Justia Injury Law Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Arizona Supreme Court
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The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the trial court granting summary judgment in favor of the City of Peoria and dismissing Plaintiff's complaint with prejudice, holding that Plaintiff's statement in her notice of claim that her settlement offer was "valid for thirty (30) days" did not invalidate her notice of claim.At issue was whether a notice of claim is invalid under Ariz. Rev. Stat. 12-821.01 if it provides that the claimant's settlement offer will terminate less than sixty days after the notice is served. More than six months after serving her notice of claim, Plaintiff brought a wrongful death lawsuit against the City. The trial court granted summary judgment for the City on the grounds that the statutory 180-day time period to file a valid notice of claim had passed. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) a notice of claim otherwise in compliance with section 12-821.01(A) is not invalid because it purports to set a deadline for settlement prior to the sixty-day period in section 12-821.01(E); and (2) Plaintiff's attempt to shorten the City's statutory sixty-day response deadline in her notice of claim was a legal nullity that did not invalidate her notice of claim. View "James v. City of Peoria" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court held that the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (the Agency) has not established a clear policy objective concerning automatic emergency breaking (AEB) technology that preempts state tort law claims based on an auto manufacturer's alleged failure to install AEB.Plaintiff sued Chrysler alleging negligence, defective product design, defective product warning, and wrongful death. Chrysler moved to dismiss the lawsuit, asserting that it was preempted given the Agency's objectives regarding the development and deployment of AEB technology. The trial court granted Chrysler's motion. The court of appeals reversed, concluding that the Agency did not intend to preempt tort claims based on the absence of AEB. The Supreme Court reversed the trial court's order, holding (1) the Agency has neither conveyed an authoritative statement establishing manufacturer choice as a significant federal policy objective nor made explicit a view that AEB should not be regulated; and (2) therefore, the Agency has not established a policy objective that actually conflicts with the claims at issue. View "Varela v. FCA US LLC" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court vacated the opinion of the court of appeals reversing the judgment of the trial court denying summary judgment for Defendant and remanded this matter to the trial court to grant summary judgment for Defendant, holding that Plaintiff was not entitled to relief on her defamation claim.This defamation action arose from a political advertisement directed at an opposing candidate, in which the third-party plaintiff was unnamed, the alleged defamation was not expressed but implied, and the asserted implication was not one that a reasonable listener would likely draw. Defendant moved for summary judgment, arguing that the advertisement made truthful claims about matters of public concern and that Defendant did not make the statements with actual malice. The superior court denied the summary judgment motion. The court of appeals reversed. The Supreme Court vacated the court of appeals, holding that the First Amendment does not tolerate a defamation action under the facts presented in this case. View "Rogers v. Honorable Mroz" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court denied relief to Banner University Medical Center Tucson Campus, LLC and other Banner entities (collectively, Banner) which challenged the denial of its motion for summary judgment in this vicarious liability case, holding that the vicarious liability claim against Banner was not precluded.Doctors jointly employed by Banner provided treatment to Plaintiffs' fourteen-month-old son, who died. Plaintiffs brought medical malpractice claims against the doctors, a vicarious liability claim against Banner based on the doctors' conduct, and direct claims of breach of contract and fraud against Banner. The trial court granted summary judgment for the doctors because Plaintiffs failed to serve each of them with a notice of claim. Banner then filed a motion for summary judgment, arguing that the trial court's dismissal of the doctors with prejudice served as an adjudication on the merits precluding any claim of vicarious liability against Banner. The court denied the motion. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that because there was no final judgment on the merits, Plaintiffs' vicarious liability claim against Banner was not precluded. View "Banner University Medical Center Tucson Campus, LLC v. Honorable Richard Gordon" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court held that a hospital may not directly recover from a third party the costs of uncompensated medical care provided to patients whose need for treatment the third party allegedly caused because the exclusive right for a hospital to recover from a third-party tortfeasor is through the medical lien statutes.Tuscon Medical Center (TMC) brought this action against CVS Health Corporation and other CVS entities (collectively, CVS) alleging that CVS failed to exercise due care in dispensing opioids into Arizona communities. CVS filed a motion to dismiss, arguing that Arizona's medical lien statutes precluded all of TMC's claims against it. The Supreme Court reversed the trial court's ruling denying CVS's motion to dismiss TMC's negligence claims, holding (1) TMC was barred from pursing a negligence claim against CVS to recover indirect damages and was limited to suing the patient or perfecting and collecting on a statutory lien; and (2) CVS did not owe a duty to TMC under the facts alleged. View "CVS Pharmacy, Inc. v. Honorable Bostwick" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the