Justia Injury Law Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in New York Court of Appeals
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The Court of Appeals reversed the judgment of the trial court awarding damages in favor of Plaintiff alleging that a commercial talcum powder that his deceased wife used daily for a period of more than ten years during the 1960s and early 1970s proximately caused his wife's illness, holding that Plaintiff's proof of causation was insufficient as a matter of law.In 2016, the decedent passed away. Plaintiff, her husband, sued Defendant, alleging that Defendant supplied another company with talc contaminated with asbestos that was then used in a commercial talcum powder. After a trial, the jury returned a verdict in Plaintiff's favor. The appellate division modified the judgment in connection with the damages awarded but otherwise affirmed. The Court of Appeals reversed, holding that Plaintiff's proof failed as a matter of law to meet the test for proving causation in toxic tort cases. View "Nemeth v. Brenntag North America" on Justia Law

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The Court of Appeals held that separate schedule loss of use (SLU) awards for different injuries to the same statutory member are contemplated by N.Y. Work. Comp. Law **(WCL) 15 and that, when a complainant proves that the second injury, considered by itself without consideration of the first injury, has caused an increased loss of use, the claimant is entitled to an SLU award commensurate with that increased loss of use.At issue in these consolidated appeals was whether, under WCL 15, a claimant's SLU award must be reduced by the percentage loss determined for a prior SLU award to a different subpart of the same body member enumerated in section 15. The Court of Appeals reversed the judgment below, holding that separate SLU awards for a member's subparts are authorized by statute. View "Johnson v. City of New York" on Justia Law

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The Court of Appeals reversed the order of the Appellate Division modifying the order of Supreme Court by granting Plaintiff summary judgment on his claim brought under N.Y. Labor Law 241(6), holding that the section 241(6) claim must be dismissed.Plaintiff was struck by a power buggy while working at the World Trade Center Transportation Hub construction site owned by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey (Port Authority). Plaintiff filed this action against the Port Authority, bringing claims under N.Y. Labor Law 241(6) and N.Y. Labor Law 200(1). Supreme Court granted the Port Authority summary judgment on the section 200(1) claim but denied summary judgment on the section 241(6) claim. The Appellate Division modified by granting Plaintiff summary judgment on the section 241(6) claim. The Court of Appeals reversed, holding that 12 NYCRR 23-9.9(a) does not set forth a concrete specification sufficient to give rise to a non-delegable duty under section 241(6). View "Toussaint v. Port Authority of N.Y. & N.J." on Justia Law

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The Court of Appeals reiterated that plaintiffs must establish that a municipality owed them a special duty when they assert a negligence claim based on actions taken by the municipality acting in a governmental capacity and that plaintiffs may establish a special duty when a municipality's police force plans and executes a no-knock search warrant at a person's residence.Plaintiff bought this action in federal court against the City of Binghamton and its police department, arguing that the City breached a special duty and was liable under a respondent superior theory for a police officer's negligence in shooting Plaintiff. The jury determined that the City was liable under a respondeat superior theory. The City moved for judgment as a matter of law. The district court granted the motion, determining that the City did not owe Plaintiff a special duty. On appeal, the federal circuit court certified a question of law to the Court of Appeals. The Court of Appeals answered that a special duty arises when the police plan and execute a no-knock search warrant at an identified residence, running to the individuals within the targeted premises at the time the warrant is executed. View "Ferreira v. City of Binghamton" on Justia Law

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The Court of Appeals held in these consolidated appeals that liability for the death benefits claims at issue could not be transferred to the Special Fund for Reopened Cases (the Special Fund).At issue in these appeals was whether New York Workers' Compensation Law 25-a(1-a), under which no liability for claims submitted on or after January 1, 2014 may be transferred to the Special Fund, forecloses the transfer of liability for a death benefits claim submitted on or after the cut-off date, regardless of the prior transfer of liability for a worker's disability claim arising out of the same injury. The Court of Appeals held that, based on the plain statutory language and this Court's established precedent, liability for the death benefits claims at issue in these cases could not be transferred to the Special Fund. View "Verneau v. Consolidated Edison Co. of N.Y." on Justia Law

