FindLaw Opinion Summaries - Injury & Tort Law

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

Alcazar v. Los Angeles Unified School District

(California Court of Appeal) - Held that a middle-school child was not entitled to a new trial on his claim that the school district was liable for injuries he suffered when he fell from a tree branch on the school's campus.
Posted: November 15, 2018, 8:00 am

Marteney v. Elementis Chemicals Inc.

(California Court of Appeal) - Affirmed a wrongful death judgment in favor of the children of a man who died from mesothelioma, in a lawsuit brought against a chemical company.
Posted: November 1, 2018, 8:00 am

Zander v. Orlich

(United States Seventh Circuit) - Revived the claim of a citizen who was sexually assaulted by a sheriff's deputy that the sheriff was vicariously liable under principles of respondeat superior. Reversed summary judgment and remanded.
Posted: October 30, 2018, 8:00 am

Lovett v. Herbert

(United States Seventh Circuit) - Held that correctional officers had qualified immunity from a claim that they violated the Fourth Amendment rights of a man arrested for drunk driving who fell out of an upper bunk bed at the jail, suffering injuries that eventually led to his death several months later. Reversed the denial of qualified immunity, in this lawsuit alleging that an intoxicated person should not have been assigned to an upper bunk.
Posted: October 29, 2018, 8:00 am

Sandifer v. Hoyt Archery, Inc.

(United States Fifth Circuit) - Held that an archery equipment manufacturer was not liable under the Louisiana Products Liability Act for the death of a man who, while at home, was pierced in the head by a piece of a hunting bow he was examining or modifying. Affirmed summary judgment against his family's claims, concluding that the district court did not err by excluding most of the testimony of the family's primary expert witness.
Posted: October 24, 2018, 8:00 am

Doe v. Nestle, S.A.

(United States Ninth Circuit) - Revived claims that manufacturers of chocolate products and other firms in the industry aided and abetted child slave labor on Ivory Coast cocoa farms. The companies contended that the complaint sought an impermissible extraterritorial application of the Alien Tort Statute. Reversing a dismissal order in relevant part, the Ninth Circuit held that the former child slaves must be allowed to amend their proposed class action complaint.
Posted: October 23, 2018, 8:00 am

Sandoval v. Qualcomm Inc.

(California Court of Appeal) - Upheld a finding that a large company was liable for the electrocution injuries suffered by an employee of a subcontractor who was working at a cogeneration plant on the company's campus, on the ground that the company retained control over the safety conditions and was negligent. Affirmed the denial of the company's JNOV motion; also affirmed that the company was entitled to a new trial limited to the issue of apportionment of fault.
Posted: October 19, 2018, 8:00 am

A.G. v. County of Los Angeles

(California Court of Appeal) - Held that a child had legal standing to bring a wrongful death suit over the death of the man that raised him, even though it was not his biological father. Reversed and remanded, in a case involving a man's death as a result of an encounter with members of the sheriff's department.
Posted: October 18, 2018, 8:00 am

Allen v. Walmart Stores, LLC

(United States Fifth Circuit) - Held that Walmart and other defendants were not liable for a drug-abuse death that resulted from inhaling aerosol dust remover purchased at a Walmart store. The deceased's mother asserted negligence and product liability claims after her daughter was found dead from inhaling large quantities of the dust remover. Affirming dismissal, the Fifth Circuit held that the mother failed to state a claim.
Posted: October 16, 2018, 8:00 am

Moon v. City of El Paso

(United States Fifth Circuit) - Reinstated a false-imprisonment claim filed by a man who spent 17 years in prison for a crime he did not commit, holding that his claim was timely filed because false imprisonment is a continuing tort under Texas law. Also held that the assistant district attorney enjoyed prosecutorial immunity. Reversed in part and remanded.
Posted: October 15, 2018, 8:00 am

