Justia Civil Procedure Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Personal Injury
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In this case, Glen Pace, a Mississippi resident, appealed the dismissal of his claims against multiple corporate defendants over personal injuries he suffered in a Texas airplane crash. The United States District Court for the Southern District of Mississippi dismissed the claims against the out-of-state defendants for lack of personal jurisdiction and held that the two Mississippi defendants were improperly joined, which allowed removal to federal court.Upon review, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court’s ruling. The appellate court agreed that Pace failed to state a claim against either in-state defendant, and thus, they were improperly joined. As for the out-of-state defendants, the court found that the district court lacked personal jurisdiction over them. The court reasoned that the aircraft crash, any equipment failure, and the injuries all occurred in Texas, and Pace's subsequent medical treatment and damages in Mississippi did not constitute an actual injury felt in the state for the purpose of establishing personal jurisdiction. The court held that Pace's injuries from the crash occurred in Texas and his subsequent medical treatment in Mississippi were "consequences stemming from the actual tort injury," which do not confer personal jurisdiction.The court also denied Pace's request for jurisdictional discovery, stating that Pace failed to present specific facts or reasonable particularity regarding jurisdictional facts. The court stressed that its decision should not be interpreted as implying a view on the merits of Pace’s claims. View "Pace v. Cirrus Design Corp" on Justia Law

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The case involves a wrongful death claim by Leslie Smith, representative of the estate of Marcus D. Smith, against Rosalinde Minier, representative of the estate of Ingeborg Steiner, and Werner Enterprises, Inc. The claim arises from a multi-vehicle accident, including a tractor-trailer operated by Marcus D. Smith, a tractor-trailer owned by Werner Enterprises, and a personal vehicle operated by Ingeborg Steiner. Marcus Smith suffered a cervical fracture and multiple rib fractures, was prescribed Lortab (a combination of hydrocodone and acetaminophen), which he overdosed on, leading to his death from liver failure. The trial court granted the defendants' motion for partial summary judgment on the wrongful-death claim, finding that Marcus Smith's death from acetaminophen-induced liver failure was not foreseeable as a proximate cause of the original automobile accident. The Court of Appeals reversed the trial court's decision, finding a genuine issue of material fact regarding the foreseeability of Marcus Smith's death.The Supreme Court of Mississippi affirmed the decision of the Court of Appeals and reversed the judgment of the Jackson County Circuit Court. The Court held that the foreseeability of a particular injury and the presence of an intervening or superseding cause are questions for the fact finder, in this case, the jury. The Court found that a genuine issue of material fact remains regarding the foreseeability of Marcus Smith's death from liver failure due to acetaminophen toxicity. Therefore, the grant of partial summary judgment by the trial court was improper, and the case was remanded for further proceedings. View "Smith v. Minier" on Justia Law

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This case arose from a wrongful death and professional negligence action brought by Linda F. Smith, the mother of Kamario Mantrell Smith, an inmate who died after unsuccessful heart surgery and subsequent complications. The defendants were Christopher L. Igtiben, M.D., Dignity Health, and related entities. Smith filed her complaint on November 22, 2022, alleging that the defendants' failure to recognize her son's sickle cell anemia before ordering a CT scan with contrast ultimately led to his death. Dr. Igtiben filed a motion to dismiss the complaint, arguing that the applicable statute of limitations under NRS 41A.097(2) had expired. The district court denied the dismissal motion.The Court of Appeals of Nevada found that Smith had been placed on inquiry notice of potential professional negligence and wrongful death claims when she received her son's medical records in January 2020. Accordingly, NRS 41A.097(2) required her to file any professional negligence or wrongful death action within one year from that date. Because Smith did not file her complaint until November 2022, the statute of limitations had expired, and the district court should have dismissed the complaint as untimely. As a result, the court granted the writ of mandamus and directed the clerk to issue a writ instructing the district court to dismiss the complaint. View "Igtiben v. Eighth Jud. Dist. Ct." on Justia Law

