Justia Civil Procedure Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in Injury Law
In re Norma Heredia
Norma Heredia filed a personal injury claim against Wal-Mart Stores, Texas. The trial court granted Wal-Mart’s motion for no-evidence summary judgment. Heredia then filed a notice of appeal and an affidavit of indigence in the trial court. No challenge to Heredia’s affidavit was filed within the following ten days, but the court of appeals issued a sua sponte order allowing any interested parties to file a challenge to Heredia’s affidavit in the ten days following the date of that order. Three days later, the court reporter filed a challenge to Heredia’s affidavit. Pursuant to the court of appeals’ order, the trial court set a hearing to determine Heredia’s indigence. Heredia filed a petition for a writ of mandamus in the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court conditionally granted the writ and directed the court of appeals to vacate its order and to allow Heredia to proceed with her appeal without payment of costs, holding that the procedural rules do not permit any out-of-time challenges, regardless of the reason for delay. View "In re Norma Heredia" on Justia Law
Hinrichs v. General Motors of Canada, Ltd.
On June 24, 2007, Florian Hinrichs was riding in the front passenger seat of a 2004 GMC Sierra 1500 pickup truck owned and operated by his friend Daniel Vinson when they were involved in a motor-vehicle accident. It was undisputed that Hinrichs was wearing his seat belt. A vehicle operated by Kenneth Smith, who was driving under the influence of alcohol, ran a stop sign and collided with the passenger-side door of the Sierra. The Sierra rolled over twice, but landed on its wheels. Hinrichs suffered a spinal cord injury in the accident that left him a quadriplegic. The accident occurred in Geneva County, Alabama. Hinrichs alleged that his injuries were caused by the defective design of the roof of the Sierra that allowed the roof over the passenger compartment to collapse during the rollover and by the defective design of the seat belt in the Sierra, which failed to restrain him. At the time of the accident, Hinrichs, a German citizen, was a member of the German military; he had been assigned to Fort Rucker for flight training. He and Vinson were in the same training program. Vinson had purchased the Sierra at Hill Buick, Inc., d/b/a O'Reilly Pontiac-Buick-GMC and/or Hill Pontiac-Buick-GMC ("the O'Reilly dealership"), in Pennsylvania in 2003. He drove it to Alabama in 2006 when he was assigned to Fort Rucker. General Motors Corporation, known as Motors Liquidation Company after July 9, 2009 ("GM"), designed the Sierra. GM Canada, whose principal place of business was in Ontario, Canada, manufactured certain parts of the Sierra, assembled the vehicle, and sold it to GM in Canada, where title transferred. GM then distributed the Sierra for sale in the United States through a GM dealer. The Sierra ultimately was delivered to the O'Reilly dealership for sale. Hinrichs, appealed the trial court's decision to dismiss General Motors of Canada, Ltd. ("GM Canada"), from the case. Finding that the trial court correctly concluded that it had neither general nor specific jurisdiction over GM Canada, the Alabama Supreme Court affirmed. View "Hinrichs v. General Motors of Canada, Ltd." on Justia Law
Dolgencorp, LLC v. Spence
Dolgencorp, LLC appealed the judgment entered on a jury verdict in the amount of $100,000 in favor of Michelle Spence in her action arising from her arrest for shoplifting. The charges against Spence were dismissed after two court appearances because no witnesses appeared to testify against her. Following a two-day trial, the jury returned a general verdict in favor of Spence and against Dolgencorp in the amount of $100,000 in compensatory damages. Dolgencorp appealed the denial of its renewed motion for Judgment as a Matter of Law (JML) and motion for a new trial. After review, the Supreme Court determined that the malicious-prosecution and defamation claims were improperly submitted to the jury. Dolgencorp submitted a motion for a JML specifically directed to the various claims; that motion was denied. "We cannot assume that the verdict was based only on those of Spence's claims that were properly submitted to the jury. Accordingly, the judgment based on the jury verdict for Spence must be reversed." The case was remanded for a new trial on Spence's claims that were properly submitted to the jury, i.e., negligent training, invasion of privacy, false imprisonment, and assault and battery. The Court reversed the judgment for Spence and remanded the case to the trial court for the entry of a JML in favor of Dolgencorp on Spence's claims of malicious prosecution and defamation and for a new trial on Spence's remaining claims of negligent training, invasion of privacy, false imprisonment, and assault and battery. View "Dolgencorp, LLC v. Spence" on Justia Law
Ex parte Tier 1 Trucking, LLC