Webb v. Frawley

(United States Seventh Circuit) - Held that an employee of a commodities trading business failed to state claims that a supervisor tortiously interfered with his employment contract and knowingly misrepresented company policy, resulting in the employee's termination. Affirmed the dismissal of his claims.
Posted: October 11, 2018, 8:00 am

Wilson v. Horton's Towing

(United States Ninth Circuit) - Held that a man whose pickup truck was seized by tribal police after they found marijuana during a traffic stop failed to exhaust his tribal remedies against a towing company, which he claimed was liable for conversion for unlawfully releasing the truck to the Indian reservation authorities. Remanded with instructions to dismiss his complaint without prejudice to refiling after he had exhausted his tribal remedies.
Posted: October 9, 2018, 8:00 am

Ruiz v. Musclewood Investment Properties LLC

(California Court of Appeal) - Reinstated a legally blind person's claim that a local business he walked past on a regular basis failed to prevent its unleashed guard dog from growling at and attacking his guide dog, in violation of his rights under the Disabled Persons Act. Reversed orders sustaining a demurrer and granting a motion to strike.
Posted: October 5, 2018, 8:00 am

Ruiz v. Musclewood Investment Properties LLC

(California Court of Appeal) - Reinstated a legally blind person's claim that a local business he walked past on a regular basis failed to prevent its unleashed guard dog from growling at and attacking his guide dog, in violation of his rights under the Disabled Persons Act. Reversed orders sustaining a demurrer and granting a motion to strike.
Posted: October 5, 2018, 8:00 am

Ruiz v. Musclewood Investment Properties LLC

(California Court of Appeal) - Reinstated a legally blind person's claim that a local business he walked past on a regular basis failed to prevent its unleashed guard dog from growling at and attacking his guide dog, in violation of his rights under the Disabled Persons Act. Reversed orders sustaining a demurrer and granting a motion to strike.
Posted: October 5, 2018, 8:00 am

Shell Offshore, Inc. v. Tesla Offshore, LLC

(United States Fifth Circuit) - Held that a company surveying the ocean floor was properly apportioned 75 percent of the liability for an accident in which its underwater sonar device struck an offshore drilling rig's mooring line. The remaining 25 percent of the liability was allocated to the operator of the chartered vessel that was pulling the sonar device. Affirmed a judgment after a jury trial.
Posted: October 5, 2018, 8:00 am

Doe v. Vigo County, Indiana

(United States Seventh Circuit) - Held that Indiana law did not require a county government to answer for the sexual misconduct of a maintenance employee who allegedly sexually assaulted the plaintiff while she volunteered at the park where he worked. Affirming summary judgment for the county, held that the county was neither vicariously liable for the wrongs nor directly liable for permitting them to occur.
Posted: October 3, 2018, 8:00 am

Schulz v. Jeppesen Sanderson, Inc.

(California Court of Appeal) - Held that the trial court abused its discretion by reducing to 10 percent a law firm's contingency fee from an $18 million wrongful death settlement, rather than the 40 percent called for in the contingency fee agreement or the 31 percent requested by the law firm.
Posted: October 2, 2018, 8:00 am

Jabo v. YMCA of San Diego County

(California Court of Appeal) - Affirmed on summary judgment that a YMCA was not liable for negligence in the death of a man who died of sudden cardiac arrest after playing soccer on a YMCA-owned field that was rented to a nonmember league. Held that the YMCA had no common-law duty of care to provide hands-on usage of an automatic external defibrillator on the facts here.
Posted: September 28, 2018, 8:00 am

Funches v. Progressive Tractor and Implement Co., LLC

(United States Fifth Circuit) - Held that a company that leased farm equipment did not negligently cause the injuries of a motorist who collided with a piece of farm equipment being towed by a pickup truck. Affirmed summary judgment for the leasing company.
Posted: September 28, 2018, 8:00 am

Martine v. Heavenly Valley L.P.

