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).
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — A woman whose big toe was severed after it was caught in a defective escalator at an Arkansas mall was awarded $3 million on Dec. 14 against the mall owners and operators and the escalator maintenance company (Aisha Siddiqui v. ERMC II L.P., et al., No. 14-2014-4174, Ark. Cir., Pulaski Co., 2nd Div.).
WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. — A New York jury on Dec. 3 awarded $28 million to a former special education student who had been threatened, beaten and raped by other high school students and held the school district almost entirely responsible. The award is believed to be the largest physical and sexual assault jury verdict in New York state history, plaintiff’s attorney Jordan Merson said in a statement (Gloria G., et al. v. City School District of the City of Mount Vernon, et al., No 70026/2012, N.Y. Sup., Westchester Co.).
DENVER — A lower court should have focused its analysis on a locomotive engineer’s chair, not on its component parts, such as the adjustment mechanism, the 10th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals held Dec. 3, reversing the dismissal of a railroad engineer’s claims that he injured himself when he tried to adjust his seat (George W. Straub IV v. BNSF Railway Co., No. 17-1050, 10th Cir., 2018 U.S. App. LEXIS 33816).
HAMMOND, Ind. — While the driver of a tractor-trailer and his employer admitted liability for causing an accident when the tractor-trailer changed lanes without warning and hit a vehicle, an Indiana jury awarded the vehicle’s driver $1 million for his injuries against the defendants on Dec. 4 (Richard Spinnenweber v. Robert Laducer et al., No. 14-00101, N.D. Ind.).
CHICAGO — In a wrongful death lawsuit over the drowning death of a 6-year-old in an Illinois community park pool, a jury awarded the child’s estate $21.5 million on Dec. 4 against a day camp program provider and the pool operator (Andrzej Kolodziej v. Justice Park District, et al., No. 14-7775, Cook Co., Ill., Cir.).
DALLAS — A Texas jury awarded $25 million to the mother of a Dallas Cowboys’ practice squad player who died in a drunken driving accident and his estate Dec. 14. It held the decedent 4 percent liable and split the remaining liability between the friend who drove while intoxicated and the bar that continued serving them (Stacey M. Jackson, et al. v. Beamers Private Club, et al., No. 13-13245, Texas 191st Dist., Dallas Co.).
DENVER — A divided Colorado Supreme Court on Dec. 3 affirmed a lower court ruling that a recording of a stroke victim’s consultation with an attorney to discuss suing her chiropractor was not protected by attorney-client privilege because her parents sat in on the meeting (In Re Kayla Fox v. William Alfini Jr., et al., No. 18SA92, Colo. Sup., 2018 Colo. LEXIS 962).
DENTON, Texas — A Texas jury awarded nearly $4.8 million on Oct. 26 to a man who alleged that he sustained severe injuries to his wrist and arm from falling off a collapsing stepladder, concluding that a design defect and lack of warning about hazards related to the stepladder caused his fall (John DeVallee v. Werner Co., et al., No. 2011-40709-362, Texas 442nd Jud. Dist., Denton Co.).
MIAMI — A cruise ship passenger failed to persuade the 11th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals to revive his claims that crew members over-served him alcohol and failed to stop him from entering a restricted area of the ship and falling down an emergency exit hatch. The appeals court affirmed dismissal of the claims on Dec. 13 (Olivier Caron v. NCL [Bahamas] Ltd., No. 17-15008, 11th Cir., 2018 U.S. App. LEXIS 35012).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Supreme Court on Dec. 3 refused to review the dismissal of a wrongful death suit brought by the parents of a professional hockey player who died from a drug overdose. The couple maintained that the National Hockey League (NHL) was responsible for their son’s death because it failed to protect him from the dangers of concussions and allowed him to become addicted to painkillers (Len Boogaard, et al. v. National Hockey League, et al., No. 18-419, U.S. Sup.).
MIAMI — A Florida trial judge properly handled expert witness issues in a personal injury action over a fatal car crash, despite the standards of expert testimony admissibility being disputed in a pending Florida Supreme Court case, a state appeals court panel decided Dec. 12 (Hayes Robertson Group, Inc., et al. v. Timothy Christopher Cherry, et al., Nos. 3D18-106 and 3D17-2704, Fla. App., 3rd Dist., 2018 Fla. App. LEXIS 17907).
CINCINNATI — The Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Dec. 10 refused to reinstate an injunction halting paving work on a road granted to a woman with multiple chemical sensitivity, expressing doubt that she can succeed on her Americans with Disabilities Act claims without expert testimony, which was excluded by the trial court (Cynthia Madej, et al. v. Jeff Maiden, No. 18-4132, 6th Cir., 2018 U.S. App. LEXIS 34741).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Supreme Court on Dec. 7 granted a petition for writ of certiorari filed by a vessel owner and operator asking whether punitive damages may be awarded to a seaman on an unseaworthiness claim (The Dutra Group v. Christopher Batterton, No. 18-266, U.S. Sup.).