FindLaw Opinion Summaries - Injury & Tort Law

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

Willhide-Michiulis v. Mammoth Mountain Ski Area LLC

(California Court of Appeal) - Affirmed that a ski area was not liable for injuries that a snowboarder suffered when she collided with a snowcat and snow-grooming tiller. The snowboarder, who was seriously hurt, argued that the ski resort was grossly negligent and thus liable for her injuries despite the liability waiver she had signed as part of her season-pass agreement. However, the Third Appellate District concluded that the operation of snow-grooming equipment on a snow run is an inherent risk of snowboarding and that there was no gross negligence, affirming summary judgment against her claims.
Posted: July 18, 2018, 8:00 am

Morales v. US

(United States Ninth Circuit) - Affirmed the dismissal of a Federal Tort Claims Act lawsuit filed by a deceased pilot's estate after his helicopter struck an unmarked cable suspended forty feet above a river and crashed. In its suit, the estate claimed that the U.S. Geological Survey was negligent for failing to mark the cable, which had been installed as part of a system to collect streamflow measurements. In affirming the dismissal, the Ninth Circuit reasoned that the government's decision not to mark the cable fell squarely within the discretionary function exception, so the FTCA claim was properly dismissed for lack of subject matter jurisdiction.
Posted: July 13, 2018, 8:00 am

L.G. v. M.B.

(California Court of Appeal) - Affirmed the denial of an anti-SLAPP motion brought by a wife who had been sued by a former nanny for defamation and other torts for allegedly making negative statements about her in a marital dissolution action. The wife's anti-SLAPP motion sought to dismiss the nanny's suit on the ground that statements made in judicial proceedings are privileged and nonactionable. However, in denying the wife's anti-SLAPP motion, the appellate court held that under the so-called divorce proviso the statements in question were not shielded, even though they also appeared in a request for a domestic violence restraining order.
Posted: July 13, 2018, 8:00 am

Sindi v. El-Moslimany

(United States First Circuit) - Affirmed in part and reversed in part in a defamation case where a scientist accused two women of falsely alleging that she was an academic and scientific fraud in an internet posting. Plaintiff had prevailed at trial and on appeal, the First Circuit affirmed the judgment in most respects, but held that the district court should not have issued an injunction barring the two women from making further defamatory statements because this imposed a prior restraint on speech. The appeals court therefore vacated the post-trial injunction.
Posted: July 11, 2018, 8:00 am

Richardson v. Dept. of Motor Vehicles

(California Court of Appeal) - Affirmed summary judgment dismissing a tort suit filed by an injured motorcycle rider against the Department of Motor Vehicles for lifting the suspension of the 93-year-old woman who had caused the accident that left him paralyzed. In affirming the summary judgment, the appellate court held that the plaintiff could not proceed to trial because the DMV was entitled to immunity under Government Code section 818.4 for exercising its discretion to remove the license suspension once the woman passed certain medical, vision and other tests.
Posted: July 11, 2018, 8:00 am

Hajdusek v. US

(United States First Circuit) - Affirmed the dismissal of a Federal Tort Claims Act claim filed by a marine recruit who alleged that he suffered serious physical injuries while participating in the Marine Corps Delayed Entry Program. In affirming the dismissal, the First Circuit held that the recruit was barred from pursuing his claim for damages because it stemmed from a government official's performance of a discretionary function and the government had not waived its sovereign immunity.
Posted: July 11, 2018, 8:00 am

Pellegrino v. Transportation Security Admin.

