Articles Posted in US Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit

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Jake’s Fireworks, Inc. (“Jake’s”), a fireworks importer and distributor, assigned two employees to clean out its old facility. A fire broke out, injuring one employee and killing the other. After an Occupational Safety and Health Administration (“OSHA”) inspection, the Secretary of Labor (the “Secretary”) cited Jake’s for violating OSHA safety and health standards. Jake’s contested the citation before an Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission (“OSHRC”) Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”), who affirmed in full. Jake’s sought review from the OSHRC’s discretionary review panel (the “Commission”), but it declined, finalizing the ALJ’s decision. Jake’s then filed a petition to the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals, contesting violations of: (1) 29 C.F.R. 1910.109(b)(1), improper storage and handling of explosives; (2) 29 C.F.R. 1910.178(c)(2)(vii), improper use of a liquidpropane (“LP”) forklift around combustible dust; and (3) 29 C.F.R. 1910.1200(e)(1), lack of a written hazard communication program. Finding no reversible error, the Tenth Circuit denied the petition for review. View "Jake's Fireworks v. Department of Labor" on Justia Law

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Perry Odom suffered serious injuries when a semi-trailer collapsed on him at work. His employer, Penske Logistics, did not own the trailer, but his employer’s sole stockholder, Penske Truck Leasing, did. Odom and his wife sought to recover from Penske Truck Leasing through a personal injury action in federal court. The district court dismissed their complaint, reasoning Oklahoma’s workers’ compensation scheme as applied here shielded an employer’s stockholders from employee claims arising out of a workplace injury. The Odoms appealed, challenging the district court’s interpretation of the Oklahoma statute. The Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals certified the interpretive question to the Oklahoma Supreme Court, and received an answer making it clear the district court applied an incorrect legal standard in dismissing this case. The Tenth Circuit therefore reversed and remanded for further proceedings. View "Odom v. Penske Truck Leasing Co." on Justia Law

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Samantha Hall was diagnosed with leukemia; she attributed the disease to a ConocoPhillips refinery’s emissions of a chemical known as benzene. Hall lived near ConocoPhillips’s refinery in Ponca City, Oklahoma. Roughly two decades later, she developed a form of leukemia known as “Acute Myeloid Leukemia with Inversion 16.” Liability turned largely on whether benzene emissions had caused Hall’s leukemia. On the issue of causation, the district court excluded testimony from two of Hall’s experts and granted summary judgment to ConocoPhillips. After review, the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed because: (1) the district court did not abuse its discretion in excluding the expert testimony; and (2) expert testimony was necessary to create a genuine issue of material fact on causation because of the length of time between the exposure to benzene and the onset of Hall’s disease. View "Hall v. Conoco" on Justia Law

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In 2014, while skiing an untamed and ungroomed run inside the boundaries of Jackson Hole Ski Resort, Plaintiff Michael Roberts skied into a lightly covered pile of boulders, falling between two of them, and severely injuring himself. He sued Jackson Hole Mountain Resort (“JHMR”) to recover for his injuries, and his wife joined his lawsuit alleging loss of consortium. JHMR moved for summary judgment on the basis of the Wyoming Recreation Safety Act (“WRSA”) which limited a recreational activity provider’s liability for so-called “inherent risks” of the activity. The district court granted summary judgment, holding that Roberts’s injuries were the result of an “inherent risk” of alpine skiing. Finding no reversible error in the district court’s judgment, the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the district court in full. View "Roberts v. Jackson Hole Mountain Resort" on Justia Law

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In 2014, while skiing an untamed and ungroomed run inside the boundaries of Jackson Hole Ski Resort, Plaintiff Michael Roberts skied into a lightly covered pile of boulders, falling between two of them, and severely injuring himself. He sued Jackson Hole Mountain Resort (“JHMR”) to recover for his injuries, and his wife joined his lawsuit alleging loss of consortium. JHMR moved for summary judgment on the basis of the Wyoming Recreation Safety Act (“WRSA”) which limited a recreational activity provider’s liability for so-called “inherent risks” of the activity. The district court granted summary judgment, holding that Roberts’s injuries were the result of an “inherent risk” of alpine skiing. Finding no reversible error in the district court’s judgment, the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the district court in full. View "Roberts v. Jackson Hole Mountain Resort" on Justia Law

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The Tenth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment to defendant after plaintiff brought a wrongful death action against it. Plaintiff's husband was killed during a guided horseback ride in a wilderness area of Yellowstone National Park and plaintiff filed suit against the company that provided the ride. The court held that the husband's fatal injuries did not stem from risks that were inherent in the particular sport or recreational activity in which he elected to participate—that is, a guided horseback trail ride in a wilderness area; plaintiff's state law claims for negligent misrepresentation and nondisclosure have no merit; and the court rejected plaintiff's challenge to the district court's award of costs. View "Dullmaier v. Xanterra Parks & Resorts" on Justia Law

