CHARLESTON, S.C. — An expert for a woman suing a plastic surgeon for allegedly botching her facelift is sufficiently qualified and offers reliable opinions, a South Carolina federal judge ruled Feb. 20 in refusing to exclude the expert and denying the surgeon’s bid for summary judgment (Shaan Schaeffer v. Heidi D. Williams, MD, LLC, No. No. 2:18-cv-1532, D. S.C., 2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 29131).
JERSEY CITY, N.J. — A New Jersey appeals court panel on Jan. 13, in a case it noted was one of first impression, affirmed a trial court’s decision ordering an employer to reimburse an employee for his use of medical marijuana for chronic pain due to a work-related accident and affirmed the court’s finding that the employee is permanently partially disabled (Vincent Hager v. M&K Construction, No. A-0102-18T3, N.J. Super., App. Div., 2020 N.J. Super. LEXIS 4).
BOSTON — A federal judge on Feb. 13 awarded a Massachusetts restaurant summary judgment in a trip-and-fall case involving a revolving door after finding that an expert for the plaintiff provided no admissible evidence that the door malfunctioned (Marjorie Joan Donahoe v. Maggiano’s Holding Corporation, No. 1:18-cv-10230, D. Mass., 2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 25153).
PHILADELPHIA — The widow of a union laborer who drowned after falling through an uncovered hole into Philadelphia’s Delaware River reached a $10.5 million settlement with the general contractor of a pier renovation project, her attorneys announced Jan. 9 (Kimberly Bolden-Johnson v. Agate Construction Co. Inc., No. 1066, Pa. Comm. Pls., Philadelphia Co.).
SANTA ANA, Calif. — The entry of a defense judgment following a jury award to the family of a skier who died after colliding with a snowboarder was “unconventional,” a California appeals court said; however, it affirmed the ruling on Feb. 5, citing the decedent’s signed liability release and the absence of a finding of gross negligence by the ski resort (Grant Tuttle, et al. v. Heavenly Valley L.P., No. G05642, Calif. App., 4th Dist., Div. 3, 2020 Cal. App. Unpub. LEXIS 814).
BROOKLYN, N.Y. — A New York federal jury awarded a railroad conductor $1.9 million on Feb. 3 for injuries he sustained to his elbow while trying to open a locomotive cab door, which ended his ability to work as a conductor (Kenneth Grosso v. Long Island Rail Road Co., No. 13-03545, E.D. N.Y.).
ANNAPOLIS, Md. — A mother who had her son’s remains cremated without informing health care providers whom she later sued for medical malpractice did not engage in spoliation of evidence, the Maryland Court of Special Appeals concluded Jan. 29. It affirmed a jury award of $740,000 to the mother of the man, who died after surgery to reverse his colostomy (Adventist Healthcare Inc., et al. v. Susan M. Mattingly, No. 2104, Md. Spec. App., 2020 Md. App. LEXIS 70).
MCALESTER, Okla. — An Oklahoma jury awarded a total of $20 million on Jan. 28 to the families of two oil rig workers who died in an oil rig explosion. However the jury held the only remaining defendant at trial, a company that monitored the drilling fluid pressure, 10 percent liable for the accident, reducing the award to $1 million for each family (Charles Levi Brite, et al. v. National Oilwell Varco L.P., et al., No. CJ-18-90 and Sarah Ray, et al. v. National Oilwell Varco L.P., et al., No. CJ-18-91, Okla. Dist., Pittsburg Co.).
AUSTIN, Texas — The Texas Supreme Court on Jan. 31 reinstated summary judgment on all claims to the owner of a bull that got loose and was hit by a pickup truck, injuring the driver. The state high court concluded that an appeals court erred in applying conflicting standards for livestock owner liability (Shary Pruski v. Joshua Garcia, No. 18-0953, Texas Sup., 2020 Tex. LEXIS 50).
MOUNT VERNON, Ill. — A truck stop owner was not responsible for injuries a waitress who worked at a restaurant onsite received when she was hit in the head by an industrial-sized roll of toilet paper while entering a public restroom stall at the property, an Illinois appeals court held Jan. 27. Accordingly, it vacated a more than $560,000 jury award against the defendant (Reona Pearson v. Pilot Travel Centers LLC, No. 5-18-0505, Ill. App., 5th Dist., 2020 Ill. App. LEXIS 37).