(United States Third Circuit) - Affirmed the dismissal of tort claims against the Transportation Safety Administration brought by a married couple after an airport screening, on the grounds that the claims were barred by sovereign immunity. While the Federal Tort Claims Act waives sovereign immunity for certain intentional torts committed by investigative or law enforcement officers, in addressing a question of first impression, the Third Circuit determined that TSA screeners do not fall into either category so no waiver applied.
Posted: July 11, 2018, 8:00 am

Conte v. Emmons

(United States Second Circuit) - Reversed the denial of a post-trial JMOL motion. In overturning a $1.3 million jury verdict, the appeals court held that a business owner failed to prove that two prosecutors and an investigator in the Nassau County District Attorney's Office tortiously interfered with his contracts in violation of New York law when they conducted a fraud investigation against a media company he owned but then did not ultimately file charges against him. The appeals court concluded that there was no evidence that anyone stopped performing under a specific contract because of anything said or done by the defendants.
Posted: July 10, 2018, 8:00 am

B.B. v. County of Los Angeles

(California Court of Appeal) - Affirmed in part and reversed in part an order for summary adjudication in a wrongful death lawsuit brought after a man had a heart attack during a violent struggle with several sheriff's deputies who had come to arrest him. In reversing, the appeals court held that the trial court erred in holding one of the deputies liable for the full amount of the noneconomic damages award because comparative fault principles mandated proportional liability. The appeals court also held that plaintiffs' claims for civil rights violations under Civil Code section 51.2 should have been allowed to proceed to trial rather than being dismissed on summary adjudication.
Posted: July 10, 2018, 8:00 am

Walsh v. Defenders, Inc.

(United States Third Circuit) - Affirmed an order remanding a consumer class action to state court. The defendant home security equipment businesses had removed the case to federal court under the Class Action Fairness Act, but the plaintiffs showed that an exception to CAFA jurisdiction applied. The Third Circuit noted that under the local-controversy exception, a district court must decline to exercise jurisdiction over a class action involving a uniquely local controversy, as defined in the statute.
Posted: July 9, 2018, 8:00 am

Wheeler v. City of Santa Clara

(United States Ninth Circuit) - Affirmed the dismissal of a complaint under the Americans with Disabilities Act by the son of woman killed by police officers during a 911 call. The district court dismissed the complaint because the biological son had been adopted by other parents as an infant and thus had no legal interest as a successor. The Ninth Circuit held that the California survival statute applied and plaintiff did not meet the requirements of standing under that statute.
Posted: July 3, 2018, 8:00 am

Williams v. Atria Las Posas

(California Court of Appeal) - Reversed and remanded an order denying a petition to compel arbitration. Plaintiff suffered major injuries, including a traumatic brain injury, in a bicycle accident and was admitted to a residential care facility. Due to his cognitive impairment, plaintiff walked away from the facility and was found several hours later lying in a ditch. He suffered kidney failure, respiratory arrest, heat stroke, and a second traumatic brain injury. Defendant, a residential care facility, petitioned to compel arbitration based upon an arbitration agreement, but the trial court denied the petition because of an integration clause. The appeals court reversed as to the integration clause, but remanded to the trial court with directions to consider other objections to the arbitration agreement.
Posted: June 27, 2018, 8:00 am

Peralta v. Vons Co.

(California Court of Appeal) - Affirming summary judgment for defendant where plaintiff slipped and fell at a Vons grocery store and sued for negligence. The trial court granted summary judgment for Vons as they found no triable issues for the jury and that Vons did not breach its duty of care and did not cause the plaintiff's injuries through any act or omission.
Posted: June 26, 2018, 8:00 am

Carroll v. E One Inc

(United States Third Circuit) - Affirmed. Firefighters-plaintiffs allege hearing loss from manufacturer-defendant’s fire sirens. District court dismissed the case with prejudice and awarded defendant attorney fees and costs, because the lawsuit was time-barred and hearing loss for one firefighter was not related to siren noise. Plaintiff appealed the award of attorney’s fees and cost as improper under Rule 41(a)(2). The appellate court affirmed the award stating that fees and costs could be awarded when exceptional circumstances exist. In this case, the court found that plaintiff’s counsel made a habit of suing defendant-manufacturer all across the country bringing meritless claims and then dismissing them with prejudice after the opposing party and the judicial system had incurred substantial costs.
Posted: June 20, 2018, 8:00 am

