Articles Posted in Personal Injury

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Purnell hired Plaintiffs (Gabarette and Castillo) as independent contractors to deliver furniture in Virginia. Because it was a last-minute request, Plaintiffs did not have a vehicle available, so Purnell permitted them to use a truck that Purnell had rented from Penske. Driving to their destination, Plaintiffs stopped on the side of the interstate so Castillo could check on the security of the furniture load. Another driver struck the rented truck, killing Castillo and injuring Gabarette. Purnell’s motor vehicle insurance policy, issued by Wausau, included an uninsured/underinsured motorists (UIM) endorsement required by Virginia law, with coverage limited “to those autos shown as covered autos.” For UIM coverage—as opposed to liability coverage—the policy restricted coverage to “Owned Autos Only” and listed three vehicles on the “Schedule of Covered Autos You Own,” not including the rented Penske truck. The Declarations Pages provided that Wausau would “pay in accordance with the Virginia Uninsured Motorists Law, all sums the insured is legally entitled to recover as damages from the owner or operator of an uninsured motor vehicle.” For UIM purposes, an insured party is “[a]nyone . . . occupying a covered auto.” The UIM endorsement defines “covered auto” as “a motor vehicle, or a temporary substitute, with respect to which the bodily injury or property damage liability coverage of the policy applies.” The district court granted Wausau summary judgment regarding UIM coverage. The Fourth Circuit affirmed, based on the plain language of the policy. View "Levine v. Employers Insurance Co. of Wausau" on Justia Law

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After sustaining serious internal injuries in a personal watercraft (PWC) accident, plaintiff filed suit against the manufacturers of the PWC (Yamaha). On appeal, plaintiff argued that the district court erred in requiring expert testimony on her claims and in failing to conduct an appropriate Daubert analysis before excluding her expert's testimony. The Fourth Circuit held that the district court did not abuse its discretion when it excluded the expert's inadequate warning opinion and the district court properly concluded that the PWC's warnings were adequate as a matter of law. In this case, plaintiff based her claims of strict liability, negligence, and breach of warranties on theories of warning and design defects. The Fourth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment for Yamaha on all claims because the record was devoid of admissible evidence on either theory of defect. View "Hickerson v. Yamaha Motor Corporation, U.S.A." on Justia Law

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After sustaining serious internal injuries in a personal watercraft (PWC) accident, plaintiff filed suit against the manufacturers of the PWC (Yamaha). On appeal, plaintiff argued that the district court erred in requiring expert testimony on her claims and in failing to conduct an appropriate Daubert analysis before excluding her expert's testimony. The Fourth Circuit held that the district court did not abuse its discretion when it excluded the expert's inadequate warning opinion and the district court properly concluded that the PWC's warnings were adequate as a matter of law. In this case, plaintiff based her claims of strict liability, negligence, and breach of warranties on theories of warning and design defects. The Fourth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment for Yamaha on all claims because the record was devoid of admissible evidence on either theory of defect. View "Hickerson v. Yamaha Motor Corporation, U.S.A." on Justia Law

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The Fourth Circuit denied the Fund's petition for review of a decision awarding black lung benefits to a former coal miner. The court held that the ALJ's determination was supported by substantial evidence and the miner was eligible for benefits under the Black Lung Benefits Act. In this case, because the miner had developed a totally disabling respiratory impairment after working in underground coal mines for over fifteen years, it could be presumed that he suffered from pneumoconiosis arising from his coal-mine employment. Furthermore, the miner's employer could not rebut that presumption. View "West Virginia CWP Fund v. DOWCP" on Justia Law

Posted in: Personal Injury

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The Fourth Circuit denied the Fund's petition for review of a decision awarding black lung benefits to a former coal miner. The court held that the ALJ's determination was supported by substantial evidence and the miner was eligible for benefits under the Black Lung Benefits Act. In this case, because the miner had developed a totally disabling respiratory impairment after working in underground coal mines for over fifteen years, it could be presumed that he suffered from pneumoconiosis arising from his coal-mine employment. Furthermore, the miner's employer could not rebut that presumption. View "West Virginia CWP Fund v. DOWCP" on Justia Law