BROOKLYN, N.Y. — Eighty-three former members of NXIVM, a purported self-help organization, sued the leaders of the organization on Jan. 28 in a New York federal court, alleging that they were sexually, physically, psychologically and financially abused for years. A federal investigation led to the conviction of the group’s leader in 2019 (Sarah Edmondson, et al. v. Keith Raniere, et al., No. 20-CV-485, E.D. N.Y.).
LAFAYETTE, La. — A Louisiana jury awarded $4.37 million on Jan. 28 to a man who was seriously injured when a tractor-trailer truck rear-ended his vehicle while he was stopped in traffic on an interstate highway (James Michael Hall v. Landstar Ranger Inc., et al., No. 6:18-00410, W.D. La.).
CINCINNATI — An Ohio federal jury awarded $1,621,500 on Jan. 29 to a patient who alleged that a spine surgeon performed unnecessary surgery on her without informed consent while his surgical privileges were suspended. It awarded the estate of a second patient $150,000 for similar claims against the surgeon, who fled the United States in 2013 (Christopher Atwood, et al. v. Abubakar Atiq Durrani, M.D., et al., 1:16-00593, S.D. Ohio).
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Following a bench trial, a Tennessee federal judge awarded $15.1 million on Jan. 28 to a 15-year-old boy who suffered severe oxygen deprivation during his birth, citing the failure of health care providers at a military base hospital to appropriately counsel his mother about the risk of attempting to have a vaginal birth after cesarean (VBAC) (A.J.J.T., et al. v. United States, No. 3:15-01073, M.D. Tenn., 2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 13903).
DENVER — A railway worker who was injured while checking the contents of railcars failed to show that the workplace provided by his employer violated the Federal Employers Liability Act (FELA), a 10th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel ruled Feb. 5, rejecting the worker’s claim that his employer was required to provide the safest possible workplace (George M. Ezell v. BNSF Railway Company, No. 19-6018, 10th Cir., 2020 U.S. App. LEXIS 3472).
OKLAHOMA CITY — A reinsurer in Feb. 5 motion asks an Oklahoma federal court for entry of a default against a telecommunications company and one of the company’s employees in a declaratory judgment action concerning coverage for an underlying personal injury lawsuit arising out of a vehicular collision because the parties failed to respond to the summons (Star Insurance Co. v. K&J Telecommunications, LLC, et al., No. 19-960, W.D. Okla.).
RICHMOND, Va. — A trial court properly struck affidavit statements by an expert as contradictory in a medical malpractice case against a nursing home and correctly awarded the home summary judgment for lack of evidence that the death of a woman with Alzheimer’s disease was caused by poor care at the home, the Fourth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals held Jan. 15 (John Walter Riggins v. SSC Yanceyville Operating Company, LLC, et al., No. 18-2191, 4th Cir., 2020 U.S. App. LEXIS 1367).
PHOENIX — An Arizona panel in a Jan. 28 unpublished opinion affirmed a lower court’s denial of a motion to compel arbitration in a negligence case against a nursing home, finding that claims related to a resident’s death after falling out of her wheelchair while being transported back to her room did not a constitute a “medical malpractice” dispute that would fall under the arbitration clause in the admissions agreement her son signed (Leonard Bernardo v. Windsor Palm Valley LLC, No. 19-0197, Ariz. App., Div. 1, 2020 Ariz. App. Unpub. LEXIS 86).
ROCKFORD, Ill. — An Illinois jury awarded $1.5 million on Dec. 17 to the guardian and mother of a man with Down syndrome who sued his pediatrician for failing to diagnose her son’s years of severe constipation as Hirschsprung’s disease (Deanna D. Williams v. Rockford Health Physicians, et al., No. 2016 L 162, Ill. Cir., Winnebago Co.).
VAN NUYS, Calif. — A California jury awarded an elderly woman $5.5 million on Jan. 15 for injuries she sustained while living at an elder care facility, which included fracturing her neck in a fall. It is the largest verdict of its kind in Van Nuys, Calif., history, according to the plaintiff’s attorney (M. Sherril Phillips, et al. v. AvantGarde Senior Living LLC, No. 19STCV11501, Calif. Super., Los Angeles Co.).