Justia Injury Law Opinion Summaries

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Plaintiffs-appellants Robert Dziubla and Linda Stanwood claimed defendant Ignatius Piazza II, owner of a Nevada firearms training facility, harassed and threatened them by publishing defamatory statements along with their personal identifying information, and sending associates to invade their home. Piazza retorted that plaintiffs conned him out of thousands of dollars and are now attempting to steal his property and "chill his constitutional rights." The trial court granted in part and denied in part Piazza’s special motion to strike under California’s anti-SLAPP statute. With one important clarification as to the scope of protected activity, the Court of Appeal reached the same conclusion. That clarification involved so-called “doxing” allegations in the complaint: plaintiffs’ claim that Piazza published private personal identifying information about them to thousands of gun enthusiasts as a thinly-veiled threat about what could happen if they continued to litigate the business dispute. Although it was included in an otherwise-protected litigation “alert” that discussed the pending lawsuit, the doxing information was entirely extraneous to the court proceedings that were the ostensible subject of the communication. The Court of Appeal thus rejected Piazza’s assertion that plaintiffs could not meet the “minimal merit” standard on the anti-SLAPP motion because the doxing allegations would necessarily be barred by the litigation privilege in Civil Code section 47(b). The order granting the special motion to strike was reversed in part as to two of plaintiffs’ cause of action ‒ the tenth, seeking an injunction, and the twelfth, alleging a civil rights violation ‒ but only as to the claims included in these causes of action that alleged injury from the publication of their personal information, i.e., the doxing allegations. In all other respects, the order was affirmed. The matter was remanded to the trial court for further proceedings. View "Dziubla v. Piazza" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the opinion of the Workers' Compensation Board Appellate Division agreeing with the conclusion of the administrative law judge (ALJ) that Darla Potter, an aquaculture worker, was not a "seaman" within the meaning of the Jones Act, 46 U.S.C.S. 30104, holding that the Appellate Division did not err.The Appellate Division affirmed the decree of the ALJ granting Potter's petitions for award of compensation for injuries sustained in the course of her employment with Cooke Aquaculture USA, Inc. At issue on appeal was whether Potter's claims fell within the jurisdiction of federal admiralty law or state workers' compensation law. The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed, holding that Potter was not a seaman within the purview of the Jones Act. View "Potter v. Great Falls Insurance Co." on Justia Law

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Appellant, a resident of the District of Columbia and a dual citizen of the United States and the Russian Federation, filed a defamation action in district court against appellee, a nonresident alien and citizen of the United Kingdom. Because appellee made his allegedly defamatory statements outside of the District of Columbia, appellant sought to establish personal jurisdiction over appellee under the District's long-arm jurisdiction statute, D.C. CODE 13-423(a)(4). The district court granted appellee's motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction.The DC Circuit vacated, concluding that it cannot determine whether appellee's non-government contacts with the District satisfy any of the three "plus factors" required under the long-arm statute. In this case, the district court relied on an overly broad construction of the government contacts exception in granting judgment for appellee and denying jurisdictional discovery. Accordingly, the court has no sound basis upon which to credit the district court's judgment. The court remanded for jurisdictional discovery. View "Akhmetshin v. Browder" on Justia Law

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In 2018, N.G. submitted a proposed claim for damages to the County, alleging that San Diego County Deputy Sheriff Richard Fischer sexually assaulted her in 2017. N.G. acknowledged the claim was submitted 81 days after the six-month period for filing a claim expired. N.G.’s petition for relief alleged that due to the emotional trauma and psychological difficulties faced by victims of sexual assaults committed by law enforcement officers, which could cause those victims to delay in coming forward, her failure to file a timely claim should have been excused due to mistake or excusable neglect. Accordingly, N.G. also filed an application for leave to file a late claim. The County denied leave to file a late claim; N.G. appealed when the district court denied her petition under Government Code section 946.6 seeking relief from the requirement in the Government Claims Act that she timely file a claim with the County of San Diego prior to bringing a suit for damages. The Court of Appeal concluded the trial court was within its discretion to conclude that N.G. did not establish mistake or excusable neglect to support her petition for relief from the claim filing requirement. Accordingly, judgment was affirmed. View "N.G. v. County of San Diego" on Justia Law

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In these consolidated appeals arising from Kenneth Skahan's claims for workers' compensation benefits against his former employer and its insurance carrier (collectively, Employer), the Supreme Court vacated in part the judgments of the intermediate court of appeals (ICA) affirming Labor and Industrial Relations Appeals Board's (LIRAB) decisions, holding that the ICA erred in part.Skahan injured his back while working for Employer, and Employer accepted workers' compensation liability. After Skahan's employment with Employer ended, he experienced mid and low back pain and was diagnosed with diffuse idiopathic skeletal hyperostosis (DISH) and filed multiple claims for additional workers' compensation benefits. LIRAB determined that Skahan's DISH injury was compensable because it was causally related to his work injury but that his low back injury was not compensable. The ICA affirmed. The Supreme Court vacated in part, holding (1) the ICA erred in holding that Employer rebutted the Haw. Rev. Stat. 386-85 presumption that Skahan's low back claim was for a covered work injury; (2) LIRAB's finding that Skahan's injury was permanent and stationary and at maximum medical improvement by April 19, 2013 was clearly erroneous; and (3) LIRAB's conclusion of law ending Skahan's temporary total disability benefits on April 19, 2013 was clearly erroneous. View "Skahan v. Stutts Construction Co." on Justia Law

