Justia Injury Law Opinion Summaries

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The Supreme Court reversed the order of the circuit court disqualifying Risie Howard as the attorney representing the estate of Mrs. George Howard in a case arising from Mrs. Howard's medical treatment, holding that the circuit court's ruling represented a manifest abuse of discretion.On appeal, Howard argued that the circuit court erroneously interpreted Rule 3.7 of the Arkansas Rules of Professional Conduct and misapplied the test promulgated in Weigel v. Farmers Insurance Co., 158 S.W.3d 147 (Ark. 2004), in granting Defendants' motion to disqualify her. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the circuit court did not faithfully apply Rule 3.7 and the precedent established by Weigel and its progeny in disqualifying Howard. View "Howard v. Baptist Health" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court held that a negligent credentialing is a separate and independent claim from medical negligence but that a negligent credentialing claim cannot proceed without either a simultaneous or prior adjudication of or stipulation to medical negligence.At issue was whether a hospital's grant of staff privileges to a physician, otherwise known as credentialing a physician, confers a duty upon the hospital that is separate and independent of the duty the physical owes to the hospital's patients. If so, the question remained whether a patient's negligent credentialing claim can proceed in the absence of a prior adjudication or stipulation that the physician was negligent in his care of the patient. The trial court in this case granted the hospital's motion for summary judgment on the negligent credentialing claim. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) a negligent credentialing claim cannot proceed without either a simultaneous or prior adjudication of or stipulation that a doctor committed medical malpractice; and (2) because such an adjudication or stipulation was not present in this case, the negligent credentialing claim was properly dismissed. View "Walling v. Brenya" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the circuit court granting summary judgment to Liosha Miles on the issue of whether each of the two insurance policies in this case provided separate tranches of insurance of uninsured motorist (UM) coverage and underinsured motorist (UIM) coverage, holding that the circuit court erred.Given her disagreement with GEICO Advantage Insurance Company and GEICO Choice Insurance Company (collectively, GEICO), Miles filed this action seeking a declaration that each policy at issue contained separate $50,000 limits for UM and UIM coverage and that GEICO owed her addition amounts for her UIM claims related to a single automobile accident caused by the negligence of two different drivers other than herself. The circuit court granted summary judgment in favor of Miles. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) UIM coverage is a constituent part of UM coverage; and (2) consequently, the circuit court erred in concluding that Va. Code 38.2-2206(A) required each policy to provide Miles with separate UM and UIM coverage limits for injuries arising from a single accident. View "GEICO Advantage Insurance Co. v. Miles" on Justia Law

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This is an appeal from an order denying Defendant’s to strike Plaintiff’s causes of action against him pursuant to the anti-SLAPP statute. The Second Appellate District reversed the trial court’s order and remanded to the trial court with instructions to grant Defendant’s motion to strike Plaintiff’s causes of action against him for civil extortion and violation of the Ralph Act.   The court wrote that there is no dispute that Defendant’s underlying conduct was in furtherance of petitioning activity within the meaning of section 425.16, subdivision (b)(1). But the trial court concluded Defendant’s prelitigation letter responsive to a demand from Plaintiff’s counsel amounted to extortion as a matter of law so as to deprive it of section 425.16 protection under Flatley v. Mauro (2006). The court explained that even though the trial court declined to reach it, the court decided to exercise our discretion to consider the second prong of the anti-SLAPP analysis and conclude that Plaintiff failed to meet his burden to show a probability of prevailing on his causes of action. The sole cause of action that Plaintiff defends on appeal is for civil extortion. The court agreed with Defendant that the litigation privilege defeats this cause of action. View "Flickinger v. Finwall" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court denied a writ of mandamus sought by Walmart, Inc. ordering the Industrial Commission of Ohio to reverse its decision awarding Dianna Hixson temporary total disability (TTD) compensation on the basis of State ex rel. Klein v. Precision Excavating & Grading Co., 119 N.E.3d 386 (Ohio 2018), holding that Klein applies prospectively only.Before the Supreme Court issued Klein, the Commission awarded Hixson TTD compensation. After Klein was released, Walmart, Hixson's former employer, filed this action seeking a writ of mandamus ordering the termination of Hixson's TTD compensation after the date notified Walmart of her retirement. The court of appeals granted the writ, concluding that the Commission abused its discretion by awarding TTD compensation for the period following Hixson's retirement. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that Klein does not apply retroactively and should be applied prospectively only. View "State ex rel. Walmart, Inc. v. Hixson" on Justia Law