(California Court of Appeal) - Held that a skier could not proceed to trial on her negligence claims alleging that, after hurting her knee, she was helped down the mountain by a ski patrol when the rescue sled in which she was riding went out of control and hit a tree. Affirmed summary judgment for the ski resort.
Posted: September 26, 2018, 8:00 am

Dilley v. Holiday Acres Properties, Inc.

(United States Seventh Circuit) - Held that two riders seriously injured while horseback riding in Wisconsin could not pursue negligence claims against trail and stable operators, because their causes of action were barred by Wisconsin's equine-immunity statute, which blocks recovery for most injuries that result from an inherent risk of equine activities. Affirmed summary judgment and judgment on the pleadings against the riders, respectively.
Posted: September 25, 2018, 8:00 am

Jones v. IDS Property Casualty Insurance Co.

(California Court of Appeal) - Held that a wife suing for loss of consortium after her husband was seriously injured in an automobile accident was subject to the same per-person limit of the defendant's insurance policy as her husband's claim for bodily injury; that is, the language of the policy was sufficient to aggregate the two claims. Affirmed judgment in favor of the insurance company.
Posted: September 25, 2018, 8:00 am

Ayon v. Esquire Deposition Solutions, LLC

(California Court of Appeal) - Held that an employer had no respondeat-superior liability for a motor vehicle accident caused by its scheduling manager, even though she was talking on a cellphone with a coworker at the time she struck the other vehicle late one evening. Affirmed summary judgment for the employer, finding no evidence that the phone call was of a business nature bringing her within the scope of her employment when the accident occurred.
Posted: September 21, 2018, 8:00 am

Freestream Aircraft (Bermuda) Ltd. v. Aero Law Group

(United States Ninth Circuit) - Held that Nevada could constitutionally exercise personal jurisdiction over defendants who allegedly defamed an aircraft company at an aviation industry conference in Las Vegas. The defendants contended that the suit must be dismissed because they lacked minimum contacts with Nevada. Disagreeing, the Ninth Circuit reversed dismissal of the complaint. The panel also clarified what it described as the circuit's confusing case law as to the proper analytical approach to specific jurisdiction.
Posted: September 18, 2018, 8:00 am

In re Johnson and Johnson Talcum Powder Products Litigation

(United States Third Circuit) - Held that a consumer who purchased baby powder without being informed that it increased the risk of ovarian cancer (as she alleged it did) had no standing to pursue claims for economic injury. The plaintiff argued that she and other consumers would not have purchased the baby powder in the first place had they been properly informed about its alleged risks. Emphasizing that she was asserting only economic harm, the Third Circuit affirmed dismissal of her class-action complaint, explaining that the product had functioned for her as expected.
Posted: September 6, 2018, 8:00 am

Dent v. National Football League

(United States Ninth Circuit) - Held that federal labor law did not preempt retired football players' claims that the National Football League encouraged them to take pain-masking medications without warning them of the drugs' risks. The NFL contended that the players' claims were preempted by sections 301 of the Labor Management Relations Act. Rejecting the league's argument, the Ninth Circuit concluded that, as pleaded, the players' negligence and other state law claims did not arise from collective bargaining agreements or require their interpretation. The panel therefore reversed dismissal of the proposed class action suit.
Posted: September 6, 2018, 8:00 am

Lemelson v. Bloomberg L.P.

(United States First Circuit) - Affirmed the dismissal of a defamation suit brought by a hedge fund manager who claimed Bloomberg News falsely reported that he was being investigated by the Securities and Exchange Commission. The plaintiff brought suit against Bloomberg, as well as the reporter and editor of the story, alleging that they had defamed him and committed other common-law torts. Agreeing with the district court, the First Circuit held that the plaintiff was required to plausibly allege actual malice because he was at least a limited-purpose public figure and that he had failed to allege such facts.
Posted: August 30, 2018, 8:00 am

