Justia Injury Law Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Maine Supreme Judicial Court
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The case involves Dennis G. Crosen, a former employee of Blouin Motors, Inc., who suffered two work-related injuries in 1984 and 2002, respectively. The 1984 injury occurred while Crosen was working for Rockingham Electric, Inc., and the 2002 injury occurred while he was working for Blouin Motors, Inc. The two injuries combined to render Crosen totally incapacitated. A hearing officer apportioned 40% of the responsibility for Crosen's incapacity to Rockingham and 60% to Blouin. In 2014, Crosen began collecting old-age insurance benefits under the United States Social Security Act. By statute, Blouin's obligation to pay weekly incapacity benefits based on the 2002 injury was to be reduced by half of the amount of Social Security benefits that Crosen receives. No Social Security offset applies to the compensation that Rockingham owes for the 1984 injury.The Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) and the Workersā€™ Compensation Board Appellate Division denied Blouin's petition to apply the entire Social Security offset to its compensation payments to Crosen. The ALJ and the Appellate Division interpreted the relevant statute to mean that Blouin could only apply the offset to the portion of the benefits for which it was responsible (60%), not the entire amount.The Maine Supreme Judicial Court disagreed with the lower courts' interpretation of the statute. The court held that Blouin was entitled to take the full offset provided by the statute, not just the portion corresponding to its share of responsibility for Crosen's incapacity. The court vacated the decision of the Appellate Division and remanded the case for further proceedings. The court also noted that Blouin may be entitled to a credit for the portion of the offset that it did not take prior to this case, but left this issue to be resolved on remand. View "Crosen v. Blouin Motors., Inc." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the judgment of the superior court entered upon a jury verdict in favor of Mainely Media, LLC on the tort claims brought by Norman Gaudette, a former Biddeford police officer, and his wife Joanne, holding that the trial court did not abuse its discretion in admitting certain testimony.The Gaudettes brought this action claiming defamation, false light, and loss of consortium alleging that Mainely Media had published incorrect information indicating that Norman had sexually abused minors years earlier while he was a police officer. The trial court entered judgment in favor of Mainely Media. On appeal, the Gaudettes argued that the trial court abused its discretion by refusing to strike a detective's testimony that an earlier investigation of Norman did not exonerate him. The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed, holding that the superior court did not abuse its discretion when it admitted the detective's testimony. View "Gaudette v. Mainely Media, LLC" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Judicial Court vacated the judgment entered in the district court granting Pat Doe a protection from abuse (PFA) order against Thomas Lindahl, holding that remand was required.In January 2022, Doe filed her first PFA. The complaint was denied because Doe failed to prove her allegations. In April 2022, Doe filed the PFA complaint at issue. After the hearing, the trial court granted the PFA for one year, finding that there was a basis to Plaintiff's complaint under Me. Rev. Stat. 19-A, 4002(1)(B). The Supreme Judicial Court vacated the order, holding (1) the court's finding of abuse relied upon an erroneous assumption that the events Doe described as happening on April 22, 2022 occurred on May 13 2022, in violation of an amended temporary protection order; and (2) therefore, remand for clarification was required. View "Doe v. Lindahl" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Judicial Court vacated the judgment of the superior court dismissing Plaintiff's tort complaint against Defendant, the firm that represented her ex-husband in her complaint for divorce, as being barred by the doctrine of issue preclusion, holding that Plaintiff's tort action was not barred by issue preclusion.During the divorce proceedings, Plaintiff moved for a mistrial on the ground of surprise because Defendant failed to copy her attorney on a subpoena requesting her counseling records from her therapist. A referee denied the motion. After the conclusion of the divorce proceedings, Plaintiff brought this action asserting claims of abuse of process and intentional infliction of emotional distress, alleging that Defendant abused the legal process by obtaining a full set of her counseling records, and the disclosure caused her great distress. Defendant filed a motion to dismiss, arguing that the complaint was barred by res judicata. The trial court determined that Plaintiff was collaterally estopped from pursuing her tort claims. The Supreme Judicial Court vacated the judgment below, holding that Plaintiff's action was not barred by issue preclusion because the referee's findings were not essential to the underlying divorce judgment. View "Pacheco v. Libby O'Brien Kingsley & Champion, LLC" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the summary judgment entered by the superior court in favor of Somatex, Inc. on Kim Boivin's complaint alleging that she suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as a result of the negligence of Somatex, Inc., holding that the superior court correctly determined that Somatex owed no duty to Boivin.Boivin was operating a crane when a Somatex employee was knocked out of the crane and feel thirty feet to the floor, where he landed in front of Boivin. The employee died from his injuries, and Boivin sustained PTSD and related disorders as a result of the accident. Boivin brought this action against Somatex, alleging negligence. The superior court granted summary judgment for Somatex. The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed, holding (1) Boivin failed to generate a genuine dispute of material fact as to whether Somatex breached its general negligence duty of care not to cause her physical injury or as to whether Somatex owed her a duty to avoid causing emotional harm; and (2) therefore, the superior court did not err in determining that Somatex was entitled to judgment as a matter of law. View "Boivin v. Somatex, Inc." