Justia Injury Law Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in US Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit
Anderson v. City of Minneapolis
Plaintiff filed suit alleging federal constitutional and tort claims against the city, the county, and several city and county employees after his son died of hypothermia. Plaintiff alleged that defendants, by prematurely declaring plaintiff's son dead and therefore cutting off possible aid, caused his death in violation of the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of defendants' motion to dismiss with prejudice, holding that plaintiff failed to identify a clearly established right and defendants were entitled to qualified immunity where they did not intentionally deny emergency aid to someone they believe to be alive. The court noted that the medical guidelines were not followed here could possibly be the basis for a negligence suit, but it was not the basis for a constitutional one. View "Anderson v. City of Minneapolis" on Justia Law
Beavers v. Arkansas Housing Authorities Property & Casualty Self-Insured Fund, Inc.
After plaintiff and her four children died from smoke inhalation as a result of a kitchen fire in their apartment, administrators of their estate filed suit against the JHA, the manufacturer of the smoke alarm, the City, the fire department, and others. Plaintiffs appealed the district court's judgment in favor of defendants. The Eighth Circuit affirmed, holding that the district court did not err in granting summary judgment to the Housing Authority Defendants and BRK, because no reasonable factfinder could determine, absent speculation, that the fire alarm failed to sound, causing the tragic deaths of plaintiffs; the district court did not err in granting summary judgment to the City Defendants, because there was lack of evidence showing that the firefighters' actions caused plaintiffs' deaths; the district court did not abuse its discretion by denying a motion to strike the affidavit of a defense expert; and the district court did not abuse its discretion by requiring one of plaintiff's counsel to pay for part of defendants' costs. View "Beavers v. Arkansas Housing Authorities Property & Casualty Self-Insured Fund, Inc." on Justia Law
Newcombe v. United States
The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal of plaintiff's claim under the Federal Tort Claims Act against the United States for negligent supervision and training. Plaintiff alleged that he suffered emotional and physical distress after the Veterans Administration (VA) sent him a letter erroneously stating that his corneal ulcerations were not service-connected. The court held that the Veterans' Judicial Review Act (VJRA) limits district courts' jurisdiction over suits involving a VA benefits determination. Therefore, the Board's determination that the February 2015 letter contained a "clear and unmistakable" error does not constitute an admission of negligence such that the district court would no longer need to review a benefits determination in deciding plaintiff's claim. Therefore, the action was properly dismissed for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. View "Newcombe v. United States" on Justia Law
Great American Alliance Insurance Co. v. Windermere Baptist Conference, Inc.
After a child fell 50 ft. from a zipline at Bible camp, the parties dispute who potentially bears financial responsibility for her injuries. The Eighth Circuit held that, under the plain language of the insurance policy, the camp's insurer was not responsible for the conference center's alleged negligence. In this case, the insurer's potential liability for the child's injuries could not possibly have arisen out of the use of the premises leased to the insured. Accordingly, the court reversed and remanded for the entry of summary judgment for the insurer. View "Great American Alliance Insurance Co. v. Windermere Baptist Conference, Inc." on Justia Law
Alleruzzo v. SuperValu, Inc.