G and G Productions LLC v. Rusic

(United States Ninth Circuit) - Reinstated a lawsuit alleging that a woman stole an oil painting worth millions of dollars from her former husband, an Italian film producer. The woman, an Italian citizen, argued that the claims against her were time-barred under California's borrowing statute, because the applicable 10-year Italian statute of limitations would bar those claims in an Italian court; the district court agreed with her. Vacating in part, the Ninth Circuit remanded for further proceedings on the replevin and unjust enrichment claims and on the request for declaratory relief.
Posted: August 29, 2018, 8:00 am

VanDevender v. Blue Ridge of Raleigh, LLC

(United States Fourth Circuit) - Held that plaintiffs bringing three wrongful death nursing home malpractice claims were entitled to punitive damages. The nursing homes argued that they were not liable for punitive damages because there was no aggravating factor justifying such an award, and the trial court granted their JMOL motion. Reversing, the Fourth Circuit held that the plaintiffs had presented evidence sufficient for a reasonable jury to award punitive damages under North Carolina law.
Posted: August 27, 2018, 8:00 am

Kim v. Toyota Motor Corp.

(Supreme Court of California) - Held that a defendant in a product liability action could introduce industry custom-and-practice evidence. The plaintiff, who alleged that he was severely injured in an accident because his pickup truck lacked a particular safety feature, objected to the fact that the jury was allowed to hear that no vehicle manufacturer at the time included this safety feature as standard equipment. Unpersuaded by his arguments, the California Supreme Court concluded that the custom-and-practice evidence was admissible for the limited purpose of helping the jury evaluate whether the product was as safely designed as it should be, considering the feasibility and cost of alternative designs.
Posted: August 27, 2018, 8:00 am

Williams v The Pep Boys

(California Court of Appeal) - Reversed in part and remanded. Plaintiffs, the surviving children of decedent J.D. Williams who died of mesothelioma allegedly caused by exposure to asbestos in brakes purchased from defendant. A San Francisco trial court found for defendants as to claims barred by statute of limitations and that damage awards on remaining claims were offset by settlements before trial. The California First District Appellate court affirmed the statute of limitations and the offset of damages, but reversed the decision not to award damages for home health services and the award of expert fees under a section 998.
Posted: August 23, 2018, 8:00 am

King v. CompPartners, Inc.

(Supreme Court of California) - Affirmed the dismissal of an employee's negligence suit against a workers' compensation utilization review management company. The employee claimed that he was harmed when he was denied further prescriptions of a certain medication without being allowed a weaning regimen or warned of the possible side effects of abruptly ceasing the medication. However, the California Supreme Court held that his tort suit was barred by the principle that workers' compensation provides an injured employee's exclusive remedy against an employer for compensable work-related injuries.
Posted: August 23, 2018, 8:00 am

Encompass Insurance Co. v. Stone Mansion Restaurant Inc.

(United States Third Circuit) - Held that an automobile insurance company that settled claims against a driver arising out of a car crash could bring a contribution suit against a restaurant that allegedly over-served alcoholic beverages to the driver. The restaurant insisted that Pennsylvania's Dram Shop Law subjected it to liability only to injured individuals themselves. However, the Third Circuit concluded that the Dram Shop Law did not prevent the insurance company from bringing a suit against the restaurant under the Uniform Contribution Among Tortfeasors Act. The panel therefore reversed dismissal of the insurer's complaint.
Posted: August 22, 2018, 8:00 am

Shaw v. US

(United States Federal Circuit) - Held that the U.S. government did not breach its obligations under a settlement arising out of injuries to a child born at a military hospital. The parents brought this suit alleging that the government was contractually liable because the settlement provided for the purchase of several annuities that would make periodic damages payments, but in 2012 the issuer of the annuities was liquidated and the payments were substantially reduced. Affirming summary judgment for the government, the Federal Circuit held that the settlement agreement did not obligate the government to act as a guarantor of the future periodic annuity payments.
Posted: August 20, 2018, 8:00 am

