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The Washington Supreme Court was presented an issue of first impression: whether Washington should adopt the "apparent manufacturer" doctrine for common law product liability claims predating the 1981 product liability and tort reform act (WPLA). By this opinion, the Court joined the clear majority of states that formally adopted the apparent manufacturer doctrine. Applying that doctrine to the particular facts of this case, the Court held genuine issues of material fact existed as to whether a reasonable consumer could have believed Pfizer was a manufacturer of asbestos products that caused Vernon Rublee's illness and death. The Court reversed the court of appeals and remanded this case for further proceedings. View "Rublee v. Carrier Corp." on Justia Law

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Heidi Hendrickson filed suit against the Moses Lake School District to recover for injuries she suffered while operating a table saw in a woodshop class at Moses Lake High School. The jury found the District was negligent, but that its negligence was not a proximate cause of Hendrickson's injuries. Hendrickson appealed, arguing the trial court erred in instructing the jury that the District owed a her a duty of ordinary care instead of a heightened duty. The Court of Appeals agreed with Hendrickson and reversed, remanding for a new trial. The Washington Supreme Court disagreed with the appellate court, however, finding school districts were subject to an ordinary duty of care. As a result, the Supreme Court reinstated the jury's verdict. View "Hendrickson v. Moses Lake Sch. Dist." on Justia Law

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Former foster children brought a case against the Department of Social and Health Service (DSHS) alleging negligence in failing to protect them from the tortious or criminal acts of their foster (and later, adoptive) parents. At the close of evidence, the trial court granted the Department's CR 50 motion and dismissed the children's claims of negligence concerning the preadoption-foster care period. The Court of Appeals reversed, holding DSHS owed them a common law duty to protect dependent foster children from foreseeable harm based on the special relationship between DSHS and such children. The Washington Supreme Court agreed with this reasoning, and remanded for trial on the children's preadoption claims. View "H.B.H. v. Washington" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the trial court granting summary judgment in favor of Defendant on Plaintiff’s defective design claim, holding that, under the facts and circumstances of this case, Plaintiff’s misuse of a tool was the cause of his injuries and could not have been reasonably expected by Defendant, the tool’s manufacturer. In his complaint, Plaintiff alleged that the tool was defective in its design. Defendant filed a motion for summary judgment, arguing that the evidence established that Plaintiff misused the tool by failing to follow its directions. The trial court found that Plaintiff misused the tool and that he was at least fifty-one percent responsible for his injuries. The Supreme Court affirmed the trial court’s grant of summary judgment for Defendant, holding (1) the misuse defense serves as a complete defense; and (2) Plaintiff’s injuries could have been avoided had he followed the instructions, and Defendant could not reasonably expect that a consumer would misuse the tool in the manner that Plaintiff did. View "Campbell Hausfeld/Scott Fetzer Co. v. Johnson" on Justia Law

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Burchett and Jude suffered from serious mental illnesses. Each hired attorney Conn to represent them in applying for Social Security disability benefits, 42 U.S.C. 405(a), which were granted in 2009 and 2010. Conn was perpetrating a fraudulent scheme. Conn paid doctors to submit fraudulent letters concerning his clients' ailments and bribed an ALJ to assign Conn’s cases to his own docket and to decide nearly all of those cases in favor of Conn. Plaintiffs allege that the SSA had reason to suspect Conn's fraud in 2007 due to the reports of internal whistle-blowers. In 2011, the Wall Street Journal published a story about Conn’s exploits. Conn was indicted and pleaded guilty. The Huntington, West Virginia SSA office's former Chief ALJ, pleaded guilty to retaliation against a whistle-blower. The SSA’s Appeals Council informed Jude and Burchett that it was legally required to redetermine their eligibility for benefits (42 U.S.C. 1320a-8(l). Their benefits were suspended pending redeterminations. Each requested additional time to gather evidence. About two weeks after the SSA notices, before the SSA granted those requests, Jude and Burchett each committed suicide. Their estates filed Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA) claims for wrongful death with the SSA, 28 U.S.C. 1346(b) and 2671, and a Bivens claim alleging procedural due process violations. The Federal Circuit affirmed dismissal of the claims, concluding that the FTCA’s discretionary function exception applied to preclude that claim and that the Bivens claim was improperly formulated. View "Jude v. Commissioner of Social Security" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court quashed the decision of the Second District Court of Appeal affirming the ruling of the trial court that Plaintiffs’ claims that Defendants negligently failed to protect Plaintiffs, who were twins, from suffering physical, mental, and emotional injuries at the hands of their mother were barred by the four-year statute of limitations applicable to negligence claims, holding that Plaintiffs’ negligence action was tolled by Fla. Stat. 95.051(1)(h) - the tolling statute - because Plaintiffs did not have a guardian ad litem appointed for the purposes of bringing a negligence action. Specifically, the Court held (1) the statute of limitations applicable to Plaintiffs’ claims was tolled under section 95.051(1)(h) at all times prior to Plaintiffs’ grandparents being appointed as their permanent guardians; and (2) therefore, the statute of limitations did not bar Plaintiffs’ claims in this case. View "D.H. v. Adept Community Services, Inc." on Justia Law

