CHICAGO — An Illinois jury on Dec. 12 awarded $7 million to the estate of a veteran suffering from posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) who died after jumping out of a moving ambulance en route to a psychiatric treatment facility (Christopher Stein v. Franciscan Alliance Inc., et al., No. 15-4732, Ill. Cir., Cook Co.).
NEW YORK — After a jury in a New York state court on Dec. 4 awarded $85 million to a man who was hit by a double-decker sightseeing bus, he reached a confidential settlement with the driver and the owners and operators of the bus tours in New York City (Devan J. Sipher v. Twin America LLC, et al., No. 160740/15, N.Y. Sup., New York Co.).
MIAMI — A Florida federal judge on Dec. 18 threw out a $433,000 jury award to a cruise passenger who fell while skating on the ship’s ice rink. The judge held that no evidence was presented from which a reasonable juror could conclude that the cruise line knew or should have known about the uneven ice and a broken skate lace that together created a hazardous condition (Edgardo Lebron v. Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd., No. 16-24687, S.D. Fla., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 212718).
JACKSON, Tenn. — The Tennessee Court of Appeals on Dec. 17 affirmed a $4.5 million award to a railroad employee who was crushed by a container being lifted off a truck by a crane. The lower court properly refused to grant the railroad a new trial on the issue of whether the brakes on the truck had been set, it concluded (Lisa A. Boyd v. BNSF Railway Co., No. 2017-02189, Tenn. App., 2018 Tenn. App. LEXIS 736).
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — A New Mexico federal judge on Jan. 11 partly excluded expert witness testimony for a woman in her personal injury car crash suit, finding that while allowing testimony to describe what “hedonic damages” are to the jury is proper, permitting the expert to actually calculate the value of the woman’s life is not (Shirley J. Walker, v. Gregory J. Spina, et al., No. 17-0991, D. N.M., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 5275).
MIAMI — School and law enforcement officials had no constitutional duty to protect students from a shooter who killed 17 students and teachers at a high school in Parkland, Fla. A federal judge on Dec. 12 dismissed nearly all the students’ claims but allowed allegations that a school official illegally searched a student’s backpack the morning of the shooting to move forward (L.S., et al. v. Scot Peterson, et al., No. 18-61577, S.D. Fla., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 210273).
CHICAGO — An Illinois appellate court on Dec. 19 reversed the dismissal of claims against an Uber driver who kicked two passengers out of his vehicle before reaching their destination, which allegedly led to them being hit by a second driver as they walked home. It was premature to hold during the pleadings stage that the Uber driver’s conduct played no role in the plaintiffs’ injuries, the court held (Sean Kramer, et al. v. John Szczepaniak, et al., No. 1-17-1411, Ill. App., 1st Dist., 3rd Div., 2018 Ill. App. LEXIS 970).
SAN JOSE, Calif. — Apple Inc. was not responsible for the fact that a driver was using the FaceTime application on his iPhone when he hit a vehicle stopped on a Texas highway, seriously injuring three family members and killing a child, a California appeals court affirmed Dec. 14 (Bethany Modisette, et al. v. Apple Inc., No. H044811, Calif. App., 6th App. Dist., 2018 Cal. App. LEXIS 1158).
NEW ORLEANS — The Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals rejected on Dec. 18 the argument that a smartphone text message notification triggers a “neurobiological compulsion” to read it, saying Texas law had yet to recognize the device’s effect on its user as a cause of injury. It affirmed the dismissal of claims brought against Apple Inc. by plaintiffs who alleged that a driver who caused a fatal accident had been reading a text (Kimberly Meador, et al. v. Apple Inc., No. 17-40968, 5th Cir., 2018 U.S. App. LEXIS 35431).
MADISON, Wis. — A Wisconsin federal judge on Dec. 28 limited expert testimony for the maker of a skiing helmet in a couple’s product liability action after finding that some of the experts’ opinions were too speculative, then denied the company’s bid for summary judgment, saying there are genuine disputes about the fit of the helmet and whether it was properly designed (Steven Scott Rogers, et al. v. K2 Sports, LLC, et al., No. 17-cv-534, W.D. Wis., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 217233).
