Justia Injury Law Opinion Summaries

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the circuit court granting summary judgment for Landlord in this action brought by Tenant for damages arising from a bite from a dog owned by another tenant, holding that the circuit court did not err when it granted summary judgment to Landlord as to Tenant's general negligence and negligence per se claims.Tenant commenced this civicl action alleging that Landlord was negligent for failing to exercise ordinary care in the control, management, warning, and care of its property and was negligent per se for owning or keeping a "vicious dog" a public nuisance. See S.D. Codified Laws 40-34-13. The circuit court granted summary judgment for Landlord, noting that Landlord did not have actual knowledge of the animal's dangerous propensities. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the circuit court properly granted summary judgment to Landlord on Tenant's claims, nor did it abuse its discretion in denying Tenant's motion under S.D. R. Civ. P. 56(f). View "Davies v. GPHC, LLC" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff appealed from the district court’s grant of summary judgment in favor of a mixed group of domestic and foreign corporations, (collectively, “the defendants”), in a product liability action stemming from a motorcycle accident and allegedly defective helmet. Plaintiff contended that the district court erroneously excluded the testimony of her expert witness, after finding his testimony based on novel and untested theories unreliable.   In the district court proceedings, defendant HJC Corporation (“HJC”), a foreign corporation organized under the laws of, and principally operating within, South Korea, moved separately for summary judgment based on a lack of personal jurisdiction. The district court denied this motion as moot, after granting summary judgment to all the defendants on the merits.   The Eleventh Circuit affirmed the district court’s grant of Defendants’ motion to exclude Plaintiff’s expert’s testimony. Because the district court properly excluded Plaintiff’s expert’s testimony, the court affirmed the district court’s grant of summary judgment in favor of Defendants. The court reversed its denial of HJC’s motion for summary judgment. The court concluded that the district court erred by failing to conduct a veil piercing or alter-ego analysis with respect to HJC and HJCA for personal jurisdiction purposes. The court agreed with HJC that the district court erred by failing to address HJC’s jurisdictional motion before reaching the merits of Defendants’ summary judgment motion. View "Sheila A. Knepfle v. J & P Cycles, LLC, et al" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the decision of the appellate court affirming the judgment of the trial court concluding that Defendant's allegedly defamatory statements about Plaintiff made during a hearing before the Greenwich Planning and Zoning Commission were entitled to statutory immunity, holding that the appellate court erred.Plaintiff brought this defamation action seeking to recover damages for injuries he claims to have sustained as a result of Defendant's alleged defamatory statements. The trial court granted Defendant's motion to dismiss, concluding that it did not have jurisdiction over Plaintiff's claims because the statements Defendant made about Plaintiff at the commission's hearing were entitled to absolute immunity because the hearing constituted a quasi-judicial proceeding. The appellate court affirmed. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) a hearing on a special permit application before a town's planning and zoning commission is not quasi-judicial in nature; and (2) therefore, the appellate court erroneously determined that Defendant's statements were entitled to absolute immunity. View "Priore v. Haig" on Justia Law

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Under California law, the Privette doctrine holds that there is a strong presumption that a hirer of an independent contractor delegates to the contractor all responsibility for workplace safety. SMC Contracting, Inc. (SMC) hired Tyco Simplex Grinnell, Inc. (Tyco) to install an automatic fire sprinkler system for a development in South Lake Tahoe. On one date during installation, a Tyco employee, Tommy Ray McCullar, arrived at work and found the floor covered in ice. While trying to use a ladder on the ice, he slipped and suffered injuries. McCullar later sued SMC based on these events. But the trial court, relying on the Privette doctrine, granted summary judgment in SMC’s favor. Challenging this decision on appeal, McCullar’s contended the Privette doctrine did not protect SMC because SMC retained control over Tyco’s work and negligently exercised this control in a way that affirmatively contributed to his injuries. That was so, he reasoned, because SMC caused the ice to form on the floor and then told him to go back to work after he notified it about the ice. Based on the Privette doctrine, and because McCullar failed to raise a triable issue of material fact, the Court of Appeal affirmed. View "McCullar v. SMC Contracting, Inc." on Justia Law

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Appellant was working as a bus ticketing agent in Washington, D.C. when a person attempted to sneak onto a bus headed to New York without a ticket. After Appellant ordered the person off the bus the two women got into a scuffle. District of Columbia Metropolitan Police officers arrived in response to the unticketed person’s call reporting Appellant for assault.   Officers grabbed Appellant, pressed her against the wall, and then forced her to the floor and handcuffed her. The police charged her with simple assault on the person attempting to get on the bus and with assaulting a police officer while resisting arrest. Appellant subsequently sued the District of Columbia and the police officers, alleging civil rights violations during this arrest and a second arrest that occurred in April 2016. She appealed the district court’s grant of summary judgment in favor of the District and its officers.   The DC Circuit agreed in part and reversed the district court’s grant of summary judgment for the District and its officers on Appellant’s 42 U.S.C. Section 1983 wrongful arrest, common law false arrest, and respondeat superior claims. The court affirmed the district court’s grant of summary judgment as to Appellant’s other claims. The court explained that the district court erred in granting summary judgment to the District on Appellant’s wrongful arrest and common law false arrest claims because there is a genuine dispute of material fact over whether probable cause for the simple assault arrest had dissipated and required the police officers to release Appellant. View "Xingru Lin v. DC (PUBLIC)" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff fell victim to a massive Ponzi scheme. Plaintiff sued JP Morgan and Richter Consulting. Plaintiff’s principal theory is that these firms aided and abetted fraud. And even if they did not, the complaint alleges that the transfers to JP Morgan were fraudulent.   The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court’s dismissal of Plaintiff's complaint. The court explained that early on, JP Morgan agreed to pay over $30 million to settle a group of claims filed by the trustees. To protect the settlement, two courts issued bar orders preventing creditors like Plaintiff from asserting any claims that belong or belonged to one or more of the bankruptcy trustees. Those orders, along with general bankruptcy-standing doctrine, prevent Plaintiff from pursuing JP Morgan separately. The same goes for the fraudulent-transfer claims against JP Morgan.   Further, Plaintiff’s aiding-and-abetting claim against Richter Consulting under New York law cannot move forward either, but for a different reason. The court explained that viewed in the light most favorable to Plaintiff, the allegations in the complaint describe no more than constructive knowledge of the fraud. View "Ritchie Spec. Cred. Investments v. JPMorgan Chase & Co." on Justia Law

