Articles Posted in Injury Law

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Plaintiffs, two prisoners housed at Taft Correction Institute, filed suit under the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA), 28 U.S.C. 1346, after they contracted coccidioidomycosis (cocci), alleging that the United States breached its duty to protect them from harm. Taft is the only federally-owned and contractor-operated prison in the country. The district court granted the government’s motions to dismiss for lack of subject-matter jurisdiction, Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(1), under the independent contractor exception to the FTCA. The court concluded that plaintiffs have met their burden to show that the independent contractor exception does not bar the district court’s subject matter jurisdiction under the FTCA. The government owed a duty of care to plaintiffs under California law, which generally assumes that landowners have a duty to exercise reasonable care in the ownership and management of property. In this case, the government’s duty was underscored by the special relationship that California recognizes between jailer and prisoner. The court concluded that the BOP’s duty to warn prisoners before transferring them to Taft arose outside of the scope of its contractor relationship with GEO/MTC, and therefore is not barred by the independent contractor exception. Furthermore, the BOP did not delegate all of its duties to GEO/MTC, even once prisoners arrived at Taft. Instead, it retained both the exclusive right to construct new buildings and the exclusive right to make modifications to existing buildings. The BOP also explicitly excluded its contractors from participating in the development of a cocci prevention policy. As to these claims, the independent contractor exception to the FTCA does not bar the district court’s exercise of subject matter jurisdiction. Accordingly, the court reversed and remanded. View "Edison v. United States" on Justia Law

Posted in: Injury Law

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After James McIndoe died from complications related to mesothelioma, McIndoe's legal heirs filed suit against defendants, arguing that McIndoe’s exposure to asbestos-containing materials aboard their ships contributed to his death. The district court granted defendants' motions for summary judgment. The court agreed with the district court that McIndoe’s heirs cannot sustain an action for strict products liability premised upon the notion that the warships in question are themselves “products” under maritime law. The court also concluded that, although plaintiffs have established that there was a genuine issue of fact as to whether McIndoe was exposed to asbestos-containing materials originally installed upon such ships, plaintiffs have established no genuine issue of fact regarding whether any such exposure was a substantial factor in McIndoe’s injuries. Therefore, plaintiffs cannot prevail on their general negligence claims. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment. View "McIndoe v. Huntington Ingalls Inc." on Justia Law

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Lien Claimants attempted to collect on valid judgments they hold against Iran for their injuries arising out of terrorism sponsored by Iran. Lien Claimants seek to attach a $2.8 million judgment that the Ministry obtained in an underlying arbitration with an American company, Cubic. The district court granted Lien Claimants’ motion to attach the Cubic Judgment. The court held that the United States does not violate its obligations under the Algiers Accords by permitting Lien Claimants to attach the Cubic Judgment. The court also held that the Cubic Judgment is a blocked asset pursuant to President Obama’s 2012 Executive Order No. 13359 subject to attachment and execution under the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act (TRIA), 28 U.S.C. 1610 note. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment. View "The Ministry of Defense v. Frym" on Justia Law

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Three masked intruders entered plaintiff's home, fatally shooting her husband and daughter, and shooting plaintiff in the arm. Plaintiff and her surviving daughter filed suit alleging that the United States is liable under the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA), 28 U.S.C. 1346(b)(1), 2680(a), for damages arising out of the attack because the FBI negligently failed to disclose the information about the impending home invasion to local law enforcement, in contravention of the Attorney General’s Guidelines for Domestic FBI Operations. The district court granted the United States' motion to dismiss. The court concluded that the FBI’s decision whether or not to disclose information regarding potential threats is discretionary; the district court did not abuse its discretion in denying discovery; the FBI’s decision whether to disclose information is the type of decision that Congress intended to shield from FTCA liability; and the design-implementation distinction does not apply to permit suit against the government in this case. Therefore, the district court properly concluded that the government satisfied both prongs of the discretionary function exception. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment. View "Gonzalez v. United States" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs, four groups of individuals, hold separate judgments obtained in U.S. courts against the Republic of Iran, based on various terrorist attacks that occurred between 1990 and 2002. The state-sponsored exception to the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act (FSIA), 28 U.S.C. 1330, abrogated a foreign sovereign's immunity from judgment, but not its immunity from collection. Thus, terrorism victims had a right without a meaningful remedy. Section 201(a) of the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act (TRIA), Pub L. No. 107-297, 201(a), and 28 U.S.C. 1610(g) addressed this loophole. Section 201 allowed victims to satisfy such judgments through attachment of blocked assets of terrorist parties and Section 1610(g) extended the TRIA’s abrogation of asset immunity to funds that were not blocked. The court agreed with the Second Circuit that it is “clear beyond cavil that Section 201(a) of the TRIA provides courts with subject matter jurisdiction over post-judgment execution and attachment proceedings against property held in the hands of an instrumentality of the judgment-debtor, even if the instrumentality is not itself named in the judgment.” Further, section 1610(g) makes unmistakably clear that whether or not an instrumentality is an alter ego is irrelevant to determining whether its assets are attachable. Therefore, section 201 of the TRIA and section 1610(g) permit victims of terrorism to collect money they’re owed from instrumentalities of the state that sponsored the attacks. Nothing in the text of the FSIA, Rule 19 or the Supreme Court’s retroactivity cases compels a different result. The district court correctly denied Bank Melli’s motion to dismiss and the court affirmed the judgment. View "Bennett v. Bank Melli" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs alleged in five separate tort cases that they, or the deceased individuals they represent, suffered from pancreatic cancer due to their use of incretin-based therapies for diabetes, including those developed by Defendant Merck and other defendant drug companies. Merck removed to federal court under the Class Action Fairness Act, 28 U.S.C. 1332(d)(11)(A), (B), and plaintiffs moved to remand the cases. The district court denied the motions for remand and subsequent motions for reconsideration. The court held, however, that plaintiffs' petitions for permission to appeal removal to federal court were timely because a timely motion for reconsideration of an order denying or granting a motion for remand under 28 U.S.C. 1453(c)(1) restarts the ten-day period during which a party may file a petition for permission to appeal. The court further held that in none of the five cases did plaintiffs propose that the claims of one hundred or more persons be tried jointly and therefore, the cases do not constitute a mass action under CAFA. Accordingly, the court reversed and remanded with instructions to grant plaintiffs' motions to remand. View "Briggs v. Merck Sharp & Dohme" on Justia Law

