Justia Injury Law Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in North Dakota Supreme Court
Davis, et al. v. Mercy Medical Center, et al.
Mercy Medical Center d/b/a CHI St. Alexius Health Williston; and David Keene, M.D. (Defendants), appealed an amended judgment awarding Michael and Kimberly Davis $1,660,000 in damages and $204,973.31 in costs and disbursements for medical malpractice relating to Michael’s kidney failure. The North Dakota Supreme Court determined the trial court awarded disbursements not authorized by N.D.C.C. § 28-26-06 and allowed other costs without explanation. The Court reversed the Davises’ award of disbursements and costs and remanded for further proceedings. View "Davis, et al. v. Mercy Medical Center, et al." on Justia Law
Kutcka, et al. v. Gateway Building Systems, et al.
David Kutcka, Tammy Dejno, as personal representative of Austin Dejno’s estate, and Tammy Dejno, as wrongful death plaintiff (collectively, “Plaintiffs”) appealed the dismissal of their negligence claims against Gateway Building Systems (“Gateway”). Plaintiffs argued the district court erred in concluding Gateway was Kutcka’s and Austin Dejno’s statutory employer entitling Gateway to immunity from suit under the workers’ compensation act. The North Dakota Supreme Court reversed, concluding that Gateway, the general contractor, was not the statutory employer of its subcontractor’s employees, Kutcka and Dejno, entitling it to immunity under the exclusive remedy provisions of N.D.C.C. § 65-04-28, and remanded for further proceedings. View "Kutcka, et al. v. Gateway Building Systems, et al." on Justia Law
Nodak Ins. Co. v. Farm Family Casualty Ins. Co., et al.
Farm Family Casualty Insurance Company (“Farm Family”) appealed after the district court granted summary judgment to Nodak Insurance Company (“Nodak”) and denied, in part, summary judgment to Farm Family. This case arose from an April 6, 2019 motor vehicle accident. Samuel Hamilton was the son of Bruce and Diana Hamilton. At the time of the April 2019 accident at issue, Samuel was a resident of North Dakota, and his parents were residents of Montana. Before the accident, Farm Family issued an automobile insurance policy to Bruce and Diana with an effective policy period of October 19, 2018 to April 19, 2019. The policy insured a 2011 pickup truck. After moving to Montana, the Hamiltons obtained an insurance policy from Mountain West Farm Bureau Mutual Insurance Company (“Mountain West”) that also insured the 2011 pickup truck with a term running from December 2, 2018 to June 2, 2019. In April 2019, Samuel was driving the insured 2011 pickup truck in Williams County, North Dakota. Samuel reportedly ran a stop sign while intoxicated and struck another vehicle; H.W. was seriously injured and A.M. was killed. Nodak insured the vehicle H.W. and A M. occupied at the time of the accident. Nodak filed suit seeking a declaration Farm Family’s automobile policy was in effect at the time of the April 2019 accident, Farm Family’s policy could not be retroactively cancelled, and the vehicle driven by the insureds’ son was not an “underinsured motor vehicle” under North Dakota law. The North Dakota Supreme Court concluded the automobile policy Farm Family issued to its insureds had not “ceased” under the policy language and remained in effect at the time of the April 2019 motor vehicle accident. View "Nodak Ins. Co. v. Farm Family Casualty Ins. Co., et al." on Justia Law
Sandberg v. WSI, et al.
Workforce Safety and Insurance (“WSI”) and John Sandberg appealed a district court judgment affirming in part and reversing in part an Administrative Law Judge’s (“ALJ”) decision on remand, entered after the North Dakota Supreme Court's decision in State by & through Workforce Safety and Insurance v. Sandberg (“Sandberg II”), 956 N.W.2d 342. On appeal, the North Dakota Supreme Court determined the ALJ had made conflicting and insufficient findings to support the finding that Sandberg’s claim was compensable and it was “unable to reconcile the ALJ’s decision with the statutory requirements for medical evidence supported by objective medical findings for a compensable injury in N.D.C.C. § 65-01-02(10).” On remand, the ALJ made additional findings and again held Sandberg met his burden of proving by a preponderance of the evidence that he had sustained a compensable injury. WSI appealed to the district court and the court affirmed the ALJ’s order. On the second appeal, the Supreme Court affirmed the “judgment affirming the ALJ’s revised order to the extent the order found Sandberg sustained a compensable injury; however, the Court remand[ed] the case to WSI for further proceedings on whether benefits must be awarded on an aggravation basis under N.D.C.C. § 65-05-15.” On remand, WSI reversed its decision and accepted Sandberg’s claim on an aggravation basis and denied Sandberg disability benefits. Sandberg appealed to the district court, which affirmed WSI’s determination to award benefits on an aggravation basis and reversed the ALJ’s affirmance of WSI’s denial of disability benefits concluding WSI exceeded the scope of remand provided in Sandberg II. The Supreme Court concluded the district court erred in finding WSI exceeded the scope of the remand and in reversing the ALJ's order affirming WSI's denial of disability benefits. The Court affirmed the district court affirmance of the ALJ’s order awarding benefits on an aggravation basis under N.D.C.C. § 65-05-15. The Court reinstated the ALJ’s order affirming WSI’s denial of disability benefits. View "Sandberg v. WSI, et al." on Justia Law
Secura Supreme Ins. Co., et al. v. Differding, et al.
