Justia Injury Law Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals
Seaton v. TripAdvisor, LLC
Grand Resort, which has operated in the Great Smoky Mountains since 1982, claims that TripAdvisor’s publication of a survey that concluded that Grand Resort was the dirtiest hotel in America caused irreparable damage to its business and that TripAdvisor used a flawed rating system that distorted actual performance and perspective. The district court dismissed, reasoning that the “dirtiest hotels” list is protected opinion; it reflects TripAdvisor’s users’ subjective opinions and is not capable of being defamatory. The court rejected a motion to amend to add claims of trade libel-injurious falsehood and tortious interference with prospective business relationships to the claims of false light-invasion of privacy and of defamation. The Sixth Circuit affirmed, noting that amendment of the complaint would be futile. View "Seaton v. TripAdvisor, LLC" on Justia Law
Cleveland Indians Baseball Co. v. NH Ins. Co.
National contracted to produce “Kids Fun Day” events before 2010 Cleveland Indians games, including a collapsible inflatable slide. National purchased a required comprehensive liability insurance policy naming the Indians as additional insureds, from NHIC through an independent broker, CSI. On the application a box was checked, indicating use of a “bounce houses or inflatables.” A “Certificate of Liability Insurance” issued six weeks before the slide collapsed, causing a death. Neither National nor the Indians had received the full policy at the time of the accident. After the accident, National learned that, despite its specific application request, CSI had failed to procure a policy that expressly covered inflatables. In an email exchange, an employee of CSI stated, “Oh, ok. Sorry, I guess I missed it.” Later CSI stated: “inflatable’s [sic] are excluded on the policy you purchase[d] from us. Whoever own the inflatable’s [sic] are [sic] to carry insurance on them and name you … I don’t believe I’ve ever seen you indicate on your applications that inflatable’s [sic] are at your events, but please note, the exclusion is listed on the quotes we sent over to you.” The district court found NHIC not liable to the Indians and that CSI could not be liable in negligence. The Sixth Circuit reversed as to CSI and remanded the negligence and negligent misrepresentation claims. View "Cleveland Indians Baseball Co. v. NH Ins. Co." on Justia Law
Miedzianowski v. City of Clare
Scozzari was fatally shot by two police officers. Plaintiff, as representative of decedent’s estate, brought a civil rights action alleging excessive force and deliberate indifference to a known medical need. After the officers’ motion for summary judgment on qualified immunity grounds was denied, a jury found in favor of the officers. The district court instructed the jury that the plaintiff was required to prove that deliberate indifference proximately caused decedent’s death. The district court later granted plaintiff a new trial on the deliberate indifference claim because our circuit has held that “in delay-of-treatment cases, it is not necessary to show that the delay in providing medical care proximately caused the injury” when it would be obvious to a layperson that there was a risk of serious harm without immediate medical attention. The Sixth Circuit denied a petition for interlocutory appeal. Defendants cannot satisfy the requirement that “a substantial ground for difference of opinion exists regarding the correctness of the decision.” View "Miedzianowski v. City of Clare" on Justia Law
Martin Cnty. Coal Corp. v. Universal Underwriters Ins. Co.
In 1997, Crum, a small company near insolvency, agreed to service Martin’s light-duty vehicles. Martin was a subsidiary of Massey Coal, a publicly-traded corporation. The agreement allowed Crum to enter Martin’s property to pick up vehicles; Martin required Crum to enter into an indemnification agreement and Crum agreed to Martin’s terms. Crum obtained insurance coverage required by the agreement from Universal. Philip, a Crum employee, rode with a Martin employee to pick up a truck from Martin property. A boulder rolled down hill, hit the vehicle, severely injuring Philip. The U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration cited Martin for having loose rock above the roadway. Philip and Crum sued Martin; Martin counterclaimed based on the indemnification. Universal declined to defend on the counterclaim. After mediation, Martin agreed, without admitting liability, to pay $3,650,000. The parties also entered an “agreed judgment” against Crum for $3,650,000, on Martin’s counterclaim. Martin agreed not to pursue Crum for that judgment and sued Universal. The Sixth Circuit agreed with the district court that Universal had no duty to indemnify Martin because there was enough evidence to show that Crum was not actually liable to Martin. The indemnification was unenforceable as against public policy; it was the product of a significant disparity in bargaining power and attempted to shift liability for compliance with at least one mining-safety statute. View "Martin Cnty. Coal Corp. v. Universal Underwriters Ins. Co." on Justia Law
Cummins v. Bic USA, Inc.
A three-year-old child found a cigarette lighter in his father’s truck and used it to loosen a button on his shirt. His shirt caught fire and he spent three weeks in the hospital, where he was treated for second and third degree burns to his face and chest and underwent several skin graft surgeries. A BIC cigarette lighter was found at the scene and delivered to the police. Who found the lighter, and where, is unclear. In a suit against the manufacturer, the jury found the lighter was not defective or unreasonably dangerous in a way that causally contributed to the injuries. The Sixth Circuit affirmed, rejecting arguments that the court allowed inadmissible evidence of the failure of the Consumer Product Safety Commission to take action concerning the lighter and that the court erred by permitting BIC’s counsel to argue that the parents were to blame and refusing to instruct the jury to disregard such arguments. The court noted that the lighter admitted in evidence is presumed to be the one that caused the fire; it was worn, and the child safety guard had been removed. View "Cummins v. Bic USA, Inc." on Justia Law
Tompkins v. Crown Corr, Inc.
