CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — A Texas appeals court on March 21 affirmed nonpecuniary damage awards to the parents of a man killed when a truck pulled out in front of his motorcycle but recommended that the $100,000 award for future monetary loss be vacated because there was no evidence that they would rely on their son for future financial help (Joel Lawhorn v. Adam Hidinger, et al., No. 13-16-00423, Texas App., 13th Dist., 2019 Tex. App. LEXIS 2183).
SEATTLE — A trial court abused its discretion by excluding evidence of a plaintiff’s blood-alcohol level at the time she fell off a second-story apartment balcony, a Washington appeals court held March 18 in vacating a $3.5 million jury verdict and remanding for a new trial against the building owner (Kimberly J. Gerlach v. The Cove Apartments LLC, et al., No. 77179-5-1, Wash. App., Div. 1, 2019 Wash. App. LEXIS 627).
WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — A Florida judge on March 15 dismissed claims brought by survivors and the estates of victims killed in the 2016 Pulse nightclub shooting against the shooter’s employer, pointing out that Omar Mateen’s criminal actions were unrelated to his employment as an armed security guard for the defendant (Angel Colon, et al. v. G4S Secure Solutions [USA] Inc., et al., No. 502017CA003447, Fla. Cir., 15th Jud Cir., Palm Beach Co.).
PASADENA, Calif. — A man who was injured using a spray-coating gun failed in his attempt to serve as his own expert witness, causing him to lose his product liability case for lack of causation evidence, the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals affirmed March 18 (Jason Scott Theis v. Graco, Inc., No. 17-56723, 9th Cir., 2019 U.S. App. LEXIS 7964).
HARTFORD, Conn. — The Connecticut Supreme Court on March 14 reversed and remanded a trial court’s ruling that the estates of nine victims killed in the Sandy Hook mass shooting lacked standing under the state’s unfair trade practices law to sue gun manufacturers and sellers. It also reversed the lower court’s decision that the wrongful death claims based on the theory that the sale of military-style assault weapons to a civilian market constituted an unfair trade practice were not timely filed (Donna L. Soto, et al. v. Bushmaster Firearms International LLC, et al., Nos. S.C. 19832 and 19833, Conn. Sup., 2019 Conn. LEXIS 66).
SALEM, Ore. — A company and an employee accused of pressuring a receptionist to drink at a happy hour are immune from liability for their conduct as “social hosts” but are not immune as an employer and supervisor, the Oregon Supreme Court held March 14 in litigation over serious injuries the receptionist sustained in an accident she caused when she later drove while intoxicated (Ashley Schutz v. La Costita III Inc., et al., Nos. S065638 and S065639, Ore. Sup., 2019 Ore. LEXIS 159).
PORTLAND, Maine — The Maine Supreme Judicial Court on March 12 refused to reduce or vacate a $2 million jury award to a man who sustained permanent injuries from a misplaced screw implanted in his fractured wrist bone (Robbie M. Nason v. Timothy Pruchnic, et al., No. 18-10, Maine Sup., 2019 Me. LEXIS 40).
PHILADELPHIA— A Pennsylvania jury on March 20 awarded $24,849,735 for economic and noneconomic damages to a roofer and his wife for injuries he suffered when he fell through a skylight in a commercial building, holding the building’s tenant and owner 60 percent and 30 percent liable, respectively, for the award (Michele Kalinowski, et al. v. ABRA Auto Body & Glass LP, et al., No. 01863, Pa. Comm. Pls., Philadelphia Co.).
CHICAGO — An Illinois jury awarded a plaintiff $2.6 million on March 12 for injuries that occurred during surgery on her hip when she was 13 years old (Taylor Ivory v. Prasad V. Gourineni, et al., No. 16-L-626, Ill. Cir., Cook Co.).
MIAMI — After finding a cruise ship operator 70 percent liable for a passenger’s death following a delay in treatment on board the vessel and transfer to a hospital on shore, a Florida federal jury on March 7 awarded his estate $3,384,073.22 (Laura Goodloe v. Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd., No. 18-21125, S.D. Fla.).
