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Abigail Caudle was a 26-year-old apprentice electrician when she was electrocuted on the job while working for Raven Electric, Inc. Her mother sought workers’ compensation death benefits or other damages related to her daughter’s death. Acting on the advice of attorneys but representing herself, she brought a claim before the Alaska Workers’ Compensation Board, arguing in part that the Alaska Workers’ Compensation Act was unconstitutional because it inadequately compensated for her daughter’s life, particularly given the circumstances of her daughter’s death, and because it failed to consider her future dependency on her daughter. The Board denied her claim, and the Alaska Workers’ Compensation Appeals Commission affirmed the Board’s decision. The Commission also ordered the mother to pay the employer’s attorney’s fees and costs. The Alaska Supreme Court held that the mother’s constitutional rights are not violated by the Act. However, the Court reversed the Commission’s award of attorney’s fees. View "Burke v. Raven Electric, Inc." on Justia Law

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Plaintiff Andre Barnwell appealed the grant of summary judgment entered in favor of CLP Corporation ("CLP"), the defendant below. In a previous review, the Alabama Supreme Court reversed a summary judgment entered in favor of CLP and remanded the case. Barnwell sued CLP, alleging that he was injured when he slipped and fell in the restaurant. CLP moved for a summary judgment, arguing that the alleged fall was caused by an open and obvious danger and that part of Barnwell's testimony about the alleged fall was unreliable and should not be considered. CLP also filed a motion to strike Barnwell's affidavit and part of his earlier deposition. In that motion, CLP argued that Barnwell's affidavit testimony conflicted with his deposition testimony. CLP also argued that part of Barnwell's deposition testimony regarding the accident is contradicted by photographs showing the interior of the restaurant. In August 2016, the circuit court entered an order granting CLP's motion for a summary judgment, without stating a reason. The circuit court did not enter an order indicating a ruling on CLP's motion to strike. In this case, the Supreme Court found no reason to reopen its discussion regarding the admissibility of Barnwell's affidavit and full deposition. The evidence subject to review in the second appeal was the same as that in the first appeal. The Court noted that, although most of CLP's arguments in this appeal were made in the first appeal, CLP briefly presented new arguments questioning the reliability of Barnwell's testimony. However, those arguments could have been raised in the first appeal but were not, and the Court thus declined to further address them here. The Court again reversed and remanded. View "Andre Barnwell v. CLP Corporation" on Justia Law

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Harris County, the employer of deputy constable Kenneth Caplan, was entitled to governmental immunity on Plaintiff’s claim that the County used tangible personal property when Caplan shot Plaintiff. Caplan was off duty and used his personal firearm when he struck and injured Plaintiff. Attempting to trigger the Tort Claims Act’s limited waiver of governmental immunity, Plaintiff alleged that the County’s use of tangible personal property caused the injuries she suffered when Caplan shot her. The trial court granted the County’s plea to the jurisdiction and dismissed the case. The court of appeals found that Plaintiff failed to establish a waiver of the County’s immunity but remanded the case to allow Plaintiff to replied and conduct more discovery. The Supreme Court affirmed in part, reversed in part, and rendered judgment for the County, holding that Plaintiff’s allegations failed to trigger the Texas Tort Claims Act’s waiver of the County’s governmental immunity, and neither further discovery nor repleading could cure this defect. View "Harris County, Texas v. Annab" on Justia Law

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The business-owners liability insurance policy in this case did not provide coverage for a negligent supervision claim arising out of an alleged employee’s intentional act of physically punching a customer in the face. The circuit court granted summary judgment in favor of the Insurer, concluding that there was no coverage under the policy for either the employee’s intentional act or the negligent supervision claim against the employer arising out of the employee’s intentional act. The court of appeals reversed. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that where the negligent supervision claim pled rested solely on the employee’s intentional and unlawful act without any separate bais for a negligence claim against the employer, no coverage existed. View "Talley v. Mustafa" on Justia Law

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Mimms, an Indiana-licensed physician, prescribes controlled substances to patients. Several times, CVS Pharmacy employees informed Mimms’s patients that they would not fill their prescriptions. Mimms sued, alleging defamation. CVS argued that Mimms had no evidence that the speakers knew their statements were false. The court granted summary judgment as to five statements and denied judgment for four statements, reasoning there was a material question of fact regarding whether the speakers knew that their statements were false, given evidence that CVS’s corporate office had investigated Mimms and had not stopped stores from filling his prescriptions. The court rejected CVS’s argument that knowledge held by the corporate office could not be imputed to the speakers. The statements were: “CVS doesn’t fill Dr. Mimms’[s] prescriptions or prescriptions for any other pill mills.” “Mimms went to jail.” “Mimms has been … or will be arrested.” “Mimms is under DEA investigation. A jury found CVS liable for defamation per se and awarded Mimms $1,025,000. The Seventh Circuit reversed. Mimms proffered no evidence that the first three statements were made with actual malice. CVS is entitled to a new trial on the fourth statement; the court should have allowed CVS to present evidence that Mimms was the subject of a DEA investigation and regarding Mimms’s reputation. In a defamation per se case, damage to reputation is presumed but evidence regarding the extent of the harm to his professional reputation was critical for minimizing damages. View "Mimms v. CVS Pharmacy, Inc." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the circuit court dismissing Plaintiff’s complaint against Defendants, the Town of Grantsville and its police chief, holding that the claims set forth in the complaint were barred by the applicable statute of limitations. After the Office of Administrative Hearsing reversed the West Virginia Division of Motor Vehicles’ revocation of Plaintiff’s driving privileges, Plaintiff brought this complaint alleging malicious prosecution, outrageous conduct, intentional infliction of emotional distress and defamation against the police chief and alleging the negligent employment of the police chief against the town. The circuit court dismissed the complaint as barred by the applicable statute of limitations. The Supreme Court affirmed. View "Richards v. Walker" on Justia Law