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Robert Owen died 11 days after being transferred from Huntsville Hospital to the University of Alabama at Birmingham Hospital ("UAB Hospital") for cardiac treatment. His widow Gloria Owen, as the personal representative of his estate, sued the ambulance company that had transported him, Huntsville Emergency Medical Services, Inc. ("HEMSI"), as well as HEMSI employees Jacob Steele, Calvin Hui, Christopher Nunley, and Dea Calce, alleging that events that occurred during Robert's transport had "caused him unnecessary stress, worry, concern, anxiety, and/or a delay in treatment," leading to further heart damage and his eventual death. During discovery, Gloria sought information from the HEMSI defendants about the previous conduct and employment record of Steele, a licensed emergency medical technician ("EMT") and the assigned driver of the HEMSI ambulance that transported Robert. The HEMSI defendants objected to Gloria's requests and sought a protective order, arguing that the Alabama Medical Liability Act ("the AMLA") governed her claims and prohibited discovery related to any acts and omissions of a defendant that were not specifically described in the complaint. The circuit court rejected the HEMSI defendants' request for a protective order and directed them to produce the requested discovery; they petitioned the Alabama Supreme Court for mandamus relief, specifically a writ directing the trial court to amend its order to give effect to what they claimed were the applicable privilege and discovery protections of the AMLA. The Supreme Court granted the petition in part, and denied in part. The Court held all claims asserted by Gloria in this action were governed by the AMLA and subject to the limitations on discovery imposed by § 6-5-551. To the extent that the trial court's October 2021 order did not give effect to the § 6-5-551 privilege, the HEMSI defendants' petition was granted and the trial court was directed to modify that order. But to the extent the HEMSI defendants sought to prevent Gloria from discovering information regarding acts or omissions that were specifically alleged and described in her complaint, their petition was denied. View "Ex parte Huntsville Emergency Medical Services, Inc., et al." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part the decision of the court of appeals reversing the order of the district court granting summary judgment to Defendants - mental healthcare providers - and dismissing Plaintiff's wrongful death action, holding that genuine issues of material fact existed.For three months, Brian Short received outpatient treatment for anxiety and depression. Thereafter, he shot and killed his wife, his three children, and himself. Plaintiff brought this wrongful death action. The district court granted summary judgment for Defendants, concluding that they did not have a duty to protect or control Brian or his wife and children absent a custodial relationship or foreseeability of harm. The court of appeals reversed, holding (1) Defendants owed a duty of care to Brian, and (2) genuine issues of material fact existed as to whether Defendants' conduct created a foreseeable risk to Brian's wife and children. The Supreme Court (1) affirmed as to Brian, holding that a mental healthcare provider owes a duty of reasonable care to its patient that is not negated by a lack of total control over the patient; and (2) reversed as to Brian's wife and children, holding that harm to the family members was outside the scope of the duty of care and unforeseeable as a matter of law. View "Smits v. Park Nicollet Health Services" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff and defendant worked in the same location. Defendant was the wife of plaintiff’s employer. In late July 2021, plaintiff sought relief under 12 V.S.A. § 5133 following a workplace confrontation with defendant. After an October 2021 hearing, the trial court credited plaintiff's version of events, ultimately concluding that defendant defendant behaved in a way that she knew or should have known would place a reasonable person in fear of harm, and this satisfied the statutory definition of stalking. The court thus issued a final anti-stalking order in plaintiff’s favor. Defendant appealed the issuance of that anti-stalking order against her, raising procedural and substantive challenges to the court’s decision. After review, the Vermont Supreme Court agreed with defendant that the evidence did not support the trial court’s conclusion that she engaged in “two or more acts over a period of time, however short” as required by 12 V.S.A. § 5131(1)(A). The Court therefore reversed. View "Beatty v. Keough" on Justia Law

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Certiorari was granted in this case to resolve a split in the decisions of the Louisiana courts of appeal regarding the relationship between La. C.C.P. art. 425 and the res judicata statutes, La. R.S. 13:4231 and 13:4232. Particularly, the Supreme Court considered whether Article 425 was an independent claim preclusion provision apart from res judicata such that identity of parties was not required to preclude a subsequent suit, or whether Article 425 merely referenced the requirements of res judicata and thus a claim could not be precluded unless it was between the same parties as a prior suit. After reviewing the law and the arguments of the parties, the Louisiana Supreme Court found Article 425 functioned simply as a measure that put litigants on notice at the outset and, during the course of litigation, all causes of action arising out of the transaction or occurrence that is the subject matter of the litigation must be asserted. "Rather than have independent enforcement effect, Article 425 operates in tandem with and is enforced through the exception of res judicata. Because Article 425 is enforced through res judicata, all elements of res judicata–including identity of parties–must be satisfied for a second suit to be precluded." View "Carollo v. Louisiana Dept. of Transportation & Development" on Justia Law