by
Mercedes-Benz U.S. International, Inc. ("MBUSI"), petitioned the Alabama Supreme Court for mandamus relief, ordering the circuit court to vacate an order denying change of venue from Jefferson County to Tuscaloosa. Gregory Nix was a resident of Jefferson County; he was employed as an assembly worker at MBUSI's manufacturing facility in Tuscaloosa County until June 23, 2017. Nix alleges that, during his employment with MBUSI, he suffered on-the-job injuries the cumulative effect of which have left him permanently and totally disabled. The Supreme Court determined there was not sufficient evidence before the trial court to support a conclusion that venue in Jefferson County was proper in this case. "The regular purchasing of parts or materials from a supplier located in a certain county, by itself, does not constitute '[doing] business by agent' in that county under section 6-3-7(a)(3), Ala. Code 1975." The Court therefore issued the writ granting mandamus relief. View "Ex parte Mercedes-Benz U.S. International, Inc." on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court reversed the decision of the court of appeals reversing the circuit court’s denial of summary judgment to the City of New Berlin and the New Berlin Parks and Recreation Department (collectively, New Berlin) on this negligence action, holding that the known danger exception to governmental immunity applied in this case. Eight-year-old Lily Engelhardt drowned in a swimming pool at an aquatic center in a field trip organized and run by the New Berlin Parks and Recreation Department. While the “playground coordinator” was informed the Lily could not swim, Lily drowned while staff were changing in the locker rooms. After Lily’s parents filed suit, New Berlin moved for summary judgment, asserting that it was immune from suit pursuant to the governmental immunity statute, Wis. Stat. 893.80(4). The circuit court denied the motion. The court of appeals reversed and granted New Berlin’s motion. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) the danger to which Lily was exposed at the pool was compelling and self-evident, and therefore, the staff had a ministerial duty to give Lily a swim test before allowing her near the pool; and (2) because the staff did not perform this ministerial duty, New Berlin was not entitled to the defense of governmental immunity. View "Engelhardt v. City of New Berlin" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the district court granting Defendants’ motions to dismiss Plaintiff’s claim under the State Tort Claims Act (STCA), holding that the district court did not err in dismissing Plaintiff’s action against the State. Plaintiff, an inmate in the custody of the Nebraska Department of Correctional Services (DCS), alleged in his complaint that his personal property was seized and improperly disposed of by DCS personnel. The district court concluded (1) Plaintiff’s claims against the individual defendants were barred by qualified immunity, and (2) as to the State, the claim was barred under Neb. Rev. Stat. 81-8,219(2) because the claim was an exception to the STCA’s waiver of sovereign immunity. Defendant appealed from the portion of the order dismissing his action against the State. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that because the DCS personnel that detained Defendant’s property were “law enforcement officer[s]” covered by the exception to the waiver of sovereign immunity under section 81-8,219(2), the State did not waive sovereign immunity from Defendant’s claims. View "Rouse v. State" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court affirmed a district court order denying Appellant’s special motion to dismiss, holding that the district court properly denied Appellant’s special motion to dismiss filed pursuant to Nevada’s anti-SLAPP statutes. Appellant was sued under Nevada’s Deceptive Trade Practice and RICO statutes. In denying the special motion to dismiss, the district court found that Appellant failed to demonstrate that his conduct was “a good faith communication that was either truthful or made without knowledge of its falsehood,” one of the statutory requirements for anti-SLAPP protection. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the appropriate standard of review for a district court’s denial or grant of an anti-SLAPP motion to dismiss is de novo; and (2) the district court did not err in denying Appellant’s special motion to dismiss because Appellant failed to demonstrate that the challenged claims arose from activity protected by Nev. Rev. Stat. 41.660. View "Coker v. Sassone" on Justia Law

by
At issue was whether Arizona’s automatic assignment provision in Ariz. Rev. Stat. 23-1023(B) applies when an employee receives workers’ compensation benefits under another state’s laws. The Supreme Court held that the law of the state in which the employee’s workers’ compensation is paid determines the assignment rights of the employer and employee, thus reversing the superior court’s grant of summary judgment in favor of the third-party tortfeasor in this case. Plaintiff, a South Carolina resident, was employed as a semi-trick driver with a Nebraska limited liability company, which, in turn, contracted with Defendant, an Arizona company, to provide training for Plaintiff in Arizona. Plaintiff was a passenger in a semi-truck driving by Defendant’s employee was the truck rolled, injuring Plaintiff. Plaintiff received workers’ compensation in Nebraska paid for by the LLC. Plaintiff then filed this personal injury action against Defendant. The Supreme Court granted summary judgment in favor of Defendant, concluding that, pursuant to section 23-1023(B), Plaintiff had no legal interest in the action. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) because Plaintiff received workers’ compensation benefits in Nebraska, Nebraska’s law regarding assignment applied to her claims against Defendant in this action; and (2) because Nebraska does not have an automatic assignment provision, Plaintiff had a legal interest in those claims. View "Jackson v. Eagle KMC LLC" on Justia Law