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Robert Boardman was attacked by a male goat while hiking in the Olympic National Forest. The goat gored Boardman's leg with its horns and severed his femoral artery. Boardman died of the wound and Park officials subsequently destroyed the goat hours after the attack. Plaintiff, on her own behalf and as representative of Boardman's estate, filed suit against the Service under the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA), 28 U.S.C. 2674, alleging that Park officials breached their duty of reasonable care by failing to destroy the goat in the years leading up to Boardman’s death. Under step one of the two-step process for evaluating whether a claim falls within the discretionary function exception, the court concluded that the government's actions in this case are discretionary in nature. In this case, there was no extant statute, regulation, or policy directive that required Park officials to destroy the goat prior to Boardman’s death. Further, Park officials had discretion in deciding how to manage the problematic goat. Under step two of the discretionary function analysis, the court concluded that the discretionary function applies because the decision to use non-lethal methods to manage the goat was susceptible to policy analysis. Accordingly, the court affirmed the district court's dismissal of the claim based on lack of subject matter jurisdiction under the FTCA. View "Chadd v. United States" on Justia Law

Posted in: Injury Law

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Plaintiffs, the three surviving children of Rose Coats, filed suit against Chrysler, contending that Chrysler is liable for the deaths of Rose and her husband under the theories of strict liability, negligent design and failure to warn, negligence, and wrongful death. The district court granted summary judgment to Chrysler. The court found that genuine issues of material fact exist as to whether a “false park” defect in the Coats’ Grand Caravan caused the deaths of Roy and Rose Coats. The court also found that the district court incorrectly applied the relevant substantive law. Therefore, the court reversed the summary judgment order of the district court and remanded for further proceedings. The court also vacated the award of costs. View "Pavoni v. Chrysler Group" on Justia Law

Posted in: Injury Law

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Nathan Stoliar was convicted and sentenced for crimes related to fraudulent schemes involving the false generation of renewable fuel credits under United States law, false representations regarding the type of fuel being sold, and the export of biodiesel without retiring or purchasing renewable energy credits adequate to cover the exported amount as required under United States law. Canada filed a petition for restitution from Soliar but the district court denied the order. This is a petition for a writ of mandamus filed pursuant to the Crime Victims' Rights Act (CVRA), 18 U.S.C. 3771. Because a petitioner seeking restitution under the CVRA must also rely on a substantive restitution statute, Canada sought restitution pursuant to the Mandatory Victims Restitution Act (MVRA), 18 U.S.C. 3663A(a)(1), (c)(1). The court concluded that Canada's claim for restitution is based on events that are insufficiently related to the schemes set forth in the indictment and the facts supporting Stoliar's guilty plea. Accordingly, the court denied the petition for a writ of mandamus. View "Her Majesty the Queen in Right of Canada v. U.S. District Court for the District of Nevada" on Justia Law

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In 2013, Plaintiffs filed an action against the Boeing Company and Landau Associates (Landau) in a Washington state court alleging that from the 1960s to the present years Boeing released toxins into the groundwater around its facility in Auburn, Washington and that for over a decade Landau, Boeing’s environmental-remediation contractor, had been negligent in its investigation and remediation of the pollution. Based on these allegations, Plaintiffs asserted state law claims of negligence, nuisance, and trespass. Boeing removed the action to a federal district court based on diversity jurisdiction and the Class Action Fairness Act (CAFA). The district court remanded the case to state court, concluding (1) contrary to Boeing’s allegations, Landau was not fraudulently joined, and thus there was not complete diversity; and (2) Plaintiffs’ action came within the local single event exception to CAFA federal jurisdiction. The Ninth Circuit vacated and remanded, holding (1) the district court correctly determined that Boeing failed to show that Landau was fraudulently joined; but (2) Plaintiffs’ action does not come within the local single event exception to CAFA, and therefore, the district court has federal jurisdiction under CAFA. Remanded. View "Allen v. Boeing Co." on Justia Law