Justia Injury Law Opinion Summaries

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The Supreme Court granted a petition for a writ of prohibition filed by Petitioners - Respondent's employer, its corporate parent, and a fellow employee - asking the court to dismiss Respondent's declaratory judgment action because declaratory judgment would be improper on the facts, holding that the circuit court lacked jurisdiction to hear this petition.Respondent was injured in a workplace accident and received workers' compensation benefits because of his injuries. Respondent brought this declaratory judgment action, arguing that the petition was necessary to establish the legal relations between the parties. Petitioners filed this petition for writ of prohibition arguing that the Workers' Compensation Commission held exclusive jurisdiction for any claims Respondent had against his employers. The Supreme Court granted the writ, holding that Respondent's remedies against his employer were those outlined under the Workers' Compensation Act. View "Esterline Technologies Corp. v. Brownlee" on Justia Law

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In this case disputing whether Plaintiff, who was in close proximity to her grandchild when he was involved in a fatal accident, may pursue a claim for bystander recovery under a "zone of danger" theory, the Court of Appeals held that Plaintiff's grandchild was "immediately family" for the purpose of applying the zone of danger rule.Plaintiff was with her two-year-old granddaughter in front of a building when they were struck by falling debris from the facade of the building. The grandchild died from the accident. Plaintiff brought suit, asserting negligence and wrongful death. Plaintiff then sought leave to amend the complaint to assert an additional cause of action under the "zone of danger" doctrine. Supreme Court granted the motion to amend, concluding that Plaintiff should be considered an immediate family member and afforded a right to recover for her emotional injuries. The Appellate Division reversed, ruling that leave to amend should have been denied. The Court of Appeals reversed, holding that a grandchild is the "immediate family" of a grandparent for the purpose of applying the zone of danger rule. View "Greene v. Esplanade Venture Partnership" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the court of appeals affirming denial of disability retirement benefits by the Board of Trustees of the Kentucky Retirement Systems, holding that the lower courts misinterpreted the holding in Kentucky Retirement Systems v. West, 413 S.W.3d 578 (Ky. 2013), leading to multiple errors.At issue was the proof required of a public employee with less than sixteen years' credit to establish that his genetic condition that was present at conception but dormant until after twelve years on the job was not a "pre-existing" condition disqualifying him from benefits under Ky. Rev. Stat. 61.600(3)(d). Defendant was denied benefits, and the circuit court affirmed. The court of appeals affirmed the circuit court's reading of West and its denial of disability retirement benefits. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that multiple errors occurred, and each error was arbitrary, capricious, View "Elder v. Kentucky Retirement Systems" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the court of appeals reversing the decisions of the administrative law judge (ALJ) and the Workers' Compensation Board that the twelve percent interest on workers' compensation income benefits that were due but unpaid under the prior version of Ken. Rev. Stat. 342.040 applied in this case, holding that the six percent interest rate provided for in the 2017 amendment to the statute was applicable to all of Appellant's due but unpaid benefits.After the 2017 amendment, section 342.040 now provides for an interest rate of six percent on due but unpaid benefits. In 2016, Appellant experienced a compensable injury. Appellant filed a claim after the effective date of the amendment in 2017 and was awarded income benefits by an ALJ in 2018. Both the ALJ and the Board concluded that the twelve percent interest rate continued to apply to that portion of Appellant's benefit award that was attributable to the period before the 2017 effective date of the amendment. The court of appeals reversed. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that, based on the General ASsembly's non-codified but express language regarding its intent with respect to the interest rate set forth in the 2017 amendment, the entirety of Appellant's benefit award was subject to the amended six percent interest rate. View "Martin v. Warrior Coal LLC" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff-Respondent David Collins suffered serious injuries following his arrest by San Diego County Sheriff's Deputies for public intoxication. After a three-week trial, a jury found in favor of Collins on his negligence claims against the two deputies involved in the arrest and two nurses employed by the County of San Diego (County) who attended to Collins while in jail. On appeal from the subsequent judgment and the denial of its motion for judgment notwithstanding the verdict (JNOV), the County raised five claims of error: (1) the jury’s finding that the deputies had a reasonable basis to arrest Collins foreclosed his claim of negligence against the deputies; (2) the court erred by instructing the jury it could find the deputies liable for injuries caused by private physicians who treated Collins after he was released from custody; (3) the court erred by failing to instruct the jury it could not hold defendants liable for an injury Collins sustained while in jail; (4) governmental immunity requires reversal of the judgment against one of the nurse defendants; and (5) the court erred in its calculation of the amount of setoff the defendants were entitled to based on Collins’s prior settlement with the private physicians and their employer. The Court of Appeal rejected these arguments and affirmed the judgment. View "Collins v. County of San Diego" on Justia Law

