Articles Posted in Personal Injury

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Plaintiff's petition for panel rehearing was granted an this superseding opinion was filed. This case related to tort claims brought by the tribe against a nonmember employed by the tribe. At issue was whether the tribal court has jurisdiction to adjudicate tribal claims against its nonmember employee, where the tribe's personnel policies and procedures manual regulated the nonmember's conduct at issue and provided that the tribal council would address violations by the nonmember during the course of her employment, and the tribal court and tribal judicial code were established and enacted after the nonmember left her employment with the tribe. The Ninth Circuit held that, under the circumstances presented here, the tribe has authority to regulate the nonmember employee's conduct at issue pursuant to its inherent power to exclude nonmembers from tribal lands. The panel also held that, in the alternative, the tribe has regulatory authority over the nonmember employee's conduct under both exceptions under Montana v. United States, 450 U.S. 544 (1981). Therefore, given the existence of regulatory authority, the sovereign interests at stake, and the congressional interest in promoting tribal self-government, the panel held that the tribal court had jurisdiction over the tribe's claims. View "Knighton v. Cedarville Rancheria of Northern Paiute Indians" on Justia Law

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In 2015, the San Francisco Sheriff issued a Memo establishing protocols and parameters for communications between Sheriff's Department employees and ICE. In this case, plaintiffs filed suit after an undocumented alien shot and killed plaintiffs' daughter after he was released from custody by the Sheriff's Department. After the shooting, ICE stated: "If the local authorities had merely notified [U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement] that they were about to release this individual into the community, ICE could have taken custody of him and had him removed from the country—thus preventing this terrible tragedy." The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal of plaintiffs' general negligence claim against the City defendants. The panel held that, while it deeply sympathized with plaintiffs, the question of discretionary immunity raised in this case was controlled by California law. The panel agreed with the district court that the issuance of the Memo was a discretionary act that was entitled to immunity under section 820.2 of the California Government Code. Therefore, the panel held that California law barred plaintiffs' negligence claim. The panel also held that the district court did not err in determining immunity on a motion to dismiss; the district court appropriately considered the Memo under the incorporation by reference doctrine; although 8 U.S.C. 1373(a) and 1644 prohibit restrictions on providing certain types of information to ICE, they plainly and unambiguously did not prohibit the restriction at issue in this case regarding release-date information; and, assuming the Sheriff's actions adversely affected ICE's ability to do its job, this did not without more strip him of the discretionary authority under California law to institute the policy that he did. The panel rejected plaintiffs' claims that the Memo was a legislative act; failure to provide ICE with the alien's release date violated the California Public Records Act; and the Memo violated California Health and Safety Code section 11369. Finally, the panel rejected plaintiffs' claims under local laws and held that plaintiffs waived their request for leave to amend. View "Steinle v. City and County of San Francisco" on Justia Law

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The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment in an action under the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA), alleging that a United States agency caused the death of plaintiff's father while plaintiff was a minor. The panel held that the Supreme Court's decision in United States v. Wong, 135 S. Ct. 1625 (2015), did not suggest, let alone hold, that minority tolling applied to the FTCA. The panel also held that minority tolling was a separate statutory matter from equitable tolling of FTCA. In this case, plaintiff's father died in a car accident on an Arizona highway just before plaintiff's tenth birthday. Plaintiff was fifteen years old when his mother filed an administrative claim and sixteen years old at the time she filed the lawsuit. The panel held that plaintiff's claims were time-barred. View "Booth v. United States" on Justia Law

Posted in: Personal Injury

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The borrowed employee doctrine applies to employees under the Longshore and Harbor Workers' Compensation Act. A maritime worker who has collected statutory workers' compensation for her injuries may not further recover against a borrowed employer. The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment for a general contractor in an admiralty action brought by an injured maritime worker. The panel held that the general contractor was immune from suit under the one recovery policy at the heart of the workers' compensation law. In this case, the maritime worker was the general contractor's borrowed employee where her work was subject to its direction and control at all times. Therefore, the maritime worker was barred from bringing tort claims against the general contractor. View "Cruz v. National Steel and Shipbuilding Co." on Justia Law

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Plaintiff alleged that her minor daughter, H.C., was returned to play as a goalie in a youth water polo league tournament after being hit in the face by the ball and while manifesting concussion symptoms, received additional hits to the head, and suffered severely debilitating post-concussion syndrome. She filed a putative class action against USA Water Polo, alleging negligence, breach of voluntary undertaking, and gross negligence. The Ninth Circuit reversed the dismissal of the action. With respect to the negligence claim, the court cited California’s “primary assumption of risk” doctrine, providing that an entity does not owe a duty of care where “conditions or conduct that otherwise might be viewed as dangerous . . . are an integral part of the sport itself” and concluded that secondary head injuries are not “inherent” to water polo, so Polo owed H.C. a duty of care. The court rejected an argument that it fulfilled that duty with the existence of its “Rules Governing Coaches’ Conduct,” applicable to all of its teams. Concerning the voluntary undertaking claim, the court held that Polo increased the risk of secondary concussions to players who improperly returned to pay, a risk that could be eliminated through the implementation of protocols already used by the national team. Concerning a gross negligence claim, the plaintiff adequately alleged that Polo repeatedly ignored the known risk of secondary injuries, and repeatedly ignored requests to implement concussion-management and return-to-play protocols. View "Mayall v. USA Water Polo, Inc." on Justia Law

