Justia Injury Law Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Utah Supreme Court
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The Supreme Court remanded this case to the district court for further proceedings, holding that, as a matter of law, a boat manufacturer or supplier owes a duty to adequately warn passengers of dangers associated with the failure to wear a stop switch lanyard.Craig Feasel was severely injured when he and the driver of a boat, Monty Martinez, were ejected into the water. Martinez was not wearing the stop switch lanyard at the time of the ejection. Feasel argued that Defendants - the boat manufacturer and the engine manufacturer - were liable for his injuries because they failed adequately to warn the driver of the danger associated with failure to wear the lanyard and failed in their duty to warn boat passengers of the danger. The district court granted summary judgment for Defendants. The court of appeals reversed. The Supreme Court remanded the case, holding (1) the standard for determining the adequacy of a warning is that the warning must be of an intensity and at a level of specificity justified by the magnitude of the risk; and (2) this Court adopts a standard of reasonableness to determine whether warnings regarding the dangers of not wearing a lanyard must be issued directly to the passenger or an intermediary may be relied upon to convey the warnings. View "Feasel v. Tracker Marine LLC" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the district court dismissing Plaintiff's claims against the University of Utah for breach of contract, breach of the covenant of good faith and fair dealing, and negligence, holding that Plaintiff did not identify a basis for a legal cause of action against the University.After the University dismissed Plaintiff from its neuroscience Ph.D. program, and the decision was affirmed at every level of administrative review, Plaintiff brought his action against the University. The district court dismissed all claims on summary judgment. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) as to Plaintiff's breach of contract claims, the University was entitled to judgment as a matter of law; (2) Plaintiff's claims for breach of the covenant of good faith and fair dealing failed; and (3) the district court correctly dismissed Plaintiff's negligence claim. View "Rossi v. University of Utah" on Justia Law

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In this case alleging that Larry Boynton's wife, Barbara, was exposed to asbestos dust from several job sites that Larry worked at during the 1960s and 1970s, the Supreme Court reversed the order of the district court granting summary judgment to the job site operators, holding that premises operators owe a duty of care to a worker's cohabitants with respect to take-home exposure to asbestos.During his marriage to Barbara, Larry worked at numerous job sites where he was exposed to asbestos. In 2016, Barbara was diagnosed with Malignant mesothelioma and died from it that year. Larry sued the job site operators for indirectly exposing Barbara to asbestos dust. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of two of the operators, concluding that they had no duty to prevent "take-home exposure" to asbestos dust. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) premises owners are liable to their employees' co-habitants for take-home asbestos exposure; and (2) a genuine issue of material fact existed as to whether one of the premises operators retained control over its contractor. View "Kennecott Utah Copper, LLC v. Phillips 66 Co." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the district court granting Defendants' motion to dismiss this complaint alleging negligence and reckless conduct against a physician who performed an independent medical examination (IME) on Plaintiff, holding that even if the physician's IME report constituted an affirmative act with foreseeable harms, he was not liable for Plaintiff's injuries resulting from a delay in workers' compensation proceedings.Plaintiff was injured during the course and scope of his employment. Plaintiff made a claim for workers' compensation benefits, and the claim was coordinated by Broadspire Services, Inc. Broadspire arranged for Dr. Mark Anderson to perform an IME of Defendant's injuries. Anderson concluded that the accident caused Plaintiff to suffer a transient cervical strain and that Plaintiff's remaining symptoms were secondary to pre-existing conditions. Consequently, Broadspire denied Plaintiff various forms of workers' compensation benefits. Three years later, the Utah Labor Condition determined that the accident created additional injuries and ordered that Plaintiff's employer pay historical medical expenses. Plaintiff filed this complaint alleging negligence and reckless conduct against Anderson and vicarious liability against Broadspire. The district court dismissed the complaint. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that policy considerations favor no duty owed by an expert whose professional opinion causes a delay in legal proceedings. View "Kirk v. Anderson" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the district court granting Defendant's renewed motion for judgment as a matter of law and vacating the jury's general damages verdict in favor of Plaintiff on her negligence claim, holding that the district court erred.Plaintiff's vehicle was hit by a truck by a driver that worked for Geneva Rock. Plaintiff sued the driver and Geneva Rock, alleging that the driver's negligence caused the crash and that Geneva Rock had negligently employed the driver. Geneva Rock conceded that its driver was at fault for the collision. After Plaintiff rested her case-in-chief during a trial on the issue of damages, the court ruled that the jury could not award special damages to Plaintiff for lack of sufficient evidence. The jury returned a general damages verdict of $30,000. The district court vacated the jury's verdict, concluding that Plaintiff failed to produce sufficient evidence to meet the requirements of Utah Code 31A-22-309. The Supreme Court