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the summary judgment entered by the superior court in favor of the University of Maine System on Plaintiff's claim of negligence based on an injury he sustained from an industrial kitchen mixer, holding that the University was immune from suit.The superior court granted summary judgment in favor of the University, concluding that the University was immune under the Maine Tort Claims Act (MTCA), 14 Me. Rev. Stat. 8104-A(1)(G), because the alleged negligent act did not fall within the MTCA's exception for negligence set forth in Me. Rev. Stat. 14, 8104-A(1)(G). The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed, holding that the mixer did not fall within the "[o]ther machinery or equipment" exception to immunity under the MTCA. View "Badler v. University of Maine System" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the decision of the superior court denying the Town of Wells's motion for summary judgment in the underlying personal injury suit, holding that the plain language of the Maine Tort Claims Act (MTCA), Me. Rev. Stat. 14, 8101-8118, does not limit the waiver of immunity of governmental entities "for an employee's negligent operation of [a] motor vehicle resulting in a collision."Plaintiffs filed a complaint alleging that the Town's police officers initiated a dangerous high-speed chase that they negligently failed to terminate, directly and proximately causing their injuries. In denying the Town's motion for summary judgment, the superior court concluded that Me. Rev. Stat. 14 8104-B(3), which provides governmental entities immunity for discretionary functions, does not require that a government vehicle be directly involved in a collision for the exception to governmental immunity to apply. The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed, holding that the court correctly determined that the Town was not entitled to the entry of summary judgment. View "Convery v. Town of Wells" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Judicial Court dismissed this appeal from a decision of the superior court denying the City of Bangor's motion for summary judgment in a personal injury suit brought by the estate of Albert Bean (the Estate), holding that an issue of fact remained as to the City's insurance coverage.Following Bean's death, his widow and the Estate filed a complaint against the City alleging negligence, wrongful death, and loss of consortium. The City moved for summary judgment, arguing that it was immune from liability pursuant to the Maine Tort Claims Act, 14 Me. Rev. Stat. 8101-8118, because it did not have insurance to cover the incident. The superior court denied the motion. The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed, holding that the City failed to meet its burden of establishing that there was no insurance coverage. View "Estate of Bean v. City of Bangor" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the order of the superior court granting summary judgment in favor of the University of Maine System and the University of Maine and dismissing Plaintiff's complaint asserting negligent maintenance and operation of a parking lot, holding that there was no error.Plaintiff slipped and fell on a patch of untreated ice on the University of Maine's Orono campus and sustained injuries. Plaintiff filed this complaint alleging that the University was negligent in its maintenance and operation of the parking lot. The superior court granted summary judgment for the University on the grounds that the parking lot was not an appurtenance as that term is used in Me. Rev. Stat. 14, 8104-A(2) and, therefore, that no exception to governmental immunity applied. The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed, holding that the superior court correctly determined that the University was entitled to summary judgment. View "Klein v. University of Maine System" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the judgment of the superior court dismissing Plaintiff's seven-count complaint against Marina Narowetz, DDS, and her dental practice (collectively, Defendants), holding that the superior court did not err in dismissing the complaint.The superior court dismissed portions of four of the counts in the complaint based on the application of Me. Rev. Stat. 14, 556, Maine's statute prohibiting strategic lawsuits against public participation (the anti-SLAPP statute) and dismissed the remainder of the complaint pursuant to Me. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6). The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed, holding (1) the court correctly granted Defendants' motion to dismiss certain portions of the complaint under the anti-SLAPP statute; and (2) the dismissal of the remaining count was appropriate based on the lack of any remaining underlying tort. View "Weinstein v. Old Orchard Beach Family Dentistry, LLC" on Justia Law