Justia Injury Law Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in U.S. 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals
American Petroleum and Transport v. City of New York
American, a corporation in the business of transporting petroleum products by water, filed suit against the City for common law negligence and for violation of 33 U.S.C. 494, which required that a drawbridge over navigable water be opened promptly by the persons owning or operating such bridge upon reasonable signal for the passage of boats and other water craft. Due to a mechanical malfunction, which American alleged was the result of negligence, the City did not open the Pelham Parkway Bridge, delaying American's tug and barge for approximately two and a half days. At issue was whether, under maritime law, an owner of a vessel could be awarded damages for economic loss due to negligence in the absence of physical damage to its property. Although the court concluded that Robins Dry Dock & Repair Co. v. Flint has been overread to establish a rule barring damages for economic loss in the absence of an owner's property damage, the court believed that the rule has been so consistently applied in admiralty that it should continue to be applied unless and until altered by Congress or the Supreme Court. View "American Petroleum and Transport v. City of New York" on Justia Law
Aegis Insurance Services, Inc. v. 7 World Trade Center Co.
7WTC stood on the northern edge of the World Trade Center site and as the North Tower collapsed on September 11, 2001, it damaged 7WTC. After burning for seven hours, 7WTC collapsed, destroying the electrical substation owned by Con Ed directly beneath the building. Con Ed, along with its insurers, filed suit against defendants, who designed, built, operated, and maintained 7WTC, alleging in relevant part that defendants' negligence caused the building to collapse. The court concluded that Con Ed failed to present evidence sufficient to raise a genuine issue of fact as to whether defendants' negligence was the cause-in-fact of Con Ed's injury. The court had little trouble concluding that the confluence of events that day demonstrated that 7WTC would have collapsed regardless of any negligence ascribed by plaintiffs' experts to the design and construction of 7WTC more than a decade earlier. It was simply incompatible with common sense and experience to hold that defendants were required to design and construct a building that would survive the events of September 11, 2001. Accordingly, the court affirmed the dismissal of the claims against defendants on this alternative ground. View "Aegis Insurance Services, Inc. v. 7 World Trade Center Co." on Justia Law
Velez v. City of New York
Plaintiff, representative of the estate of her deceased son, filed suit against the City of New York, police officers, and others, alleging that they were liable for her son's death. A jury found in favor of defendants. The court held that, where a municipality acted in a governmental capacity, a plaintiff could not recover without proving that the municipality owed a "special duty" to the injured party. The plaintiff bears the burden of proving a special relationship, and where the plaintiff failed to meet this burden, the analysis ended and liability could not be imputed to the municipality that acted in a governmental capacity. The distinction between nonfeasance and misfeasance was irrelevant to the analysis and the existence of a special relationship was a question of law that could be properly submitted to the jury. In this instance, the court found no error entitling plaintiff to a new trial and affirmed the judgment of the district court. View "Velez v. City of New York" on Justia Law
Izzarelli v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co.
Plaintiff filed suit against R.J. Reynolds under the Connecticut Products Liability Act (CPLA), Conn. Gen. Stat. Ann. 52-572m et seq., for strict liability and negligence. Plaintiff claimed that the cigarettes she smoked for 25 years caused cancer in her larynx. On appeal, R.J. Reynolds challenged the denial of its renewed motion for judgment as a matter of law. The court certified the following question to the Connecticut Supreme Court: Does Comment i to section 402A of the Restatement (Second) of Torts preclude a suit premised on strict products liability against a cigarette manufacturer based on evidence that the defendant purposefully manufactured cigarettes to increase daily consumption without regard to the resultant increase in exposure to carcinogens, but in the absence of evidence of any adulteration or contamination. View "Izzarelli v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co." on Justia Law
Troma Entertainment v. Robbins
Troma, producer and distributor of "controlled budget motion pictures," filed suit against defendants alleging copyright infringement under federal law and state law claims of common law fraud and tortious interference with prospective economic advantage. At issue on appeal was section 302(a)(3)(ii) of the New York Civil Practice Law and Rules, and in particular its requirement that the allegedly tortious conduct of the individual over whom personal jurisdiction was asserted under that section "caus[ed] injury to person or property within the state." Troma failed to articulate a non-speculative and direct injury to person or property in New York that went beyond the simple economic losses that its New York-based business suffered. The court held that it was well settled that such economic losses were not alone a sufficient basis for personal jurisdiction over the persons who caused them. Therefore, the court concluded that the district court correctly determined that it did not have the power to exercise personal jurisdiction over defendants because Troma failed to make a prima facie showing of personal jurisdiction under section 302(a)(3)(iii). View "Troma Entertainment v. Robbins" on Justia Law
Balintulo v. Daimler AG
