Justia Injury Law Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in US Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit
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Plaintiff sued the United States of America for injuries sustained from a fall on federal property. Specifically, he points to the General Services Administration’s (“GSA”) commitment to “making Federal buildings and facilities fully accessible to all people” and to “ensuring the full integration of individuals with disabilities who use [government] facilities.”He also asserts that the southwalk design violates the International Building Code (“IBC”) requirements for stairs.   The district court determined that Plaintiff’s tort claim was barred by the discretionary-function exception to the Government’s waiver of sovereign immunity for tort claims. The district court therefore dismissed Plaintiff’s suit for lack of subject-matter jurisdiction. The Eighth Circuit affirmed. The court explained that because Plaintiff has not pointed to any statutes or mandatory regulations that sufficiently constrain the GSA’s discretion over the building’s design, he has failed the first step in overcoming the discretionary-function exception. Further, the court held that because Plaintiff has failed to show that the Government’s discretion was not susceptible to policy analysis, the discretionary function exception bars his claim. View "Phillip Alberty v. United States" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff woke up in an Illinois motel room without any feeling in his arms; he was later diagnosed in Missouri with bilateral shoulder impingement syndrome. Four years later, Plaintiff and his wife filed an action against Cottrell, Inc., the manufacturer of the ratchet system that allegedly caused Plaintiff’s injury. In granting Cottrell’s motion for summary judgment, the district court found that Illinois’s two-year statute of limitations applied to Plaintiff’s cause of action instead of Missouri’s five-year statute of limitations, thus barring Plaintiff’s and his wife’s claims. Plaintiff and his wife appealed, arguing that the district court erred in not applying Missouri’s statute of limitations. At issue is when—or where in this context—the statute of limitations began to run on Plaintiff’s cause of action, which depends upon the proper interpretation and application of Missouri’s borrowing statute.   The Eighth Circuit reversed, concluding that the matter is a fact question for the jury to decide. The court explained that it must determine whether the “evidence was such to place a reasonably prudent person on notice of a potentially actionable injury” in Illinois, where Plaintiff woke up to complete numbness in his arms. The court reasoned that on the three facts the district court contemplated the court cannot say as a matter of law that a reasonable person in Plaintiff’s position would have been on notice of a potentially actionable injury in Illinois. View "Gregory Burdess v. Cottrell, Inc." on Justia Law

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An officer initiated a traffic stop of Plaintiff. Plaintiff felt the stop was pretextual, and fled. The officer initiated a PIT maneuver to end the pursuit, causing Plaintiff crashed his vehicle into a light pole and was injured. Plaintiff filed various civil rights claims against the police department. The district court granted summary judgment for the police department.The Eighth Circuit affirmed, finding that the police department guidelines and policies concerning use of a PIT maneuver did not create rights that give rise to a Section 1983 action, and an officer's knowing violation of the guidelines and policies does not transform his actions into unconstitutional behavior. View "Dean Christiansen v. Christopher Eral" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff brought suit against LAMMICO d/b/a Lammico Risk Retension Group, Inc. (LAMMICO); Mercy Hospital-Fort Smith (Mercy); various doctors, Mercy Clinic Fort Smith Communities; and John Does 1-10, alleging liability under the Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act (EMTALA), 42 U.S.C. Section 1395dd. Plaintiff claimed that Mercy made an “inappropriate transfer”. Plaintiff alleged that the delay in receiving vascular surgery within a six-hour window after the injury caused her leg to be amputated. Plaintiff further alleged that Mercy’s statutory duty under EMTALA is strict or absolute.”   The district court granted summary judgment. On appeal, Plaintiff argued that the district court erred in granting summary judgment to Defendants. Further, she argued that EMTALA imposes a strict liability standard for noncompliance with its directions.    