Posted in: Personal Injury

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The Fourth Circuit affirmed the denial of Westmoreland's petition for review of the Board's final decision and order granting federal disability benefits to plaintiff, a retired coal miner, under the Black Lung Benefits Act, 30 U.SC. 901 et seq. The court held that substantial evidence supported the ALJ's decision and order to award plaintiff benefits and the decision otherwise accords with applicable law. In this case, plaintiff timely brought his claim; given the array of evidence presented, substantial evidence supported the ALJ's calculation of plaintiff's smoking history; the ALJ did not err in rejecting Dr. Rosenberg's opinion regarding the ability to show particularized causation; and the ALJ did not reversibly err in concluding that Westmoreland failed to carry its "strict" and "substantial" burden to completely rule out coal dust exposure as a cause of plaintiff's disability. View "Westmoreland Coal Co. v. Stallard" on Justia Law

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The Fourth Circuit affirmed the MDL court's partial summary judgment award and denial of plaintiff's motion to reconsider. Plaintiff filed suit against Boston Scientific, alleging that the transvaginal mesh product that the company manufactured injured her and that Boston Scientific failed to warn of risks associated with the mesh. Plaintiff joined an MDL and then lost her failure to warn claim at summary judgment. After the case was transferred to a district court for trial on the remaining claims, plaintiff moved to reconsider the summary judgment award based on evidence that she failed to cite during summary judgment briefing in the MDL court. The district court denied the motion and plaintiff subsequently lost at trial. The Fourth Circuit could not say that the MDL court erred in its summary judgment ruling based on the evidence plaintiff cited in opposition to summary judgment. The Fourth Circuit explained that the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure require parties to cite all evidence in support of their positions at summary judgment. Finally, the district court did not abuse its discretion by denying the motion to reconsider despite plaintiff’s citation to additional excerpts of plaintiff's treating phsysician's deposition establishing that he reviewed and was familiar with the Directions for Use (DFU). View "Carlson v. Boston Scientific" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed suit against defendants, alleging that they forced her to provide labor in violation of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 (TVPA), 18 U.S.C. 1589. Specifically, plaintiff alleged six claims of involuntary servitude and illegal trafficking stemming from her work as a live-in housemaid to defendants. The district court granted summary judgment to defendants. Drawing all reasonable inferences in favor of plaintiff, the court agreed with the district court's determination that plaintiff's evidence was insufficient to satisfy the requirements of the forced labor statute and that defendants were entitled to summary judgment as a matter of law. In this case, plaintiff failed to develop sufficient evidence upon which a jury could reasonably conclude that defendants knowingly forced or coerced her to come to the United States, or to remain in their employ against her will, by means of serious psychological harm or abuse of law or legal process, when she otherwise would have left and returned to her home country of Kenya. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment. View "Muchira v. Al-Rawaf" on Justia Law

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Howard and Nancy Nease filed a products liability suit against Ford, alleging that Howard sustained serious injuries in an accident caused by a design defect in the speed control system of his 2001 Ford Ranger pickup truck. The jury awarded plaintiffs over $3 million in damages. The district court denied Ford's post-trial motions. The court concluded that the expert testimony of Samuel Sero regarding the speed control cable should not have been admitted. The court explained that Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals, Inc. applies to Sero's testimony and the district court did not perform its gatekeeping duties with respect to Sero’s testimony. In this case, Sero’s testimony should have been excluded under Daubert because it was unsupported. Without any other expert testimony to establish that the 2001 Ford Ranger was defectively designed and that there were safer alternative designs available that a reasonably prudent manufacturer would have adopted, the court concluded that the Neases cannot prove their case under West Virginia law. Accordingly, the court reversed and remanded for entry of judgment in Ford's favor. View "Nease v. Ford Motor Co." on Justia Law

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Plaintiff and her husband filed a products liability suit against Ethicon after she experienced complications from the implantation of a transvaginal mesh medical device. On appeal, Ethicon challenges the denial of its post-trial renewed motion for judgment as a matter of law or, in the alternative, for a new trial. The court affirmed the judgment, concluding that the district court did not commit reversible error where plaintiffs offered sufficient evidence to sustain the jury's general verdict for plaintiffs on their design defect, failure to warn, and loss of consortium claims. In this case, the district court did not err by excluding evidence of the FDA's section 510(k) evaluation process; excluding the FDA Advisory Committee evidence; and excluding evidence of the Prolene suture's regulatory history. View "Huskey v. Ethicon, Inc." on Justia Law