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The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed and remanded in part the judgment of the circuit court granting summary judgment for Defendant, a used-car dealer, on Plaintiffs’ claims alleging that the used vehicle they purchased from Defendant was sold without a muffler and that they suffered carbon monoxide poisoning from the vehicle. The circuit court granted Defendant’s motion for summary judgment on all claims, concluding that Plaintiffs failed to generate a question of fact as to causation. On appeal, the Supreme Court held (1) the circuit court erred in granting Defendant’s motion for summary judgment because there was sufficient evidence in the record for a jury to conclude that the defective exhaust system probably caused Appellants’ carbon monoxide exposure; and (2) the circuit court did not err in denying Appellants’ request for fees incurred by their expert in preparing for a deposition noticed by Defendant. View "Garrido v. Team Auto Sales, Inc." on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs Steven and Jane Iliades brought a products-liability action against Dieffenbacher North America Inc., alleging negligence, gross negligence, and breach of warranty after plaintiff was injured by a rubber molding press defendant manufactured. Plaintiff was injured when he attempted to retrieve parts that had fallen to the floor inside the press by reaching behind the light curtain without first placing the press into manual mode. Because of plaintiff’s position behind the light curtain, the light curtain was not interrupted, the press resumed its automatic operation, and plaintiff was trapped between the two plates of the press. The trial court granted summary disposition to defendant, ruling that plaintiff had misused the press given the evidence that he had been trained not to reach into the press while it was in automatic mode, knew how to place the press into manual mode, knew that the light curtain was not meant to be used as an emergency stop switch, and knew that the press would automatically begin its cycle if the light curtain was no longer interrupted. The court further ruled that plaintiff’s misuse was not reasonably foreseeable because plaintiff had not presented any evidence that defendant could have foreseen that a trained press operator would crawl beyond a light curtain and partially inside a press to retrieve a part without first disengaging the press. The Court of Appeals reversed and remanded in an unpublished per curiam opinion, holding that, regardless of whether plaintiff had misused the press, defendant could be held liable because plaintiff’s conduct was reasonably foreseeable. The Michigan Supreme Court determined that whether the misuse was reasonably foreseeable depended on whether defendant knew or should have known of the misuse, not on whether plaintiff was grossly negligent in operating the press. Because the majority of the Court of Appeals did not decide whether and how plaintiff misused the press, and because it did not apply the common-law meaning of reasonable foreseeability, the Supreme Court reversed the Court of Appeals and remanded for reconsideration of summary judgment entered in defendant’s favor. View "Iliades v. Dieffenbacher North America, Inc." on Justia Law

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Under Montana law, when a plaintiff claims he or she was injured directly by a law enforcement officer’s affirmative acts, the public duty doctrine does not exclude all duties that may arise pursuant to generally applicable principles of negligence. Plaintiff was injured in the course of a law enforcement officer’s (Officer) pursuit of a criminal suspect. Plaintiff brought a state-law negligence claim and a 42 U.S.C. 1983 violation against the Officer and the City of Billings, alleging that he was injured directly by the Officer’s affirmative acts. A federal court entered summary judgment in favor of Defendants on both claims. Regarding the negligence claim, the court found that the public-duty doctrine shielded Defendants from liability because no special relationship existed. The court of appeals certified to the Supreme Court the public duty doctrine question. The Supreme Court held (1) the public-duty doctrine applies only to an officer’s duty to protect the general public and therefore does not apply to exclude the legal duty an officer may owe to a person injured directly by the officer’s affirmative actions; and (2) in this case, the Officer owed Plaintiff a legal duty to exercise the same care that a reasonable officer with similar skill, training, and experience would under the same or similar circumstances. View "Bassett v. Lamantia" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part the order of the district court dismissing Plaintiff’s amended complaint against several lenders, holding that the district court did not err in dismissing some of Plaintiff’s claims but erred in dismissing the remaining claims. After Plaintiff defaulted on her loan on real property, she received at least nine notices of sale. Plaintiff filed an amended complaint against Lenders, alleging six causes of action. The district court granted Lenders’ motion to dismiss the amended complaint pursuant to Mont. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6). The Supreme Court held that the district court (1) did not err in dismissing Plaintiff’s declaratory judgment claim as a matter of law or in dismissing Plaintiff’s negligent and/or intentional infliction of emotional distress claim fore failure to state sufficient facts to entitle her to relief; and (2) incorrectly determined that Plaintiff’s amended complaint failed to state a claim on her asserted breach of contract and breach of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing, Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), and Montana Consumer Protection Act (MCPA) claims. View "Puryer v. HSBC Bank" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit affirmed the district court’s judgment in favor of Defendant after this Court remanded the case, holding that any error in the district court’s evidentiary rulings was harmless and that the district court did not commit prejudicial error when it found that Plaintiffs waived their negligence claim. Plaintiffs Barbara and Michael Bradley filed a second amended complaint alleging medical negligence, battery, and the failure to obtain informed consent. The district court granted summary judgment on the battery claim. After a trial, the jury returned a verdict in Defendant’s favor. The First Circuit vacated the judgment and remanded for a new trial on account of an error in excluding the testimony of Plaintiffs’ proffered expert witness. After a second trial, the jury again returned a verdict in favor of Defendant. The First Circuit affirmed, holding (1) assuming, without deciding, that the district court erred in admitting an entry from Barbara’s diary and in admitting an excerpt from Barbara’s medical records from a different hospital, these errors were harmless; and (2) the district court did not commit prejudicial error in finding Plaintiffs to have waived their medical negligence claim. View "Bradley v. Sugarbaker" on Justia Law