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Edmundo and Kimberly Amparan appealed a district court’s grant of summary judgment in favor of Lake Powell Car Rental Companies (“Lake Powell”) on the Amparans’ claims for negligent entrustment and loss of consortium. The claims arose from a vehicle accident involving a motorcycle operated by Mr. Amparan and a Ford Mustang rented by Lake Powell to Denizcan Karadeniz, operated by Mevlut Berkay Demir. Karadeniz and Demir were both Turkish nationals who were under the age of twenty-five at the time of the accident. Because the Amparans failed to come forward with evidence from which the jury could find an essential element of their claim for negligent entrustment, the Tenth Circuit affirmed. View "Amparan v. Lake Powell Car Rental" on Justia Law

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This appeal arose from prison officials’ attempt to gain control over an agitated prisoner who refused to obey their orders, locked himself in the prison’s outdoor recreation yard, and threatened prison officials. Officials decided to drop tear gas into the recreation yard. An intake vent in the yard drew the gas in and filtered it into the prison. Numerous prisoners in their cells were exposed to the gas. Prison officials evacuated the prisoners housed in two sections of the prison after they secured the prisoner in the recreation yard. The officials did not, however, evacuate the prisoners in two other sections. On behalf of a class of about one-hundred prisoners, Timothy Redmond sued three of the prison officials for constitutional violations under 42 U.S.C. 1983, claiming the officials violated the Eighth Amendment and Utah’s Constitution by exposing the prisoners to gas, and then failing to provide adequate medical care. The district court granted the defendants’ summary judgment motion. After review of the claims, the Tenth Circuit affirmed: the prison officials’ conduct, at most, only accidently exposed the prisoners to CS gas, and qualified immunity shields government officials from liability for mistakes like this one. And the rest of Redmond’s claims failed either because Redmond forfeited them, failed to prove a constitutional violation occurred, or did not cite case law that clearly established the alleged rights. Furthermore, violating the Utah Constitution required more-than-negligent conduct, and the prison officials’ conduct was “textbook negligence.” View "Redmond v. Crowther" on Justia Law

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Spring Creek Coal Company (Spring Creek) petitioned the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals for review of a decision by the Department of Labor (DOL) awarding survivors’ benefits to Susan McLean under the Black Lung Benefits Act (BLBA), 30 U.S.C. sections 901-944. The DOL concluded that Bradford McLean became disabled and died from his exposure to coal dust during the course of his employment at Spring Creek’s surface coal mine. The BLBA adopts several presumptions that apply for purposes of determining whether a miner is totally disabled due to pneumoconiosis and whether the death of a miner was due to pneumoconiosis. See 30 U.S.C. § 921(c)(1)-(5). One of those presumptions, the fifteen-year presumption, is central to the outcome in this case. The ALJ, after concluding that Mr. McLean was entitled to the statutory/regulatory presumption of pneumoconiosis, in turn analyzed the medical evidence to determine whether Spring Creek had rebutted that presumption. The Tenth Circuit determined the ALJ’s findings and decision in this case were case-specific and confined to the specific flaws in the testimony of Spring Creek’s medical experts, thus concluding Spring Creek did not rebut the presumption. Thus, the Tenth Circuit concluded the ALJ did not err in his analysis of the proffered medical opinions, and that there was no need to remand this case for further proceedings. Spring Creek’s petition for review was denied. View "Spring Creek Coal Company v. McLean" on Justia Law

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During a ski lesson at Keystone Mountain Resort (“Keystone”), Doctor Teresa Brigance’s ski boot became wedged between the ground and the chairlift. She was unable to unload but the chairlift kept moving, which caused her femur to fracture. Brigance filed suit against Vail Summit Resorts, Inc. (“VSRI”), raising claims of: (1) negligence, (2) negligence per se, (3) negligent supervision and training, (4) negligence (respondeat superior), (5) negligent hiring, and (6) violation of the Colorado Premises Liability Act (the “PLA”). The district court dismissed Brigance’s negligence and negligence per se claims at the motion-to-dismiss stage. After discovery, the district court granted VSRI’s motion for summary judgment on the remaining claims, concluding the waiver Brigance signed before participating in her ski lesson, as well as the waiver contained on the back of her lift ticket, were enforceable and barred her claims against VSRI. Finding no reversible error in the district court’s decision, the Tenth Circuit affirmed. View "Brigance v. Vail Summit Resorts" on Justia Law