Justia Injury Law Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Maine Supreme Judicial Court
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The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the summary judgment entered in the superior court in favor of Defendants on Plaintiff's complaint for defamation and "slander/libel per se," holding that the superior court did not err in concluding that the statements at issue were subject to a conditional privilege. Plaintiff sought compensatory and punitive damages in her complaint alleging defamation and slander or libel per se, alleging that Defendants terminated her contract as a registered nurse based on false allegations of patient abuse. The superior court granted a summary judgment in favor of Defendants as to both counts. The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed, holding (1) Plaintiff failed to present prima facie evidence that Defendants abused the conditional privilege that otherwise protected the statements at issue; and (2) therefore, Defendants were entitled to summary judgment in their favor as to Plaintiff's claims. View "Waugh v. Genesis Healthcare LLC" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Judicial Court dismissed Kathleen Flanders' appeal from an interlocutory order entered by the district court denying Flanders' motion to disqualify Attorney Eric Morse from representing Fern Gordon in a personal injury case, holding that allowing the appeal of this interlocutory order to proceed would not be in the interest of judicial economy. Gordon, the defendant in Flanders' personal injury suit, retained Attorney Morse to defend her. While the lawsuit against Gordon was pending, Flanders was injured in a motor vehicle accident. Flanders sought legal assistance from a partner of Attorney Morse, who continued to represent Gordon in the personal injury suit. Flanders moved to disqualify Attorney Morse, but the court denied the motion. Flanders appealed. The Supreme Judicial Court dismissed the appeal, holding that none of the exceptions to the final judgment rule applied in this case. View "Flanders v. Gordon" on Justia Law

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In this personal injury claim based on premises liability the Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the order of the superior court denying Defendant's motion to dismiss the complaint on the ground that the facts alleged in the complaint actually constituted an action for medical negligence, holding that Plaintiff's claim was not within the ambit of the Maine Health Security Act (MHSA), Me. Rev. Stat. 24, 2501-2988. In her complaint Plaintiff alleged that she sustained injuries when she slipped and fell in the locker room of a facility owned and run by Defendant. Defendant filed a motion to dismiss the complaint, arguing that the claim was actually for medical negligence, which must be brought in accordance with the procedural requirements of the MHSA. The superior court denied the motion. The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed, holding that the claim was properly brought as a premises liability claim and was not within the purview of the MHSA. View "Salerno v. Spectrum Medical Group, P.A." on Justia Law