by
Keith's estate filed a wrongful death and survival action against Ortberg, a licensed clinical social worker and employee assistance program counselor, and her employer Rockford Memorial Hospital, alleging that, on September 30, 2005, Keith had an initial appointment with Ortberg; that it was Ortberg’s duty to evaluate Keith’s mental health condition; that Ortberg breached her duty by performing an inadequate assessment and failed to recognize that Keith was at high risk for suicide, and failed to refer him to an emergency room or a psychiatrist for immediate treatment. Keith died by suicide on or about October 6, 2005. The circuit court submitted an instruction, over plaintiff’s objection, asking the jury to respond “Yes” or “No”: Was it reasonably foreseeable to Ortberg on September 30, that Keith would commit suicide on or before October 9? The jury entered a general verdict in favor of the plaintiff, awarding damages of $1,495,151, but answered “No” on the special interrogatory. The circuit court ruled that the special interrogatory answer was inconsistent with the general verdict and entered judgment in defendants’ favor. The appellate court found, and the Illinois Supreme Court affirmed, that the special interrogatory was not in proper form and should not have been given to the jury; it did not apply the objective “reasonable person” standard for determining foreseeability and, therefore, misstated the law, Because the special interrogatory was ambiguous, the jury’s answer was not necessarily inconsistent with its general verdict. View "Stanphill v. Ortberg" on Justia Law

by
In this appeal, the issue presented to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court was whether an exception to the Political Subdivision Tort Claims Act applied ― the real property exception to governmental immunity ― and, in particular, whether the absence of padding on a gym wall, into which a student ran during gym class, causing injury, fell within the exception. In 2012, then-nine-year-old Jarrett Brewington ran in a relay race during gym class at Walter G. Smith Elementary School in Philadelphia. While Jarrett was running, he tripped and fell, causing him to propel into the wall at the end of the gym, hit and cut his head, and lose consciousness. No padding covered the gym wall, which was made of concrete. Jarrett was later diagnosed with a concussion, was absent from school for one to two months after the incident, and continued experiencing headaches and memory problems years later. In 2013, Jarrett’s mother, Syeta Brewington, brought an action against Walter G. Smith Elementary School and the School District of Philadelphia (collectively, the “School”), alleging Jarrett’s injuries occurred because of a defective and dangerous condition of the premises, namely, the concrete gym wall, and that the School was negligent in failing to install padded safety mats to cushion the wall. In response, the School filed, inter alia, a motion for summary judgment, raising the defense of governmental immunity, and claiming that the real property exception to governmental immunity under the Act did not apply. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court found the lack of padding of a gym wall could constitute negligence in the care, custody, and control of real property, and, thus, fell within the Act’s real estate exception. View "Brewington v. Phila. Sch. Dist." on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the district court granting summary judgment in favor of M&D Trucking, LLC (M&D) and dismissing Appellants’ claims in this personal injury action, holding that there were no genuine issues of material fact. A truck driver failed to stop at a stop sign and struck a vehicle carrying members of a family, three of whom died. The driver was driving a truck and trailer with Turbo Turtle Logistics LLC signage on the date of the accident. M&D was the company hired to transport the load Johnson carried during the accident. Appellants brought this action against M&D, alleging that M&D was liable for the driver’s negligence through the doctrine of respondent superior and that M&D was negligent in hiring, training, or supervising the driver. The district court granted summary judgment for M&D. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the driver’s relationship with M&D was that of an independent contractor; (2) M&D did not have liability under that independent contractor relationship for the driver’s negligence; and (3) M&D was not a motor carrier responsible for the driver’s hiring, training, or supervision. View "Sparks v. M&D Trucking, LLC" on Justia Law

by
Terry Schulenberg, a train engineer for BNSF Railway Company, was injured when the train he was riding “bottomed out.” Schulenberg filed suit against BNSF, alleging liability for negligence under the Federal Employers’ Liability Act (FELA). BNSF filed motions to exclude Schulenberg’s expert witness and for summary judgment, both of which the district court granted. Schulenberg appealed, but the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals concluded the district court did not abuse its discretion in excluding the expert witness because there was no discernable methodology offered for his opinions. And the Court concluded the district court was correct in granting summary judgment to BNSF because Schulenberg failed to present a dispute of material fact on his sole theory of liability on appeal, negligence per se. View "Schulenberg v. BNSF Railway Company" on Justia Law

by
A jury convicted former United States Postal Service employee Robert Hamilton of three counts of making a false or fraudulent statement for the purpose of obtaining compensation under the California workers' compensation law. On appeal, Hamilton argued: (1) because, as a federal employee, his workers' compensation benefits were provided under the Federal Employment Compensation Act, the doctrine of federal preemption barred him from being prosecuted under California law for any offense alleging fraud in obtaining federal workers' compensation benefits under FECA; and (2) regardless of whether the prosecution was preempted, his conviction was supported by insufficient evidence under Insurance Code section 1871.4 (a)(1) because that statute applied only to false or fraudulent statements made for the purpose of obtaining compensation afforded under the California workers' compensation law, which was not applicable to him as a federal employee. On the issue of federal preemption, the Court of Appeal concluded that Hamilton did not meet his burden to establish that the State's prosecution of him was preempted. With respect to the sufficiency of the evidence, the Court agreed with the State's concession that insufficient evidence supported Hamilton's convictions because he did not receive compensation under the California workers' compensation law. The Court declined to exercise discretion to modify the judgment to impose convictions on a lesser included offense. Accordingly, the judgment was reversed. View "California v. Hamilton" on Justia Law