WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — An April 8 class complaint by medical workers filed in a federal court in Florida accusing the Chinese Community Party (CCP) and People’s Republic of China (PRC) of causing them harm by “hoarding and stockpiling” and forbidding the export of personal protective equipment (PPE) in the wake of the novel coronavirus pandemic (Moriah Aharon, et al. v. Chinese Communist Party, et al., No. 20-80604, S.D. Fla.).
MIAMI — Celebrity Cruises Inc. has failed to follow basic safety precautions such as social distancing and mask wearing for crew members still aboard its ships and has instead allowed those workers to eat in buffet settings and participate in crew parties, all while knowing that the novel coronavirus likely was present on the ships, a crewmember who allegedly contracted COVID-19 while aboard Celebrity Apex alleges in an April 14 class complaint filed in a federal court in Florida (Alexandra Nedeltcheva, et al. v. Celebrity Cruises Inc., No. 20-21569, S.D. Fla.).
EAST ST. LOUIS, Ill. — A federal judge in Illinois on April 9 denied Walmart Inc.’s motion to dismiss wrongful death and survival action strict liability claims brought by the representatives of a woman who died in a house fire that was allegedly caused by a defective heat lamp used to prevent pipes from freezing, finding that seller exemption in products liability actions does not apply and that the retailer failed to show that it did not sell the product at issue (David Breeze, et al. v. Bayco Products Inc., et al., No. 19-CV-848-NJR, S.D. Ill., 2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 62460).
SEATTLE — Fox News and others moved April 14 to dismiss a complaint brought by a nonprofit group in a Washington state court, which accuses them of willfully and maliciously spreading false information that the novel coronavirus pandemic is a “hoax” or “conspiracy” and no more dangerous than the flu. The defendants argue that the statements at issue are constitutionally protected free speech that described efforts to politicize the pandemic (Washington League for Increased Transparency and Ethics v. Fox News et al., No. 20-2-07428-4, Wash. Super., King Co.).
SEATTLE — The daughter of a woman who died of COVID-19 at a Washington nursing home at the epicenter of the nation’s first wave of deaths from the disease on April 10 filed a wrongful death and fraud complaint against the owner and operator of the facility in state court, seeking “to discover the true causes and actions leading up to her mother’s wrongful death and to protect the thousands of employees and residents at Life Care Centers who may be at risk if Defendants do not make sweeping changes to their policies” (Deborah de los Angeles v. Life Care Centers of America, Inc., et al., No. 20-2-07689-9, Wash. Super., King Co.).
GULFPORT, Miss. — A plaintiffs’ expert in a personal injury suit against a forklift rental company placed a metal pin in the wrong spot in initial testing of the forklift but remedied the mistake in follow-up testing, a Mississippi federal judge found April 10 in excluding the expert’s first report but allowing his second (Dexter Jagneaux, et al. v. United Rentals [North America], Inc., No. 1:18-cv-186, S.D. Miss., 2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 62955).
NEW YORK — A transportation agency’s bid for summary judgment on two injured workers’ Federal Employers’ Liability Act (FELA) claims based on the unreliability of their expert witness fails because expert testimony is not required under FELA to establish causation and because the expert’s opinions in the case are at least partly admissible, a New York federal judge ruled April 6 (Thomas Blume, et al. v. Port Authority Trans-Hudson Corporation, No. 1:18-cv-12251, S.D. N.Y., 2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 60562).
CHICAGO — The brother of a longtime Walmart employee who died from COVID-19 complications filed suit in an Illinois state court on April 6 against the store and the operator of the shopping center where it is located. It is the state’s first-known wrongful death action connected to the novel coronavirus, according to the plaintiff’s attorney (Toney Evans v. Walmart Inc., et al., No. 2020-L-003938, Ill. Cir., Cook Co.).
CHICAGO — A nurse argues in her complaint filed in an Illinois state court on March 23 that she was fired by a hospital in retaliation for warning co-workers that the facemasks the facility distributed to protect them from the novel coronavirus were not as effective as the Particulate Respirator N95 facemask, which she wore to work instead (Lauri Mazurkiewicz v. Northwestern Memorial Hospital, et al., No. 2020-L-003511, Ill. Cir., Cook Co.).