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An insured plaintiff who has chosen to be treated with doctors and medical facility providers outside his insurance plan shall be considered uninsured, as opposed to insured, for the purpose of determining economic damages. The Court of Appeal held that the trial court properly allowed the plaintiff in this case, as a plaintiff who is treating outside his insurance plan, to introduce evidence of his medical bills. The trial court also permitted defendants to present expert testimony that the reasonable and customary value of the services provided by the various medical facilities was substantially less than the amounts actually billed. The jury rejected the expert evidence and awarded plaintiff the billed amounts. The court held that defendants have not demonstrated error except with respect to two charges regarding the amounts billed by Ventura County Medical Center and American Medical Response. Accordingly, the court reduced the damage award and affirmed the judgment as modified. View "Pebley v. Santa Clara Organics" on Justia Law

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An insured plaintiff who has chosen to be treated with doctors and medical facility providers outside his insurance plan shall be considered uninsured, as opposed to insured, for the purpose of determining economic damages. The Court of Appeal held that the trial court properly allowed the plaintiff in this case, as a plaintiff who is treating outside his insurance plan, to introduce evidence of his medical bills. The trial court also permitted defendants to present expert testimony that the reasonable and customary value of the services provided by the various medical facilities was substantially less than the amounts actually billed. The jury rejected the expert evidence and awarded plaintiff the billed amounts. The court held that defendants have not demonstrated error except with respect to two charges regarding the amounts billed by Ventura County Medical Center and American Medical Response. Accordingly, the court reduced the damage award and affirmed the judgment as modified. View "Pebley v. Santa Clara Organics" on Justia Law

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Employees may bring defamation and false light claims against their employer because the Workers’ Compensation Law’s (WCL) bar on claims for injuries incurred in the course of employment does not extend to injuries to a person’s reputation. Petitioners, employees of the County of Hawaii, brought this action against the County, certain County officials, and a private investigation company hired by the County (collectively, Defendants), alleging defamation. The circuit court granted summary judgment for Defendants, determining (1) Petitioners’ claims against the County were barred by the WCL because the alleged injury to their reputations arose through the course and scope of their employment; (2) Petitioners failed to adduce evidence raising a genuine issue of material fact that the County officials had made false statements about them; and (3) the third-party investigator had no duty towards Petitioners. The intermediate court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court vacated the summary judgment for Defendants, holding (1) whether one County official’s alleged defamatory statements were true involved a disputed question of material fact; (2) Petitioners’ defamation and false light claims against the County and the second County official in his official capacity were not barred by the WCL; and (3) licensed private investigators owe a duty of care to the subjects of their investigations. View "Nakamoto v. Kawauchi" on Justia Law

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Petitioner Octavio Pina was employed as a pipeline installer by American Piping Inspection, Inc. At the time of his injury, he worked at an oilrig site approximately 130 miles away from his home. Petitioner traveled weekly to Employer's drilling site; he would work 6 days then return home on the weekend. Employer provided a daily per diem payment for lodging and meals incurred. Employer used Petitioner's truck to haul work related equipment and materials and paid him $50 per day for the use of his truck. At the time of Petitioner's injury, it was the practice of Employer to pay for the gas necessary to refuel Petitioner's truck each morning before traveling to the rig site. Petitioner was required to stop at the Employer-designated gas station at the time set by the supervisor. Employer also agreed to purchase ice and water each day for the entire crew, but only if they stopped at the designated gas station at the time specified by Employer. Employer had been paying for Petitioner's gasoline for three months prior to his injury. On the morning of September 22, 2014, Petitioner met his supervisor at the designated gas station to get ice, water and gasoline. The supervisor agreed that "Claimant was reporting to work that morning when he made it to the gas station." On his way to the worksite, Petitioner had a collision and sustained serious injuries. Emergency medical care was given and Petitioner was transported via helicopter for medical treatment. Petitioner never arrived at the drilling site that morning. Although Petitioner did not sign the attendance sheet at the rig site that morning, Employer paid him for a full day of work. Petitioner filed a claim for benefits under the Administrative Workers' Compensation Act (AWCA). Employer denied the claim was compensable within the meaning of the AWCA on the following grounds: (1) Petitioner was not performing employment services at the time of injury; and (2) the injury did not occur in the course and scope of employment. The administrative law judge determined Petitioner's injury did not occur in the course and scope of employment within the meaning of the AWCA and denied his claim. The Oklahoma Supreme Court reversed, finding Petitioner was in the course and scope of his employment as the term was defined in 85A O.S. Supp. 2013 sec 2 (13) because his actions at the time of injury were related to and in furtherance of the business of the employer. View "Pina v. American Piping Inspection" on Justia Law