Secura Supreme Insurance Company appealed a judgment ordering Secura to indemnify Scott Differding for damages awarded against him in a tort case. The district court, deciding cross motions for summary judgment, held Secura’s policy did not insure Differding. The court nonetheless held Secura had to indemnify Differding under theories of waiver and estoppel because it assumed his defense in the tort case without reserving the right to deny coverage. The North Dakota Supreme Court held Differding could not invoke waiver and estoppel to create personal coverage under an insurance policy to which he was not a party and had no right to enforce. The district court’s judgment was therefore reversed. View "Secura Supreme Ins. Co., et al. v. Differding, et al." on Justia Law
Arthaud v. Fuglie
Jim Arthaud appeals a district court judgment granting Jim Fuglie’s motion to dismiss. Arthaud sued Fuglie, alleging Fuglie published a defamatory statement in his internet blog titled “A Bridge to Nowhere.” The blog was published in August 2018 on Fuglie’s website, “The Prairie Blog.” Arthaud brought suit on October 5, 2021, asserting he did not learn about the post until September 2021. Fuglie responded and filed a motion to dismiss, arguing Arthaud’s claim was time barred under the applicable statute of limitations. The district court subsequently granted the motion to dismiss, finding Arthaud’s claims were time barred under section 28-01-18(1) of the North Dakota Century Code regardless of whether the discovery rule applied in defamation cases. Arthaud argued the North Dakota Supreme Court should adopt the “discovery rule” when determining whether a litigant has timely brought a defamation claim. The Supreme Court held it was unnecessary to decide whether to adopt the discovery rule for defamation claims because the Uniform Single Publication Act precluded the discovery rule from applying to statements made to the public. View "Arthaud v. Fuglie" on Justia Law
Keidel v. WSI, et al.
Jesse Keidel appealed a district court judgment affirming an administrative law judge’s (ALJ) decision denying Keidel permanent partial impairment (PPI) benefits. In May 1996, Keidel suffered a work-related injury to the meniscus of his left knee. Keidel had surgery in December 1996. In October 1997, Keidel underwent a second surgery to his left knee, a high tibial osteotomy. The doctor performing an independent medical evaluation in May 1998 opined that Keidel’s left knee condition was a “combination of his significant preexisting left knee degenerative joint disease and the work-related permanent aggravation.” Following a permanent impairment evaluation, WSI denied Keidel a PPI award because Keidel’s 15% whole body impairment was below the statutory 16% threshold for an impairment award. In January 2019, Keidel had left total knee replacement surgery. In June 2020, Keidel underwent a second permanent impairment evaluation. The evaluating doctor, Dr. Redington, determined Keidel had a 24% whole person impairment for the left total knee replacement. "Giving [Keidel] the benefit of the doubt, I will apportion 50% of the impairment rating of the left knee to pre-existing conditions." In November 2020, WSI denied an impairment award for Keidel’s left knee because his overall impairment rating after apportionment after the second evaluation was 12%, which was below the 14% threshold for an impairment award under then current version of N.D.C.C. § 65-05-12.2. At a hearing, Keidel argued the apportionment of his left knee impairment due to preexisting arthritis was litigated and decided in a 2000 hearing. Keidel argued administrative res judicata prohibited WSI from litigating whether his permanent impairment could be apportioned to a preexisting condition. The ALJ and district court concluded administrative res judicata did not apply. Finding no error in that judgment, the North Dakota Supreme Court affirmed. View "Keidel v. WSI, et al." on Justia Law
Sadek, et al. v. Weber, et al.