Horne v. WTVR LLC

(United States Fourth Circuit) - Affirmed. In this defamation action, plaintiff appealed from a judgment against her. Defendant, a television news agency, ran a news story about a county in Virginia hiring a plaintiff, a convicted felon and implying that she lied on her job application. Although plaintiff had a prior conviction she disclosed that on her application and was hired anyway. Plaintiff sued the news organization. The trial court ruled that plaintiff was a public figure and as such she would need to prove actual malice. The trial court granted defendants motion for directed verdict, concluding that plaintiff had failed to show actual malice. The appellate court agreed and affirmed the judgment.
Posted: June 18, 2018, 8:00 am

Newland v. County of Los Angeles

(California Court of Appeal) - Vacated and remanded. Plaintiff appealed from a judgment that found an employer not liable for an employee using a personal vehicle for his regular commute, even though at other times the employee used his personal vehicle for work. The appeals court agreed and directed the trial court to enter a new order granting the motion for judgment notwithstanding the verdict. The court reasoned that an employee must be driving a personal vehicle in the course and scope of employment at the time of the accident for an employer to be liable.
Posted: June 18, 2018, 8:00 am

Doherty v. Merck

(United States First Circuit) - Plaintiffs filed suit under the Federal Tort Claims Act and for product liability when the Merck manufacture implantable contraceptive device failed to prevent her pregnancy. Defendants moved to dismiss the action based on the Maine Wrongful Birth statute that would prevent her recovery of damages. Plaintiff amended her complaint to allege the Maine statute was unconstitutional. The district court dismissed the complaint. The appellate court determined that the Maine statute was not unconstitutional under the open courts clause of the Maine constitution or the US Constitution.
Posted: June 18, 2018, 8:00 am

Coyle v. Historic Mission Inn Corp.

(California Court of Appeal) - The judgement of dismissal and order granting summary judgment are reversed in this suit for negligence and premises liability. While eating lunch at defendants restaurant, plaintiff sustained a black widow spider bite that sent her to the hospital. Plaintiff alleged that defendant knew or should have known that spiders were present at its restaurant and that it had a duty to take reasonable care for its patrons. Defendant filed a motion for summary judgement that the trial court granted. The appellate court held that the trial court erred in granting a summary judgment motion when there were issues of fact that could be decided in plaintiffs favor.
Posted: June 15, 2018, 8:00 am

Shiver v. Laramee

(California Court of Appeal) - Affirming a trial court ruling in favor of respondent's motion for summary judgment in the case of an accident caused by road rage dismissing the suit the driver of a loaded tractor trailer because the respondents were not liable under the sudden emergency doctrine when, while acting with reasonable care, they were suddenly and unexpectedly confronted by an emergency they didn't cause.
Posted: June 12, 2018, 8:00 am

Havensight Capital LLC v. Nike, Inc.

(United States Ninth Circuit) - Dismissing for lack of jurisdiction the plaintiff's appeal of sanctions imposed against a vexatious litigant and the denial of multiple other orders in a suit where a company sought to show that Nike allegedly infringed upon its soccer brand and rapid-filed suits and motions in its quixotic attempts to prove this was the case.
Posted: June 7, 2018, 8:00 am

In Re: World Trade Center Lower Manhattan Disaster Site Litigation

(United States Second Circuit) - Vacating and remanding the grant of summary judgment against workers who participated in post-9/1 cleanup efforts that allegedly caused them to develop respiratory illnesses because a public benefit corporation treated like the State for the purpose of capacity could not challenge the constitutionality of a state statute unless it qualifies for one of the limited exceptions, which it did not in this instance.
Posted: June 6, 2018, 8:00 am

Liberty Surplus Insurance Corporation v. Ledesma & Meyer Construction Company, Inc.