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In a case before the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, the plaintiff, identified as Jane Doe, filed an appeal against two orders from the district court. The first order denied her request to compel the defendant, Cenk Sidar, to provide a DNA sample for a sexual assault case. The second order demanded that Doe disclose her real name in the proceedings following a default judgment against Sidar.The Court of Appeals dismissed the appeal regarding the DNA sample for lack of jurisdiction, ruling that orders denying requests for physical or mental examinations are not immediately appealable under the collateral order doctrine.However, the court did rule on the anonymity issue. The court found that the district court committed legal error in its order demanding Doe to disclose her real name. The district court had understated Doe's interest in anonymity, announced a general rule that fairness considerations invariably cut against allowing a plaintiff to be anonymous at trial unless the defendant is also anonymous, and failed to recognize the significance of its default judgment on liability. The Court of Appeals thus vacated the non-anonymity order and remanded for further proceedings, instructing the district court to reconsider its order in light of the appeals court's opinion. The court emphasized the importance of Doe's privacy interests, particularly given that the case involved allegations of sexual assault. View "Doe v. Sidar" on Justia Law

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In the medical malpractice case concerning the withdrawal of life-sustaining treatment from Lillian Birt, her daughter Jenafer Meeks sued the treating doctors, Wei Peng and Christina G. Richards, both individually and on behalf of Ms. Birt's heirs and estate. The children of Ms. Birt had decided to discontinue her life support based on the misinformation they received from the doctors about her condition. The doctors inaccurately portrayed her condition as terminal, leading the children to believe that the treatment was only prolonging her life unnaturally. However, Ms. Birt's condition was not terminal, and there was a high probability of her recovery if the treatment had continued.In the Supreme Court of the State of Utah, the doctors appealed on two issues. Firstly, they argued that the trial court's jury instruction 23 was incorrect as it did not explicitly state that Ms. Meeks had the burden to prove the standard of care. Secondly, they contended that the lower court erred in denying their motion for judgment as a matter of law on the survival claim due to lack of evidence that Ms. Birt experienced pain and suffering in the hours between the doctors' negligence and her death.The Supreme Court held that the trial court correctly instructed the jury that Ms. Meeks had the burden to prove the standard of care, as the instruction implicitly required the jury to determine the standard of care as part of proving a breach of it. However, the Supreme Court agreed with the doctors that Ms. Meeks failed to provide evidence of Ms. Birt's experience of pain, suffering, or inconvenience during the period between the doctors' negligence and her death. Therefore, the Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part the decision of the lower court. View "Peng v. Meeks" on Justia Law

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In 2019, Keith McWhorter and his wife, Carol, filed a lawsuit against Baptist Healthcare System, Inc., alleging medical negligence and loss of consortium. The defendant argued that the plaintiffs failed to file a certificate of merit as required by Kentucky Revised Statutes (KRS) 411.167, a law enacted to reduce meritless lawsuits against medical providers. The trial court dismissed the case with prejudice due to this omission. The plaintiffs appealed, arguing they had complied with the requirements of KRS 411.167(7) and that the defendant had waived the certificate of merit argument by not including it in their initial answer. The Kentucky Court of Appeals affirmed the trial court's dismissal.Upon review, the Supreme Court of Kentucky held that none of the issues the plaintiffs raised were properly preserved for appellate review, as they did not call these errors to the attention of the trial court. However, the court did note that had the claim of compliance under KRS 411.167(7) been properly before the court, they would have held that a plaintiff must file this information with the complaint. As a result, the Supreme Court of Kentucky affirmed the Court of Appeals' decision, dismissing the case with prejudice. View "MCWHORTER V. BAPTIST HEALTHCARE SYSTEM, INC." on Justia Law

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In this medical malpractice case, the Supreme Court of Kentucky analyzed KRS 411.167, a law requiring claimants to file a certificate of merit alongside their complaint. The plaintiff, Mario Sanchez, had filed a suit against doctors and the medical facility, but without a certificate of merit. The trial court dismissed the case because Sanchez failed to comply with KRS 411.167. Sanchez appealed, arguing that the certificate requirement only applied to parties representing themselves, and that his responses to the defendant's discovery requests effectively complied with the statute. The Court of Appeals disagreed with Sanchez's interpretation but remanded the case back to the trial court to determine if Sanchez's failure to file a certificate of merit was due to excusable neglect under CR 6.02.The Supreme Court of Kentucky affirmed that KRS 411.167 applies to all claimants, whether represented by counsel or not, and rejected Sanchez's argument that he technically and substantively complied with the statute. The court ruled that strict compliance with the statute was required, rendering the statute effectively meaningless if only substantial compliance was necessary. The court reversed the Court of Appeals' decision to remand the case back to the trial court, stating that Sanchez's failure to adequately request relief under CR 6.02 at the trial court level should not benefit him now. The Supreme Court upheld the trial court's decision to dismiss the lawsuit with prejudice due to Sanchez's failure to file a certificate of merit. View "MCMILLIN, M.D. V. SANCHEZ" on Justia Law

