Justia Government & Administrative Law Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Personal Injury
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Cecil Bristow suffered from a chronic lung disease, COPD, and attributed it to coal-mine dust from years of working in coal mines. An administrative law judge and the Benefits Review Board agreed with Bristow and awarded him benefits. Bristow's most recent employer, Energy West Mining Company, petitioned the Tenth Circuit for judicial review of the Board's decision, and the Tenth Circuit denied the petition, finding the Board did not err in upholding the administrative law judge's award of benefits. View "Energy West v. Bristow" on Justia Law

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Defendant-Appellant Donald J. Trump and Movant-Appellant the United States of America appealed from a district court’s judgment denying their motion to substitute the United States in this action pursuant to the Westfall Act of 1988. On appeal, Appellants argued that substitution is warranted because the President of the United States is a covered government employee under the Westfall Act, and because Trump had acted within the scope of his employment when he made the allegedly defamatory statements denying Plaintiff-Appellee’s 2019 sexual assault allegations.   The Second Circuit reversed the district court’s holding that the President of the United States is not an employee of the government under the Westfall Act. And the court vacated the district court’s judgment that Trump did not act within the scope of his employment, and certified that question to the D.C. Court of Appeals.   The court certified the following question: Under the laws of the District, were the allegedly libelous public statements made, during his term in office, by the President of the United States, denying allegations of misconduct, with regards to events prior to that term of office, within the scope of his employment as President of the United States? View "E. Jean Carroll v. Donald J. Trump" on Justia Law

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The United States District Court for the District of Oregon certified two questions of law to the Oregon Supreme Court. Plaintiff, through a conservator, brought this action after he suffered catastrophic brain damage at the hands of his mother’s boyfriend. Plaintiff alleged that those injuries were caused by the failure of defendants— Jefferson County, Jefferson County Deputy Sheriff Anderson, and Warm Springs Police Department Officer Aryanfard— to respond to an earlier report of child abuse in the manner that Oregon law required. Specifically, plaintiff alleged he had suffered abuse from the boyfriend a month earlier, that medical personnel had reported those injuries to defendants, and that defendants had negligently failed to take certain actions required by Oregon statutes that governed the reporting of child abuse. Plaintiff also alleged a claim under Oregon’s Vulnerable Person Act, ORS 124.100-124.140, which created a statutory private right of action for enhanced damages against a person who has caused, or “permitt[ed] another person to engage in,” financial or physical abuse of a vulnerable person. Before any litigation of plaintiff’s factual allegations, the parties identified two unresolved questions about the meaning of the Oregon statutes on which plaintiff had based his claims, and the district court certified two questions: (1) whether a claim for Abuse of a Vulnerable Person under ORS § 124.100 et seq., was available against public bodies; and (2) whether a violation of Oregon’s mandatory child abuse reporting law serve as a basis for statutory liability. With respect to Oregon’s Vulnerable Person Act, the Supreme Court concluded that a claim under that act was available against a public body, through the Oregon Tort Claims Act (OTCA), when the claim is based on the acts or omissions of officers, employees, or agents of the public body acting within the scope of their employment or duties. With respect to the "statutory liability," the Court concluded that the Oregon legislature did not intend to create a statutory private right of action to address violations of the duties that the child-abuse-reporting statutes plausibly may have imposed on defendants in this case: duties that apply to law enforcement agencies that have received, and personnel who are investigating, an existing report of child abuse. View "E. J. T. v. Jefferson County" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the court of appeals concluding that Claimant's claim for disability benefits was not barred by res judicata and that the Workers' Compensation Board misconstrued the reopening statute, Ky. Rev. Stat. 342.125(1)(d) and (2), holding that the court of appeals did not err.In 2017, Claimant received a work-related injury, and an administrative law judge (ALJ) awarded her temporary total disability benefits. In 2019, Claimant alleged a worsening of her condition, and her claim was reopened pursuant to section 342.125(1)(d). An ALJ awarded Claimant permanent partial disability benefits and future medical benefits. The Board reversed, holding that the ALJ's original decision was supported by substantial evidence and therefore was res judicata. The court of appeals reversed, concluding that the Board misconstrued section 342.125 and erred in its res judicata analysis. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that nothing in the plain language of section 342.125 precludes reopening of a temporary disability award. View "Lakshmi Narayan Hospitality Group Louisville v. Jimenez" on Justia Law

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Appellants Patricia Flores and Angelica Sanchez appealed after the trial court granted summary judgment in favor defendant City of San Diego (the City). Flores and Sanchez sued the City for wrongful death and negligence, respectively, in connection with the death of William Flores, who was operating a motorcycle that was the subject of a police vehicle pursuit when he crashed and was killed. The City moved for summary judgment on the ground that it was immune from liability under the grant of immunity provided for in Vehicle Code section 17004.7. The Court of Appeal concluded that the vehicle pursuit policy training required by section 17004.7 had to meet certain basic standards that were set forth in California Code of Regulations, title 11, section 1081, as adopted by the Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training (the POST Commission), including an annual one-hour minimum time standard set out in that regulation, before a governmental entity was entitled to immunity under the statute. "Not only did the City fail to present undisputed evidence that the training it provided in the year prior to the incident at issue met the annual one-hour standard, but the City failed to dispute the fact, put forth by appellants, that the training implemented by the City comprised a single video of less than half the required one-hour duration." In the absence of training that met the standards imposed by Regulation 1081, as required by section 17004.7, the City was not entitled to immunity under that statute, as a matter of law. Summary judgment in favor of the City was therefore erroneously granted, and the judgment had to be reversed. View "Flores v. City of San Diego" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the decision of the appellate court affirming the judgment of the trial court concluding that Defendant's allegedly defamatory statements about Plaintiff made during a hearing before the Greenwich Planning and Zoning Commission were entitled to statutory immunity, holding that the appellate court erred.Plaintiff brought this defamation action seeking to recover damages for injuries he claims to have sustained as a result of Defendant's alleged defamatory statements. The trial court granted Defendant's motion to dismiss, concluding that it did not have jurisdiction over Plaintiff's claims because the statements Defendant made about Plaintiff at the commission's hearing were entitled to absolute immunity because the hearing constituted a quasi-judicial proceeding. The appellate court affirmed. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) a hearing on a special permit application before a town's planning and zoning commission is not quasi-judicial in nature; and (2) therefore, the appellate court erroneously determined that Defendant's statements were entitled to absolute immunity. View "Priore v. Haig" on Justia Law

