Justia Injury Law Opinion Summaries

by
After being arrested twice in a two-day span, once in Lauderdale County (Mississippi) and once in Jones County, for being suspected of driving under the influence and public intoxication, Shelley Rose allegedly drove a rental van the wrong way down Interstate 59 in Pearl River County. A motor vehicle collision ensued, killing Jada Bright. Plaintiff Estate of Jada Bright (Bright) filed a wrongful death suit at the Pearl River County Circuit Court against Defendants Estate of Shelley Rose; EAN Holdings, LLC; Enterprise Leasing Company-South Central, LLC; Elco Administrative Services Company; Enterprise Holdings, Inc.; National Car Rental System, Inc.; Lauderdale County; Jones County; City of Ellisville; Beech’s Towing & Recovery LLC; ABC 1-5; and John Does 1-5, and asserted that venue was proper per Mississippi Code Section 11-11-3 (Rev. 2019) because the claim arose out of a motor vehicle accident which occurred in Pearl River County. Defendants Jones County, Lauderdale County, and the City of Ellisville, filed motions to change venue, alleging that they had not been sued in the proper venue, based on the specific venue statute, Mississippi Code Section 11-46-13(2) (Rev. 2019), of the Mississippi Tort Claims Act. The trial court ultimately denied the motions, and the Counties and City petitioned for an interlocutory appeal. After review, the Mississippi Supreme Court reversed the circuit court’s judgment denying the change of venue motions, and remanded the case with instructions to transfer venue either to Jones County or Lauderdale County. View "Jones County, et al. v. Estate of Jada Bright, et al." on Justia Law

by
Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part three orders issued by two separate judges presiding over two separate but related cases in the circuit court, holding that remand was required.Specifically, the Supreme Court held that the circuit court (1) did not err in denying Praetorian Insurance Company's motion to intervene in Plaintiff's wrongful death action against its insured, Air Cargo Carriers, LLC for lack of standing to assert Air Cargo's right to workers' compensation immunity; (2) erred in denying Praetorian's motion for summary judgment as to count one of its declaratory judgment complaint; and (3) correctly dismissed count two of Praetorian's declaratory judgment complaint on the grounds that Praetorian lacked standing. View "Praetorian Insurance Co. v. Chau" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court reversed the order of the circuit court denying Defendants' motion to dismiss the claims brought against them on grounds of workers' compensation immunity and immunity under the Governmental Tort Claims and Insurance Reform Act, W. Va. Code 29-12A-1, et seq., holding that the circuit court erred.Plaintiff, whose husband died in a workplace accident, sued Defendants, two of her husband's supervisors, claiming that they were liable for his death based on theories of deliberate intent under W. Va. Code 23-4-2-(d)(2)(A) and the tort of intentional and reckless conduct. Defendants filed a motion to dismiss the claims against them, but the circuit court denied the motion, finding that they could be held personally liable. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) workers' compensation immunity insulated Defendants from liability for claims other than for a claim under section 23-4-2(d)(2)(A); and (2) under no set of facts consistent with Plaintiff's allegations could she prove the elements of a claim for heightened deliberate intent. View "Edwards v. Star" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court held that the circuit court erred in its application of "the open and obvious doctrine" but correctly granted summary judgment for Defendants because there was no genuine issue for trial on the issue of negligence.Plaintiff brought this civil complaint for damages arising from injuries he sustained in a fall on Defendants' property. The circuit court granted summary judgment for Defendants on all claims, ruling that Plaintiff's claims were barred by application of W. Va. Code 55-7-28(a), otherwise known as the open and obvious doctrine, and that Plaintiff had failed to produce evidence of negligence on the part of Defendants. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the circuit court erred in its application of the open and obvious doctrine as a basis for granting summary judgment to Defendants; but (2) summary judgment was proper because none of the evidence produced by Plaintiff in response to Plaintiff's motion for summary judgment show that there was a genuine issue for trial on the issue of negligence. View "Butner v. Highlawn Memorial Park Co." on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court reversed the portion of the circuit court's order dismissing Plaintiff's claim for negligence against the Logan County Board of Education under W. Va. Code 29-12A-4(c)(2), holding that Plaintiff's allegations were sufficient to permit the inference that the duty and proximate cause elements of a claim for negligence existed.Plaintiff brought this action against the Board alleging that he was severely bullied by his classmates while he was a student at Logan Middle School and that school officials knew of the bullying but maintained that nothing could be done about the problem. The circuit court dismissed Plaintiff's claims under W. Va. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6), concluding, as relevant to this appeal, that Plaintiff had not adequately pleaded the duty and causation elements of his negligence claim. The Supreme Court reversed the portion of the circuit court's order dismissing Plaintiff's negligence claim, holding that Plaintiff's allegations were sufficient to permit the inference that the duty and proximate cause elements of a claim for negligence existed. View "Jones v. Logan County Bd. of Education" on Justia Law

by
Pakistan International Airlines (“PIA”) failed to transport the body of N.B. to Pakistan for burial due to a miscommunication by employees of Swissport USA, PIA’s cargo loading agent. N.B.’s family members sued PIA and Swissport in New York state court under state law; PIA removed the action to the district court. Following cross-motions for summary judgment and an evidentiary hearing, the district court held that Plaintiffs’ claims are preempted by the Montreal Convention and dismissed the suit. On appeal, Plaintiffs argued that the Montreal Convention, which preempts state-law claims arising from delayed cargo, does not apply because human remains are not “cargo” for purposes of the Montreal Convention and because their particular claims are not for “delay.”   The Second Circuit affirmed. The court explained that human remains are cargo for purposes of the Montreal Convention; and on the facts found by the district court, the claims arise from delay. The claims are therefore preempted by the Montreal Convention. The court further wrote that it was Plaintiffs who cut off PIA’s ability to perform under the terms of the waybill. That decision was understandable given the need to bury N.B. quickly, and it cannot be doubted that Plaintiffs found themselves in a hard situation. But their only recourse against PIA and Swissport was a claim under the Montreal Convention, a claim which they have consistently declined to assert. View "Badar v. Swissport USA, Inc." on Justia Law

