Justia Injury Law Opinion Summaries

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Williams and a friend began a 30-mile bicycle ride. As they biked down a hill on a road maintained by Sonoma County, they encountered a pothole measuring four feet long, three feet four inches wide, and four inches deep. Williams was traveling at least 25 miles per hour and, by the time she saw the pothole, was unable to avoid it. She was thrown to the pavement, incurring serious injuries. The pothole had been reported to the County more than six weeks earlier. Williams sued the County for the dangerous condition of public property (Gov. Code 835). A jury found for Williams, allocating 70 percent of the fault to the County and 30 percent to Williams. Williams was awarded about $1.3 million in damages.The court of appeal affirmed, rejecting the County’s argument that Williams’s claim was barred by the primary assumption of risk doctrine, which precludes liability for injuries arising from those risks deemed inherent in a sport. Because the County already owed a duty to other foreseeable users of the road to repair the pothole, the policy reasons underlying the primary assumption of risk doctrine support the conclusion that the County owes a duty not to increase the inherent risks of long-distance, recreational cycling. View "Williams v. County of Sonoma" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court remanded this case to the district court with instructions to determine whether excusable neglect extended Plaintiff's time to file the petition for review of the decision of the Office of Administrative Hearings (OAH) concluding that Plaintiff's infection was not compensable, holding that the record did not reveal whether the district court considered the question of excusable neglect.Plaintiff scraped his knuckle on a locker as he was getting ready to leave a trona mine, where he worked. The scrape developed necrotizing fasciitis, causing serious injuries. The Department of Workforce Services, Workers' Compensation Division, deemed Plaintiff's injury compensable. The OAH served an order concluding that Plaintiff's injuries were not compensable. The district court reversed, concluding that Plaintiff's infection was compensable. Plaintiff's employer appealed, arguing that the district court lacked jurisdiction because the petition for judicial review was untimely filed. The Supreme Court remanded the case for the limited purpose of determining whether excusable neglect extended the time for filing a petition for review. View "Tata Chemicals Soda Ash Partners, Ltd v. Vinson" on Justia Law

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Tomari Jackson drowned to death while on a school trip to Belize. His mother, Adell Forbes, individually and as administrator of Jackson’s estate (collectively, “Forbes”), filed a wrongful death action in Georgia. Because Forbes filed the action outside the applicable limitation period provided for under Belize law but within the period that would be applicable under Georgia law, the issue presented for the Georgia Supreme Court's review entered on whether Georgia’s or Belize’s limitation period applied to that wrongful death action. The Court of Appeals held that Georgia law, and not Belize law, controlled the limitation period governing the wrongful death claim. The Supreme Court disagreed and reversed. View "Auld v. Forbes" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the court of appeals and Workers' Compensation Board affirming the determination of the Chief Administrative Law Judge (CALJ) denying Appellant's motion to reopen his workers' compensation claim as time barred, holding that the CALJ correctly denied Appellant's motion to reopen as untimely.In 1996 and 1997, Appellant incurred work-related injuries to his right and left shoulders. Income benefits were paid for his right shoulder injury, but no mention of the left shoulder injury appeared in the settlement agreement. In 2018, Appellant moved to reopen the left shoulder claim, asserting that he was entitled to income benefits based on a recent surgery and resulting increased impairment. The CALJ denied the motion. The Board and the court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Appellant's motion was untimely. View "Slaughter v. Tube Turns" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court certified that sovereign immunity as to monetary damages was waived neither as to the KRFRA nor in conjunction with Ky. Rev. Stat. 446.070 in this case.Plaintiff was arrested while protesting and was booked and photographed by Metro Police. When photographing Plaintiff, Metro officers allegedly ordered Plaintiff to remove her headscarf. On that basis, Plaintiff alleged a state claim under KRFRA. The Supreme Court granted the United States District Court, Western District of Kentucky's request for certification of law as to whether the General Assembly waived sovereign immunity from suit in the Kentucky Religious Freedom Restoration Act (KRFRA) and whether the use of Ky. Rev. Stat. 446.070 to seek redress for violations of the underlying statute nonetheless entitled government Metro to immunity from suit. The Supreme Court held that KRFRA's absence of an explicit waiver of sovereign immunity and section 446.070's lack of authority to waive sovereign immunity was apparent from the language of both statutes. View "Ruplinger v. Louisville/Jefferson County Metro Government" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the opinion of the court of appeals affirming the decision of the Board of Trustees of the Kentucky Retirement Systems denying Edward Elder's application for disability retirement benefits, holding that the circuit court and the court of appeals misinterpreted this Court's holding in Kentucky Retirement Systems v. West, 413 S.W.3d 578 (Ky. 2013).Elder applied for disability retirement benefits due to a genetic disorder. Systems denied benefits because Elder submitted no pre-employment medical records. In affirming Systems' denial of benefits, the circuit court read West to require submission of pre-employment medical records to prove a disabling condition was asymptomatic and reasonably undiscoverable prior to hiring. The court of appeals affirmed the circuit court's reading of West and its denial of Elder's claim for disability retirement benefits. The Supreme Court reversed and remanded the case, holding that West imposed no requirement that a claimant submit pre-employment records to disprove the pre-existence of his genetic disorder. View "Elder v. Kentucky Retirement Systems" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the court of appeals affirming the ruling of the trial court granting summary judgment for Insurer on Plaintiff's action seeking a declaration that Insurer was obligated to prove underinsured motorist (UIM) benefits under the terms of a commercial policy, holding that Plaintiff was not covered under the terms of the commercial UIM policy in this case.Plaintiff was a member of an LLC that bought a commercial automobile insurance policy from Insurer. Insurer included UIM coverage for the LLC's vehicles. Plaintiff was walking through the parking lot of a store where she had just purchased items for the LLC and was struck by an automobile. The driver of the vehicle was an underinsured motorist. Plaintiff submitted a UIM claim to Insurer. After Insurer denied the claim Plaintiff filed this declaratory action. The trial court granted summary judgment for Insurer, and the court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the trial court correctly found there were no issues as to any material fact and that Insurer was entitled to judgment as a matter of law. View "Metzger v. Auto-Owners Insurance Co." on Justia Law

