Justia Injury Law Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in New Hampshire Supreme Court
Banaian v. Bascom et al.
Plaintiff Debbie Banaian appealed a superior court order granting motions to dismiss filed by defendants Aaron Bliss, Shannon Bossidy, Bryan Gagnon, Jacob D. MacDuffie, and Katie Moulton. The sole issue on appeal was whether defendants, who retweeted a defamatory tweet initiated by another individual, were “users” within the meaning of the Communications Decency Act, 47 U.S.C. 230(c)(1) (2018) (CDA), and therefore entitled to immunity from plaintiff’s claims for defamation and reckless infliction of emotional distress. The New Hampshire Supreme Court held that the retweeter defendants were “user[s] of an interactive computer service” under section 230(c)(1) of the CDA, and thus plaintiff’s claims against them were barred. Accordingly, the Supreme Court upheld the trial court’s granting of the motions to dismiss because the facts pled in the plaintiff’s complaint did not constitute a basis for legal relief. View "Banaian v. Bascom et al." on Justia Law
Cincinnati Specialty Underwriters Insurance Company v. Best Way Homes, Inc. & a.
Defendant Russell Blodgett appealed a superior court order granting summary judgment in favor of plaintiff Cincinnati Specialty Underwriters Insurance Company (CSU). Blodgett argued the trial court erred by concluding that the terms of a commercial general liability policy issued by CSU clearly and unambiguously excluded coverage for Blodgett’s damages in a separate personal injury action against CSU’s insured resulting from Blodgett’s fall from an alleged negligently constructed staircase. The New Hampshire Supreme Court concluded that, pursuant to the policy’s clear and unambiguous language, CSU had no duty or obligation to defend or indemnify its insured in the underlying litigation. View "Cincinnati Specialty Underwriters Insurance Company v. Best Way Homes, Inc. & a." on Justia Law
Bisceglia v. New Hampshire Secretary of State & al.
Plaintiff Janet Bisceglia appealed a superior court order granting summary judgment to defendants' the New Hampshire Secretary of State and the New Hampshire Department of Natural and Cultural Resources (collectively the State). The court ruled that the State was immune from liability for plaintiff’s negligence claim under New Hampshire’s recreational use statute. Plaintiff and her family visited a historic lighthouse situated on land in New Castle, which was owned by the United States. That federal land was adjacent to Fort Constitution, which was owned and operated by the State. While plaintiff was standing on the federal land next to the outer wall of Fort Constitution, a portion of the wall fell on top of her, causing her substantial injuries. The trial court determined that because the State “held Fort Constitution out to the public at no charge” and the wall “was maintained as part of the historic site for the use and enjoyment of the public,” RSA 508:14, I, shielded the State from liability, “regardless of whether Plaintiff was physically on [the State’s] property at the time of the injury.” The court denied the plaintiff’s motion for reconsideration. The New Hampshire Supreme Court reversed, finding it was undisputed that plaintiff did not use the State’s land; the trial court erred in granting the State’s motion for summary judgment based on RSA 508:14, I. View "Bisceglia v. New Hampshire Secretary of State & al." on Justia Law
Appeal of Pelmac Industries, Inc.
Petitioner AmGUARD Insurance Group (Carrier), insurer of Pelmac Industries, Inc. (Pelmac), appealed a New Hampshire Compensation Appeals Board (CAB) decision awarding workers’ compensation death benefits to the respondent, the decedent-employee’s estate. The Carrier argued that the decedent’s original June 5, 2018 injury was not a work-related injury, and, in the alternative, that his subsequent death by suicide did not result from the original injury. The Carrier also argued that the CAB violated its due process rights. Finding no reversible error, the New Hampshire Supreme Court affirmed. View "Appeal of Pelmac Industries, Inc." on Justia Law
Appeal of Estate of Peter Dodier
Petitioner Estate of Peter Dodier, appealed a New Hampshire Compensation Appeals Board (CAB) order denying the estate’s claim for workers’ compensation and death benefits following Peter Dodier’s death. The CAB denied the estate’s claim based on its determination that Dodier’s anxiety and depression were not a compensable injury. It therefore did not reach the issue of death benefits. Because the New Hampshire Supreme Court concluded that Dodier’s anxiety and depression were compensable, it reversed the CAB’s decision and remanded for its consideration of whether the estate was entitled to death benefits. View "Appeal of Estate of Peter Dodier" on Justia Law
Ladue v. Pla-Fit Health, LLC
Plaintiff Theresa Ladue was injured in a fall at a gym in Nashua, New Hampshire, operated by defendant Pla-Fit Health, LLC (Planet Fitness). Ladue brought a negligence claim against Planet Fitness. Planet Fitness moved for summary judgment. The Superior Court granted the motion, finding that Ladue’s claim was barred by a release of liability provision in her membership agreement. Finding no reversible error in that judgment, the New Hampshire Supreme Court affirmed the grant of summary judgment. View "Ladue v. Pla-Fit Health, LLC" on Justia Law
Appeal of Laura LeBorgne
Petitioner Laura LeBorgne appealed a New Hampshire Compensation Appeals Board (CAB) decision upholding the denial of her request for reimbursement for massage therapy that she received in New York to treat an injury suffered while working for respondent, Elliot Hospital. She argued the CAB erred in finding that she failed to satisfy her burden to prove that the treatment was reasonable, necessary, and related to her workplace injury, and in applying the requirements of RSA 281-A:23, V(c) (2010) to her case. The New Hampshire Supreme Court determined failure to meet the requirements of RSA 281-A:23, V(c) was irrelevant to the determination of whether the treatment received was reasonable, necessary, and related to the workplace injury under RSA 281-A:23, I. Thus, the Court held the CAB improperly determined that petitioner failed to establish that her New York massage therapy treatment was reasonable, necessary, and related to her 2011 injury because the form required by RSA 281-A:23, V(c) had not been submitted. "[A]lthough some of [petitioner's physician's] notes did not contain his recommendation that petitioner continue massage therapy, the CAB explicitly found that [the physician] ordered the continuance of massage therapy and gave substantial weight to his opinion that massage therapy was reasonable and necessary in treating her work-related injury. The CAB could not reasonably have found that the petitioner failed to prove that the massage therapy treatment at issue was reasonable, necessary, and related to her workplace injury because some of [the physician's] notes did not contain the massage recommendation, while also finding, based upon the evidence before it, that [he] ordered the continuance of massage therapy." The CAB was reversed and the matter remanded for further proceedings. View "Appeal of Laura LeBorgne" on Justia Law