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Kevyn Menges suffered catastrophic injuries in a motor vehicle accident. Menges, through her guardian ad litem Susan Menges, sued the Department of Transportation (Caltrans) for its negligent construction of an interstate off-ramp. Caltrans moved for summary judgment, asserting design immunity. The trial court granted Caltrans’s motion for summary judgment. On appeal, Menges argued: (1) design immunity should not have applied since the approved plans were unreasonable, and the construction of the interstate off-ramp did not match the previously approved design plans; (2) the trial court erred in denying her oral request for a continuance at the summary judgment hearing; and (3) Caltrans’s Code of Civil Procedure section 998 offer was unreasonable and invalid, and a portion of the cost award for expert witness fees should have been disallowed. The Court of Appeal determined none of Menges’s arguments had merit, and affirmed the judgment. View "Menges v. Dept. of Transportation" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs filed suit against Maxim and Defendant Manalastas, alleging claims for negligence and negligent infliction of emotional distress (NIED) claiming that Manalastas, a vocational nurse employed by Maxim who worked as an in-home caregiver for plaintiffs' disabled son Landon, abused Landon while plaintiffs were out of the house.The Court of Appeal reversed the trial court's judgment of dismissal, holding that plaintiffs' "virtual presence" during Landon's abuse, through real time livestream video on a smartphone from a "nanny cam," satisfies the requirement in Thing v. La Chusa (1989) 48 Cal.3d 644, 668, of contemporaneous presence. The court explained that, in the three decades since the Supreme Court decided Thing, technology for virtual presence has developed dramatically, such that it is now common for families to experience events as they unfold through the livestreaming of video and audio. Furthermore, recognition of an NIED claim where a person uses modern technology to contemporaneously perceive an event causing injury to a close family member is consistent with the Supreme Court's requirements for NIED liability and the court's desire to establish a bright-line test for bystander recovery. The court remanded for further proceedings. View "Ko v. Maxim Healthcare Services, Inc." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the court of appeals denying Henderson County Health Care Corporation's (hereinafter, Redbanks) petition for a writ of prohibition prohibiting the enforcement of an order issued by Judge Karen Wilson of the Henderson Circuit Court compelling Redbanks to produce certain consultant reports to the real party of interest, Roland McGuire, holding that the court of appeals erred.Specifically, the Supreme Court held Redbanks was entitled to the issuance of the writ because the consultant reports at issue in this case were protected by the Federal Quality Assurance Privilege, 42 U.S.C. 1396r(b)(1)(B) and 42 U.S.C. 1395i-3(b)(1)(B), because they were used for quality assurance purposes. View "Henderson County Health Care Corp. v. Honorable Karen Lynn Wilson" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court held that Louisville Metro Government (LMG) and its employees are cloaked in sovereign immunity and qualified official immunity for an alleged violation of Ky. Rev. Stat. 71.040 and that money damages are unavailable because Ky. Rev. Stat. 446.070 does not waive immunity.James Hatcher died within twenty-four hours of entering the custody of the Louisville Metro Department of Corrections (LMDC). Plaintiffs filed suit alleging a violation of section 71.040. Plaintiffs alleged multiple torts and constitutional violations, seeking compensatory and punitive damages from LMG, the LMDC director, and six LMDC guards. The circuit court granted summary judgment for Defendants on all claims, and the court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court reversed in part, holding that LMG was immune from a claim for money damages, and that immunity was not waived. View "A.H. v. Louisville Metro Government" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the court of appeals affirming the circuit court's grant of summary judgment to Big Sandy Area Development District, Inc. (BSADD) in this negligence and wrongful death action, holding that BSADD did not have governmental immunity but that the trial court properly granted summary judgment on the merits of Plaintiff's claims against BSADD.BSADD arranges for assistants to visit elderly clients in their homes on a regular basis. After Emma Jean Hall died of the effects of sepsis that developed from a bed sore on her lower back, Plaintiff, in her capacity as the executrix of Hall's estate, brought this action alleging that Hall's condition could have been found and remedied had BSADD's home care aid not been negligently attentive. The trial court granted BSADD's motion for summary judgment, concluding that BSADD enjoyed governmental immunity. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed but on different grounds, holding (1) BSADD did not have governmental immunity because it did not perform an integral state function; and (2) BSADD was entitled to judgment as a matter of law on the substance of the negligence claim because it did not breach of standard of care to Hall. View "Howard v. Big Sandy Area Development District, Inc." on Justia Law