FindLaw Opinion Summaries - Injury & Tort Law

Daily personal injury and tort law case summaries, brought to you by FindLaw.com.

Doe v. Dept. of Children & Family Services

(California Court of Appeal) - Affirmed judgment for nonsuit. Plaintiff, a juvenile, sued Department of Children and Family Services for sexual abuse while she was in foster care. Trial court granted nonsuit because Defendant did not have a duty to protect Plaintiff from criminal actions of third parties. Appeals court affirmed, but modified cost award.
Posted: July 18, 2019, 8:00 am

In re A.M.

(California Court of Appeal) - Affirmed. Father of minor appealed from an order denying him contact after he sexually abused the minor. Appeal court found no error.
Posted: July 18, 2019, 8:00 am

Williams v. Fremont Corners, Inc.

(California Court of Appeal) - Affirmed. Plaintiff sued for negligence and premises liability for an assault that injured him in the Defendant's parking lot. The trial court found that Plaintiff had not met his burden of showing foreseeability of violent criminal assaults. Therefore, Defendant did not have a legal duty to implement additional security measures to prevent possible third-party conduct.
Posted: July 18, 2019, 8:00 am

Guerrero v. BNSF Railway Company

(United States Seventh Circuit) - Distict court’s summary judgment that deceased BSNF employee was not acting within the scope of his employment when driving to work affirmed. Deceased was a BNSF railroad employee, but in court’s judgment no jury could reasonably find BSNF negligent in any way, so the question of work status need not be addressed.
Posted: July 17, 2019, 8:00 am

Ixchel Pharma, LLC v. Biogen, Inc

(United States Ninth Circuit) - 9th Circuit panel certified two questions to the California Supreme Court: 1) Does Section 16600 of the California Business and Professions Code apply to covenants not to compete not involving employer and employee? and 2) Does a claim for intentional interference with contractual relations require the plaintiff to plead and prove an intentionally wrongful act in cases not involving at-will employment contracts?
Posted: July 16, 2019, 8:00 am

Monster Energy Co. v. Schechter

(Supreme Court of California) - Reversed appeal court ruling. The parties entered into a confidential settlement agreement following a tort action. Plaintiff alleged that Defendant, counsel for the injured party in the tort action, breached the settlement agreement by making public statements. Defendant claimed he was not bound by the agreement, but only recommended his clients sign it. California Supreme Court made a factual finding that the Defendant intended to be bound by the settlement agreement.
Posted: July 11, 2019, 8:00 am

Hernandez v. First Student, Inc.

(California Court of Appeal) - Affirmed. Plaintiffs brought a wrongful death action on behalf of their 13-year-old son who was struck and killed by a school bus. The jury found that Plaintiff’s son was 80 percent responsible for the accident and awarded $250,000 in damages. The trial court denied a motion for a new trial. The appeals court held that Plaintiffs had not made a cognizable argument as to why the trial court abused its discretion in denying the motion and found no merit in Plaintiff’s claims. Affirmed judgment.
Posted: July 10, 2019, 8:00 am

Baker-Smith v. Skolnick

(California Court of Appeal) - Reversed and remanded for new trial. Plaintiff was injured when she swerved and crashed to avoid a flying mattress. The jury found for the Defendant. The appeals court found that that the jury was given incorrect jury instructions on negligence per se and reversed the judgment.
Posted: July 10, 2019, 8:00 am

Echeverria v. Johnson & Johnson

(California Court of Appeal) - Affirmed judgment notwithstanding verdict (JNOV) in favor of Defendants in part and granted new trial. Defendants, Johnson & Johnson and Johnson & Johnson Consumer Inc. (JCCI) manufactured talcum products that Plaintiff’s allege caused injury. The jury found in favor of Plaintiff, awarding compensatory and punitive damages. Defendants filed a motion for JNOV as to liability and punitive damages and for a new trial. The trial court granted the motions. The appeals court affirmed the JNOV in favor of Johnson & Johnson, but partially reversed as to Defendant, JCCI. Appeals court found no malice to support punitive damages, but found causation evidence in conflict and affirmed granting a new trial to JCCI.
Posted: July 10, 2019, 8:00 am