John and Tammy Sadek appealed orders denying their post-judgment motion and sanctioning their attorney under N.D.R.Civ.P. 11. Jason Weber was a Richland County, North Dakota sheriff’s deputy. Sadek acted as a confidential informant for Weber. Sadek was later found in the Red River with a gunshot wound to his head and a backpack full of rocks tied to his body. Sadek’s parents sued Weber and Richland County alleging Weber deceived Sadek by telling Sadek he faced a lengthy prison sentence. They also alleged Weber negligently caused Sadek’s death by failing to adequately train and protect him. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of Weber and Richland County: the misrepresentation underlying the deceit claim was a prediction of a future event and therefore not actionable as deceit as a matter of law; as to the negligence claim, there was no evidence to establish Weber’s conduct was the proximate cause of Sadek’s death. In the first appeal ("Sadek I"), the Sadeks argued a genuine issue of material fact existed as to whether Weber’s conduct caused Andrew Sadek’s death. The North Dakota Supreme Court affirmed, holding that "the evidence only presents a timeline of events and a request that a jury be allowed to speculate what happened as a result of that string of events." The Court's mandate affirming the dismissal judgment was issued on October 7, 2020. In 2022, the Sadeks filed a “Motion for Summary Judgment,” citing N.D.R.Civ.P. 60(b) but requested relief under N.D.R.Civ.P. 56. The Sadeks argued the district court made a mistake by relying on “bad faith” representations by Weber who “successfully hoodwinked [the district court] and obtained a Judgment of Dismissal.” Yet the Sadeks claimed they were entitled to summary judgment because “no triable issue of fact exists as to whether Defendants owed a duty of care to Andrew under the Statute.” The brief was accompanied by a list of signatures “verifying” they agreed with on Supreme Court Justice's dissent in Sadek I. The district court entered an order denying the Sadeks’ post-judgment motion, characterizing it as "baffling and bizarre." After review, the Supreme Court affirmed the district court’s orders and granted the Appellees’ motion for sanctions. View "Sadek, et al. v. Weber, et al." on Justia Law
Procive v. WSI
Robert Procive appealed when a district court dismissed his appeal of an Administrative Law Judge’s order that denied his claim for Workforce Safety and Insurance (“WSI”) benefits. Procive submitted his first claim in 2020, alleging he suffered carpal tunnel syndrome due to injuries to both wrists, elbows, and shoulders resulting from repetitive digging, hammering and driving stakes, steel posts, and iron rods into the ground. He claimed his original injury occurred in western North Dakota, and he notified his employer of his injury in November 2004 and October 2016. WSI accepted liability for Procive’s right carpal tunnel injury, but denied for the left. Later WSI issued its order reversing its acceptance of liability for the right carpal tunnel, finding Procive willfully made false statements about whether he had prior injuries or received treatment. WSI ordered Procive to repay past benefits he received. After a hearing the ALJ affirmed WSI’s decisions denying coverage. Procive appealed to the district court in Stutsman County. WSI moved to dismiss the appeal, arguing the district court lacked subject matter jurisdiction because Procive was required to file his appeal in the county where the injury occurred or the county where he resided. To this, the North Dakota Supreme Court affirmed, finding the district court did not have jurisdiction. View "Procive v. WSI" on Justia Law
St. Alexius Medical Center v. Nesvig, et al.
St. Alexius Medical Center, d/b/a CHI St. Alexius Health Bismarck, requested a supervisory writ preventing enforcement of the district court’s order compelling disclosure of privileged information. Kevin McKibbage sued Daniel Dixon, Bone & Joint Center, and CHI for medical malpractice relating to a surgery Dixon performed in 2017. In response to McKibbage’s discovery requests, CHI produced some of the requested documents and asserted privileges on others. CHI provided a privilege log identifying undisclosed documents and the privileges claimed. McKibbage filed a motion to compel arguing CHI did not provide sufficient information in the privilege log. CHI responded that it identified all the information it could without violating the peer review law, but CHI agreed to produce an amended privilege log containing greater descriptions. The district court found the law permitted the disclosure of additional information and ordered the following to be disclosed: the dates the documents were created, the identity of the person who created each document and their position at the time of creation, and the identity of the person who received each document and their position for peer review. CHI argued to the North Dakota Supreme Court that the disclosures violated North Dakota’s statutory peer review privilege. The Supreme Court granted CHI's petition and directed the district court to vacate its November 8, 2021 discovery order. View "St. Alexius Medical Center v. Nesvig, et al." on Justia Law