Articles Posted in Personal Injury

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The Court of Appeals reversed the order of the Appellate Division granting summary judgment for Defendant in this products liability action, holding that Defendant failed to carry its burden on summary judgment that the industrial "coke ovens" located in the decedent's workplace were not "products" for purposes of strict products liability such that Defendant did not have a duty to warn of their harmful nature. The decedent worked as a coke oven "lid man" for almost thirty years. A coke oven burns coal at high temperatures to create coke, a fuel formerly used in the production of steel. The decedent's estate commenced this action alleging that the decedent's cancer was proximately caused, at least in part, by his exposure to the coke oven emissions at Defendant's plant. Supreme Court denied Defendant's motion for summary judgment, concluding that coke ovens were products and thus subjected Defendant to strict liability as a products manufacturer. The Appellate Division reversed, concluding that a coke oven did not constitute a product for purposes of Plaintiff's products liability causes of action. The Court of Appeals reversed, holding that coke ovens are products within the broader context of common-law principles of assigning a legal duty to warn. View "Matter of Eighth Judicial District Asbestos Litigation" on Justia Law

Posted in: Personal Injury

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In this case concerning a manufacturer's liability for a design defect where the allegedly defective products came into the injured end user's hands through the rental market, the Court of Appeals held that the jury instructions incorporating a "rental market" theory espoused by Plaintiff's expert were misleading and incompatible with governing precedent. In Scarangella v. Thomas Built Buses, 93 NY2d 655 (N.Y. 1999), the Court of Appeals recognized an exception to the general rule of strict products liability for design defects where the manufacturer offers a product with an optional safety device and the purchaser chooses not to obtain it. Plaintiff in this case alleged that a Bobcat S-175 "skid-steer" loader rented and operated by the decedent was defectively designed because it did not incorporate an optional door kit. The loader came into the decedent's hands through the rental market rather than by a purchase transaction. The jury rendered a verdict for Plaintiff. The Appellate Division affirmed, concluding that the "rental market" distinction was a limitation to this Court's holding in Scarangella. The Court of Appeals reversed, holding that a "rental market" exclusion from the Scarangella exception is not appropriate, and Plaintiff's expert's rental market theory was improperly incorporated into the strict products liability instruction charged to the jury. View "Fasolas v. Bobcat of N.Y., Inc." on Justia Law

Posted in: Personal Injury

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In this personal injury case, the Court of Appeals affirmed the order of the Appellate Division reversing Supreme Court's denial of Defendant's motion for summary judgment, holding that the requisite showing of minimum contacts with New York was lacking. Plaintiffs commenced this personal injury action against several defendants, including the defendant at issue in this appeal, an Ohio firearm merchant who sold a gun to an Ohio resident in Ohio that was subsequently resold on the black market and used in a shooting in New York. Defendant moved for summary judgment, asserting a defense of lack of personal jurisdiction. Supreme Court denied the motion. The Appellate Division reversed and dismissed the complaint as against Defendant. The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding that, in the absence of minimum contacts, New York courts may not exercise personal jurisdiction over Defendant. View "Williams v. Beemiller, Inc." on Justia Law

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In this complaint alleging that Defendants were responsible for causing Mason South’s mesothelioma, from which he died, the Court of Appeals affirmed the Appellate Division's decision affirming Supreme Court’s denial of Chevron Corporation’s motion for summary judgment, holding that the record was insufficient to demonstrate the effectiveness of a release South signed when he settled a 1997 lawsuit he filed against Texaco Inc. and other defendants based on his exposure to asbestos. South worked shipboard as a merchant marine for almost forty years. In 1997, South and hundreds of other plaintiffs filed lawsuits against Texaco and other defendants. Texaco reached a settlement with South and other plaintiffs, and South executed a release. Two decades later, South and his wife filed this lawsuit seeking to recover for South’s asbestos-related disease resulting from his asbestos exposure shipboard. In denying Chevron’s motion for summary judgment, Supreme Court determined that the record did not meet Chevron’s heightened burden under the Federal Employers’ Liability Act and admiralty law to demonstrate that the release foreclosed the claims in the instant lawsuit. The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding (1) Chevron had the burden to prove the 1997 release’s viability; and (2) the record was insufficient to demonstrate the effectiveness of the release as a matter of law. View "In re New York City Asbestos Litigation" on Justia Law

Posted in: Personal Injury

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The Court of Appeals affirmed the decision of the Appellate Division affirming the decision of the Workers’ Compensation Board that Claimant was entitled to 275 weeks of additional compensation due to an arm he received during the course of his employment under Workers’ Compensation Law WCL 15(3)(v) (paragraph v), holding that awards for additional compensation are not subject to the durational limits contained in WCL 15(3)(w) (paragraph w). Paragraph v permits certain permanently partially disabled workers who have exhausted their schedule awards to apply for additional compensation. Claimant did just that and was awarded additional compensation. On appeal, Claimant argued that paragraph v incorporates only paragraph w’s formula for calculating the weekly payment amount and not paragraph w’s durational component setting forth the number of weeks that sum is paid. The Court of Appeals disagreed and affirmed, holding that under the plain language of paragraph v, additional compensation awards are calculated pursuant to the formula and durational provisions of paragraph w. View "Mancini v. Services" on Justia Law