The Eighth Circuit affirmed. The court explained EMTALA’s aim is to discourage bad-faith hospitals from dumping patients. Imposing liability upon a hospital’s good-faith effort to secure appropriate care for a patient that is beyond its capabilities is off the mark. Such liability would run contrary to EMTALA’s purpose and would undermine the express target of securing adequate care for patients who could not otherwise afford it. EMTALA’s “appropriate transfer” requirement should be assessed from the perspective of a reasonable transferring hospital at the time the hospitals agreed to the transfer and the patient departed the transferring hospital. Under this standard, Mercy effected an “appropriate transfer”: it sent Plaintiff to a hospital that, based on the information conveyed to it by the hospital, had “qualified personnel” for her treatment. View "Kimberly Ruloph v. LAMMICO" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff saw Cognium, a “nutraceutical” manufactured by Natrol, on sale. Cognium, according to Natrol’s advertising, improves memory and concentration. Its packaging stated that Cognium is “powered by Cera-Q, a natural protein from silkworm cocoons,” and can improve “Memory Recall Efficiency” by 90% when taken twice daily for four weeks. The box claimed that “nine clinical studies in adults, seniors and children showed statistically significant improvements in memory and cognition in 4 weeks or less when taken as directed.”   Plaintiff filed a putative class action complaint against Natrol, seeking damages for herself and establishment of a National Class and Missouri Consumer Subclass. Plaintiff alleged that, prior to her purchases of Cognium, two of the nine clinical studies noted on its packaging had been retracted, including one for “data fabrication and falsification.”   With Plaintiff’s individual claims dismissed, the court determined the sole named plaintiff could not represent the purported class and dismissed the entire action. On appeal, Plaintiff argued the district court erred in granting summary judgment dismissing her MMPA and unjust enrichment claims.   The Eighth Circuit affirmed. The court explained that here Plaintiff purchased a product that expressly stated on the label it was “not intended to” do what she stated she purchased it for, serve as a substitute treatment for her prescription medication. Thus, for Plaintiff the actual value of the Cognium she purchased, and the value of Cognium without Natrol’s alleged marketing misrepresentations was “zero.” The benefit of the bargain rule does not apply in this situation, so Plaintiff cannot prove that she suffered ascertainable loss “as a result of” Natrol’s unlawful practice. View "Christine Vitello v. Natrol, LLC" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff fell victim to a massive Ponzi scheme. Plaintiff sued JP Morgan and Richter Consulting. Plaintiff’s principal theory is that these firms aided and abetted fraud. And even if they did not, the complaint alleges that the transfers to JP Morgan were fraudulent.   The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court’s dismissal of Plaintiff's complaint. The court explained that early on, JP Morgan agreed to pay over $30 million to settle a group of claims filed by the trustees. To protect the settlement, two courts issued bar orders preventing creditors like Plaintiff from asserting any claims that belong or belonged to one or more of the bankruptcy trustees. Those orders, along with general bankruptcy-standing doctrine, prevent Plaintiff from pursuing JP Morgan separately. The same goes for the fraudulent-transfer claims against JP Morgan.   Further, Plaintiff’s aiding-and-abetting claim against Richter Consulting under New York law cannot move forward either, but for a different reason. The court explained that viewed in the light most favorable to Plaintiff, the allegations in the complaint describe no more than constructive knowledge of the fraud. View "Ritchie Spec. Cred. Investments v. JPMorgan Chase & Co." on Justia Law

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Two doctors missed Plaintiff’s cancer: Dr. P.J. in March 2015, and Dr. J.B in January 2018. After another doctor eventually discovered cancer, Plaintiff sued both Dr. P.J and Dr. J.B., arguing that their negligence reduced his chance of surviving. The jury returned a favorable verdict for Dr. J.B and Plaintiff moved for a mistrial based on the district court’s evidentiary rulings. The court denied that motion and the Eighth Circuit affirmed.On appeal, Plaintiff argues that the district court should have granted his motion for a new trial for three reasons. First, he says that the testimony about Dr. P.J.’s diagnosis was irrelevant and prejudicial. He next argued that the district court improperly allowed Exhibits S, T, and U to be referenced at trial. Those exhibits are hearsay, but the district court held that they fell within an exception under Federal Rule of Evidence 803. Finally, Plaintiff claimed that even if Rule 803(18) applies to Exhibits S, T, and U, those exhibits still should not have been received by the jury.The court