(Supreme Court of California) - Affirming that when a third party sues an employer for the negligent hiring, retention, and supervision of an employee who intentionally injured a third party this can count as an occurrence under the employer's commercial general liability policy because the injury can be considered accidental in a suit involving an assistant superintendent to a middle school construction project that was accused of sexually abusing a 13 year old student.
Posted: June 4, 2018, 8:00 am

Potvin v. Speedway LLC

(United States First Circuit) - Affirming the district court's summary judgment to the defense in a case where a woman sued for injuries that occurred when she was walking backwards at a gas station and fell when her hell caught in grooves required by law to catch and divert spilled gasoline because even if the grooves were dangerous at all it was open and obvious, so the station had no duty to warn customers about potential danger.
Posted: June 4, 2018, 8:00 am

Gund v. County of Trinity

(California Court of Appeal) - Affirming that private citizens called by a deputy and asked to investigate a 911 call from their neighbor's home, even if the deputy misrepresented and underplayed the nature of the call, couldn't sue after they stumbled on the scene of a double murder and were attacked by the murderer because they were assisting in active law enforcement.
Posted: June 4, 2018, 8:00 am

Felarca v. Birgeneau

(United States Ninth Circuit) - Reversing a district court order on summary judgment denying qualified immunity to University of California officials for the use of batons against protestors by University police officers, and that direct excessive force claims were not valid because none of the plaintiffs required medical treatment or were prevented by injury from returning to the protest.
Posted: May 31, 2018, 8:00 am

Bradley v. Sugarbaker

(United States First Circuit) - Affirming a district court judgment in favor of a doctor, the second in his favor in the same suit relating to complications arising from a surgical biopsy, because the admission of entries from the woman's diary under the residual exception to the hearsay rule, the admission of records from another hospital under the business records exception, and the determination that the plaintiffs had waived their medical negligence claim would be harmless errors, if they were indeed in error at all.
Posted: May 23, 2018, 8:00 am

Ortiz Rivera v. US

(United States First Circuit) - Vacating and remanding the district court's dismissal of the Federal Tort Claims Act suit for the wrongful death alleging that Immigration and Customs Enforcement negligently shot a man because the notice sent to the Federal Bureau of Investigation and later forwarded to ICE arrived at the agency on the last day of the period, but wasn't accepted until after the period lapsed. On remand the court needed to determine whether this satisfied the law's requirements.
Posted: May 23, 2018, 8:00 am

Ali v. Kipp

(United States Second Circuit) - Affirming the decision not to grant a new trial in a case where a jury found that a police officer used excessive force but no compensatory damages were granted because this decision was not an abuse of discretion under the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and the court, when harmonizing seemingly inconsistent verdicts, is not limited to the specific theories presented by the parties.
Posted: May 22, 2018, 8:00 am

Doe v. Good Samaritan Hospital

(California Court of Appeal) - Remanding a case in which the trial court granted summary judgment to a hospital where a minor, who had been committed there, was allegedly sodomized by his roommate, because the hospital's expert did not opine specifically as to the standard of care regarding room assignments and, consequently, did not dispose of this theory as a matter of professional negligence.
Posted: May 21, 2018, 8:00 am

Morales Melecio v. US

(United States First Circuit) - Affirming a district court determination that a claim under the Federal Tort Claims Act was time barred in a suit where the discovery rule did not toll the statute of limitations during the period between the receipt of a man's death certificate and the receipt of a more thorough medical file relating to his cause of death.
Posted: May 21, 2018, 8:00 am

Easley v. City of Riverside

(United States Ninth Circuit) - Affirming the district court grant on summary judgment of qualified immunity to a police officer accused of using excessive force when he shot the plaintiff three times following a traffic stop because his use of deadly force was objectively reasonable under the Fourth Amendment when the plaintiff drew a handgun from his pants pocket while fleeing.
Posted: May 18, 2018, 8:00 am

Bryant v. Egan

(United States Second Circuit) - Dismissing an appeal of the order of the district court granting a new trial on claims a police officers unlawfully tased the plaintiff and that his partner failed to intervene because the interlocutory review based on qualified immunity was predicated on disputed facts.
Posted: May 16, 2018, 8:00 am

