintiff, one of the victims, filed this suit alleging several claims. The circuit court granted the church defendants' demurrers and dismissed Plaintiff's complaint with prejudice. The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part, holding that the circuit court (1) erred in dismissing Plaintiff's claim asserting negligence based upon a special relationship between her and the church defendants and erred in dismissing Plaintiff's respondent superior claim; (2) properly dismissed Plaintiff's claims for negligent hiring, retention, and supervision, as well as Plaintiff's claim for negligent infliction of emotional distress as a stand-alone tort; and (3) properly dismissed Plaintiff's claims for punitive damages. View "A.H. v. Church of God in Christ" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the circuit court overruling Appellant's Rule 75.06(b) motion to set aside the dismissal of a wrongful death suit filed by his deceased son's grandmother and the overruling of his motion to intervene in that suit, holding that Appellant never became a party to the grandmother's suit and that there was no judgment to be set aside. The grandmother filed a petition alleging wrongful death after the police shot and killed Appellant's son. Appellant sought to join the grandmother's suit, but the motion failed to comply with the requirements of Rule 52.12(c). The grandmother later dismissed her lawsuit. Appellant later filed his motion to set aside the judgment and to intervene in that suit. The circuit court overruled the motion. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) because Appellant failed to comply with Rule 52.12 governing intervention and his motion was never ruled on prior to the grandmother's voluntary dismissal of her suit, Appellant never became a part to the grandmother's suit; and (2) there was no judgment to be set aside because the grandmother voluntarily dismissed her suit, and that dismissal took effect immediately upon filing. View "Henry v. Piatchek" on Justia Law

by
After entering a settlement that released certain tort claims, plaintiff filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. When her debts were discharged and the bankruptcy proceedings closed, she filed suit seeking to rescind her settlement agreement as fraudulently induced and to pursue a tort action. The district court entered judgment in favor of defendants. The Fourth Circuit held that the district court's standing determination conflates Article III requirements with the distinct real-party-in-interest analysis. Rather, plaintiff has both Article III standing and the legal entitlement to pursue tort claims on her own behalf. In regard to judicial estoppel, the court also held that the district court relied on an improper presumption of bad faith, and therefore reached its conclusion without fully engaging in the necessary inquiry. Therefore, the court remanded to the district court for it to evaluate the appropriateness of judicial estoppel in light of all facts and circumstances without recourse to a presumption of bad faith. View "Martineau v. Wier" on Justia Law