by
This case arises out of a police shooting that resulted in the death of decedent. Decedent’s parents filed a complaint against police officers involved in the shooting (the officers) and their employer, the City of Santa Maria (City). The officers and City are collectively referred to as “Respondents.” The complaint consists of four causes of action: (1) battery; (2) negligence – wrongful death; (3) negligent hiring, supervision, and training; and (4) violation of the Bane Act. Decedent’s father appeals from the judgment entered after the trial court granted Respondents’ motion for summary judgment.   The Second Appellate District affirmed the finding that no reasonable trier of fact could find that Respondents were negligent or that their conduct was not reasonable. The court explained that the officers patiently waited approximately 40 minutes before resorting to less-than-lethal weapons. The negotiations with the decedent had been futile. He was armed with a deadly weapon, was behaving erratically, and was also suicidal. He presented an immediate threat of physical harm to himself. At any time he could have used the knife to inflict a grievous injury upon himself. Instead of calming down, he appeared to be growing more agitated. There was no legitimate reason to continue a hopeless standoff that had disrupted the flow of traffic and was consuming police resources. Thus because Plaintiff did not carry his burden “to make a prima facie showing of the existence of a triable issue of material fact” whether the officers’ use of force was negligent or unreasonable the trial court properly granted Respondents’ motion for summary judgment. View "Villalobos v. City of Santa Maria" on Justia Law

by
Plaintiff woke up in an Illinois motel room without any feeling in his arms; he was later diagnosed in Missouri with bilateral shoulder impingement syndrome. Four years later, Plaintiff and his wife filed an action against Cottrell, Inc., the manufacturer of the ratchet system that allegedly caused Plaintiff’s injury. In granting Cottrell’s motion for summary judgment, the district court found that Illinois’s two-year statute of limitations applied to Plaintiff’s cause of action instead of Missouri’s five-year statute of limitations, thus barring Plaintiff’s and his wife’s claims. Plaintiff and his wife appealed, arguing that the district court erred in not applying Missouri’s statute of limitations. At issue is when—or where in this context—the statute of limitations began to run on Plaintiff’s cause of action, which depends upon the proper interpretation and application of Missouri’s borrowing statute.   The Eighth Circuit reversed, concluding that the matter is a fact question for the jury to decide. The court explained that it must determine whether the “evidence was such to place a reasonably prudent person on notice of a potentially actionable injury” in Illinois, where Plaintiff woke up to complete numbness in his arms. The court reasoned that on the three facts the district court contemplated the court cannot say as a matter of law that a reasonable person in Plaintiff’s position would have been on notice of a potentially actionable injury in Illinois. View "Gregory Burdess v. Cottrell, Inc." on Justia Law

by
Plaintiff claimed that Defendant used excessive force while attempting an arrest on June 10, 2018, in Berdoo Canyon, which is considered BLM land. Plaintiff and her husband failed to yield to a park ranger, at which point Defendant was called to assist. As Defendant was trying to stop Plaintiff's vehicle, he fired several shots, hitting her in the hand and grazing her head.Plaintiff filed a Sec. 1983 claim against Defendant. The district court denied Defendant's motion for summary judgment related to Plaintiff's excessive force claim and Defendant appealed.On appeal, the Tenth Circuit reversed, declining to extend Bivens. The existence of alternative remedial structures is reason enough to not infer a new Bivens cause of action. Similarly, uncertainty about the potential systemwide consequences of implying a new Bivens cause of action is by itself a special factor that forecloses relief. The panel held that there was no Bivens cause of action for Plaintiff’s claim, which presented a new context. View "DENISE MEJIA V. WESLEY MILLER, ET AL" on Justia Law

by
T&J White, LLC, d/b/a Brown Heating & Cooling ("Brown Heating & Cooling"), and its employee, Bobby Morse ("the defendants"), appealed a circuit court’s denial of their motions seeking a judgment as a matter of law ("JML") and a new trial following the entry of judgment on a jury verdict against the defendants and in favor of the plaintiff, Timothy Williams. Morse, while engaged as an employee of Brown Heating & Cooling, rear-ended Williams in a motor-vehicle collision. Thereafter, Williams filed a complaint asserting, among other things, negligence and wantonness claims against the defendants. The case proceeded to trial. After the trial court instructed the jury but before the jury retired, counsel for the parties discussed the verdict form and the jury instructions that had been given. Ultimately, the defendants requested, and received, an additional blank line on the verdict form to allow the jury to award compensatory/nominal damages with respect to the wantonness claim; this additional line was placed just before the line for an award of punitive damages. The court then read the final verdict form to the jurors, and no objections were made. The jury returned a verdict in favor of Williams, awarding the following: $500,000 in compensatory damages for negligence, $250,000 in compensatory damages for wantonness, and $750,000 in punitive damages for wantonness. After the jury was polled, defense counsel orally renewed its motion for a JML based on, among other grounds, the alleged insufficiency of the evidence of wantonness and alleged inconsistency of the verdict. The court denied the motion, concluded the trial proceedings, and entered a final judgment on the verdict. The defendants, appealing the denial of a JML on the wantonness claim and that the trial court exceeded its discretion by denying their motion for a new trial. Finding no reversible error, the Alabama Supreme Court affirmed the trial court. View "Brown Heating & Cooling v. Williams" on Justia Law