by
Plaintiff Kathleen Willhide-Michiulis was involved in a tragic snowboarding accident at Mammoth Mountain Ski Area. On her last run of the day, she collided with a snowcat pulling a snow-grooming tiller and got caught in the tiller. The accident resulted in the amputation of her left leg, several skull fractures and facial lacerations, among other serious injuries. She and her husband, Bruno Michiulis, appealed after the trial court granted defendant Mammoth Mountain Ski Area’s (Mammoth) motion for summary judgment finding the operation of the snowcat and snow-grooming tiller on the snow run open to the public was an inherent risk of snowboarding and did not constitute gross negligence. Plaintiffs contended the trial court improperly granted Mammoth’s motion for summary judgment and improperly excluded the expert declarations plaintiffs submitted to oppose the motion. They also argued the trial court improperly denied their motion to transfer venue to Los Angeles County. After review, the Court of Appeal concluded the trial court did not abuse its discretion by excluding the expert declarations. Further, although snowcats and snow-grooming tillers are capable of causing catastrophic injury, this equipment was an inherent part of the sport of snowboarding and the way in which the snowcat was operated in this case did not rise to the level of gross negligence. Because of this conclusion, the Court of Appeal held the trial court properly granted Mammoth’s summary judgment motion based on the liability waiver Willhide-Michiulis signed as part of her season-pass agreement. With no pending trial, plaintiffs could not show they were prejudiced by the court’s denial of their motion to transfer venue; thus the Court did not reach the merits of that claim. View "Willhide-Michiulis v. Mammoth Mountain Ski Area, LLC" on Justia Law

by
The DEA bars hospitals from hiring, as an employee with “access to controlled substances,” any doctor who “for cause” has surrendered his registration to handle those substances. The DEA enforced this regulation against Doctors McDonald and Woods, who had voluntarily surrendered their registrations while in addiction treatment. They later regained full registrations. The doctors sued to enjoin the DEA from enforcing the regulation against them in the future, arguing that it no longer applied to them once their registrations were restored. The parties settled. Their agreement provides that “[t]he DEA no longer interprets 21 C.F.R. 1301.76(a) as requiring . . . potential employers of doctors with unrestricted DEA registrations to seek waivers.” The Sixth Circuit denied the government’s motion to keep the agreement under seal, noting “a strong presumption in favor of openness as to court records.” The government did not identify information too sensitive to remain public. Public interest is particularly strong where the information pertains to an agency’s interpretation of a regulation. Other doctors would no doubt be interested. View "Woods v. United States Drug Enforcement Administration" on Justia Law

by
This case was one in a longstanding dispute between major health services providers operating in Western Pennsylvania: UPE, a/k/a Highmark Health and Highmark, Inc. (collectively, Highmark) and UPMC (University of Pittsburgh Medical Center). Highmark and UPMC separately entered into Consent Decrees with the Commonwealth's Office of Attorney General (OAG). In this case, an issue arose concerning the obligations imposed by the Consent Decrees relative to UMPC's attempt to terminate ten hospital Medicare Acute Care Provider Agreements it had with Highmark. Pertinent here, UPMC's Consent Decree required it to treat Highmark's Medicare Advantage Plan consumers as in-network through the end date of the Consent Decree. UPMC allowed Provider Agreements with Highmark to renew annually in satisfaction of its in-network obligation. UPMC informed Highmark in accordance with the notice provisions, it would terminate the Provider Agreements on December 31, 2018, but would nonetheless continue to comply with all terms and obligations of those agreements through June 30, 2019, pursuant to the Decree runout provision. Highmark filed for an injunction and to hold UPMC in contempt. The Commonwealth granted OAG's petition to enforce, rejecting UPMC's contention that the six-month runout provision of the Provider Agreements satisfied its obligation to remain in "contract" with Highmark. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court reversed, finding the runout provision of the Provider Agreement satisfied UPMC's obligation to contract for in-network access to its facilities for Highmark's MA Plan subscribers through June 30, 2019. View "Pennsylvania v. UPMC, et al" on Justia Law

by
The Pennsylvania Supreme Court allowed this appeal to address the City of Philadelphia's so-called "soda tax." In June 2016, City Council enacted the challenged ordinance, which imposed a tax regarding specified categories of drinks sold, or intended to be sold, in the municipal limits. Appellants -- a group of consumers, retailers, distributors, producers, and trade associations -- filed suit against the City and the Commissioner of the Philadelphia Department of Revenue, in the court of common pleas, challenging the legality and constitutionality of the tax and seeking declaratory and injunctive relief. The common pleas court differentiated the soda tax as a “non-retail, distribution level tax” and that the tax did not apply to the same transaction or subject as the state sales tax, thus, no violation of the "Sterling Act," Act of August 5, 1932, Ex. Sess., P.L. 45 (as amended 53 P.S. sections 15971–15973). A divided, en banc panel of the Commonwealth Court affirmed, the majority reasoning that in determining whether a tax was duplicative, the focus is upon the incidence of the tax; such incidence is ultimately determined according to the substantive text of the enabling legislation; and the concept of legal incidence does not concern post-tax economic actions of private actors. Because the City’s beverage tax and the state sales and use tax are imposed on different, albeit related, transactions and measured on distinct terms, the majority likewise concluded that the Sterling Act was not offended. The Supreme Court affirmed, finding that the Sterling Act conferred upon the City "a broad taxing power subject to preemption," while clarifying that “any and all subjects” are available for local taxation which the Commonwealth could, but does not presently, tax. The Commonwealth could, but did not, tax the distributor/dealer-level transactions or subjects targeted by the soda tax. "Moreover, the legal incidences of the Philadelphia tax and the Commonwealth’s sales and use tax are different and, accordingly, Sterling Act preemption does not apply." View "Williams v. City of Philadelphia" on Justia Law