MIAMI — A Florida appeals court on Dec. 28 gave plaintiffs until Jan. 18 to file post-opinion motions in a case in which the court found a talc supplier’s contacts with the state too minimal for jurisdiction (Imerys Talc America Inc., et al. v. Judith Ricketts, et al., No. 4D17-3815, Fla. App., 4th Dist.).
DENVER — A train engineer cannot maintain a personal injury action against his railway employer because his expert lacks a reliable methodology for his opinions, and the claims cannot stand without expert causation testimony, the 10th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals held Dec. 27 in affirming a grant of summary judgment to the railway (Terry Schulenberg v. BNSF Railway Company, No. 18-6003, 10th Cir., 2018 U.S. App. LEXIS 36546).
NEW ORLEANS — Nine days after directing a small tug boat company to produce certain cell phone data in a lawsuit over an employee’s death, a Louisiana federal magistrate judge on Dec. 19 clarified that the parties will share the costs associated with this discovery and extended the deadline for compliance with the previous order (Anne Dufrene v. American Tugs Inc., et al., No. 2:18-cv-00554, E.D. La., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 207803).
NEWARK, N.J. — A New Jersey man filed a complaint on Dec. 7 in state court seeking uninsured motorists (UIM) and personal injury protection (PIP) benefits from the New Jersey Property Liability Insurance Guaranty Association (NJPLIGA) (Jose Risco v. De Andrade Filho, et al., No. ESX-L-008659-18, N.J. Super., Essex Co.).
NEWARK, N.J. — A woman alleges in a Dec. 5 complaint in a New Jersey trial court that she is entitled to personal injury benefits, medical expense benefits and uninsured (UM) or underinsured (UIM) from the New Jersey Property Liability Insurance Guaranty Association (NJPLIGA) (Minerva Martinez v. Jose Castaing, et al., No. ESX-L-008549-18, N.J. Super., Essex Co.).
JERSEY CITY, N.J. — In coverage dispute regarding a personal injury settlement that an insolvent insurer was unable to pay, a lower court failed to apply the correct legal standard in its denial of an insurer’s motion to vacate a default judgment of $16,641.79, a New Jersey appeals panel held Dec. 7 (Rosanna Gomez v. Liberty Mutual Fire Insurance Co., No. A-4231-16T3, N.J. Super., App. Div., 2018 N.J. Super. Unpub. LEXIS 2683).
DENVER — The 10th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Dec. 14 affirmed summary judgment for a jet maker in a personal injury action filed by two passengers who were injured in a crash after finding no abuse of discretion in the trial court’s exclusion of testimony by four experts for the injured men (James Rodgers, et al. v. Beechcraft Corporation, et al., No. 17-5045, 10th Cir., 2018 U.S. App. LEXIS 35028).
FRANKFORT, Ky. — The Kentucky Supreme Court reinstated a trial court’s judgment in favor of a hospital sued for medical malpractice, holding that that an empty-chair defendant, a physician who settled before trial, must be treated the same as any other defendant. However, while the hospital’s motion for a directed verdict was erroneous, the error was harmless, it concluded Dec. 13 (Jewish Hospital & St. Mary’s Healthcare Inc. v. Barbara House, et al., No. 2017-SC-000440, Ky. Sup., 2018 Ky. LEXIS 584).
RALEIGH, N.C. — The North Carolina Court of Appeals ordered a new trial on noneconomic damages, concluding on Dec. 4 that the trial court erred in allowing a jury to award damages for pain and suffering in medical malpractice litigation that resulted in a total award of more than $6 million to a decedent’s estate (Estate of Anthony Lawrence Savino v. Charlotte-Mecklenburg Hospital Authority, No. 17-1335, N.C. App., 2018 N.C. App. LEXIS 1172).
DALLAS — A highway authority had no actual knowledge of a dangerous condition caused by a light pole that fell across the road until alerted by a call after it fell, approximately one minute before a driver collided with it, a Texas appeals court said Dec. 6, affirming a ruling in favor of the authority (Azhar S. Zaidi, et al. v. North Texas Tollway Authority, No. 05-17-01056, Texas App., 5th Dist., 2018 Tex. App. LEXIS 10072).