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Certiorari was granted in this case to resolve a split in the decisions of the Louisiana courts of appeal regarding the relationship between La. C.C.P. art. 425 and the res judicata statutes, La. R.S. 13:4231 and 13:4232. Particularly, the Supreme Court considered whether Article 425 was an independent claim preclusion provision apart from res judicata such that identity of parties was not required to preclude a subsequent suit, or whether Article 425 merely referenced the requirements of res judicata and thus a claim could not be precluded unless it was between the same parties as a prior suit. After reviewing the law and the arguments of the parties, the Louisiana Supreme Court found Article 425 functioned simply as a measure that put litigants on notice at the outset and, during the course of litigation, all causes of action arising out of the transaction or occurrence that is the subject matter of the litigation must be asserted. "Rather than have independent enforcement effect, Article 425 operates in tandem with and is enforced through the exception of res judicata. Because Article 425 is enforced through res judicata, all elements of res judicata–including identity of parties–must be satisfied for a second suit to be precluded." View "Carollo v. Louisiana Dept. of Transportation & Development" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the district court finding that the exclusivity provisions of the Nebraska Workers' Compensation Act (the Act), Neb. Rev. Stat. 48-101 to 48-1,117 barred the claim of an employee of the Nebraska Department of Correctional Services that the Department violated the Nebraska Fair Employment Practice Act (NFEPA), Neb. Rev. Stat. 48-1101 to 48-1125, holding that the district court lacked jurisdiction over the employee's NFEPA action.Plaintiff was injured while participating in mandated self-defense training and sought and received workers' compensation benefits from the time she was injured. After Plaintiff was unable to find a position with the Department that would accommodate her physical restrictions she brought this action against the Department for wrongful termination on the basis of her disability, in violation of NFEPA. The district court granted summary judgment for the Department on the basis of the exclusivity provisions of the Act barred Plaintiff's NFEPA claim as a matter of law. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the district court correctly determined that it lacked jurisdiction over Plaintiff's NFEPA claim. View "Dutcher v. Nebraska Dep't of Correctional Services" on Justia Law

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Wong was a former patient of a mental health service provider at the Veterans Home called Pathway; in 2018 he went to the facility armed and dressed for combat and took hostage three Pathway employees. After exchanging fire with a Napa County Sheriff’s deputy, Wong shot and killed his hostages and then killed himself. Family members of the victims filed wrongful death actions naming multiple defendants, including the California Department of Veterans and related state defendants), Napa County, the Sheriff’s Office, and Deputy Lombardi.The trial court dismissed the Napa County defendants from two of the wrongful death actions, finding that the plaintiffs failed to allege facts establishing a duty of care. The court of appeal affirmed. Oeace officers owe a duty to act reasonably when using deadly force, but the plaintiffs fail to allege facts showing that this duty encompassed an obligation to prevent Wong from shooting his hostages. The alleged connections between Lombardi’s actions and Wong’s crimes are little more than speculation. Allegations regarding Lombardi’s conduct at the crime scene do not show that he had a special relationship with the hostages. View "Golick v. State of California" on Justia Law

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Claimant Caitlyn Wittenauer, appealed a New Hampshire Compensation Appeals Board (CAB) decision denying her workers’ compensation benefits. In 2019, Claiming injured her left shoulder lifting boxes at her job with Nike, Inc. An MRI disclosed that her “left shoulder was dislocated, with the ball joint out of place.” She received corrective surgery on December 17, 2019, followed by months of physical therapy treatments. On April 21, 2020, the claimant’s treating physician approved her return to full-time work with restrictions on lifting. She returned to work at Nike in May. The claimant received temporary total disability benefits beginning October 16, 2019, and ending May 4, 2020. On September 3, 2020, the claimant reported to her treating physician that her shoulder was feeling stiff and she was experiencing pain “when she tries to do anything overhead.” He limited her work to five hours a day with no other restrictions. On September 25, the claimant complained of pain in the left side of her neck, and her treating physician took her out of work. On November 19, the physician reported that his examination of the claimant did not demonstrate “any overt shoulder instability” and noted that the shoulder was “really significantly better since surgery and really no evidence of any gross instability.” claimant sought temporary partial disability benefits for the period September 4, 2020 to September 25, 2020, and temporary total disability benefits beginning September 26, 2020. The CAB ruled that the claimant did not meet her burden of proving by a preponderance of the evidence “that the medical treatments starting on 9/3/2020 and out of work order by [the treating physician] [was] causally related to the work injury on 8/15/2019.” On appeal, the claimant argues that the CAB erred: (1) by placing a burden upon her to demonstrate another work incident occurring between her return to work in May 2020 and her second onset of disability in September 2020; and (2) in failing to analyze and make findings as to whether her disability in September 2020 was due at least in part to the work injury she suffered in August 2019. The New Hampshire Supreme Court's review of the record supported the CABs determination. Accordingly, judgment was affirmed. View "Appeal of Wittenauer" on Justia Law