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At issue was the implications of the statutory language found in Ky. Rev. Stat. 186A.220 to the sale of a vehicle that was involved in an accident that killed both Jonathan Elmore and Craig Armstrong. Charles Armstrong sued Martin Cadillac, Inc.; The Travelers Indemnity Company, Martin’s insurer; Elmore’s estate, and other parties for the wrongful death of his son, Craig. Elmore was driving the vehicle, and Craig was a passenger when the vehicle was involved in the accident. This litigation centered around who owned, operated, or was financially responsible for the vehicle Elmore was driving. The circuit court found that Elmore was the owner of the vehicle, and therefore, that Martin and Travelers were not financially liable for the loss. The Supreme Court affirmed the circuit court’s order granting summary judgment on all claims against Martin and Travelers, holding that, pursuant to section 186A. 220, Martin was not the “owner” of the vehicle, and therefore, Martin and Travelers were not responsible for coverage of the vehicle. View "Travelers Indemnity Co. v. Armstrong" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the court of appeals reversing the trial court’s denial of Defendants’ motion for summary judgment based on their claims of qualified immunity, holding that Defendants, officials in the Breathitt County school system, were entitled to qualified official immunity on the claims brought by Jane Doe and her mother based on sexual abuse Doe experienced as a middle-school student. Doe alleged that Defendants breached their ministerial duties to properly supervise students and to report abuse and acted in bad faith in handling misconduct claims involving a former teacher. The court of appeals concluded that qualified immunity applied because Defendants’ acts - or inactions - were discretionary, were within the scope of their authority, and were undertaken in good faith. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) Defendants’ duty to supervise was a discretionary act, and the duty to report can have both discretionary and ministerial elements, depending on the facts; (2) Defendants’ response to a texting incident did not constitute a violation of a ministerial duty that destroyed qualified official immunity; and (3) Doe failed to show Defendants acted in bad faith so as to deprive them of qualified official immunity View "Ritchie v. Turner" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the court of appeals affirming the trial court’s order granting summary judgment in favor of Defendants, jail personnel, on this wrongful death suit alleging that an inmate died of a hydrocodone overdose while in jail due to the negligence of the jail personnel. Specifically, the Court held (1) even if a jury could reasonably determine that Defendants’ ministerial duties were violated, Plaintiffs could not prove causation; and (2) because there was no guide issue of material fact concerning causation, summary judgment for Defendants was proper. View "Peterson v. Foley" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded the decision of the circuit court granting the demurrers filed by Carilion Clinic and Carilion Healthcare Corporation (collectively, Carilion) and dismissing all of Lindsey Parker’s claims against it, including both vicarious and direct liability claims, holding that the circuit court correctly dismissed the direct liability claims but erred in dismissing the vicarious liability claim on demurrer. Parker sued Carilion and two Carilion employees, alleging that they had disclosed her confidential medical information to others. Parker served process on Carilion but did not serve either employee. The circuit court sustained Carilion’s demurrers. The Supreme Court held (1) Parker’s notice of appeal was timely; (2) the circuit court erred in granting the demurrer to the extent that it dismissed Parker’s respondent superior claim against Carilion; and (3) the circuit court properly found that Carilion was not directly liable under Fairfax Hospital v. Curtis, 254 Va. 437, 442 (1997) or under the doctrine of negligence per se. View "Parker v. Carilion Clinic" on Justia Law