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The Court of Appeals held that whether an absolute privilege applies to a communication made in the course of a quasi-judicial proceeding depends on the status of the subject of the communication. New York Downtown Hospital terminated the employment of Plaintiff, a medical scientist, and removed her as chairperson of the hospital’s Institutional Review Board. Dr. Steven Friedman’s statements to the FDA during an investigation of Downtown Hospital’s IRBs about Plaintiff, which discussed the reasons for the removal of Plaintiff from her positions, were published in an Establishment Inspection Report (EIR) released by the FDA. Plaintiff commenced this defamation action against Downtown Hospital, Friedman, and others, asserting that her professional reputation was damaged by the publication of defamatory statements about her made by Friedman to the FDA inspectors. Defendants filed a motion to dismiss. Supreme Court allowed Plaintiff’s defamation claim against Downtown Hospital and Friedman to survive, concluding that the statements were not shielded by an absolute privilege because the FDA’s investigation had none of the indicia of a quasi-judicial proceeding. The Appellate Division reversed, concluding that the complained-of statements were made in a quasi-judicial context in which an absolute privilege protected them. The Court of Appeals reversed, holding that Friedman’s statements, as published in the EIR, were not protected by absolute privilege. View "Stega v. New York Downtown Hospital" on Justia Law

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A court must offset a retired New York City police officer’s projected accident disability retirement (ADR) benefits against the injured retiree’s jury award for both future lost earnings and pension. Plaintiff, a retired police officer who was injured on duty, filed a personal injury action against Defendants. The jury found Defendants responsible for the accident and awarded Plaintiff a set amount for past and future lost earnings and future loss of pension. Defendants moved to offset the jury award pursuant to N.Y. C.P.L.R. 4545, which permits a court to find that certain awarded damages will, with a reasonable certainty, be replaced or indemnified from a collateral source. Supreme Court denied the motion. The Appellate Division granted Defendants’ motion to offset the award for future pension benefits by the total amount of Plaintiff’s projected ADR benefits and otherwise affirmed Supreme Court’s denial of an offset for Plaintiff’s future lost earnings. The Court of Appeals affirmed as modified, holding (1) the Appellate Division erred in holding that ADR benefits could not be offset against lost earnings and incorrectly applied the entire amount of Plaintiff’s projected ADR benefits against the future lost pension; and (2) therefore, recalculation of the offset to future lost earnings and pension is warranted. View "Andino v. Mills" on Justia Law

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The Court of Appeals affirmed the order of the Appellate Division affirming the final judgments awarding damages in favor of Plaintiff in this personal injury action filed against the State. Plaintiff was injured and her husband was killed when the couple’s motorcycle collided with a pickup truck in an intersection. Plaintiff sought damages, alleging that the accident was the result of the improper design of the intersection, an excessive speed limit, and inadequate signage. On remittal, the Court of Claims found that the lack of a four-way stop sign was a proximate cause of the accident. The Appellate Division affirmed. The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding (1) there was record support for the finding that the State’s breach was a proximate cause of the accident; and (2) the trial court did not err in declining to apportion some fault to the driver of the pickup truck. View "Brown v. State" on Justia Law

Posted in: Personal Injury

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The three-year statute of limitations set forth in N.Y. C.P.L.R. 214(2) applies to no-fault claims against a self-insurer. Girtha Butler sustained personal injuries in a motor vehicle accident involving a New York City Transit Authority (Defendant) bus in which she was a passenger. Plaintiff provided health services to Butler for her injuries, and Butler assigned to Plaintiff her right to recover first-party benefits from Defendant, who was self-insured. Plaintiff then brought this action seeking reimbursement for allegedly outstanding invoices it had submitted to Defendant. Defendant moved to dismiss the complaint based on Plaintiff’s failure to bring the action within the three-year statute of limitations under N.Y. C.P.L.R. 214(2). Civil Court denied the motion, ruling that the six-year statute of limitations set forth in N.Y. C.P.L.R. 213(2) controlled this case. The Court of Appeals reversed, holding that the three-year period of limitations in N.Y. C.P.L.R. 214(2) should control this case. View "Contact Chiropractic, P.C. v. New York City Transit Authority" on Justia Law

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A plaintiff does not bear the burden of establishing the absence of their own comparative negligence in order to obtain partial summary judgment in a comparative negligence case. After commencing this negligence action against the City of New York, Plaintiff moved for partial summary judgment on the issue of the City’s liability. Supreme Court denied the motion, concluding that there were triable issues of fact regarding foreseeability, causation, and Plaintiff’s comparative negligence. The Appellate Division affirmed, holding that Plaintiff was not entitled to partial summary judgment on the issue of liability because he failed to make a prima facie showing that he was free of comparative negligence. The Court of Appeals reversed, holding that to be entitled to partial summary judgment, a plaintiff does not bear the double burden of establishing a prima facie case of the defendant’s liability and the absence of his or her own comparative fault. View "Rodriguez v. City of New York" on Justia Law

Posted in: Personal Injury