Justia Injury Law Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Maine Supreme Judicial Court
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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

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The Supreme Judicial Court declined to consider a question certified to the Court by the First Circuit Court of Appeals, holding that there was no clear controlling precedent.Plaintiff brought a complaint in a federal district court against multiple defendants, including Investor's Business Daily (IBD) and Sally Pipes, a writer for the IBD, alleging, among other claims, defamation and negligent infliction of emotional distress. IBD filed a special motion to dismiss, arguing that Me. Rev. Stat. Title 14, 556, Maine's anti-SLAPP statute applied. The district court denied the special motion to dismiss. On appeal, the First Circuit certified to the Supreme Court regarding whether IBD's special motion to dismiss should be granted under Maine's anti-SLAPP law. The Supreme Judicial Court declined to answer the question, holding that there was no clear precedent that applied to this dispute. View "Franchini v. Investor's Business Daily, Inc." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Judicial Court vacated the order entered in the superior court in favor of Defendants granting Defendants' special motion to dismiss Plaintiff's defamation claim pursuant to Maine's anti-SLAPP (Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation) statute, Me. Rev. Stat. 14, 556, holding that the special motion to dismiss must be denied.Plaintiff filed this defamation claim relating to a letter that Defendants sent to school officials. Defendants filed a special motion to dismiss under the anti-SLAPP statute. The trial court granted the motion. The Supreme Judicial Court vacated the judgment, holding (1) Defendants met their burden of establishing that they had engaged in petitioning activities when they sent the letter complaining of Plaintiff’s conduct; but (2) Plaintiff met his burden of presenting prima facie evidence that the Defendants’ petitioning activity was devoid of any reasonable factual support. View "Thurlow v. Nelson" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the judgment of the superior court in this insurance dispute, holding that the superior court properly entered summary judgment in favor of 21st Century Centennial Insurance Company and 21st Century Insurance and Financial Services, Inc. (collectively, 21st Century).Collette Boure and Alexander Meyers took the car of Nancy Snow, Meyers's great aunt, and fled Maine to begin a drive across the country. While the teenage couple was in Oklahoma, they crashed in a chase with police, resulting in Boure's death. Boure's Estate sought uninsured motorist coverage from Concord General Mutual Insurance Company (Concord) on a personal auto policy issued to him and from 21st Century on a personal auto policy issued to Meyers's great aunt. After both insurers denied coverage Concord brought a declaratory judgment action against the Estate. The Estate counterclaimed against Concord and brought a separate action against 21 Century. The court granted summary judgments in favor of Concord and 21st Century. The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed, holding (1) the Estate's appeal of the summary judgment in favor of Concord was untimely; and (2) the court properly entered summary judgment in favor of 21st Century. View "Concord General Mutual Insurance Co. v. Estate of Collette J. Boure" 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 alleging that he was injured as a result of Defendant's negligent operation of a motor vehicle, holding that summary judgment was improper.Plaintiff filed this complaint for negligence against Defendant, alleging that Defendant was the operator of the vehicle that struck his vehicle from behind, causing him injuries. The trial court granted summary judgment in favor of Defendant, concluding that Plaintiff could not establish proximate causation. The Supreme Judicial Court vacated the judgment below, holding that a genuine issue of material fact existed regarding whether Defendant's negligence caused Plaintiff to suffer injuries. View "Toto v. Knowles" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the judgment of the superior court entering summary judgment in favor of Karen and Ronald White on Cecelia Boles's complaint alleging premises liability, holding that there was no error in the proceedings below.Boles was a guest of tenants who rented a two-story house owned by the Whites. Boles was injured when she descended the staircase between the first and second floor and fell at the landing at the bottom of the staircase. Boles brought suit against the Whites on the theory of premises liability for injuries she sustained in the fall. The trial court granted summary judgment in favor of the Whites, concluding that the tenants were in exclusive control of the premises, that the Whites did not expressly agree to maintain the premises in good repair, and that there was no alternative basis for finding the Whites liable. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Boles's claims on appeal were unavailing. View "Boles v. White" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Judicial Court vacated the decision of the Appellate Division of the Workers' Compensation Board (WCB) affirming the decision of the WCB ALJ denying Appellant's petition for review of incapacity benefits paid by Hydraulic Hose & Assemblies, LLC, through its insurer, The Hanover Insurance Group, because the statute of had expired, holding that the claim was timely.Appellant filed a petition for review of incapacity, claiming that he was entitled to total incapacity benefits. The ALJ denied the petition, concluding that the six-year statutory limitation period had expired and that Appellant's receipt of Social Security benefits did not toll the statute of limitations. On appeal, Appellant argued that the receipt of his Social Security benefits under the circumstances tolled the statute of limitations. The Supreme Judicial Court agreed, holding (1) offsetting Social Security old-age insurance benefits must be treated as primary payments of workers' compensation; and (2) the "date of the most recent payment" under Me. Rev. Stat. 39-A, 306 is the date of most recent payment of offsetting Social Security old-age insurance benefits. View "Charest v. Hydraulic Hose & Assemblies, LLC" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the opinion of the Workers' Compensation Board Appellate Division agreeing with the conclusion of the administrative law judge (ALJ) that Darla Potter, an aquaculture worker, was not a "seaman" within the meaning of the Jones Act, 46 U.S.C.S. 30104, holding that the Appellate Division did not err.The Appellate Division affirmed the decree of the ALJ granting Potter's petitions for award of compensation for injuries sustained in the course of her employment with Cooke Aquaculture USA, Inc. At issue on appeal was whether Potter's claims fell within the jurisdiction of federal admiralty law or state workers' compensation law. The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed, holding that Potter was not a seaman within the purview of the Jones Act. View "Potter v. Great Falls Insurance Co." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the judgment of the Workers' Compensation Board Appellate Division vacating the judgment of the administrative law judge (ALJ) denying Lorraine Somers's petition to have her benefits reinstated, holding that the Appellate Division did not err.The Board entered a decree permitting S.D. Warrant Company and its insurer (collectively, S.D. Warren) to discontinue paying Somers partial incapacity benefits when those payments had reached the 520-week statutory limit. Somers filed a petition to have her benefits reinstated, arguing that S.D. Warren failed to comply with Me. W.C.B. Rule, ch. 2, 5(1) (the former Rule) by not providing her with notice that she could be eligible for an extension of weekly benefits. An ALJ denied the petition. The Appellate Division vacated that decision. The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed, holding that S.D. Warren was required to give Somers notice pursuant to the former Rule before terminating her benefits. View "Somers v. S.D. Warren Co." on Justia Law