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Appellant Marivel Santos was employed by respondent Crenshaw Manufacturing, Inc. (Crenshaw) in January 2017 as a machine operator on the production floor. Santos alleged that sometime in the second week of January 2017, she was instructed by her supervisor, Jose Flores, to operate a material-forming machine utilizing a die without any protective guards or cages. Ordinarily, Santos would have had to use both hands to operate the machine. This time, however, Flores instructed her to operate it “from the side using a bypass button.” Using the machine in this manner allowed Santos to operate the machine with her right hand, leaving her left hand free to reach into the machine to “press down the part” being cut. On January 12, 2017, Santos was operating the machine in this fashion when her left hand was crushed underneath the die, mutilating and severely injuring it. She filed a workers’ compensation claim against Crenshaw, and the Occupational Health & Safety Administration (OSHA) investigated. In the 1980s, the California Legislature passed Labor Code section 4558's “power press exception” to the principle of workers’ compensation exclusivity, giving a right of action to employees injured by their employer’s knowing removal of or failure to install a point of operation guard on a power press when required by the manufacturer. In this case, the issue presented for the Court of Appeal's review centered on whether the power press exception applied when the manufacturer, 45 years prior to passage of the law, conveyed a more general requirement for guards which went completely unheeded by the present user. Under these unique circumstances, the Court concluded there were triable issues of material fact as to whether the employer violated the statute and reversed the trial court’s grant of summary judgment in the employer’s favor. View "Santos v. Crenshaw Manufacturing, Inc." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court modified and affirmed in part and reversed in part the decision of the court of appeals holding that Plaintiff failed properly to plead administrative negligence under N.C. Gen. Stat. 90-21.11(2)(b), holding that the trial court did not err by denying Defendant's motion for a directed verdict on pain and suffering damages.Plaintiff failed a complaint for medical negligence against Defendant, and the case proceeded to trial. At the close of Plaintiff's evidence, Defendant moved for a directed verdict. The trial court denied the motion. The jury returned verdicts finding that the decedent's death was caused by Defendant's negligence and negligent performance of administrative duties. The court of appeals reversed in part, vacated in part, and granting a new trial in part, holding (1) there was insufficient evidence to support the jury's award for pain and suffering, and (2) Plaintiff did not sufficiently plead administrative negligence. The Supreme Court held (1) the trial court properly denied Defendant's motion for a directed verdict on pain and suffering damages; (2) Plaintiff was not required to plead a claim for administrative negligence separate from medical negligence; (3) Defendant was not entitled to a new trial; and (4) the trial court did not err by granting Plaintiff's motion for a directed verdict on contributory negligence. View "Estate of Savino v. Charlotte-Mecklenburg Hospital Authority" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the judgments of the district court dismissing Appellants' automobile negligence actions after the court determined that they were barred by the parental immunity doctrine, holding that the automobile negligence claims alleged in these cases fell outside the scope of Nebraska's parental immunity doctrine.Mother was driving a car with her minor children when the vehicle left the roadway and rolled several times. Mother and her daughter died from injuries sustained in the accident, and her son was seriously injured. The daughter's estate filed a wrongful death and survival action against Mother's estate, and the son filed a separate negligence action against Mother's estate. Both actions alleged that Mother's negligent operation of the vehicle caused the accident. The district court granted summary judgment for Mother's estate, concluding that the doctrine of parental immunity applied to bar the negligence claims. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the negligence actions were not barred by the doctrine of parental immunity. View "Nolasco v. Malcom" on Justia Law