Crump v. Superior Court

(California Court of Appeal) - Petition for writ of mandate is denied. Remanded to consider restitution. Los Angeles County filed a misdemeanor criminal complaint against SoCalGas for a natural gas leak that continued for months and caused damage to residents. The criminal charges were resolved by a plea agreement, where a no contest plea was entered to the charge of failure to immediately report gas leak. Plaintiffs sought to set aside plea agreement and seek restitution under the California Constitution. The appeals court held that victims do not have a right to appeal a criminal case judgment, but they do have a right to restitution. However, restitution is only available for crimes where there is an actual conviction.
Posted: July 9, 2019, 8:00 am

Hernandez v. Enterprise Rent-A-Car Co.

(California Court of Appeal) - Affirmed. Plaintiff filed suit against Defendant for injuries sustained in an automobile accident. Plaintiff contended that Defendant was strictly liable for an alleged automobile defect that caused injury. The trial court granted summary judgment to Defendant stating that Plaintiff had failed to establish Defendant acquired successor liability for the alleged defect.
Posted: July 8, 2019, 8:00 am

Brown v. Maxwell; Dershowitz v. Giuffre

(United States Second Circuit) - Vacate and order the unsealing of summary judgment record and remand. Intervenors, Dershowitz and the Miami Herald, appeal from an order denying motion to unseal filings in a defamation suit stemming from a suit brought as a result of the conviction of Jeffrey Epstein. Appeals court held the district court failed to conduct appropriate review when it ordered records sealed. Appeals court ordered the unsealing of summary judgment materials as there was no privacy interest sufficient to justify continued sealing. The remaining documents require additional review by the district court applying appropriate standards.
Posted: July 3, 2019, 8:00 am

Clark v. River Metals Recycling, LLC

(United States Seventh Circuit) - Affirmed. The district court's grant of summary judgment to defendants in a workplace injury case where the worker sued the manufacturer of a car crusher and the company it leased it to rather than his employer claiming defective design because his evidence did not comply with Federal Rule of Evidence 702.
Posted: July 2, 2019, 8:00 am

Frederking v Cincinnati Ins. Co

(United States Fifth Circuit) - Reverse and remand. Defendant advanced the theory that its insurance policy did not cover injuries caused by drunk driving collisions, because they are not “accidents”. The trial court granted summary judgment to Defendant, insurance company, stating that the intentional decision to drive while intoxicated meant the collision was not an accident. The appeals court held that there was nothing in Texas law that would construe the term “accident” in the manner put forth by the Defendant.
Posted: July 2, 2019, 8:00 am

Neto v Atlantic Specialty Ins. Co

(United States Fifth Circuit) - Affirmed. Plaintiff was a passenger in an automobile that was involved in an accident. He was not a party to the insurance policy that covered the car, but was an unnamed additional insured. Plaintiff attempted to contact Defendant, the insurer of the car, but was unsuccessful. Plaintiff then reached his own settlement with at-fault driver of the other car. Defendant refused to agree to the settlement and denied coverage to Plaintiff stating that under the terms of the policy, Plaintiff had to have approval from them before settling. The trial court found that Plaintiff was not a party to the insurance contract, did not know the terms of the policy and could not be held to those terms.
Posted: July 2, 2019, 8:00 am

Dennis Bargher v. Craig White, et al

(United States Fifth Circuit) - Vacate and remand. Plaintiff, a prisoner, brought suit against prison official alleging that they arranged another inmate to attack him and stood by while he was severely injured. District court granted summary judgment with prejudice to Defendant for failure to exhaust administrative remedies. Appeals court found that Plaintiff had failed to exhaust administrative remedies, but the proper disposition was dismissal without prejudice.
Posted: July 1, 2019, 8:00 am

Kiebala v. Boris

(United States Seventh Circuit) - Affirmed. The district court did not err in permitting a self represented defendant to amend his complaint to avoid dismissal or in holding that a libel complaint is barred by the statute of limitations in a lawsuit relating to a luxury auto timeshare scheme.
Posted: July 1, 2019, 8:00 am