order of the trial court denying a motion to compel arbitration, holding that a fee agreement between a client and her attorney, especially where the attorney agrees to advance the costs of arbitration, is relevant to determining a plaintiff's ability to arbitrate her claims.Plaintiff signed two contracts with Defendants when arranging for her mother, Concetta Rizzio, to live at a nursing care facility. Each contract included an arbitration clause with a cost-shifting provision (the agreement) stating that Rizzio would be responsible for all costs of arbitration if she made a claim against the nursing home. When a fellow resident attacked Rizzio, Plaintiff brought this action alleging negligence and abuse of a vulnerable adult. The trial court denied Defendants' motion to compel arbitration, finding that the agreement was unduly oppressive, unenforceable, and unconscionable. The court of appeals reversed as to the issue of procedural unconscionability but agreed that the cost-shifting provision was substantively unconscionable. The Supreme Court reversed in part, holding that the agreement was not substantively unconscionable and that it was enforceable. View "Rizzio v. Surpass Senior Living LLC" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the trial court's grant of summary judgment in favor of the Deer Valley Unified School District on Plaintiff's negligence claims based on the off-campus murder of her daughter, a student at Sandra Day O'Connor High School, by a fellow student, holding that the school did not owe Plaintiff's daughter a duty of care.The court of appeals reversed the summary judgment as to the school district, concluding that the district and its agents owed Plaintiff's daughter a duty based on the special relationship between a school and its students and that a material fact existed precluding summary judgment. The Supreme Court vacated the opinion of the court of appeals and affirmed summary judgment for the school district, holding that the district did not owe a duty to Plaintiff's daughter based on the school-student relationship. View "Dinsmoor v. City of Phoenix" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part the trial court's denial of Defendant's motion to dismiss this lawsuit brought by Plaintiff, an electric representative in the Arizona House of Representatives, alleging that Defendant, the Speaker of the House, defamed him in an investigatory report and a news release, holding that Defendant was immune for allegedly defaming Plaintiff in the investigatory report but was not immune for allegedly defaming Defendant in the news release.Plaintiff was expelled by the Arizona House of Representatives as an elected representative for misconduct. Plaintiff initiated sued Defendant, alleging defamation and conspiracy defamation. Defendant filed a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim. The trial court denied the motion. The Supreme Court affirmed the trial court's denial of Defendant's motion to dismiss as it concerned the issuance of a news release but reversed the ruling denying the motion as it concerned Defendant's alleged modification and release of an investigatory report, holding (1) Defendant performed a legislative function when he modified the report and released it to House members and the public and therefore was absolutely immune from liability based on these actions; and (2) issuing news releases is not generally a legislative function protected by legislative immunity. View "Mesnard v. Honorable Theodore Campagnolo" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court held that a plaintiff does not have to allege bad faith or rebut the good faith presumption in his complaint asserting a claim of negligent disclosure of medical information in order to withstand a motion to dismiss based on the immunity provided by Ariz. Rev. Stat. 12-2296.Plaintiff sued Costco, alleging several claims of action based on Costco's public disclosure of an embarrassing medication that Plaintiff twice rejected. Costco filed a motion to dismiss, asserting that Ariz. Rev. Stat. 12-2296 provided immunity and that Plaintiff's claims were preempted by Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). The trial court granted the motion. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) Plaintiff was not required to anticipate in his complaint Costco's affirmative defense of qualified immunity under section 12-2296 or to rebut the good faith presumption; and (2) Plaintiff permissibly referenced HIPAA to inform the standard of care for his negligence claim. View "Shepherd v. Costco Wholesale Corp." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court set aside the decision of administrative law judge (ALJ) for the Industrial Commission of Arizona (ICA) denying the claim for benefits filed by deputy John France, who developed post-traumatic stress disorder after he shot and killed a man, holding that the administrative law judge erred by failing to apply the standard required by Ariz. Rev. Stat. 23-1043.01(B).Under section 23-1043.01(B), employees may receive compensation for mental injuries if an unexpected, unusual or extraordinary employment-related stress was a substantial contributing cause of the mental injury. An ALJ denied France's claim for benefits, concluding that the shooting incident was not "unusual, unexpected, or extraordinary." The Supreme Court set aside the ICA's decision, holding (1) under section 23-1043.01(b), a work-related mental injury is compensable if the specific event causing the injury was objectively "unexpected, unusual or extraordinary"; (2) under this objective standard, an injury-causing event must be examined from the standpoint of a reasonable employee with the same or similar job duties and training as the claimant; and (3) the ALJ erred by limiting her analysis to whether France's job duties encompassed the possibility of using lethal force in the line of duty and failing to consider whether the shooting incident was unexpected or extraordinary. View "France v. Industrial Commission of Arizona" on Justia Law