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At issue was whether the mailing of a claim filed pursuant to the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA) for wrongful death was timely presented to the appropriate federal agency where Plaintiffs mailed the notice through the United States Postal Service (USPS) via certified mail and USPS attempted delivery on the last day of the two-year period. The district court dismissed the FTCA suit on the grounds that Plaintiffs had not first timely presented their claim to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) because ICE did not come into actual possession of Plaintiffs’ mailed notice of their claim until after the two-year period had run. The First Circuit vacated the dismissal, holding that this case must be remanded for consideration of Plaintiffs’ contention that Plaintiffs’ claim had been timely presented by virtue of the fact that USPS arrived at ICE with notice of the tort claim on the last day of the two-year statutory period. View "Ortiz-Rivera v. United States" on Justia Law

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The intermediate court of appeals (ICA) did not err in ruling that an injury suffered by Plaintiff that arose while she worked as a Public Health Educator IV for the State Department of Health (DOH) resulted from an “accident occurring while in the actual performance of duty at some definite time and place” and was therefore a covered injury under Haw. Rev. Stat. 88-336. Section 88-336 provides service-connected disability retirement benefits under the Employees’ Retirement System’s (ERS) Hybrid Plan to Class H public officers and employees, such as Petitioner. Petitioner submitted an application for service-connected disability retirement in connection with permanent incapacitating injuries she suffered to her elbow, arm, and hand. A hearing officer concluded that Petitioner’s excessive keyboarding over a period of time did not constitute an “accident” because it did not occur at a “specific time and place.” The ERS denied Petitioner’s application. The circuit court affirmed. The ICA vacated the circuit court’s decision and remanded to the circuit court with directions to vacate the ERS Board’s denial of disability retirement to Petitioner. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Petitioner’s injury occurred “while in the actual performance of duty at some definite time and place.” View "Pasco v. Board of Trustees of the Employees’ Retirement System" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the circuit court entering judgment in favor of Sherry Spence on her wrongful death cause of action for the death of her husband. Spence sued BNSF Railway Company for the wrongful death of the decedent, who was killed after a BNSF train struck his pickup truck at a railroad crossing. Spence alleged BNSF was negligent for failing to trim the vegetation around the railroad crossing and asserted a claim of respondeat superior liability against BNSF, alleging that its train crew members were negligent for failing to stop or slow the train. A jury found in favor of Spence, assessing ninety-five percent of the fault to BNSF for the conduct of its train crew and for its failure to maintain the railroad crossing, and five percent of the fault to the decedent. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the circuit court did not err in (1) overruling BNSF’s motion for a new trial based upon a juror’s intentional nondisclosures; (2) submitting the verdict directors in two jury instructions and the corresponding verdict form; and (3) overruling BNSF’s motion for a new trial on the grounds that an instruction regarding the duties owed by BNSF was improperly submitted. View "Spence v. BNSF Railway Co." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the Labor and Industrial Relations Commission (Commission) declining to approve the agreement entered into Employer and Employee that Employer would make a lump sum payment to fully satisfy Employee’s award of permanent total disability benefits. Employee received a work-related injury and filed a workers’ compensation claim against Employer. A final award granted Employee permanent total disability benefits to be paid weekly. The parties later agreed that Employee would make a lump sum benefit to fully satisfy the award. The Commission declined to approve the agreement, concluding that the Commission had no authority to approve the agreement either as a settlement under Mo. Rev. Stat. 287.390 or as an application for a “commutation” under Mo. Rev. Stat. 287.530. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the Commission did not have the authority to consider or approve the agreement under section 287.390; and (2) the Commission properly refused to approve a commutation pursuant to the agreement. View "Dickemann v. Costco Wholesale Corp." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed as modified the Labor and Industrial Relations Commission’s determination that because Robert Casey’s exposure to asbestos occurred while he was employed by Employer, its insurer (Insurer), was liable to Dolores Murphy, Casey’s widow, for benefits under Mo. Rev. Stat. 287.200.4. Casey died from mesothelioma caused by repeated exposure to asbestos in the workplace. An administrative law judge (ALJ) found Employer liable and awarded section 287.200.4’s enhanced mesothelioma benefits to Murphy and Casey’s eight children. The Commission largely affirmed, limiting recovery to Murphy and determining Murphy to be the sole proper claimant because the amended claim did not identify Casey’s child as dependents or claimants. The Supreme Court modified the Commission’s decision to include Casey’s children in the final award and otherwise affirmed, holding (1) Insurer was liable for the enhanced mesothelioma benefits; (2) section 287.022 is constitutional as applied; and (3) because section 287.200.4 does not limit recovery to dependent children and because the children were properly listed on the amended claim, they should have been included in the final award. View "Accident Fund Insurance Co. v. Casey" on Justia Law