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The Fifth Circuit withdrew its prior opinion.After plaintiff was injured when a manlift struck her outside Harrah's Casino in New Orleans, a jury found Jazz Casino negligent, assigning it 49% of the fault. Plaintiff was awarded, among other jury awards, $1,000,000 for future pain and suffering. The Casino appealed.The court held that the evidence was sufficient to support the finding of negligence under a negligent hiring theory, operational control theory, and authorization of unsafe work practices theory presented to jurors. The court also held that none of the objected-to evidence was erroneously admitted at trial. However, the court held that the jury's $1,000,000 award for future pain, suffering, mental anguish, disability, scarring, and disfigurement was excessive. Accordingly, the court affirmed the district court's denial of the Casino's motion for judgment as a matter of law and motion for a new trial, vacated the award for future pain and suffering, and remanded for further proceedings. View "Echeverry v. Jazz Casino Co., LLC" on Justia Law

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The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment in favor of Lima Corporate in a diversity action brought by plaintiffs, alleging product liability and negligence claims relating to a hip implant. The panel held that in light of the statutory text, context, and stated purpose, Lima Corporate was a biomaterials supplier of its Hip Stem – a "component part" supplied "for use in the manufacture of an implant" pursuant to the Biomaterials Access Assurance Act (BAAA), 21 U.S.C. 1602(1)(A). In this case, Lima Corporate was immune from liability under the BAAA and, under the circumstances, could not be impleaded under section 1606. View "Connell v. Lima Corporate" on Justia Law

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At issue in this appeal was whether claimant Curtis Stanley filed a timely complaint against the Industrial Special Indemnity Fund ("ISIF") when Stanley filed his complaint more than five years after his industrial accident and more than one year after receiving his last payment of income benefits. The Idaho Industrial Commission (“Commission”) held it did not have continuing jurisdiction to entertain Stanley’s complaint against ISIF for non-medical benefits. The Commission found Idaho Code section 72-706 barred Stanley’s complaint and dismissed it. Stanley appealed, arguing continuing jurisdiction over medical benefits alone was sufficient to confer jurisdiction over complaints against ISIF and that the Commission erred in determining section 72-706 barred his complaint. Finding the Commission erred in determining section 72-706 barred Stanley's complaint, the Idaho Supreme Court reversed the Commission’s decision. View "Stanley v. Idaho Industrial Special Indemnity Fund" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the jury's verdict that Travis Elbert was not negligent when he struck Diane Wenger with his vehicle as she was crossing Main Street in East Helena after dark, holding that the district court did not err or abuse its discretion.Specifically, the Supreme Court held (1) the district court did not abuse its discretion in ruling in limine to limit witness testimony on Montana statutes or on ultimate legal conclusions; (2) publication of Wenger's irrelevant, private health information to the jury was improperly allowed, but Defendant was not entitled to a trial trial on this basis; and (3) any potential error by the district court in prohibiting Wenger from arguing an approved jury instruction in closing was harmless. View "Wenger v. State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Co." on Justia Law

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In March 2014, Evvie Punches rented a one-bedroom apartment in the Conifer Groves complex in Anchorage; she renewed the lease in April 2015. The complex was owned by McCarrey Glen Apartments, LLC and managed by Weidner Property Management, LCC. Punches complained to the property manager since moving in regarding air quality in the apartment, and mold around the toilet. These issues continued despite a number of attempts by Weidner’s maintenance staff to fix them. Punches nonetheless renewed her lease in April 2015. When the property manager tried to arrange an inspection, Punches refused to allow maintenance staff into her apartment because she would not be home. Punches moved out of her apartment on March 2016 after delivering Weidner a “Notice of Defects in Essential Services.” Her notice listed issues with the front door, mold on the ceiling, mold on the carpet, damage from a previous fire, water damage, and “insufficient windows” that permitted “free flowing air throughout” the apartment. Punches moved to Minneapolis some time after she left her Alaska apartment, and sought care in Minnesota for various skin infections and reported that she had been exposed to mold for two years. She continued to pursue a connection between mold exposure and her recurring skin infections and other ailments. In 2017, she sued her former landlord and the property management company, claiming the companies negligently failed to eradicate mold in her apartment, thereby breaching the habitability provisions of the lease and causing her to suffer personal injury and property damage. After considerable delay involving discovery disputes, the superior court granted summary judgment dismissing Punches' personal injury claim. The parties went to trial on the tenant’s property damage and contract claims after the superior court precluded the tenant from introducing evidence relating to her personal injury claim. The jury rejected Punches' claims, and judgment was entered in favor of the companies. Punches appealed, contending that the court erred by ruling against her in discovery disputes, by denying her a further extension of time to oppose summary judgment, and by limiting the evidence she could present at trial. The Alaska Supreme Court concluded the court did not abuse its discretion when making the challenged rulings, and therefore affirmed the judgment against the tenant. View "Punches v. McCarrey Glenn Apartments LLC" on Justia Law