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The Ninth Circuit reversed the district court's dismissal of plaintiffs' class action against cocoa bean companies, alleging the aiding and abetting of child slave labor that took place in the United States under the Alien Tort Statute (ATS). Plaintiffs are former child slaves who were forced to work on cocoa farms in the Ivory Coast. The district court dismissed the complaint based on its conclusion that the complaint sought an impermissible extraterritorial application of the ATS. In light of Jesner v. Arab Bank, 138 S. Ct. 1386 (2018), which changed the legal landscape on which plaintiffs constructed their case, the panel remanded to allow plaintiffs to amend their complaint to specify whether aiding and abetting conduct that took place in the United States is attributable to the domestic corporations. The panel held that the aiding and abetting conduct comes within the focus of the ATS and the ATS’s focus on torts committed in violation of the law of nations. The panel also held that a narrow set of specific domestic conduct was relevant to the ATS's focus. In this case, plaintiffs have alleged that defendants funded child slavery practices in the Ivory Coast. Specifically, plaintiffs alleged that defendants provided personal spending money outside the ordinary business contract and the money was given with the purpose of maintaining ongoing relations with the farms so that defendants could continue receiving cocoa at a price that would not be obtainable without child slave labor. Furthermore, defendants had employees from their United States headquarters regularly inspect operations in the Ivory Coast and report back to the United States offices, where these financing decisions or arrangements originated. View "Doe v. Nestle, S.A." on Justia Law

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State-law claims brought against the NFL by former professional football players were not preempted by section 301 of the Labor Management Relations Act (LMRA). In this case, a putative class of retired NFL players alleged that the NFL distributed controlled substances and prescription drugs to its players in violation of both state and federal laws, and that the manner in which these drugs were administered left the players with permanent injuries and chronic medical conditions. The Ninth Circuit reversed the district court's dismissal of the action, holding that the players' claims, as pled, neither arose from their collective bargaining agreements (CBAs) nor required their interpretation. View "Dent v. National Football League" on Justia Law

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The Ninth Circuit certified the following question of state law to the Supreme Court of Washington: Is party A (here the Port of Bellingham) liable as a premises owner for an injury that occurs on part of a leased property used exclusively by party B (here the Alaska Marine Highway System – the "Ferry") at the time of the injury, where the lease has transferred only priority usage, defined as a superior but not exclusive right to use that part of the property, to party B, but reserves the rights of party A to allow third-party use that does not interfere with party B's priority use of that part of the property, and where party A had responsibility for maintenance and repair of that part of the property? View "Adamson v. Port of Bellingham" on Justia Law

Posted in: Personal Injury

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In an action under maritime law, a boat owner filed suit against his friend, who was driving the boat when it crashed into a passenger ferry. After the friend died from his injuries, his wife filed suit against the owner and GGB, which owns the ferry. The owner filed a cross-claim against GGB and a counterclaim against the wife. The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of judgment as a matter of law to the owner. The panel applied maritime law and held that a boat owner who is a passenger on his boat has no duty to keep a lookout unless the owner-passenger knows that the person operating his boat is likely to be inattentive or careless or the owner-passenger was jointly operating the boat at the time of the accident. The panel also held that joint operation is not viewed over the course of the entire trip, but instead at the time immediately preceding and concurrent with the accident. View "Holzhauer v. Rhoades" on Justia Law

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The Ninth Circuit reversed the district court's dismissal based on lack of jurisdiction of plaintiff's complaint under the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA). Plaintiff sought damages suffered as a result of his removal from the United States in violation of this court's temporary stay of removal. The panel held that 8 U.S.C. 1252(g) did not deprive it of jurisdiction to hear the FTCA claims of a noncitizen who was wrongfully removed in violation of a court order. Therefore, the district court erred in holding otherwise. The panel held that a decision or action to violate a court order staying removal fell outside of the statute's jurisdiction-stripping reach. Even if the panel agreed that plaintiff's claims tangentially arose from the execution of his removal order, the panel would still retain jurisdiction because the Attorney General lacked the authority, and thus the discretion, to remove him. Finally, the panel rejected the government's alternative argument that plaintiff's claims were barred by the FTCA's foreign country exception. View "Arce v. United States" on Justia Law