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In this case addressing the scope of immunity established by the Legislature for certain injuries suffered through the risks inherent in equine activities, the Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the superior court holding that the immunity statute precluded the liability that could otherwise arise from the equine activities in this case. Nancy McCandless was standing on a track inside a riding arena when a horse ridden by the ten-year-old daughter of John and Tracy Ramsey made contact with McCandless, causing her to fall and injure her wrist. McCandless sued the child through her parents, seeking damages. The Ramseys moved for summary judgment on the ground that McCandless's negligence action was barred under the statutory immunity provisions of Me. Rev. Stat. 7, 4101 and 4103-A. The superior court granted summary judgment for the Ramseys, holding that section 4103-A(1) provides broad immunity from liability for injuries arising out of equine activities under routine conditions. The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed, holding that the child was entitled to immunity and that none of the statutory exceptions to immunity applied. View "McCandless v. Ramsey" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the judgment of the superior court dismissing Plaintiff's complaint for legal malpractice as untimely pursuant to Me. Rev. Stat. 14, 752, 753-B, holding that the court-made doctrines of continuing representation and continuing negligence do not apply in the determination of the date on which a cause of action for legal malpractice accrued under section 753-B. On appeal, Plaintiff argued that its legal malpractice claim was not barred because the doctrines of continuing representation and continuing negligence operate to bring the date of the act or omission giving raise to its injury within the relevant statute of limitations. The Supreme Judicial Court declined to adopt either doctrine in the context of actions for attorney malpractice, holding that the superior court correctly dismissed the complaint as barred by Maine's six-year statutes of limitations for civil actions and attorney malpractice actions. View "Packgen, Inc. v. Bernstein, Shur, Sawyer & Nelson, P.A." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the judgment of the superior court granting summary judgment in favor of Defendants on Plaintiff's claims alleging age discrimination, retaliation, breach of contract, and various other torts, holding that there was no error or abuse of discretion in the superior court's handling of Plaintiff's requested accommodations. On appeal, Plaintiff argued that the trial court abused its discretion by not, sua sponte, granting him accommodations, appointing him a guardian ad litem, or ordering that his mental health be evaluated. The Supreme Judicial Court disagreed, holding (1) the court did not err by granting summary judgment in favor of Defendants on all of Plaintiff's claims; and (2) the court properly handled Plaintiff's request for accommodations. View "Gallagher v. Penobscot Community Healthcare" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the summary judgment entered by the superior court in favor of Spectrum Medical Group and one of its radiologists on Michael and Debra Holmeses' medical malpractice claims, as well as the court's judgment for Eastern Maine Medical Center and one of its surgeons on this same claims, holding that the Holmeses did not make out a prima facie case for negligence. On appeal, the Holmeses argued that there was evidence in the record upon which a fact-finder could reasonable decide that the negligent reading of a critical CT scan caused delay in necessary treatment and that this delay was a proximate cause of Michael's injuries. The Supreme Judicial Court disagreed, holding that the the record presented was insufficient to provide any basis for a determination that the reading of the CT scan played a role in Michael's injuries. View "Holmes v. Eastern Maine Medical Center" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the judgment of the superior court dismissing Plaintiff’s defamation action against Defendant, his former supervisor, for failure to state a claim under Me. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6), holding that the superior court did not err in determining that Defendant was immune from liability pursuant to the Maine Tort Claims Act, Me. Rev. Stat. 14, 8111(1)(C). When Plaintiff’s began working as an assistant attorney general in the Maine Attorney General’s office, Defendant was Defendant’s direct supervisor. After Plaintiff was terminated, he commenced this action asserting claims against Defendant for libel per se and slander per se. The superior court granted Defendant’s motion to dismiss, determining that Plaintiff’s claims were barred by the discretionary function immunity provision of the Maine Tort Claims Act. The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed, holding (1) Defendant’s statements were not actionable because of discretionary function immunity; and (2) Plaintiff’s complaint failed to allege facts sufficient to overcome a motion to dismiss. View "Lawson v. Willis" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Judicial Court vacated the summary judgment entered by the superior court in favor of Defendant on Plaintiff’s complaint asserting that Defendant was negligent and had caused Plaintiff economic harm, holding that claim preclusion cannot operate to bar a subsequent suit brought in district or superior court by a person who was not an actual party in a previous small claims action. A third party driving a vehicle owned by Plaintiff was involved in a collision with a vehicle driven by Defendant. In a small claims matter, Defendant sued the third party, and the district court found the third party was negligent. Plaintiff then brought this action against Defendant. The superior court applied the doctrine of res judicata to the earlier small claims judgment and determined that the earlier judgment conclusively resolved the issue of which driver was at fault. The Supreme Court vacated the judgment, holding that, because of the unique limitations of small claims procedure, claim preclusion did not bar this suit by a person who was, at most, in privity with the defendant in the small claims case. View "Ring v. Leighton" on Justia Law

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At issue was the availability of homeowner’s liability insurance coverage for damages resulting from injuries Jonathan Ben-Ami received after Joshua Francoeur, a fellow high-school student, punched Ben-Ami a number of times in the face. Francoeur was the son of the named insured under a policy issued by Vermont Mutual Insurance Company. The superior court entered a declaratory judgment determining that Francoeur’s tortious conduct did not fall within a policy exclusion from coverage for bodily injury that is “expected or intended,” and therefore, that Ben-Ami was entitled to indemnification under the policy. The Supreme Judicial Court vacated the judgment and remanded for entry of judgment for Vermont Mutual, holding that Francoeur’s specific conduct established that the damages he inflicted on Ben-Ami were “expected” and therefore excluded from coverage by the Vermont Mutual policy. View "Vermont Mutual Insurance Co. v. Ben-Ami" on Justia Law