reversed and remanded the case, holding (1) Plaintiff was entitled to ask the jury to award special damages; and (2) the district court improperly excluded evidence of Geneva Rock's negligent hiring practices. View "Sheppard v. Geneva Rock" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the district court granting judgment on the pleadings in favor of Nebo School District on Plaintiff's negligent employment claim, holding that the district court erred in dismissing Plaintiff's negligent employment claim.A school bus operated by a driver employed by Nebo School District caused a crash with Plaintiff. In his complaint, Plaintiff claimed that Nebo was liable for its driver's negligence under principles of respondent superior and that Nebo was independently negligent because it continued to employ the driver even though he had been involved in several accidents. Nebo moved for judgment on the pleadings, arguing that the negligent employment claim was redundant with the negligence claim and that Plaintiff was not entitled to pursue a claim directly against it after it conceded vicarious liability. The district court granted the motion. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the district court (1) did not abuse its discretion when it found that Nebo's motion for judgment on the pleadings was timely; and (2) Plaintiff was entitled to proceed on alternate claims. View "Ramon v. Nebo School District" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed in part and vacated in part the judgment of the district court denying Plaintiff's request for a civil stalking injunction against Defendant, holding that the district court erred.Plaintiff ran a residential treatment program for young woman. Defendant, her neighbor, objected to the program's presence in his neighborhood and flipped off and swore at Plaintiff and the program attendees and placed provocative signs in his yard. Plaintiff sought a civil talking injunction, which the district court denied. The Supreme Court reversed in part and vacated in part, holding (1) the district court misinterpreted the stalking statute; (2) the district court failed to assess the impact of Defendant's conduct on a reasonable person in Plaintiff's circumstances; (3) the district court applied an incorrect analysis in deciding that the First Amendment protected Defendant's conduct; and (4) because the reversal of the first three issues may affect the basis for the district court's attorney-fees decision, that decision is vacated, and the matter is remanded for a new determination. View "Ragsdale v. Fishler" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court answered a certified question posed by the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit regarding the reach of the Utah Health Care Malpractice Act (Act), Utah Code 78B-3-401 through 426, by concluding that the Act applied in this case involving an injury sustained while climbing a rock formation during a "wilderness therapy" excursion.Jacob Scott sued Wingate Wilderness Therapy, LLC seeking relief for injuries he sustained as a minor while rock climbing during a wilderness therapy hiking excursion. The federal district court granted Wingate's motion to dismiss, concluding that the Act applied to Scott's claims and that Scott (1) failed to file his action within the two-year statute of limitations, and (2) failed to comply with the Act's procedural requirements. Scott appealed, arguing that the district court erred in finding that his injuries arose out of the health care provided by Wingate. The circuit court certified a question to the Utah Supreme Court, which answered by holding that, under the circumstances of this case, the Act applied to Scott's claims. View "Scott v. Wingate Wilderness Therapy, LLC" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part the judgment of the district court in this trust and estate dispute, holding that, under certain circumstances, a party may assert a claim for intentional interference with inheritance.A dozen years after the decedent's death, his children sued David Rudd - the attorney who represented the decedent in various matters - and Ballard Spahr, LLP - the law firm where Rudd was a partner - claiming that Defendants improperly influenced the decedent to amend his will and trust in a way that shifted a portion of the children's expected inheritance to other beneficiaries, engaged in improper and/or misleading conduct, and mishandled estate assets after the decedent's death. On appeal were the district court's grant of (1) Defendants' motion to dismiss the children's claim for intentional interference with inheritance, (2) summary judgment on several tort claims the children wanted to assert on behalf of the decedent's estate, and (3) a motion in limine preventing the children from impeaching Rudd with certain statements. The Supreme Court held that the district court (1) erred in dismissing the intentional interference with inheritance claim; (2) did not err by not assigning the estate's claims to the children; and (3) erred in granting the motion in limine. View "In re Estate of D.A. Osguthorpe, D.V.M." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the district court dismissing Shree Ganesh, LLC's contract and tort claims against Weston Logan, Inc., and Matthew Weston, an individual, holding that there remained a genuine dispute as to material facts, precluding summary judgment.Shree Ganesh entered into a contract with Weston Logan to purchase Weston Logan's Best Western Inn. After the sale of the property closed, Shree Ganesh learned about Weston Logan's plans to build a competing hotel across the street. Shree Ganesh subsequently sued Weston Logan for its failure to disclose its plans to develop the competing hotel. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of Weston Logan on all claims. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) the purchase agreement was ambiguous as to Weston Logan's disclosure obligations; and (2) there remained a genuine dispute as to material facts relevant to Shree Ganesh's tort claims. View "Shree Ganesh, LLC v. Weston Logan, Inc." on Justia Law