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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the district court granted the State’s motion to dismiss and Jefferson County’s motion for summary judgment as to Plaintiffs’ complaint against special deputy prosecutor Steven Shapiro, the State, and Jefferson County, holding that the district court properly concluded that Shapiro was entitled to absolute prosecutorial immunity and that this immunity was properly extended to both Jefferson County and the State. Plaintiffs brought this complaint seeking damages under 42 U.S.C. 1983, alleging violations of their child’s constitutional rights, a Dorwart claim, and a malicious prosecution claim. Plaintiffs also filed a negligence claim against Jefferson County. The district court granted the motion to dismiss brought by the State and Shapiro on the grounds of absolute prosecutorial immunity. The court then granted summary judgment for Jefferson County on the grounds that the public duty doctrine barred Plaintiffs’ claims. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the district court (1) correctly concluded that Shapiro was entitled to absolute prosecutorial immunity when he signed an affidavit establishing probable cause to file a petition initiating delinquency proceedings against Plaintiffs’ child; (2) properly extended this immunity to Jefferson County and the State; and (3) correctly concluded that the public duty doctrine prevented recovery against Jefferson County. View "Renenger v. State" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff Emily Hodges alleged she was injured when the apartment balcony on which she and others were standing collapsed. Plaintiff alleged she suffered injuries to her spine, feet, right leg and hip, and right shoulder, for which she sought $325,000 in economic damages for past and future medical expenses and impaired earning capacity. She also sought $1,000,000 in noneconomic damages. Defendants Oak Tree Realtors, Inc., trustees of a family trust, and several individuals, deposed plaintiff and sought information about plaintiff’s discussions with her treating medical providers relating to her injuries. Plaintiff’s lawyer instructed her not to answer those questions, asserting the physician-patient privilege and that her answers would disclose communications she had had with her treating doctor. Defendants moved to compel answers to their questions regarding her discussions with treating doctors, contending that plaintiff’s communications with them were not protected by the physician-patient privilege. Accepting defendants’ argument that the communications fell within the exception in OEC 504-1(4)(b), the trial court ordered plaintiff to testify regarding communications with her treating doctor. Plaintiff then petitioned the Oregon Supreme Court for a peremptory writ of mandamus, seeking to have the trial court’s order vacated. The Supreme Court found the limitation in OEC 504-1(4)(b) applied only when the physical examination occurred under the authority provided in ORCP 44 and that, on this record, the limitation on the physician-patient privilege did not apply. Accordingly, the Court granted a peremptory writ of mandamus. View "Hodges v. Oak Tree Realtors, Inc." on Justia Law

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After an intoxicated driver fled Austin police and knowingly accelerated through a closed city block during the South by Southwest Festival and killed four people, the family of one of the victims filed a wrongful death action against the festival organizers and the City of Austin. Plaintiffs alleged that defendants failed to adequately blockade the street and prevent the ensuing harm. The Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal of the action for failure to state a claim under Texas law. The court held that plaintiffs failed to plausibly allege the SXSW defendants controlled the premises where the driver struck the victim. Therefore, the district court properly dismissed the negligence and premises-liability claims against the SXSW defendants for lack of duty. The court held that plaintiffs failed to allege any violation of a codified standard of conduct and thus plaintiffs' negligence per se claim was properly dismissed. The court also held that the district court properly dismissed the implied warranty and public nuisance claim. Finally, the City's immunity was not waived because plaintiffs have failed to state a valid premises claim. View "Smit v. SXSW Holdings, Inc." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the district court’s orders granting motions to dismiss Plaintiffs’ negligence claims against BNSF Railway Company, holding that a company does not consent to general personal jurisdiction by registering to do business in Montana and voluntarily conducting in-state business activities. BNSF, a rail carrier incorporated in Delaware with its principal place of business in Texas, registered to do business in Montana and designated an in-state agent for service of process. Plaintiffs filed suit against BNSF under the Federal Employers’ Liability Act for injuries allegedly sustained while working for BNSF in states other than Montana. BNSF moved to dismiss Plaintiffs’ claims for lack of personal jurisdiction. The district court determined that BNSF did not consent to personal jurisdiction in Montana and, accordingly, granted BNSF’s motions to dismiss. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) a foreign corporation does not consent to general personal jurisdiction when it registers to do business in Montana and then voluntarily conducts in-state business activities; and (2) accordingly, BNSF did not consent to general personal jurisdiction in this case. View "Deleon v. BNSF Railway Co." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court exercised supervisory control over pending proceedings in the underlying matter of Cepeda v. Montana State University and reversed an order sanctioning Montana State University-Bozeman (MSU), holding that the district court abused its discretion in imposing default judgment as an evidence spoliation sanction pursuant to Mont. R. Civ. P. 37(b)-(c) and (e). Plaintiff filed a claim alleging that MSU negligently hired or supervised a faculty member and that MSU’s negligence caused Plaintiff to suffer harm. Two and a half years after the district court heard oral argument on the parties’ cross-motions for summary judgment, discovery sanctions, and preliminary evidentiary rulings, the district court granted Plaintiff’s sanctions motion and summarily adjudicated liability against MSU as an evidence spoliation sanction. The Supreme Court held (1) exercise of supervisory control was necessary and proper because this case presented a significant question as to whether the district court was proceeding under a mistake of law which, if uncorrected, would likely cause significant injustice rendering ordinary appeal inadequate; and (2) the district court abused its discretion in imposing default judgment against MSU as a spoliation sanction under Rule 37(b)-(c) and (e). View "Montana State University-Bozeman v. First Judicial District Court" on Justia Law

