NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. — A motorcyclist who lost his right arm and right leg after being hit by a vehicle that was illegally street racing was awarded $39 million on Jan. 31. The jury award followed a second trial in a New Jersey state court against the industrial business park where the racing took place (Hussein M. Agiz v. Heller Industrial Parks Inc., et al., No. MID-L-4520-13, N.J. Super.).
SEATTLE — A Washington jury awarded 38 plaintiffs approximately $123 million on Feb. 7 for injuries they sustained when an amphibious tour group vehicle known as a “duck boat” hit a bus on a Seattle bridge. The jury held Ride the Ducks International LLC primarily liable for the accident that killed five people and injured more than 55 (Phuong Dinh, et al. v. Ride the Ducks International LLC, et al., No. 15-2-28905-5, Wash. Super., King Co.).
LOS ANGELES — Boeing Co. and a California electric utility are liable for personal injuries and other damage caused by a wildfire known as the “Woolsey fire” for negligently failing to maintain their properties and heed warnings of high fire risk conditions, nearly 90 plaintiffs argue in a lawsuit filed Feb. 5 in state court (Leo LaPlante, et al. v. Southern California Edison, et al., No. 19-03419, Calif. Super., Los Angeles Co.).
SAN FRANCISCO — California residents sued PG&E Corp. in a state court on Jan. 28, alleging that the utility provider’s failure to maintain its aging infrastructure caused the “Camp Fire,” the deadliest wildfire in state history (Majesti Mai Bagorio, et al. v. PG&E Corp., et al., No. 19-554581, Calif. Super., San Francisco Co.).
CHICAGO — Allegations by a son that the former operators of a nursing home facility where his mother died in 2014 acted negligently were rejected Jan. 29 by an Illinois appellate court based on undisputed evidence that the defendants in question transferred operation of the nursing home to an unrelated third party two years before the accused conduct (William Harris v. Symphony Countryside LLC, et al., No. 16 L 6058, Ill. App., 1st Dist., 2019 Ill. App. Unpub. LEXIS 127).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — There are no punitive damages for unseaworthiness claims brought under general maritime law, a vessel owner and operator told the U.S. Supreme Court in its Jan. 22 petitioner brief (The Dutra Group v. Christopher Batterton, No. 18-266, U.S. Sup.).
NEW ORLEANS — A federal judge in Louisiana on Feb. 4 awarded summary judgment to BP Exploration & Production Inc. in a suit brought by a man who claimed exposure to dispersants during cleanup of the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico following the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig caused him to develop chronic conjunctivitis, sinusitis and other injuries, finding that the plaintiff failed to present any evidence on medical causation (Melvin Banegas v. BP Exploration & Production Inc., et al., No. 17-7429, E.D. La., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 17353).
NEW ORLEANS — A trial court properly allowed a Texas state trooper who witnessed and investigated a fatal tractor-trailer crash to offer expert opinions on the cause of the accident, a Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel determined Feb. 1 without reaching the question of whether “an accident investigator can serve as an expert at all” (Alexandro Puga, et al. v. RCX Solutions, Inc., No. 17-41282, 5th Cir., 2019 U.S. App. LEXIS 3346).
CHICAGO — A railroad conductor lost his bid to hold his employer responsible for an elbow injury when the Seventh Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Feb. 1 affirmed dismissal of his federal claims based on the proper exclusion of his causation expert, who contradicted himself in deposition and affidavit testimony (Jeffery A. Kopplin v. Wisconsin Central Limited, No. 17-3602, 7th Cir., 2019 U.S. App. LEXIS 3315).
TRENTON, N.J. — A New Jersey Supreme Court on Jan. 22 remanded an appeals panel’s ruling that refused to depart from its 2016 decision invalidating an arbitration clause in an agreement to participate at a trampoline park franchise, finding that reconsideration is warranted in light of a recent New Jersey high court ruling (Alexander Defina v. Go Ahead and Jump 1, LLC, et al., No. 081457, N.J. Sup., 2019 N.J. LEXIS 154).