Zuckerman v. The Metropolitan Museum of Art

(United States Second Circuit) - Held that the doctrine of laches barred a woman from seeking to recover a painting by Pablo Picasso hanging in New York City's Metropolitan Museum of Art. The painting once belonged to her ancestors, German Jews who fled the Nazi regime. Affirmed a dismissal based on undue delay in bringing the lawsuit.
Posted: June 26, 2019, 8:00 am

Lomeli v. State Dept. of Health Care Services

(California Court of Appeal) - Affirmed. Plaintiff sued medical providers for birth injuries that were paid for through Medi-Cal. The Department of Health Care Services put a lien on the monies recovered from the medical providers. Plaintiff sought to remove lien. Court held that Medi-Cal was entitled to repayment and upheld the lien.
Posted: June 25, 2019, 8:00 am

Dutra Group v. Batterton

(United States Supreme Court) - Held that a mariner may not recover punitive damages on a claim that he was injured as a result of the unseaworthy condition of the vessel. After a hatch blew open and injured his hand, the deckhand filed suit under federal maritime law and sought punitive damages, among other things. However, the U.S. Supreme Court concluded that punitive damages are unavailable in unseaworthiness actions. Justice Alito delivered the opinion of the 6-3 Court.
Posted: June 24, 2019, 8:00 am

In re US Office of Personnel Management Data Security Breach Litigation

(United States DC Circuit) - Revived claims that the U.S. Office of Personnel Management's woefully inadequate cybersecurity practices enabled hackers to steal personal data about millions of past and present federal employees. Reversed a dismissal in relevant part, in a lawsuit brought by labor unions and others arising out of a 2014 cyberattack.
Posted: June 21, 2019, 8:00 am

Swanson v. County of Riverside

(California Court of Appeal) - Held that surviving family members of three people who were bludgeoned to death could proceed with their negligence suit against the county, which had released the perpetrator from an involuntary hold for psychiatric evaluation before 72 hours had elapsed. Affirmed the denial of the county's anti-SLAPP motion.
Posted: June 17, 2019, 8:00 am

Orozco v. WPV San Jose, LLC

(California Court of Appeal) - Held that a restaurant offering gourmet hot dogs was entitled to prevail in its tort lawsuit against a shopping center for intentionally concealing a crucial fact, which was that another hot dog restaurant would be one of the other lessees. Affirmed in part and reversed in part after a trial.
Posted: June 17, 2019, 8:00 am

Sissom v. University of Texas High School

(United States Fifth Circuit) - Held that a former high school student may not proceed with a pro se lawsuit alleging that school officials, in his words, gaslighted him (meaning caused him a certain form of psychological harm). The defendants all had Eleventh Amendment sovereign immunity. The case involved an online high school program established by a state university. Affirmed a dismissal.
Posted: June 13, 2019, 8:00 am

DaVinci Aircraft, Inc. v. US

(United States Ninth Circuit) - Rejected an aerospace parts dealer's damages claims against the federal government for confiscating 10 military Global Positioning System antennas. Remanded so that the case may be transferred to the Court of Federal Claims where the parts dealer can seek reimbursement for the price it paid for the antennas.
Posted: June 12, 2019, 8:00 am

Hoyt v. Lane Construction Corp.

(United States Fifth Circuit) - In a wrongful death lawsuit, revived a claim that a construction company's faulty road repairs resulted in icing that led to a fatal motor vehicle crash. Reversed a summary judgment ruling. Also, addressed a dispute regarding the existence of removal jurisdiction.
Posted: June 10, 2019, 8:00 am

Veiseh v. Stapp

(California Court of Appeal) - Addressed an issue of first impression regarding legal standing to bring a cause of action for trespass to realty. The question concerned what type of possessory interest a plaintiff suing for trespass must have.
Posted: June 6, 2019, 8:00 am

LAOSD Asbestos Cases

(California Court of Appeal) - Held that an automobile parts retailer was not liable for the death of both a man and his wife from complications associated with mesothelioma. He allegedly was exposed to asbestos-containing brake pads when doing repairs on a family car. Affirmed a jury verdict for the defendants.
Posted: June 5, 2019, 8:00 am

