Justia Injury Law Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in Maine Supreme Judicial Court
Thurlow v. Nelson
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
Concord General Mutual Insurance Co. v. Estate of Collette J. Boure
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
Toto v. Knowles
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
Boles v. White
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
Charest v. Hydraulic Hose & Assemblies, LLC
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
Potter v. Great Falls Insurance Co.
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
Somers v. S.D. Warren Co.
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
McDonald v. City of Portland
In this personal injury action, the Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the judgment of the superior court denying the motion for summary judgment filed by the City of Portland on immunity grounds, holding that the plaza where Plaintiff was injured fell within the public building exception to governmental immunity.Plaintiff slipped and fell on a patch of ice after exiting the lobby of the Portland Police Department headquarters building. Plaintiff filed a complaint alleging negligence. As an affirmative defense, the City asserted that it was immune from suit because the claims did not fall within an exception to immunity contained in the Maine Tort Claims Act, Me. Rev. Stat. 14, 8104-A(2). The court denied the City's motion. The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed, holding that the plaza where Plaintiff fell was an appurtenance to a public building within the meaning of the Act, and therefore, the City was not immune from Plaintiff's claims. View "McDonald v. City of Portland" on Justia Law
Coward v. Gagne & Sons Concrete Blocks, Inc.
The Supreme Judicial Court vacated the judgment of the superior court in favor of Gagne & Son Concrete Blocks, Inc. on the claims brought by Thomas and Lisa Coward that arose out of an accident at the Cowards' home involving Thomas's son, Philip Coward, holding that the court misapplied the contemporaneous perception factor as articulated in precedent regarding bystander actions.Philip died after a one-ton load of rebar fell on him while a Gagne & Son employee was unloading the rebar from a truck using a forklift. The Cowards' complaint alleged, in part, claims of bystander negligent infliction of emotional distress (NIED). The Cowards argued that Thomas contemporaneously perceived the accident because he heard the accident occur, arrived seconds later, and witnessed his injured son die. The trial court entered summary judgment against Thomas on his bystander NIED claim, concluding that Thomas did not meet the contemporaneous perception factor for a bystander NIED claim. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) a bystander may satisfy the "contemporaneous perception" element by demonstrating that he otherwise perceived that event as it occurred and then witnessed the immediate aftermath of that event; and (2) Gagne & Son was not entitled to a judgment as a matter of law. View "Coward v. Gagne & Sons Concrete Blocks, Inc." on Justia Law
Pollack v. Fournier
The Supreme Judicial Court vacated the portion of the superior court's judgment granting, in part, Defendant's special motion to dismiss Plaintiffs' amended complaint pursuant to Maine's Anti-SLAPP statute, Me. Rev. Stat. 14, 556, holding that the court erred in dismissing Count 1 of the complaint regarding Defendant's service of the notice of claim.Defendant served Plaintiffs with a notice of claim asserting, among other claims, defamation. Defendant did not file a complaint after serving the notice of claim. Plaintiffs later filed a seven-count complaint against Defendant. The superior court granted Defendant's special motion to dismiss as to two of the four counts in the amended complaint and authorized an award of attorney fees to Defendant. The Supreme Judicial Court held (1) Defendant's notice of claim was not petitioning activity as defined in the Anti-SLAPP statute, and therefore, the court erred in dismissing Count 1; and (2) the court did not err in determining that it could award attorney fees to Defendant, and therefore, the cause is remanded for the trial court to decide whether an award of attorney fees is warranted as to the two remaining counts. View "Pollack v. Fournier" on Justia Law