by
Plaintiff Brandon Stachulski brought suit against defendant Apple New England, LLC (operating an Applebee's Neighborhood Bar and Grill), under a theory of strict products liability alleging that he contracted salmonella by eating a hamburger at defendant’s restaurant. Defendant disputed the allegation that the hamburger was the source of plaintiff’s salmonella illness and asserted that plaintiff’s pet lizard or other food sources could just as likely be the cause of his illness. Following a three-day trial a jury returned a general verdict in plaintiff’s favor, awarding him $750,000 in damages. On appeal, defendant argued the trial court erred by: (1) admitting unfairly prejudicial evidence; (2) admitting the plaintiff’s expert’s testimony; (3) submitting the issue of causation to the jury; (4) instructing the jury on awarding hedonic and future pain and suffering damages; (5) permitting the plaintiff’s counsel to make certain statements during his opening and closing arguments; and (6) denying its request for remittitur. Finding no reversible error, the New Hampshire Supreme Court affirmed. View "Stachulski v. Apple New England, LLC" on Justia Law

by
RPB appealed from an order granting discovery sanctions after a motion to compel further responses to a deposition notice. In this case, BRI served a notice of motion and motion to compel within a statutory deadline, but did not serve any of the required supporting papers upon which the motion was based until 15 court days before the hearing. The Court of Appeal agreed with RPB that the motion was untimely. The court held that the 60 day deadline was mandatory and serving a notice of motion and motion to compel on December 6, 2016, without the supporting papers identified therein rendered the motion untimely. The court explained that there was no conflict between Code of Civil Procedure sections 1005 and 1010 in the context of section 2025.480, subdivision (b). Neither does the plain language of section 1010 allow for BRI’s interpretation that a notice of motion and motion alluding to other papers but not attaching them somehow satisfied section 1005.5. View "Weinstein v. Blumberg" on Justia Law

by
Lowe’s expanded its retail home improvement stores into Mexico. Lowe’s Mexico contracted with Karum to provide private-label credit card services there. The program failed to meet expectations. Karum sued, claiming breach of contract. Early on, Karum disclosed its summary “damages model,” a 37-page estimate of damages with hundreds of figures contained in charts and graphs. Karum intended to have its Chairman and former CEO Johnson and/or its current CEO and CFO Ouchida present the damages model at trial as lay opinion testimony. Karum never retained a damages expert. Two months before trial, Lowe’s moved to preclude Johnson and Ouchida from testifying as to the damages model because any testimony regarding the model required the specialized knowledge of an expert. The district court granted the motion, finding that Karum had never properly disclosed an expert pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 26(a)(2). Since this was a case-dispositive sanction, the court granted judgment in favor of Lowe’s. The Seventh Circuit affirmed. The plain meaning of Rule 26(a)(2) demands a formal designation for expert disclosures. Although Lowe’s deposed Johnson about the model and knew Karum intended to call him to testify about its content, Lowe’s should not have to assume a particular witness will testify as an expert. View "Karum Holdings LLC v. Lowe's Companies, Inc." on Justia Law

by
Plaintiffs-appellants Angela Belfiore-Braman and Stephen Braman appealed a defense judgment entered on a jury verdict, in their medical malpractice action against orthopedic surgeon, defendant-respondent D. Daniel Rotenberg, M.D. The jury found Defendant was not negligent in the care and treatment of Ms. Belfiore-Braman during the hip replacement surgery he performed on her, and accordingly, it did not answer the special verdict's question on whether such negligence was a substantial factor in causing injury to her, or loss of consortium to her husband and fellow plaintiff. The issues on appeal centered around the trial court's ruling in limine, after a hearing under Evidence Code section 402, that excluded certain medical opinion testimony Plaintiff offered on issues of causation and damage, from her recently designated nonretained expert witness. The court determined that the proposed testimony would be unduly duplicative within the meaning of section 723. Instead, the nonretained expert witness would be allowed to testify to the jury only as to his observations from an imaging study he performed and what the test results revealed to him about Plaintiff's condition. Plaintiff argued to the Court of Appeal this ruling in limine unfairly prevented her from making a showing that Defendant's alleged negligent acts were a substantial factor in causing her injuries. However, the Court concluded the record supported the ruling: Plaintiff could not show the trial court abused its discretion in precluding the offered testimony on causation and damage. View "Belfiore-Braman v. Rotenberg" on Justia Law

by
These appeal arose from the dismissal of three consumer actions based on Virginia state law claims against Hyundai, regarding misrepresentations the company made regarding EPA estimated fuel economy for the Hyundai Elantra. The Western District of Virginia dismissed with prejudice the claims in all three actions, except one claim in the Gentry action. The Fourth Circuit dismissed the Gentry appeal for lack of jurisdiction because one claim remained pending before the district court. The court affirmed the district court's dismissal of the Adbul-Mumit and Abdurahman actions for failure to satisfy federal pleading standards. The court also affirmed the denial of plaintiffs' post-dismissal request for leave to amend their complaints in those actions. View "Adbul-Mumit v. Alexandria Hyundai, LLC" on Justia Law

by
This appeal stemmed from a dispute between Jaguar and Autobahn concerning chargebacks of around $300,000 in incentive payments the distributor had made to the dealer. The Board of the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles declared the chargebacks invalid, and Jaguar exercised its statutory right of review in the state appellate court. During the pending of the appeal, Autobahn filed suit for damages based on the Board's findings, claiming violations of the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act (DTPA) and breach of contract. The Fifth Circuit reversed the district court's grant of summary judgment for Autobahn and remanded, holding that Autobahn's antecedent failure to exhaust divested the district court of power to decide the claim when it did. View "Autobahn Imports, L.P. v. Jaguar Land Rover North America" on Justia Law