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Appellant a Louisiana attorney representing oil spill claimants in the settlement program, was accused of funneling money to a settlement program staff attorney through improper referral payments. In a disciplinary proceeding, the en banc Eastern District of Louisiana found that Appellant’s actions violated the Louisiana Rules of Professional Conduct and suspended him from practicing law before the Eastern District of Louisiana for one year. Appellant appealed, arguing that the en banc court misapplied the Louisiana Rules of Professional Conduct and abused its discretion by imposing an excessive sanction.   The Fifth Circuit found that the en banc court misapplied Louisiana Rules of Professional Conduct Rule 1.5(e) and 8.4(a) but not Rule 8.4(d). Additionally, the en banc court did not abuse its discretion by imposing a one-year suspension on Appellant for his violation of 8.4(d). Accordingly, the court reversed the en banc court’s order suspending Appellant from the practice of law for one year each for violations of Rule 1.5(e) and 8.4(a). The court affirmed the en banc court’s holding that Appellant violated Rule 8.4(d). Finally, the court remanded to the en banc court for further proceedings. On remand, the court is free to impose on Appellant whatever sanction it sees fit for the 8.4(d) violation, including but not limited to its previous one-year suspension. View "In re Jonathan Andry" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the order of district court granting summary judgment to Riverton Memorial Hospital, LLC and dismissing this complaint alleging that Hospital violated the now-repealed Wyoming Hospital Records and Information Act, Wyo. Stat. Ann. 35-2-605 to 35-2-617, holding that a genuine issue of material fact existed precluding summary judgment.In their complaint, Rebecca and Tyler Wiese claimed that the Hospital failed to provide them all "health care information" concerning Rebecca's labor and delivery, including information associated with her Centricity Perinatal electronic medical record, in violation of the Act. The district court granted summary judgment of the Hospital, concluding that the Hospital complied with the Act by informing the Wieses and that Centricity electronic record and audit trial did not exist and/or could not be found. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) audit trails were "health care information" under the Act; and (2) a genuine issue of material fact existed as to whether Hospital complied with the Act with respect to Rebecca's Centricity electronic record and audit trail. View "Wiese v. Riverton Memorial Hospital, LLC" on Justia Law

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A 49-year-old jiu-jitsu student injured during a sparring match sued the studio where he was taking lessons as well as the national jiu-jitsu association under whose auspices the studio’s students could compete. The trial court granted summary judgment for the national association (as well as the association’s founder) on the ground that the association was not liable for the student’s injury because it had no actual control over the studio’s sparring practices and the association’s conduct did not give rise to a reasonable belief in the student that it had such control. The student appealed. His appeal raises two questions, one procedural and one substantive.   The Second Appellate District affirmed. The court found that the trial court did not violate the student’s right to due process by granting summary judgment on the issue of lack of control, when it was the student who first explicitly raised and briefed that issue in his opposition to summary judgment. Further, the court found that the student’s belief that the association had control over the studio’s sparring practices was not “reasonable” by virtue of the franchise-type relationship between the association and studio. View "Pereda v. Atos Jiu Jitsu LLC" on Justia Law

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Three independent contractors of Eastman Chemical Company were severely injured, one of them fatally, when a pump exploded during maintenance. Eastman moved to dismiss their state-law personal injury suits, contending that the contractors qualified as Eastman’s “statutory employees” under the South Carolina Workers’ Compensation Law – which would mean that workers’ compensation was their exclusive remedy and that the courts lacked jurisdiction to hear their claims.   The district court agreed that Plaintiffs were Eastman’s “statutory employees” under the workers’ compensation law and dismissed their actions. On appeal, the Fourth Circuit held their cases in abeyance pending the decision of South Carolina’s Supreme Court in Keene v. CNA Holdings, LLC, 870 S.E.2d 156 (2021).   The Fourth Circuit reversed and remanded the district court’s ruling. The court explained that in Keene, when an employer makes a “legitimate business decision” to outsource a portion of its work, the contractors it hires to perform that work are not “statutory employees” for workers’ compensation purposes. 870 S.E.2d at 163. No party here contests that Eastman’s outsourcing of its maintenance and repair work was a “legitimate business decision.” It follows that the plaintiffs, independent contractors performing maintenance at the time of the 2016 pump explosion, were not statutory employees and may bring personal injury actions. View "Sallie Zeigler v. Eastman Chemical Company" on Justia Law

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Dr. Frank Coufal and his solely owned professional corporation, La Jolla Neurological Associates (LJNA), hired an unaffiliated, third-party billing service to collect payments from patients and their insurers. Raquel Olson, the widow of a former patient, sued the doctor and his corporation (but not the third-party billing service) for unlawful debt collection under the Rosenthal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. According to the complaint, Dr. Coufal and LJNA violated the Rosenthal Act by sending multiple bills and making incessant phone calls seeking payment for neurological services Dr. Coufal had provided to Olson’s husband before he died, even though Olson directed them to stop contacting her and to seek payment through Medicare and the VA Medical Center. Olson’s complaint did not mention any third-party debt billing service or debt collector and did not allege that Dr. Coufal or LJNA were vicariously liable for the actions of any such third party. The trial court granted a defense motion for summary judgment on the ground that the doctor and his medical corporation were not “debt collectors” within the meaning of the Rosenthal Act. Finding no reversible error in the trial court's judgment, the Court of Appeal affirmed. View "Olson v. La Jolla Neurological Associates" on Justia Law