ST. LOUIS — An expert’s opinions on the lifetime economic loss of a woman who was injured in a crash with a tractor-trailer are sufficiently reliable to be heard at trial, a Missouri federal judge held Jan. 25 in declining the trucker’s bid to exclude the opinions (Nicole Holloway v. Winkler, Inc., et al., No. 4:17-cv-2208, E.D. Va., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 12211).
ELGIN, Ill. — An Illinois appeals court affirmed summary judgment rulings to a pickle producer and a truck brokerage on Jan. 17, holding that they were not liable for injuries a woman sustained in a collision with a tractor-trailer that occurred after its load of cucumbers had been delivered (Derek Brettman, et al. v. M&G Truck Brokerage Inc., et al., No. 18-0236, Ill. App., 2nd Dist., 2019 Ill. App. LEXIS 24).
COLUMBUS, Ohio — An Ohio appeals court on Jan. 8 reinstated a couple’s claims against a hospital that performed blood draws on the wife for six months after informing her that equipment used to perform her surgery had not been sterilized. The fact that no infection or disease was detected was irrelevant to the claims, it pointed out (Rhonda Lukie, et al. v. Doctor’s Hospital, et al., No. 17AP-634, Ohio App., 10th Dist., 2019 Ohio App. LEXIS 21).
HARRISBURG, Pa. — A Pennsylvania Superior Court panel on Jan. 23 affirmed the dismissal of medical malpractice claims against several health care providers by a woman whose son was born with an injury to his right arm (Clare M. Rhoads, et al. v. Sandra E. Hoops, et al., No. 245 MDA 2018, Pa. Super., 2019 Pa. Super. Unpub. LEXIS 240).
AUSTIN, Texas — The Texas Supreme Court on Jan. 25 remanded a negligence action against a neurosurgeon for an appeals court to determine whether a widow presented sufficient testimony to support a jury’s $1.87 million award to her and her children for her husband’s death from aqueductal stenosis (Tracy Windrum, et al. v. Victor Kareh, No. 17-0328, Texas Sup., 2019 Tex. LEXIS 52).
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — The Missouri Supreme Court on Jan. 15 affirmed a $28.9 million award to a woman who claimed that the failure to timely diagnose and treat her rare genetic disorder resulted in paralysis and other injuries. But it reversed and remanded trial court rulings on the payment schedule and post-judgment interest that would have reduced the amount awarded (Emilee Williams v. Mercy Clinic Springfield Communities f/k/a St. John’s Clinic Inc., No. SC96547, Mo. Sup., 2019 Mo. LEXIS 4).
ATLANTA — The discretionary function exception to the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA) protected the federal government from claims brought by a civilian employee who was injured when her car was hit by a descending retractable barrier at a U.S. military base in Alabama, the 11th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals concluded Jan. 15, reversing a lower court ruling (Shannon Rutherford v. United States, No. 18-10625, 11th Cir., 2019 U.S. App. LEXIS 1271).
DES MOINES, Iowa — The Iowa Court of Appeals on Jan. 23 affirmed a jury verdict that found a utility company’s negligence did not cause a private airplane to crash after its wheels became caught on power lines. It rejected arguments on fault and comparative fault brought by the family of a passenger who died from burns sustained in the accident (Susan K. Morrison, et al. v. Grundy County Rural Electric Cooperative, No. 17-1001, Iowa App., 2019 Iowa App. LEXIS 66).
ST. PAUL, Minn. — A Minnesota appeals court on Jan. 14 affirmed a $4.75 million jury award to a driver who was hit by a rock that fell off an overloaded dump truck and crashed through his windshield. However, it also reversed and remanded for the lower court to determine whether punitive damages are warranted (Carney Lien v. Casper Construction, Inc., et al., No. A17-1994, Minn. App., 2019 Minn. App. Unpub. LEXIS 46).
HARTFORD, Conn. — A university and religious organizations that ran a school for boys in Haiti agreed on Jan. 25 to pay $60 million to settle claims that they allowed students to be sexually abused by an administrator who was later convicted and sent to prison. The plaintiffs seek approval of a class of at least 133 former students who were abused over a 10-year period (Gesner Lecenat, et al v. Douglas Perlitz, No. 13-01633 and 14-00668, D. Conn.).