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The Court of Appeals affirmed the order of the appellate division reversing the orders of Supreme Court denying Defendants' motions to dismiss the complaint against them pursuant to N.Y. C.P.L.R. 3211(a)(8) on the ground that New York courts lacked personal jurisdiction, holding that that New York courts lacked personal jurisdiction over Defendants.At issue was whether a foreign corporation consents to the exercise of general jurisdiction by New York courts by registering to do business in the state and designating a local agent for service of process. Plaintiffs were the estates of three passengers who died in and the surviving passengers of an accident caused by a New York resident, who was operating a Ford Explorer on an interstate highway in Virginia and the vehicle's Goodyear tire allegedly failed. Ford and Goodyear moved to dismiss the complaint against them under section 3211(a)(8). Supreme Court denied the motions. The appellate division reversed, concluding that a corporation's compliance with the existing business registration statutes does not by itself constitute consent to the general jurisdiction of New York courts. The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding that Defendants' motions to dismiss were properly granted. View "Aybar v. Aybar" on Justia Law

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The Court of Appeals affirmed the order of the Appellate Division holding that recovery of a claimant's schedule loss of use (SLU) award by his estate is limited to the portion of the award that would have been due to the claimant for the period prior to the claimant's death, holding that the Appellate Court did not err.Claimant in this case died from a cause unrelated to his workplace injury during the pendency of his claim for permanent partial disability benefits. The Court of Appeals held that Claimant's estate was not entitled to a lump sum payment of a posthumous schedule loss of use award issued to Claimant pursuant to the Workers' Compensation Law, holding that the estate may recover only reasonable funeral expenses and the portion of the SLU award that would have been due to Claimant before death. View "Estate of Youngjohn v. Berry Plastics Corp." on Justia Law

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In this case disputing whether Plaintiff, who was in close proximity to her grandchild when he was involved in a fatal accident, may pursue a claim for bystander recovery under a "zone of danger" theory, the Court of Appeals held that Plaintiff's grandchild was "immediately family" for the purpose of applying the zone of danger rule.Plaintiff was with her two-year-old granddaughter in front of a building when they were struck by falling debris from the facade of the building. The grandchild died from the accident. Plaintiff brought suit, asserting negligence and wrongful death. Plaintiff then sought leave to amend the complaint to assert an additional cause of action under the "zone of danger" doctrine. Supreme Court granted the motion to amend, concluding that Plaintiff should be considered an immediate family member and afforded a right to recover for her emotional injuries. The Appellate Division reversed, ruling that leave to amend should have been denied. The Court of Appeals reversed, holding that a grandchild is the "immediate family" of a grandparent for the purpose of applying the zone of danger rule. View "Greene v. Esplanade Venture Partnership" on Justia Law

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In this negligence action stemming from injuries Plaintiff allegedly received by a dog in the waiting room of a veterinary clinic, the Court of Appeals modified the order of the Appellate Division affirming Supreme Court's summary judgment in favor of Defendant, the veterinary clinic, holding that neither party was entitled to summary judgment.In granting summary judgment for Defendant, Supreme Court concluded that Defendant's liability was contingent upon it having had notice of vicious propensities in the same manner as that of a dog owner. The Appellate Division affirmed, concluding that Defendant could not be held liable without notice of an animal's vicious propensities. The Court of Appeals modified the order below by denying Defendant's motion for summary judgment, holding (1) Defendant did not need the protection afforded by the vicious propensities notice requirement, and the absence of such notice did not warrant dismissal of Plaintiff's claim; (2) under the circumstances, a negligence claim may lie despite Defendant's lack of notice of the dog's vicious propensities; and (3) questions of fact existed precluding summary judgment. View "Hewitt v. Palmer Veterinary Clinic, PC" on Justia Law

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The Court of Appeals affirmed the decision of the Appellate Division affirming Supreme Court's order dismissing Plaintiffs' personal injury action against, among other defendants, the City of New York, based on Plaintiffs' failure to submit to pre-action N.Y. Gen. Mun. Law 50-h hearings, holding that a claimant does not have the right to observe a coclaimant's section 50-h oral examination over the municipality's objection.Plaintiffs served Defendants with a joint notice of claim, arguing that they suffered personal injuries and other damages due to Defendants' negligence. Defendants served separate notices of 50-h hearing, advising that Plaintiffs were required by law to be orally examined concerning their allegations before commencing an action. Plaintiffs appeared for their section 50-h hearings, but their attorney refused to let the hearings proceed unless each plaintiff could be present while the other testified. Defendants rejected Plaintiffs' requested procedure, and no section 50-h hearings occurred. Supreme Court granted Defendants' motion for summary judgment based on Plaintiffs' failure to submit to the section 50-h hearings. Supreme Court granted the motion, and the Appellate Division affirmed. The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding that section 50-h does not provide a claimant the right to observe a coclaimant's section 50-h oral examination over the municipality's objection. View "Colon v. Martin" on Justia Law