SEATTLE — A Washington jury awarded a woman $13.9 million on Feb. 16 for severe cognitive and physical injuries she sustained from a stroke she had following a cardiac catheterization that was halted mid-procedure while medical personnel waited for the necessary stents to be delivered from another facility (Latosha Evans, et al. v. Seattle Children’s Hospital, et al., No. 15-2-26711-6, Wash. Super., King Co.).
SAN DIEGO — A toddler who was severely burned when she spilled a pot of hot coffee on herself at a restaurant was awarded more than $6.48 million on March 19, including awards to her parents and two brothers for emotional distress. A California federal jury concluded that the restaurant operator was 92.5 percent liable for the child’s injuries and nearly $6 million of the award (Hadley DeRuyver, et al. v. Omni La Costa Resort & Spa, et al., No. 17-00516, S.D. Calif.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Common-law recoveries for Jones Act seamen for injury and death have been limited by the U.S. Supreme Court in prior cases, the attorney representing a vessel owner and operator argued March 25 before the Supreme Court justices, seeking reversal of a Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruling that allowed a deckhand to pursue punitive damages in an unseaworthiness action (The Dutra Group v. Christopher Batterton, No. 18-266, U.S. Sup.).
CHARLOTTE, N.C. — A woman who sued Gwen Stefani in a North Carolina federal court after being injured at a 2016 concert when the pop star invited the audience seated in a lawn area to move closer to the stage reached a confidential settlement with Stefani on Feb. 12 (Lisa Keri Stricklin v. Gwen Stefani, et al., No. 17-00397, W.D. N.C.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — A vessel owner and operator fighting a finding that punitive damages may be available for unseaworthiness claims brought under general maritime law has based its theory on the incorrect premise that the Jones Act doesn’t allow for punitive damages and has failed to show that Miles v. Apex Marine Corp. requires a different finding, an injured deckhand argues in his Feb. 21 respondent brief (The Dutra Group v. Christopher Batterton, No. 18-266, U.S. Sup.).
DENVER — A Colorado federal judge on March 11 found that it is “irrefutable” that a Gold’s Gym membership agreement’s exculpatory provisions clearly reflect an intent to extinguish liability for a member’s premises liability claim and that her alleged back injuries from her attempt to use a broken rowing machine are the type of injuries contemplated by the agreement (AnneMichelle Johnson v. Gold's Gym Rockies, LLC, No. 18-0047, D. Colo., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 38069).
SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — A veterinarian failed to show that expert testimony was necessary to establish a standard of care for his industry, a Missouri appeals court concluded March 7 in affirming a $5 million jury award to a vet student who was injured while vaccinating calves unsupervised and without the animals being properly restrained (Jessica Wodohodsky v. Jerry Hall, et al., No. SD35228, Mo. App., Southern Dist., 2019 Mo. App. LEXIS 322).
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — A man who was wounded in the mass shooting in Aurora, Ill., sued the Illinois State Police on March 8, arguing that the law enforcement agency failed to follow its own procedures to keep firearms out of the hands of individuals with felony records (Timothy Williams v. Illinois, No. n/a, Ill. Clms.).
MIAMI — A Florida federal judge granted a cruise ship operator’s motion for summary judgment on Feb. 26, holding that a family could not prove that their toddler contracted salmonella while playing in the ship’s kiddie pool (William Tonelli, et al. v. NCL [Bahamas] Ltd., No. 17-23313, S.D. Fla., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 30220).
ATLANTA — The 11th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals reversed and remanded a ruling in favor of a hotel restaurant management company on March 4, concluding that the company had not proven that it owed no duty to a plaintiff who claimed that she fell on stairs because of a carpet pattern that created the optical illusion of a level floor (Billie Sanford, et al. v. Omni Hotels Management Corp., No. 18-11091, 11th Cir., 2019 U.S. App. LEXIS 6525).