In late 2015, Jimmy Lee and Jackie Mixon sued defendants Tier 1 Trucking, LLC and James Gray, Jr. in the Wilcox Circuit Court, alleging negligence and/or wantonness in connection with an automobile accident that occurred on November 3, 2014. Jimmy was driving his vehicle on a highway in Conecuh County when his vehicle collided with a tractor-trailer owned by Tier 1 and operated by Gray, who was an employee of Tier 1. Gray lived in Conecuh County. The accident was investigated by the Castleberry Police Department, also in Conecuh County. The Mixons lived in Wilcox County, and Tier 1 had done some business in Wilcox County. Tier 1's principal office is in Jay, Florida. Defendants filed a "motion to dismiss/transfer for improper venue." In that motion, defendants argued that Wilcox County was not a proper venue for this action because, they said, Tier 1 had not conducted business in Wilcox County and, thus, this civil action could not be brought in Wilcox County. When this motion was denied, they applied for a writ of mandamus to direct the Wilcox Court to vacate its order and transfer the case to Conecuh County. Finding that defendants demonstrated a clear legal right to mandamus relief, the Supreme Court granted their petition and issued the writ. View "Ex parte Tier 1 Trucking, LLC" on Justia Law
Meeks v. SSC Colorado Springs Colonial Columns Operating Co.
The facts of this case were similar to those in "Griffith v. SSC Pueblo Belmont Operating Co.," (2016 CO 60 (2016)). The Supreme Court remanded this case back to the trial court for reconsideration under the test it announced in that case. Here, the Court held that the "Griffith" test applied when an issue arose of whether nonresident parent companies were subject to personal jurisdiction in Colorado courts based on the actions of their resident subsidiaries. Plaintiff Khalid Meeks sued ten entities and one individual alleging that the parties injured his mother, a resident of Colonial Columns Nursing Center. Four of ten entities conceded jurisdiction in Colorado; the others argued they were not subject to personal jurisdiction in Colorado. The nonresident defendants were upstream parent companies of the resident nursing center and the four that conceded jurisdiction. On remand, the Supreme Court mandated the trial court hold a hearing to resolve the disputed jurisdictional facts, and apply the "Griffith" framework. View "Meeks v. SSC Colorado Springs Colonial Columns Operating Co." on Justia Law
Griffith v. SSC Pueblo Belmont Operating Co.
Plaintiff Christine Griffith sued nine entities and two individuals, alleging that they injured her father, who was a resident of a nursing home in Colorado. She alleged her father's injuries eventually caused his death. The individuals and four of the nine entities conceded jurisdiction and answered the complaint. The remaining five entities contested jurisdiction, arguing they were nonresident companies who were not subject to personal jurisdiction in Colorado. The issue this case presented for the Supreme Court's review was the circumstance under which nonresident parent companies could be haled into Colorado courts based on the activities of their resident subsidiaries. The Colorado Supreme Court held that in order for a Colorado court to exercise jurisdiction over a nonresident parent company, the trial court will analyze: (1) whether it may pierce the corporate veil and impute the resident subsidiary's contacts to the parent; and if the veil was pierced, the trial court will analyze (2) all of the subsidiary's contacts to determine whether jurisdiction comports with due process. If the trial court cannot pierce the corporate veil, then it shall treat each entity separately and analyze only the contacts that the parent company has with the state. Because the trial court did not perform this two-step analysis when it determined petitioners were subject to personal jurisdiction in Colorado, the Supreme Court remanded for the trial court to perform that analysis. View "Griffith v. SSC Pueblo Belmont Operating Co." on Justia Law
Baptist Health Richmond, Inc. v. Hon. William Clouse
Tim Agee, individually and on the behalf of the estate of his wife, Eva, sued Baptist Health Richmond, Inc. and other medical care providers alleging that Eva’s death was the result of medical negligence. During discovery, Agee requested from Baptist Health the production of certain documents. Baptist Health refused to produce the documents, claiming that they were protected from disclosure by the Patient Safety and Quality Improvement Act of 2005. Agee filed a motion to compel, which the trial court granted in part. Thereafter, Baptist Health filed an original action in the court of appeals seeking a writ of prohibition. The court of appeals denied the request, citing the plurality opinion in Tibbs v. Bunnell. The Supreme Court vacated the trial court’s discovery order and remanded for further proceedings, holding that the correct result in this case lay in middle ground between the plurality and the dissenting opinions in Tibbs. Remanded with instructions for the trial court to undertake the review set forth in this opinion. View "Baptist Health Richmond, Inc. v. Hon. William Clouse" on Justia Law
Smith v. Union Carbide Corporation f/k/a Union Carbide Plastics & Chemicals Company, Inc.