Soto-Cintron v. US

(United States First Circuit) - Held that the U.S. government was not liable for the actions of agents of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives who stopped a pickup truck at gunpoint and handcuffed and detained an innocent man for up to 20 minutes. The man brought this suit under the Federal Tort Claims Act alleging false imprisonment. Affirming the district court, the First Circuit held that the government was entitled to summary judgment.
Posted: August 20, 2018, 8:00 am

Webster v. Claremont Yoga

(California Court of Appeal) - Affirmed summary judgment against a yoga student's claim that her instructor caused her injury while adjusting her posture during a yoga class. According to the student, the instructor harmed her when he moved her leg, lower back, and neck. On appeal, the California Second Appellate District agreed with the yoga instructor that there was no triable issue as to causation, because the student had offered no evidence conflicting with that of the instructor's experts, who opined that the student's medical issues were unrelated to the yoga class.
Posted: August 16, 2018, 8:00 am

In re W.R. Grace and Co.

(United States Third Circuit) - Remanded for reconsideration of whether former employees of an asbestos mining and processing operation in Montana could bring a negligence suit against the now-bankrupt company's insurers. The insurers sought a declaratory judgment that the former employees, who now suffer from asbestos disease, were barred from proceeding with their lawsuit because the bankruptcy court had already created a trust to compensate persons injured by the company's asbestos. On appeal, the Third Circuit affirmed in part and vacated and remanded in part.
Posted: August 14, 2018, 8:00 am

Hass v. RhodyCo Productions

(California Court of Appeal) - Held that the organizer of a half-marathon race potentially could be liable for the cardiac-arrest death of one of the runners. Surviving family members of the runner alleged that the race organizer was negligent or grossly negligent with respect to the provision of emergency medical services. Affirming in part and reversing in part, the First Appellate District held that summary judgment was not warranted based on primary assumption of the risk and that a triable issue of material fact existed regarding gross negligence.
Posted: August 13, 2018, 8:00 am

Ramirez v. City of Gardena

(Supreme Court of California) - Affirmed summary judgment in favor of a city that was sued for wrongful death when its police officers pursued a vehicle and caused it to crash. California Vehicle Code section 17004.7 provides public agencies immunity from liability for collisions resulting from police chases if the agencies implement certain policies regarding vehicular pursuits. Here, a crash victim's mother argued that the city lacked immunity because some police officers had not certified in writing that they had read and understood the vehicle pursuit policy. Disagreeing, the California Supreme Court held that 100-percent compliance with the certification requirement is not a prerequisite to receiving the immunity.
Posted: August 13, 2018, 8:00 am

Holzhauer v. Golden Gate Bridge Highway and Transportation District

(United States Ninth Circuit) - Held that a boat owner was not liable under maritime law for causing his recreational speedboat to crash into a passenger ferry. The wife of an individual who died in the accident argued that the boat owner was negligent. Affirming judgment as a matter of law for the boat owner, the Ninth Circuit held that a boat owner who is a passenger on the boat has no duty to keep a lookout unless the owner was jointly operating the boat or the owner knows from past experience or from conduct that day that the person operating the boat is likely to be inattentive or careless.
Posted: August 10, 2018, 8:00 am

Doe v. JPMorgan Chase Bank, N.A.

(United States Second Circuit) - Held that a torture victim who had obtained a court judgment against a terrorist organization was not entitled to attach funds from the organization's blocked electronic fund transfers. The torture victim wanted several banks to turn over $36 million to him in order to satisfy a court judgment he had obtained against the terrorist organization in a U.S. court. In a 2-1 decision affirming the district court, the Second Circuit held that the punitively sanctioned organization's blocked assets were not subject to attachment.
Posted: August 9, 2018, 8:00 am

Alfaro v. Colgate-Palmolive Co.