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In this case, the plaintiff, a victim of sex trafficking, brought a putative class action against various entities, including foreign-based defendants who operated websites on which videos of her abuse were uploaded and viewed. The district court dismissed the claims against the foreign-based defendants for lack of personal jurisdiction. On appeal, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit reversed and vacated in part, holding that the district court erred in its conclusion.The Ninth Circuit found that the plaintiff had established a prima facie case for the exercise of specific personal jurisdiction over two foreign defendants, WebGroup Czech Republic, a.s. ("WGCZ") and NKL Associates, s.r.o. ("NKL"), which operated the websites. The court concluded that the plaintiff had shown that these defendants had purposefully directed their activities toward the United States, that her claims arose from these forum-related activities, and that the exercise of jurisdiction would be reasonable.The court based its decision on several factors. WGCZ and NKL had contracted with U.S.-based content delivery network services to ensure faster website loading times and a more seamless viewing experience for U.S. users, demonstrating that they had actively targeted the U.S. market. They also profited significantly from U.S. web traffic. Furthermore, the harm the plaintiff suffered—namely, the publication of videos of her abuse on the defendants' websites—had occurred in the U.S., and a substantial volume of the widespread publication of the videos occurred in the U.S.As for the remaining foreign defendants, the court vacated the district court's dismissal of them because it was based solely on the incorrect assumption that there was no personal jurisdiction over WGCZ and NKL. The court remanded the case for further proceedings to determine whether personal jurisdiction could be asserted against these additional defendants. View "DOE V. WEBGROUP CZECH REPUBLIC, A.S." on Justia Law

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The plaintiff, Ty Whitehead, participated in a training ride for the AIDS LifeCycle fundraiser in March 2017. During the ride, Whitehead hit a pothole on a road maintained by the defendant, the City of Oakland, causing him to flip over his bicycle handlebars, hit his head on the pavement, and suffer injury. Prior to the ride, Whitehead had signed a release agreement which exempted the “owners/lessors of the course or facilities used in the Event” from future liability. Whitehead sued the City of Oakland for injuries he suffered due to the pothole. The trial court granted the City's motion for summary judgment, concluding the release was enforceable. Whitehead appealed, arguing the release was invalid because it concerned a matter of public interest, and that the court erred by not addressing whether there was a triable issue of fact as to the City's gross negligence.The Court of Appeal of the State of California First Appellate District Division Three affirmed the trial court's decision. The court found that the release was valid and enforceable because the cycling event was a nonessential, recreational activity that did not affect the public interest within the meaning of Civil Code section 1668. The court also found that Whitehead failed to adequately raise and support a claim of gross negligence. View "Whitehead v. City of Oakland" on Justia Law

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A fatal car crash led to a lawsuit against two Indiana restaurants that had served alcohol to the intoxicated driver responsible for the accident. The estate of the deceased sued the restaurants for negligence, arguing that they should have known the driver was visibly intoxicated and should not have allowed him to drive. The restaurants argued that the Indiana Dram Shop Act, which provides civil liability for establishments that serve alcohol to visibly intoxicated individuals who later cause injuries, eliminated any independent common-law liability. Therefore, they contended that the negligence claim should be dismissed.The Indiana Supreme Court held that the Dram Shop Act did not eliminate common-law liability, but rather modified it. The court ruled that claims against establishments that serve alcohol must still satisfy the requirements of the Dram Shop Act, namely that the server must have actual knowledge of the individual's visible intoxication, and that the individual's intoxication must be a proximate cause of the injury or damage. The court found that the estate's negligence claim met these requirements and therefore, the negligence claim was valid and could proceed. The court affirmed the lower court's decision to deny the restaurants' motion to dismiss the negligence claim. View "WEOC v. Adair" on Justia Law