held that the district court’s finding was not a clear abuse of discretion. While it is a close call, the record contained enough evidence for a jury to properly find that Plaintiff failed to meet his burden of proof. The court explained that the district court, which “is in the best position to determine the impact evidence will have upon the jury,” did not abuse its discretion in finding that the jury wasn’t prejudiced by the disputed evidence. View "Steve Williams v. Jeremy Baum" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff, Prince’s photographer, claims his former collaborators and a potential investor in a book project kept his photographs and used them without permission. He sued. The district court granted summary judgment to Defendants on all claims. Plaintiff appealed.   The district court granted summary judgment to all defendants. Beaulieu appeals the judgment and the costs awarded to Defendant. Plaintiff presented two possible theories of conversion. The first is an ongoing conversion, that the collaborators still have his photos. The second is a technical conversion, that the collaborators kept his photos for several months after he demanded their return.   The Eighth Circuit affirmed. The court explained Plaintiff has not given a firm inventory of how many photos he believes are missing. An extensive forensic protocol did not identify any of his materials in their possession or any wrongful use. Plaintiff provides nothing more than speculation and suspicion against Defendants. While Plaintiff has a method for counting the total number of his photos, this is not sufficient to substantiate his allegations.   Further, in regards to Plaintiff’s copyright infringement claim, the court explained silence, coupled with continued and normal interactions between him and the collaborators, implied his approval of the marketing plan and the corresponding distribution of his images, and thus showed an implied license. Finally, the court wrote that since Defendants prevailed in showing there was no issue of material fact about the conversion claim or the copyright claim, they also prevail on the tortious interference claim because there is no underlying improper conduct. View "Allen Beaulieu v. Clint Stockwell" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff wife of decedent and executor of the estate of the decedent, brought suit under the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA). The district court granted summary judgment to the government, dismissing the suit with prejudice.   On appeal, Plaintiffs argued that the district court (1) erred in denying their motion for voluntary dismissal and (2) erred in granting summary judgment to the government. The Eighth Circuit affirmed. The court explained that because Plaintiffs moved for voluntary dismissal after the government filed its answer, the action could be dismissed only by court order, on terms the court considers proper. Here, the district court did not abuse its discretion by denying Plaintiffs’ motion for voluntary dismissal without prejudice.   Plaintiffs argued that their filing of unverified medical records with the complaint substantially complied with the requirement to file an expert witness affidavit on the question of the standard of care within the prescribed deadline. However, the court explained it is undisputed that Plaintiffs failed to serve the government with a certificate of merit within 60 days of the government filing its answer.” Thus, the district court did not err in granting summary judgment to the government and in dismissing Plaintiffs’ complaint with prejudice. View "Robert Morrow v. United States" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs, independent contractors of American Family Life Insurance Company of Columbus (Aflac), alleged that an Aflac employee, sexually assaulted Plaintiff in her hotel room during a work conference in St. Louis, Missouri. Plaintiffs filed suit against Defendant, asserting tort claims for battery, assault, false imprisonment, and loss of consortium, among others. the beneficiary under Plaintiffs’ Arbitration Agreements with Aflac. The district court denied the motion as to the aforementioned claims, holding that they did not arise under or relate in any way to the arbitration agreements. Defendant appealed, arguing that the claims fall within the scope of the arbitration agreements.   The Eighth Circuit affirmed. The court held that Plaintiffs’ tort claims do not fall within the scope of the Arbitration Agreements. The facts underlying Plaintiffs’ tort claims do not touch matters covered by Plaintiffs’ Arbitration Agreements in light of the Agreements’ limiting language requiring the “dispute arise under or relate in any way to the Associate’s Agreements. As a result, the district court did not err in denying Defendant’s motion to compel arbitration. View "Katherine Anderson v. Jeffrey Hansen" on Justia Law