Plaintiffs filed putative class-action suits over ten years ago under the Alien Tort Statute (ATS), 28 U.S.C. 1350, on behalf of those harmed by the South African legal regime known as "apartheid." Plaintiffs asserted that defendants aided and abetted violations of customary international law committed by the South African government by selling cars and computers to the South African government. Defendants petitioned for mandamus relief. The court concluded that, in light of the Supreme Court's decision in Kiobel v. Royal Dutch Petroleum Co., issuance of the writ was unnecessary in this case because defendants have an adequate means of relief through a motion for judgment on the pleadings; plaintiffs' arguments that Kiobel did not apply where defendants were American citizens, or where the case involved American interests, were without merit; and, because the Kiobel decision plainly foreclosed plaintiffs' claims as a matter of law, the court need not consider whether defendants have asserted a valid basis for "collateral order" jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. 1291. Accordingly, the court denied the petition for mandamus relief and vacated the stay placed by the court on proceedings in the district court. View "Balintulo v. Daimler AG" on Justia Law
Dongguk University v. Yale University
Dongguk, a prominent Korean university, filed suit against Yale claiming that Yale acted negligently and engaged in reckless and wanton conduct when responding to an inquiry about whether Jeong ah Shin had received a Ph.D. from Yale. Yale mistakenly confirmed Shin's doctoral degree and Dongguk hired Shin as an art history professor. The court concluded that Dongguk has failed to present any evidence that any individual at Yale who was responsible for publication of a defamatory statement acted with actual malice and, therefore, the court affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment in Yale's favor on the defamation claim. The court also affirmed the district court's dismissal of Dongguk's negligence claim where Dongguk failed to demonstrate any genuine issue of material fact as to whether Yale's Associate Dean's statement caused Dongguk reputational injury, Yale Deputy General Counsel acted with actual malice when making a negligent statement, or additional harm occurred as a result of Yale's delay in correcting its misstatements. Finally, the court affirmed the dismissal of the reckless and wanton conduct claim given the absence of evidence or allegations that Yale's conduct created a risk of bodily harm to an individual at Dongguk. View "Dongguk University v. Yale University" on Justia Law
Hallock v. Koubek
Michael Koubek appealed from the district court's refusal to dismiss the contribution claims of third-party plaintiffs, the Hallocks, after Koubek's wife, who was driving Koubek's car from a business meeting, collided with a car driven by one of the Hallocks. Koubek's wife was driving in the car with Mathew Isabella at the time of the accident and Isabella sustained injuries. Isabella was prevented by New York Workers' Compensation Law from suing Koubek's wife, and he eventually obtained workers' compensation benefits. Isabella then sued the Hallocks and the Hallocks filed a third-party complaint against Koubek for contribution and indemnification. At issue on appeal was the conflict between two provisions of New York law: Section 29(g) of New York's Workers' Compensation Law, which provided that workers' compensation was the exclusive remedy of an employee injured by his co-employee's negligence, and Section 388 of New York's Vehicle and Traffic Law, which provided that every owner of a vehicle operated in New York was liable for injuries resulting from the negligent permissive use of that vehicle. The court certified the issue to the New York Court of Appeals and stayed resolution of the appeal. View "Hallock v. Koubek" on Justia Law
Gordon v. Softech Int’l, Inc.
After plaintiff was involved in a verbal altercation with Defendant Leifer, Leifer used plaintiff's license plate number to obtain the name and home address of plaintiff. Leifer then embarked on a campaign to harass plaintiff and his family. Plaintiff filed suit under the Driver's Privacy Protection Act, 18 U.S.C. 2721-2725, against Leifer and the entities and individuals who obtained the information from the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles and released it to Leifer. The court held that Defendant Resellers were not strictly liable for Leifer's improper use of plaintiff's personal information because neither the text nor the legislative history of the Act supported a reading of a strict liability standard into the Act; while Defendant Softech disclosed plaintiff's personal information for a permitted use, a material question of fact existed as to the propriety of the disclosure; the Act imposed a duty on resellers to exercise reasonable care in responding to requests for personal information drawn from motor vehicle records; nothing in the record suggested that, in complying with the information request, Softech acted unreasonably; and a reasonable jury could find that Arcanum failed to exercise reasonable care when it disclosed plaintiff's personal information to Leifer. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment of the district court to the extent it granted summary judgment in favor of Softech and Rodriquez, vacated the judgment to the extent it granted summary judgment in favor of Arcanum and Cohn on plaintiff's claims under the Act, and remanded for further proceedings. View "Gordon v. Softech Int'l, Inc." on Justia Law
In re: World Trade Center Disaster Site Litigation
Plaintiffs, office cleaners in buildings surrounding the World Trade Center disaster site on and after the September 11th terrorist attacks, appealed the district court's order denying their motion for an extension of time to comply with the district court's prior order requiring them to submit properly certified discovery responses, and dismissing their complaint with prejudice for failure to prosecute their cases. Plaintiffs alleged injuries resulting from exposure to toxic materials from the World Trade Center site. The court concluded that the district court acted well within its discretion in dismissing certain plaintiffs' complaints for failure to comply with repeated court orders despite numerous extension of time to do so. The court also concluded that the district court did not err as a matter of law in interpreting 28 U.S.C. 1746 to require that a certification be made "under penalty of perjury." Therefore, the district court properly rejected the interrogatory answers of certain plaintiffs that omitted that language. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment. View "In re: World Trade Center Disaster Site Litigation" on Justia Law