Dowdy v. Metropolitan Life Insurance Company

(United States Ninth Circuit) - Reversing the district court's judgment in favor of the defendant in an ERISA action challenging the denial of accidental dismemberment benefits under an employee welfare benefit plan who was denied coverage because their leg injury resulting in amputation was complicated by diabetes because under the ERISA plan the plaintiff could recover if the car accident was the direct and sole cause of the loss and if the amputation was the direct result of the accidental injury, independent of other causes and the record did not support the finding that diabetes substantially contributed to his loss.
Posted: May 16, 2018, 8:00 am

Planned Parenthood Federation of America, Inc. v. Center for Medical Progress

(United States Ninth Circuit) - Affirming the denial of a motion to dismiss claims under California's Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation in a suit where Planned Parenthood and other plaintiffs alleged that the defendants employed fraudulent means to enter their conferences and gain meetings with staff to make misleading and false videos that were disseminated on the internet because the defendants were unable to show the plaintiffs had no probability of success in their claims.
Posted: May 16, 2018, 8:00 am

Evanston Insurance Company v. William Kramer & Associates LLC

(United States Second Circuit) - Certifying to the Connecticut Supreme Court questions regarding the scope of the continuing course of conduct doctrine and the reasonableness of a jury verdict in the favor of a plaintiff bringing a negligence action against an insurer's loss adjustment agent for failing to inform the plaintiff successor in interest to an insurer of property of a mortgage on the property, which was damaged by a hurricane.
Posted: May 10, 2018, 8:00 am

Pebley v. Santa Clara Organics, LLC

(California Court of Appeal) - Reducing damages for medical expenses by the difference between the amount billed and the amount paid but otherwise affirming the judgment in a case where an injured party who had insurance but chose to treat outside of his insurance plan was treated as an uninsured party for the purposes of determining economic damages.
Posted: May 8, 2018, 8:00 am

Daniel v. USA

(United States Ninth Circuit) - Affirming the dismissal of a tort action brought by a man relating to the death of his wife while serving in the Navy, which was subject to a jurisdictional bar and the Federal Tort Claims Act's sovereign immunity, which includes medical treatment of an active duty service person at a domestic military hospital for pregnancy unrelated to military service, resulting in a bar on malpractice claims.
Posted: May 7, 2018, 8:00 am

Alimanestianu v. US

(United States Federal Circuit) - Affirming the ruling of the United States Court of Federal Claims denying claims of the taking of property by the family of a US citizen killed in the bombing of UTA Flight 772 by terrorists of the Abu Nidal Organization, a group sponsored by the Libyan Government who felt that the Claims Settlement Agreement between the United States of America and The Great Socialist People's Libyan Arab Jamahiriya was a taking, but the court held that prohibiting or espousing a litigant's claim by restoring a foreign sovereign's immunity is not a physical invasion of property.
Posted: May 7, 2018, 8:00 am

Harry v. Total Gas & Power North America, Inc.

(United States Second Circuit) - Affirming the district court's decision that plaintiffs failed to plausibly allege injury in their suit against the defendant's manipulation of natural gas trading in regional hubs because their own derivatives were not indexed under these markets, though in their affirmation they did modify district court findings that they failed to establish standing or state a claim under the Commodities Exchange Act, though this difference of opinion did not result in a different outcome.
Posted: May 4, 2018, 8:00 am

Liberty Woods International, Inc. v. Motor Vessel Ocean Quartz

(United States Third Circuit) - Affirming the dismissal of an in rem suit filed against a ship for cargo damage sustained in transit because liability for the damage was covered by the carrier's bill of lading, which included a forum selection clause requiring suit be brought in South Korea because although South Korean courts would not allow an in rem suit, the plaintiff could have brought an in personam suit and chose not to do so for strategic reasons and the foreign forum selection clause did not violate the Carriage of Goods by Sea Act.
Posted: May 4, 2018, 8:00 am

Williams v. Moulton Niguel Water District

(California Court of Appeal) - Affirming the judgment for a water district in a case where homeowners complained that the copper piping in their home was damaged by an additive that water districts added to tap water because the inclusion of the chemical was authorized by regulation and it was undisputed that the water districts complied with all statutory and regulatory standards, and the actions for nuisance and inverse condemnation were preempted by state and federal laws.
Posted: May 3, 2018, 8:00 am