A jury awarded Elsie Smith more than three million dollars in damages after an asbestos-related wrongful death trial in 2009, but the trial judge granted the defendants’ motion for judgment notwithstanding the verdict (“JNOV”). Elsie appealed, and the Mississippi Supreme Court reversed and remanded for further proceedings. Following remand, the trial judge again entered a JNOV, and Elsie appealed that ruling. The Supreme Court reversed and remanded. The trial judge reaffirmed JNOV for the sole reason that Elsie presented insufficient evidence of Larry (her husband’s) exposure to the defendants’ asbestos products. But the Court found that Smith did present sufficient evidence to make the exposure issue a question for the jury. And because the trial judge did not address any of the other arguments that the defendants reasserted after the Court’s prior ruling, it declined to address any of the other issues raised in the briefing and in the defendants’ cross-appeals. View "Smith v. Union Carbide Corporation f/k/a Union Carbide Plastics & Chemicals Company, Inc." on Justia Law
Kenney v. Foremost Insurance Co.
Sharel Kenney appealed the trial court’s grant of summary judgment in favor of USAA Casualty Insurance Company (USAA-CIC) and Foremost Insurance Company (Foremost). Kenney purchased a motorcycle in Slidell, Louisiana. Kenney, a Louisiana resident, completed a Louisiana Motorcycle Insurance Application with Foremost, which included an Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Bodily Injury Coverage Form (“UMBI Form”). Pursuant to the Form, Kenney elected not to purchase UMBI coverage. Following receipt of the application and the UMBI Form, Foremost issued a policy to Kenney. Daniel Steilberg, Kenney’s fiancé, was listed as an operator on the insurance policy. While riding the motorcycle, Kenney and Steilberg were involved in an accident with an uninsured motorist on Highway I-90 in Bay St. Louis, Mississippi. After the accident, Kenney made claims for uninsured-motorist coverage under three separate policies. Kenney did receive payments from Foremost representing the actual cash value for property damage to the motorcycle. Kenney also filed a claim with USAA-CIC, the insurer for Kenney’s Dodge Charger, but she was denied payment for medical expenses and uninsured/underinsured-motorist coverage. After the denials of coverage, Kenney filed suit against the uninsured motorise, Foremost, USAA-CIC and Steilberg, Finding that the trial court erred in granting summary judgment as to Foremost but not as to USAA-CIC, the Supreme Court affirmed the trial court in part and reversed and remanded in part. View "Kenney v. Foremost Insurance Co." on Justia Law
Moon v. Rhode
On May 18, 2009, plaintiff’s 90-year-old mother was admitted to Peoria’s Proctor Hospital for a rectal prolapse. During Kathryn’s hospitalization, she experienced numerous complications. On May 29, 2009, Kathryn died. In March, 2010, plaintiff received Kathryn’s medical records. In April 2011, plaintiff received an oral opinion that Drs. Williamson and Salimath were negligent in treating Kathryn. On May 10, 2011, plaintiff filed a complaint against those doctors. On February 28, 2013, Kathryn’s CT scans were reviewed upon plaintiff’s request. Dr. Dachman opined that Dr. Rhode’s failure to properly identify certain findings caused or contributed to the injury and death of Kathryn. In March 2013, plaintiff filed suit under Wrongful Death Act (740 ILCS 180/1) and the Survival Act (755 ILCS 5/27-6), claiming medical malpractice against Rhode. Defendants argued that plaintiff had sufficient information more than two years before he filed his complaint to put him on inquiry to determine whether actionable conduct was involved, so that, even if the “discovery rule” applied, the complaint was untimely. The trial court dismissed the complaint with prejudice. A divided appellate court affirmed, reasoning that the discovery rule had no application to wrongful death or survival actions because both causes of action were legislatively created and not found at common law and that, even if that rule were applied, plaintiff’s complaint would be untimely. The Illinois Supreme Court reversed, finding the discovery rule applicable. A factual determination must be made as to when the statute of limitations began to run. Plaintiff filed his lawsuit less than two years after receiving the initial verbal medical expert report and within the four-year statute of repose. View "Moon v. Rhode" on Justia Law