Moscicki v. Leno
Sandra Moscicki appealed a superior court order denying her motion to exclude expert testimony proffered by the appellees, Charles and Heidi Leno. In July 2008, the Lenos’ twin children, a boy and a girl, were born. In September 2009, the Lenos and their children moved into an apartment owned by Moscicki’s trust. Shortly thereafter, when the children were approximately eighteen months old, Heidi Leno “expressed concerns” regarding their son’s “speech and development.” Charles Leno had also observed that their son exhibited “significant developmental problems in the months before his eighteen-month checkup.” In October 2009, both children were tested for lead. The test revealed that both children had elevated blood lead levels (EBLLs). The children were again tested for lead in July 2010, shortly after their second birthday. This test revealed that they again had EBLLs, higher than previously recorded. Thereafter, the Lenos and their children moved out of Moscicki’s apartment. Moscicki brought an action against the Lenos, seeking unpaid rent. The Lenos then filed an action against Moscicki, alleging that their children suffered harm as a result of lead exposure while living in the apartment. The trial court consolidated these actions. The interlocutory question transferred to the New Hampshire Supreme Court called for the Court to decide whether for an expert opinion on causation to be admissible in a toxic tort case, the expert had to consider the “dose-response relationship” in reaching that opinion. The Supreme Court answered in the negative and remanded the matter for further proceedings. View "Moscicki v. Leno" on Justia Law
Appeal of Elizabeth Doody
Claimant Elizabeth Doody worked for the Laconia School District as an elementary school speech assistant for over a decade. Her job required her to accompany students from their location to a special services room as well as to supervise a locked side entrance door at the beginning of the school day when students arrive and at the end of the school day when they depart. Of the school’s 300 students, approximately 125 students typically used the side entrance, which consisted of an outside concrete area, an exterior door that accessed a small atrium with a floor mat, and an interior door that accessed the corridor. In winter weather, the outside concrete area was treated with sand and ice melt product. On April 18, 2017, Claimant fell twice while walking down the corridor toward the side entrance, once at approximately 8:30 a.m. and again at approximately 3:00 p.m. Both falls occurred in the same location. The morning fall did not injure Claimant, but the afternoon fall fractured her right arm, which had to be repaired surgically. Claimant was taken out of work by one of her doctors the day after the injury and was released to part-time work with modifications. Because the District was unable to accommodate the restrictions, Claimant remained out of work until school resumed in the fall. Despite the surgery and a subsequent course of physical therapy, Claimant remained unable to lift her right hand over her head and continued to experience pain. Claimant appealed a New Hampshire Compensation Appeals Board (CAB) decision to deny her claim for indemnity benefits and payment of medical bills. The parties disputed whether Claimant’s injury arose out of her employment. Because the New Hampshire Supreme Court determined the CAB misapplied the applicable law with respect to on-the-job injuries, and because applying that test required further fact-finding, it vacated the CAB’s decision and remanded for further factual findings and for the correct application of the “increased-risk test” to those facts. View "Appeal of Elizabeth Doody" on Justia Law
Bloom v. Casella Construction, Inc.
Plaintiff Eileen Bloom appealed a superior court order granting summary judgment to defendant Casella Construction, Inc. (Casella), ruling that the defendant did not owe the plaintiff a duty of care and was not otherwise liable to her pursuant to Section 324A of the Restatement (Second) of Torts. Plaintiff worked as a nurse at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center (DHMC). On December 30, 2013, she parked her car in an employee parking lot. She exited the vehicle, took two steps, and fell on a patch of ice. As a result of her fall, the plaintiff suffered injuries that required surgery. At the time of the plaintiff’s accident, DHMC had a “Snow Plowing Agreement” with Casella (the contract). “Snow Plowing Guidelines” (guidelines) were attached to the contract, calling for salting and sanding of DHMC grounds, and stating that “[e]mployee lots shall be kept plowed as clear as possible and accessible at the start of each shift change”; and “[g]enerally salt is applied to parking lots prior to or at the start of a storm and after storm cleanup or as directed by DHMC Grounds Supervisor or his designee.” Plaintiff alleged the contract obligated Casella to keep the employee parking lot in which she fell clear, and Casella breached that obligation. To the extent the trial court reasoned that there was no duty under the contract because Casella did not assume DHMC’s entire responsibility to keep its property free from unreasonable risks of harm, the New Hampshire Supreme Court disagreed. Whether DHMC directed Casella to apply sand and salt to the parking lot where plaintiff was injured raised a genuine issue of material fact which precluded the entry of summary judgment. For this reason, the Supreme Court reversed the grant of summary judgment and remanded for further proceedings. View "Bloom v. Casella Construction, Inc." on Justia Law