(California Court of Appeal) - Reversed a ruling that denied costs to Colgate-Palmolive Co. after it prevailed in a suit alleging that its talcum powder products caused the plaintiff to develop mesothelioma. Colgate argued that the trial court should have granted its request for over $300,000 in costs. The Second Appellate District agreed that the trial court abused its discretion in denying all costs on grounds of inability to pay and also that the trial court erred in failing to determine whether Colgate made its offer to compromise under section 998 in good faith.
Posted: August 8, 2018, 8:00 am

Cochrum v. Costa Victoria Healthcare, LLC

(California Court of Appeal) - Affirmed that a nursing home was liable for negligence but not elder abuse in connection with the death of a resident who died after choking on a meal he could not swallow and which was not on his prescribed diet. The resident's niece, who brought the suit, argued that the evidence supported liability for elder abuse and that the trial court should not have granted a JNOV motion on that claim. However, the Fourth Appellate District found no error and affirmed.
Posted: August 8, 2018, 8:00 am

Rodriguez v. Swartz

(United States Ninth Circuit) - Held that a U.S. Border Patrol agent did not have qualified immunity for allegedly shooting and killing a teenage Mexican citizen walking down a street in Mexico while the agent was standing on American soil. The border patrol agent moved to dismiss the complaint filed by the boy's mother based on qualified immunity. However, the Ninth Circuit held in a 2-1 decision that, under the facts as alleged, the agent was not immune from suit and, further, the boy's mother had a cause of action against the agent for money damages.
Posted: August 7, 2018, 8:00 am

Anselmo v. Grossmont-Cuyamaca Community College District

(California Court of Appeal) - Reversed the dismissal of a suit filed by a student athlete volleyball player against a community college after she was injured during a tournament game when she dove into the sand and her knee struck a rock. The community college argued that it was protected by an immunity covering field trips and excursions, as set forth in section 55220 of title 5 of the California Code of Regulations. Rejecting this argument, the Fourth Appellate District held that this provision did not apply to an injury suffered by a member of a visiting team during an intercollegiate athletic event. The panel therefore reversed an order granting a demurrer and remanded.
Posted: August 3, 2018, 8:00 am

Jones v. Sorenson

(California Court of Appeal) - Revived a claim that a homeowner was liable for injuries that a gardener's helper suffered by falling from a ladder while trimming a tree. The gardener's helper argued that the gardener was negligent and that the homeowner was liable in tort under a respondeat superior theory by virtue of being their employer. On appeal, the Third Appellate District held that the negligence claim could proceed to trial, reversing the entry of summary judgment.
Posted: August 2, 2018, 8:00 am

Staats v. Vintner's Golf Club, LLC

(California Court of Appeal) - Reinstated a claim that a golf club was negligent in failing to protect patrons from yellow jacket wasps. The plaintiff, who was attacked by a swarm of yellow jackets while taking a golf lesson, argued that the golf club owed a duty to protect patrons from the insects even if they came from an undiscovered nest on the course. On appeal, the First Appellate District agreed that a duty of care existed in this situation, requiring actions such as reasonable inspections, and it therefore reversed summary judgment and remanded for further proceedings.
Posted: August 1, 2018, 8:00 am

Tunac v. US

(United States Ninth Circuit) - Affirmed the dismissal of a suit alleging that a Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) medical center caused a veteran's death by delaying urgently needed medical treatment. The veteran's spouse alleged negligence, but the Ninth Circuit held that, to the extend it had jurisdiction over her claims, the claims were barred by the Federal Tort Claims Act's statute of limitations and that some of her claims could be heard only by the Federal Circuit.
Posted: July 30, 2018, 8:00 am

Peredia v. HR Mobile Services, Inc.

(California Court of Appeal) - Held that a workplace safety consultant was not entitled to summary judgment against a claim that it negligently caused an employee's accidental death. The safety consultant, hired by a dairy farm, argued that it owed no duty of care to the farm's employees, including a teenage boy who had been run over by a tractor. On appeal, the Fifth Appellate District concluded that there were disputed issues of material fact related to the existence of a duty of care and other elements of the boy's parents' wrongful death claim.
Posted: July 30, 2018, 8:00 am