A group of customers filed suit against SuperValu after hackers accessed customer financial information from hundreds of grocery stores operated by defendant. The Eighth Circuit previously affirmed the dismissal of all but one of the suit's named plaintiffs for lack of standing and, on remand, the district court dismissed the remaining plaintiff for failure to state a claim and denied plaintiffs' motion for leave to amend. The court affirmed, holding that the district court did not abuse its discretion by denying the motion for leave to amend because plaintiffs' postjudgment motion was untimely. The court also held that the remaining plaintiff's allegations fell short of stating a claim for relief under Illinois law for negligence, consumer protection, implied, contract, and unjust enrichment. View "Alleruzzo v. SuperValu, Inc." on Justia Law
Buckler v. United States
After plaintiff was injured while working at a surface gravel mine, he filed suit under the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA), arguing that his injuries were caused at least in part by a federal mine inspector's inadequate inspection of the mine. Under Missouri's Good Samaritan doctrine, a key requirement for liability is an increase in the risk of harm based upon the defendant's actions. The court noted that the Eighth Circuit has not yet addressed claims against mine inspectors under the FTCA. Several sister circuits have addressed such claims, and in each case, the parties have conceded the existence of discretion or the courts have expressly determined that the inspectors' duties involved an element of judgment or choice for purposes of the discretionary function exception to FTCA liability. The Eighth Circuit affirmed the judgment of the district court finding no waiver of sovereign immunity and dismissing the case for lack of subject matter jurisdiction in all respects other than the allegations of a failure to inspect training records. The court explained that the question of the inspector's failure to fulfill his mandatory and non-discretionary duty to inspect training records was so bound up with the merits of the case as to require further factual development. Therefore, the court reversed as to this claim, remanding for further proceedings. View "Buckler v. United States" on Justia Law
Van Dorn v. Hunter
Plaintiff filed suit against defendant, alleging that defendant was grossly negligent and that this negligence caused plaintiff substantial harm. Both parties were electrical linesman. Plaintiff was injured at a worksite when a wire defendant's team disconnected from a downed pole snapped free and struck plaintiff in the face. The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment for defendant and held that the district court did not err in concluding that Iowa's Workers' Compensation Act provided the exclusive remedy for plaintiff's injury because he could not establish that defendant was grossly negligent. The court held that plaintiff failed to present evidence creating a factual dispute with regard to defendant's awareness that injury was probable. In this case, defendant's crew members agreed with him that the jerry-rigged setup would be the best way to secure the wire. While plaintiff's injuries suggested that the setup may have been negligent, mere negligence did not satisfy Iowa's stringent requirements for allowing co-employee liability. View "Van Dorn v. Hunter" on Justia Law
Vandewarker v. Continental Resources, Inc.
The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment to Continental in a personal injury action. In this case, plaintiff was an employee of Great Western, and Continental had hired Great Western as an independent contractor to gauge wastewater levels in holding tanks at its well sites in North Dakota. The court held that the master service contract between Continental and Great Western did not provide that Continental would supervise, inspect, or direct Great Western's work, and plaintiff failed to demonstrate that Continental directly supervised his work or instructed him on the use of the well site equipment. Therefore, because Continental did not control plaintiff's work nor instruct him on the use of the equipment, it was not liable for negligence because it did not owe plaintiff a duty. The court also held that the district court did not err in finding that Continental's failure to answer plaintiff's amended complaint, which was filed after the parties briefed summary judgment, did not constitute an admission. Finally, to the extent plaintiff made a premises liability argument on appeal, the court would not consider the claim because it was not raised before the district court. View "Vandewarker v. Continental Resources, Inc." on Justia Law
Wurster v. The Plastics Group
After James Wurster suffered fatal burns when a gas can manufactured by TPG exploded as he was burning garbage on this farm, his wife filed suit against TPG. The jury rendered a take-nothing verdict under Iowa's comparative fault scheme and found TPG forty-five percent at fault for Mr. Wurster's death due to its failure to provide adequate warnings on the gas can and apportioning the balance of the fault to Mr. Wurster. The Eighth Circuit affirmed and held that plaintiff's design defect claim was sufficiently presented to the jury; the district court did not err by instructing the jury on reasonable alternative design; and there was no prejudicial error in giving the assumption of risk instruction. The court also held that the district court did not err by granting judgment as a matter of law to TPG on the post-sale failure to warn claim because plaintiff presented insufficient evidence to show TPG had a post-sale duty to warn consumers of the danger posed by its W520 gas cans. View "Wurster v. The Plastics Group" on Justia Law
Levitt v. Merck & Co.
Plaintiff filed a personal injury action against Merck after she suffered cardiovascular injuries allegedly from taking a medication called Vioxx. The Eighth Circuit reversed the district court's dismissal of plaintiff's claims. The district court held that plaintiff's claims accrued prior to September 2001 and thus her September 29, 2006 suit was time-barred. In Missouri, the statute of limitations for personal injury claims is five years after the cause of action accrues. The court held that there was a genuine issue of fact as to whether the evidence was such that a reasonably prudent person was on notice of a potentially actionable injury before September 29, 2001. The court predicted that the state supreme court would conclude that mere knowledge in the medical community of a possible link between Vioxx and heart problems did not, as a matter of law, place a reasonably prudent person in plaintiff's position on notice of a potentially actionable injury. View "Levitt v. Merck & Co." on Justia Law