Southern California Gas Leak Cases

(Supreme Court of California) - Held that businesses may not recover compensation for purely economic losses suffered from mere proximity to an industrial accident (a massive, months-long leak from a natural gas storage facility). Negligence law did not provide them a remedy for income lost because of the leak, in this case where they alleged no property damage or personal injury.
Posted: May 30, 2019, 8:00 am

Stokes v. Baker

(California Court of Appeal) - In a medical malpractice case against an emergency room doctor, held that a statutory requirement addressing the qualification of expert witnesses applied only to testimony about the standard of care. Thus, a non-emergency room physician could serve as an expert on the question of causation. Reversed the decision below.
Posted: May 30, 2019, 8:00 am

Gowdy v. Marine Spill Response Corp.

(United States Fifth Circuit) - Held that a seaman who injured his foot allegedly when stepping off a dangerously placed ladder did not need expert medical testimony to survive summary judgment in his Jones Act negligence case. Reversed and remanded.
Posted: May 23, 2019, 8:00 am

Kashef v. BNP Paribas S.A.

(United States Second Circuit) - Revived a New York tort lawsuit alleging that a French bank that evaded U.S. sanctions on Sudan aided and abetted the Sudanese regime in its commission of atrocities against the plaintiffs. Vacated a dismissal and remanded.
Posted: May 22, 2019, 8:00 am

Owens v. Republic of Sudan

(United States DC Circuit) - Held that claimants whose family members were harmed in a terrorist attack may state a claim for intentional infliction of emotional distress even if the claimants were not present at the scene of the attack. The case involved District of Columbia tort law and terrorist bombings in East Africa.
Posted: May 21, 2019, 8:00 am

McCarty v. Menard, Inc.

(United States Seventh Circuit) - Held that a man who tripped over a product display sign at a store could not proceed with his personal injury lawsuit. Affirmed summary judgment in favor of the store, relying on the open and obvious doctrine which implicates the general duty of care owed to business invitees in Illinois.
Posted: May 20, 2019, 8:00 am

Taulbee v. EJ Distribution Corp.

(California Court of Appeal) - Found no instructional error in a vehicle accident case where a Jeep collided with a truck parked near the side of the freeway. Affirmed the jury's verdict in favor of the defendants.
Posted: May 20, 2019, 8:00 am

Estate of Klieman v. Palestinian Authority

(United States DC Circuit) - Held that the court lacked personal jurisdiction over the Palestinian Authority and Palestinian Liberation Organization, in this lawsuit brought by the estate of an American schoolteacher who was killed in a terrorist attack in the West Bank. Affirmed a dismissal, finding that the recently enacted Anti-Terrorism Clarification Act of 2018 did not apply here.
Posted: May 14, 2019, 8:00 am

D.Z. v. Los Angeles Unified School District

(California Court of Appeal) - Revived a student's negligent supervision claim against a school district. She alleged that school officials knew or should have known of the danger posed by a high school teacher who sexually abused her but failed to take appropriate steps to stop him, resulting in harm to her. Reversed and remanded for a new trial, finding reversible error in an evidentiary ruling.
Posted: May 14, 2019, 8:00 am

Switzer v. Wood

(California Court of Appeal) - Plaintiff prevailed at trial on causes of action for fraud, conversion of property and violation of Penal Code 496. PC 496 provides enhanced civil penalties for knowingly selling stolen property. These penalties include treble damages and an award of attorney fees. The trial court declined to award treble damages on a civil suit and a portion of the attorney fees. Appellate court reversed the trial court judgment as to PC 496 and attorney fees stating that the statute was clear and unambiguous.
Posted: May 10, 2019, 8:00 am

Carmona v Leo Ship Management, Inc.

(United States Fifth Circuit) - Affirmed in part. District court dismissed plaintiff's personal injury case stating the the court lacked personal jurisdiction and the Fifth circuit agreed. However, the Fifth circuit held that the district court should have considered whether the exercise of personal jurisdiction accords with traditional notions of fair play and substantial justice and remanded the case for the district court to decide that prong.
Posted: May 10, 2019, 8:00 am

IQ Dental Supply v Henry Schein, Inc.