Jesner v. Arab Bank, PLC

(United States Supreme Court) - Affirming the dismissal of Alien Tort Statute complaints filed by the victims of terrorist attacks against a Jordanian bank with a New York branch they said was used to process transactions by a Texas-based charity allegedly affiliated with Hamas because under Kiobel v. Royal Dutch Petrolium Co. the ATS does not extend to suits against foreign corporations when all relevant conduct took place out of the United States, extending this holding to deem that foreign corporations may not be sued under the ATS generally.
Posted: April 24, 2018, 8:00 am

Reese v. County of Sacramento

(United States Ninth Circuit) - Affirming a district court decision granting the defense's post-verdict motion for judgment as a matter of law on the issue of qualified immunity in a suit alleging excessive deadly force, reversing a sua sponte post-verdict decision granting summary judgment to the defense on the plaintiff's California Bane Act claim, and affirming the denial of defense requests for post-trial relief in a case where a deputy shot a man when they responded to an anonymous 911 call and the plaintiff answered the door holding a large knife.
Posted: April 23, 2018, 8:00 am

St. Bernard Parish Government v. US

(United States Federal Circuit) - Reversing a Court of Federal Claims denial of a motion to dismiss a Tucker Act claim that the government took New Orleans property by failing to prevent damage caused by Hurricane Katrina and other hurricanes because the government can't be held liable under takings theory for inaction and the government's actions maintaining or modifying the Mississippi River Gulf Outlet didn't cause the flooding.
Posted: April 20, 2018, 8:00 am

Kettler v. Gould

(California Court of Appeal) - Affirming the denial of an anti-SLAPP motion to dismiss allegations in a cross complaint by a financial planner alleging defamation because the Certified Financial Planners Board of Standards is not a public agency and there was no public interest issue in their complaints associated with their statements regarding the handling of the financial affairs of an elderly family member.
Posted: April 20, 2018, 8:00 am

Lederer v. Schneider

(California Court of Appeal) - Reversing a trial court order holding that plaintiff's negligence claim relating to a financial manager's failure to acquire insurance in the amount requested by their customer because although they discovered this lapse earlier the cause did not accrue until the insurance benefits were paid out in the reduced amount, because this was the point at which actual damages occurred.
Posted: April 19, 2018, 8:00 am

Day v. Lupo Vine Street, LP

(California Court of Appeal) - Affirming the trial court's summary judgment in favor of the defense in a case involving a commercial landlord who leased space to the owner of a health studio, finding that they had no duty to ensure that their tenant complied with a Health and Safety Code section requiring health studios to acquire and maintain an automated external defibrillator on the premises.
Posted: April 11, 2018, 8:00 am

Scottsdale Capital Advisors Corp. v. The Deal, LLC

(United States First Circuit) - Affirming the district court's dismissal of the complaint in a case alleging defamation of the plaintiffs by the defendant in subscriber website and email newsletters because none of the parties had anything to do with New Hampshire, where the case was filed, and discovery showed that there was no reasonable basis upon which to establish that anyone in New Hampshire ever saw any of the three articles as the result of a subscription.
Posted: April 3, 2018, 8:00 am

Saunders v. Wilkie

(United States Federal Circuit) - Reversing a Veterans Court determination that a former serviceperson wasn't entitled to disability benefits because the court erred in holding as a matter of law that pain alone cannot constitute a disability without a specific diagnosis or otherwise identified disease.
Posted: April 3, 2018, 8:00 am

Sawyer Brothers, Inc. v. Island Transporter, LLC

(United States First Circuit) - Affirming the district court's ruling, apart from vacating a single element of the damages award, in a case where one company hired another to ferry construction vehicles and drivers to an island off the coast of Maine and rough seas resulted in the vehicles being tossed about.
Posted: April 3, 2018, 8:00 am