LOS ANGELES — A couple who spent five days quarantined on a cruise ship off the coast of San Francisco sued Princess Cruise Lines Ltd. on March 13 in a California federal court for failing to tell them that passengers exposed to the novel coronavirus on a prior voyage had remained on board for their cruise (Brian Sheedy, et al. v. Princess Cruise Lines Ltd., No. 20-2430, C.D. Calif.).
NEW YORK — A mother who alleged that the failure of health care providers, including a federally funded facility, to properly treat her daughter’s esophageal and respiratory problems led to serious cognitive and physical injuries reached a $5 million settlement with the federal government. The agreement was filed in a New York federal court on March 25 (S.B., et al. v. United States, et al., No. 16-8038, S.D. N.Y.).
SEATTLE — Following a bench trial in a Washington federal court, a judge awarded the driver of an 18-wheeler $1.4 million on March 19 for injuries she sustained when a truck in a military convoy hit the back of her vehicle after she stopped due to another disabled vehicle on the highway (Anna Ream v. United States, No. 17-1141, W.D. Wash., 2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 47966).
CHICAGO — A security guard sued the hospital that employed him in an Illinois state court on April 2, arguing that he was constructively discharged for complaining about being told to stop wearing a facemask to protect himself from the novel coronavirus on the job (Marvell Moody v. Advocate South Suburban Hospital, No. 2020-L-003819, Ill. Cir., Cook Co.).
LOS ANGELES — A California appeals court on March 24 affirmed a trial court ruling that reduced a noneconomic damage award to the mother of a 4-year-old child who died from late-diagnosed malignant melanoma from $4.25 million to $250,000. It held that the statutory limitation on noneconomic damages applied in an action against two physician assistants who were nominally supervised by a doctor (Marisol Lopez v. Glenn Ledesma, et al., No. B284452, Calif. App., 2nd Dist., Div. 2, 2020 Cal. App. LEXIS 248).
WILMINGTON, N.C. — The federal government reached a $1 million settlement with the husband and son of a woman who died suddenly after being treated at a federally funded clinic. The administrator of the decedent’s estate moved for approval of the deal in a North Carolina federal court on March 25 (R. Dale Godfrey v. United States, No. 18-00035, E.D. N.C., Southern Div.).
SANTA MONICA, Calif. — A California jury awarded a man $8 million for past and future pain and suffering related to his exposure to pesticide chemicals sprayed by Terminix at a business adjacent to his workplace. After a judge entered final judgment on the award on March 16, the company moved for judgment notwithstanding the verdict on March 31 (Atlas Ferrera v. Terminix International Inc., et al., No. BC657474, Calif. Super., Los Angeles Co.).
LOS ANGELES — A California appeals court on April 2 vacated a $2.6 million award to a woman injured while performing a cheerleading stunt for a film. It remanded for a new trial against the production company, holding that the lower court should have instructed the jury on the primary assumption of risk doctrine (Kristin Elliott v. Connect the Dots Inc., et al., No. B290888, Calif. App., 2nd Dist., Div. 3, 2020 Cal. App. Unpub. LEXIS 2120).
JEFFERSON, N.C. — A North Carolina jury awarded $816,988 in economic and noneconomic damages to a man who maintained that delay in addressing complications of spinal surgery left him with permanent spinal cord damage, a plaintiff’s firm announced in a statement on March 10. The firm said the award was a record amount for the county (Lanny K. Ballou, et al. v. James C. Califf, et al., No. 17-24, N.C. Super., Ashe Co.).
WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — A Florida appeals court on April 1 affirmed the dismissal of claims against the employer of a security guard who shot and killed 49 people at the Pulse nightclub, saying his actions were outside of the company’s control (Asael Abad, et al. v. G4S Secure Solutions [USA] Inc., Nos. 4D18-2658 and 4D19-1064, Fla. App., 4th Dist., 2020 Fla. App. LEXIS 4359).
BOSTON — A Massachusetts appellate panel on April 2 held that an insurer’s unfair insurance settlement practices involving an underlying negligence lawsuit arising from a bar fight was “willful or knowing,” partially reversing a lower court and remanding for it to determine whether the amount of the judgment on all claims arising out of the present lawsuit and the underlying occurrence should be doubled or tripled pursuant to state law (Robert Chiulli vs. Liberty Mutual Insurance, Inc., No. No. 18-P-1288, Mass. App., 2020 Mass. App. LEXIS 32).