Tompkins was injured when she slipped in a pool of water on the floor and fell at McNamara Terminal in the Detroit Metropolitan Airport (DTW). She sued Northwest Airlines, which she alleged had possession and control of McNamara at the time; Wayne County Airport Authority (WCAA), which owns DTW; and Kimco, which provided janitorial services. Contractors involved in the installation and repair of an allegedly leaky roof were brought into the suit as third party defendants. Her claims against WCAA were for liability under the public building exception to the Governmental Tort Liability Act, Mich. Comp. Laws 691.1406; claims against Northwest and Kimco were based on theories of failure to inspect and maintain the premises. The district court granted the contractors, WCAA, and Kimco summary judgment, but denied Northwest’s motion on procedural grounds. A jury awarded $3,198.80 in damages, of which only $1,439.46 was attributable to Northwest. The Sixth Circuit affirmed. There was sufficient evidence for a jury to conclude that Northwest had constructive notice of the condition. View "Tompkins v. Crown Corr, Inc." on Justia Law
Srouder v. Dana Light Axle Mfg., LLC
In 2006 White began working at a job that required him to lift parts weighing between 20 and 75 pounds. White was considered a good worker, but had consistent attendance problems. Between January 26, 2009, and September 24, 2009, White called in 19 absences for reasons, including emergency vacation leave, vacation leave, unpaid leave, and Family Medical Leave Act leave. White took FMLA leave in 2009 due to gout and unrelated back and foot pain. In September 2009, White began suffering complications related to abdominal surgeries following a 1995 car accident. On September 25, White’s surgeon scheduled his surgery for October 7. According to the employer, White did not use the word hernia and only indicated that he might be having surgery soon. White and his employer dispute whether he submitted paperwork concerning a restriction on lifting. White missed several more days and failed to call in, in violation of company policy, and was terminated. The district court entered summary judgment in favor of the employer. The Sixth Circuit affirmed. The FMLA expressly permits an employer to enforce its “usual and customary notice and procedural requirements for requesting leave,” 29 C.F.R. 825.302(d). View "Srouder v. Dana Light Axle Mfg., LLC" on Justia Law
Frazier v. Life Ins. Co. of N. Am.
Frazier, a sorter for Publishers Printing, was covered by Publishers’ employee benefit plan, which provided disability insurance. In 2009, at age 42, she left her job due to back pain that radiated down her legs, which she thought was caused by arthritis and a bulging disc, though she could not remember any fall or injury that initiated the pain. An MRI revealed mild disc dislocation. Her family physician diagnosed her with lower back pain and radiculopathy and in 2010 opined that Frazier was unable to return to work at regular capacity. Frazier participated in limited physical therapy. Another physician prescribed lumbar epidural injections and eventually permitted her to return to work. The plan denied Frazier’s claim for long-term disability benefits after reviewing medical evidence and job descriptions from Publishers and the U.S. Department of Labor. A Functional Capacity Evaluation indicated that Frazier “is currently functionally capable of meeting the lower demands for the Medium Physical Demand level on a 8 hour per day.” Frazier sued under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act, 29 U.S.C. 1001. The district court granted judgment for the plan, reasoning that the administrator had discretion to deny Frazier’s claim, and that denial of benefits was not arbitrary. The Sixth Circuit affirmed. View "Frazier v. Life Ins. Co. of N. Am." on Justia Law
MacDonald v. Thomas M. Cooley Law School
The Thomas M. Cooley Law School, accredited by the ABA, enrolls more students than any other U.S. law school and plans to expand. Cooley charges full-time students tuition of $36,750 per year, exclusive of other costs, and, according to U.S. News & World Report, has the lowest admission standards of any accredited law school. The school has a very low retention rate. In a 66-page complaint, 12 graduates claimed that the school disseminated false employment statistics, upon which they relied as assurances that they would obtain full-time attorney jobs after graduating. The graduates did not obtain the kind of employment the statistics advertised; some found employment at all. They claimed that, had they known the truth, they would not have attended Cooley or would have paid less tuition, and sought, among other relief, partial tuition reimbursement, which they estimated for the class would be $300,000,000. The district court dismissed. The Sixth Circuit affirmed, reasoning that the Michigan Consumer Protection Act does not apply to the facts. The complaint shows that one of the statistics on which they relied was objectively true and reliance on the statistics, without further inquiry, was unreasonable. View "MacDonald v. Thomas M. Cooley Law School" on Justia Law
Std. Fire Ins. Co. v. Ford Motor Co.
Tennessee resident Lombard acquired a 1997 Lincoln Town Car in 2004. The car was partially manufactured, and its final assembly completed, in 1996 at Ford’s Wixom, Michigan plant. In March 2007, the Lincoln, which was licensed, registered, and insured in Tennessee, allegedly caught fire in Lombard’s driveway, causing damage to the car, Lombard’s residence, and personal property. Lombard’s insurers reimbursed Lombard for his losses and, as subrogees, sued Ford, asserting products liability, breach of warranty and negligence claims, alleging that the fire was due to a defective cruise control system. The district court dismissed, finding that Tennessee law governed and that Tennessee’s statute of repose for products liability actions bars the claims. The Sixth Circuit affirmed, after examining Michigan choice of law rules. The conclusion that Michigan’s interests do not “mandate” that Michigan law be applied despite Tennessee’s interests was not erroneous. View "Std. Fire Ins. Co. v. Ford Motor Co." on Justia Law