(United States Second Circuit) - Plaintiff brought suit against three dental supply distributors alleging that they conspired to violate antitrust laws. The trial court dismissed plaintiff's antitrust claims for lack of standing and tort claims for failure to state a claim. Second circuit affirmed the dismissal of the antitrust claims, but vacated the judgment for the tort claims. The case was remanded back to the district court for further proceedings.
Posted: May 10, 2019, 8:00 am

Cohen v. Kabbalah Centre International Inc.

(California Court of Appeal) - Held that a woman who made a sizeable donation to a San Diego spiritual group had no right to obtain her money back. Affirmed a summary adjudication in relevant part, rejecting her fraud and other claims.
Posted: May 7, 2019, 8:00 am

Webber v. Butner

(United States Seventh Circuit) - Revived an Indiana law negligence lawsuit brought by a man who was hit on the head by a falling tree branch while helping to cut down trees on his friend's property. Held that the district court gave an erroneous jury instruction in this diversity action regarding the use of safety equipment.
Posted: May 3, 2019, 8:00 am

Board of Forensic Document Examiners, Inc. v. American Bar Association

(United States Seventh Circuit) - Held that an organization may not proceed with its defamation action alleging reputational harm from an article published in an American Bar Association law journal. The author's statements were non-actionable expressions of opinion. Affirmed a dismissal.
Posted: May 1, 2019, 8:00 am

Harry v. Ring the Alarm, LLC

(California Court of Appeal) - Held that a tour guide who was injured while giving a tour at a noted architectural residence was entitled to a new trial on his negligence and premises liability claims, in this case where he fell from a platform suspended over a hillside. The issued involved the doctrine of primary assumption of risk.
Posted: April 25, 2019, 8:00 am

Doe v. McKesson

(United States Fifth Circuit) - Held that a police officer who was seriously injured by a heavy object thrown by an unidentified protester could proceed with a negligence claim against an organizer of the protest. The organizer insisted that the First Amendment barred the lawsuit. Unpersuaded, the Fifth Circuit reversed a dismissal, in this suit brought under Louisiana law involving a Black Lives Matter protest against police misconduct.
Posted: April 24, 2019, 8:00 am

Redlin v. US

(United States Ninth Circuit) - Affirmed the dismissal, on timeliness grounds, of a veteran's lawsuit alleging that he received negligent medical care at a Veteran Affairs facility. He failed to comply with the Federal Tort Claims Act's deadline.
Posted: April 23, 2019, 8:00 am

Du-All Safety, LLC v. Superior Court

(California Court of Appeal) - Plaintiff timely filed it expert disclosure and then sought to file a supplemental disclosure to rebut additional experts disclosed by opposing party. The trial court denied the supplemental disclosure. The appeals court over-ruled the trial court, stating that it had abused its discretion.
Posted: April 19, 2019, 8:00 am

Cox v. Griffin

(California Court of Appeal) - Held that a plaintiff could not recover against her former business partner for intentionally filing a false police report accusing her of a crime. Citizen reports of suspected criminal activity cannot be the basis for a claim of false imprisonment or intentional infliction of emotional distress, as opposed to malicious prosecution. Affirmed a JNOV.
Posted: April 17, 2019, 8:00 am

Puga v. RCX Solutions, Inc.

(United States Fifth Circuit) - In an amended opinion, held that a licensed motor carrier was liable for injuries that occurred when its truck driver crossed the median into oncoming traffic. Affirmed a jury verdict in favor of an injured motorist but modified the amount of damages, in this case involving Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations.
Posted: April 17, 2019, 8:00 am

Burch v. CertainTeed Corp.

(California Court of Appeal) - In a product liability case, held that a manufacturer of asbestos-cement pipe was liable to a plumber who contracted mesothelioma following many years of installing the pipe throughout California. Also addressed an issue regarding joint and several liability. Affirmed in part and reversed in part a judgment entered after a jury trial.
Posted: April 15, 2019, 8:00 am