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In 2011, Defendants Mitchell Davis, Samuel Stimson, Peter Stimson, and Christopher Torres threw a party at a house they were renting in Boulder to celebrate one defendant’s birthday and another’s college graduation. They invited a number of people, and information about the party was posted on social media. Between 20 and 120 guests attended at various points throughout the evening. Not all who came to the party had been specifically invited by the defendants. Some heard about it from other party-goers. Some guests may have brought their own alcohol, but alcohol was provided by the party hosts as well. Plaintiff Jared Prezkurat and Hank Sieck went to the party that night with Victor Mejia. Mejia had heard about the party through a friend, Robert Fix, who knew the defendants and helped plan the party. Sieck was twenty-years old. None of the defendants knew Sieck before that night. Sieck drank both beer and hard alcohol at the party. Around 2 a.m., Sieck, Mejia, and Przekurat left the party in Przekurat’s car. Sieck drove, at times going more than one-hundred miles per hour. He lost control of the car and drove into a ditch, rolling the car several times. Przekurat was thrown from the vehicle and suffered severe, life-altering injuries. The issue this case presented for the Colorado Supreme Court's review was whether Colorado’s dram-shop liability statute required a social host who provided a place to drink alcohol have actual knowledge that a specific guest was underage to be held liable for any damage or injury caused by that underage guest. Concluding that the plain language of the statute was unambiguous, the Supreme Court held that it did: a social host have actual knowledge of an underage guest’s age in order to be liable for injury or damages resulting from that guest’s intoxication. View "Przekurat v. Torres" on Justia Law

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The petitioner-employer sought review of the Workers' Compensation Court of Existing Claims which upheld a trial court's determination that respondent-employee Jennifer Hodge suffered a change of condition for the worse to her left leg/knee when she was injured in a medical facility where she was receiving medical treatment to a previously adjudicated body part. The employer urged there was insufficient evidence to support the trial court's decision because: (1) any injury arose from an intervening negligent act; and (2) there was no medical evidence to support a worsening of condition to employee's left leg/knee. The three-judge panel disagreed with Employer and affirmed the trial court. Employer then filed a Petition for Review and the Court of Civil Appeals vacated the decision of the three-judge panel. Hodge filed a Petition for Certiorari to the Oklahoma Supreme Court. Granting review, the Supreme Court found competent evidence to support the decisions from the trial court and the three-judge panel. Accordingly, the Court vacated the Court of Civil Appeals and affirmed the Workers' Compensation Court. View "City of Tulsa v. Hodge" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the Medical Commission approving John Lysne’s worker’s compensation claim seeking coverage for knee replacement surgery, holding that the Commission’s finding that Lysne’s work injury caused his need for knee replacement surgery was supported by substantial evidence and not contrary to law. On appeal, the Workers’ Compensation Division argued that Lysne did not provide adequate proof that his need for knee replacement surgery was causally related to his work injury. The Supreme Court disagreed, holding that there was substantial evidence to support the Commission’s finding of causation and the Commission’s rejection of contrary medical evidence that the workplace injury was not causally related to Lysne’s requested surgery. View "State ex rel. Department of Workforce Services, Workers' Compensation Division v. Lysne" on Justia Law

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Daniel Blair, a seaman, sued his former employer and the former employer’s liability insurer, claiming that the insurer had failed to pay him amounts due under the terms of a settlement agreement. Blair asserted that the “policy limits” settlement included both the policy’s stated limits and attorney’s fees calculated under Alaska Civil Rule 82. The insurer, relying on the policy’s notice that fees were included in the policy limits, argued that the settlement had been fully satisfied. The parties also disagreed about whether costs from a review of Blair's medical bills were properly counted against the policy limits. After contentious discovery, the superior court granted summary judgment for the insurer, finding that the policy’s Rule 82 notice was valid and that the settlement had been satisfied. The court awarded attorney’s fees to the insurer as the prevailing party. Blair appealed the grant of summary judgment, the denial of some discovery, and the award of attorney’s fees. After review, the Alaska Supreme Court affirmed the superior court’s summary judgment and discovery rulings except with regard to whether the costs of the medical review were properly deducted from the policy limits; here, the Court concluded issues of fact precluded summary judgment on this issue. The Court reversed summary judgment only as to that issue, vacated the attorney’s fees award, and remanded for further proceedings. View "Blair v. Federal Insurance Company" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the court of appeals affirming the judgment of the district court ordering Devin Wilson to pay Kenneth Risley a jury award in favor of Risley, holding that the district court did not err in determining that the assignment provision in Kan. Stat. Ann. 40-3113a(c) did not divest Risley of the right to recover his medical expenses from the tortfeasor. A jury found Wilson liable in tort for injuring Risley in an automobile accident and awarded Risley the cost of his medical expenses in addition to other compensation. Risley had previously been paid for his medical expenses under the personal injury protection (PIP) coverage of his automobile insurance policy. The jury entered judgment on the entire amount of damages as awarded by the jury. On appeal, Wilson argued that Risley had no right to sue for the medical expenses because the cause of action for those medical expenses had been statutorily assigned pursuant to section 40-3113a(c) to Risley’s PIP insurance carrier. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Risley was entitled to the full damages as awarded by the jury, including any medical expenses that were duplicative of the PIP benefits Risley received from his PIP insurance carrier. View "McCullough v. Wilson" on Justia Law