Articles Posted in Personal Injury

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The Fourth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of WTVR's motion for a directed verdict in a defamation action. Plaintiff filed suit against WTVR after it aired a news story about a county school system hiring a felon, in this case plaintiff, that lied about a prior criminal conviction on a job application. The court held that plaintiff was a public official, the allegedly defamatory statements related to her official conduct, and thus she was required to prove that WTVR acted with actual malice to succeed on her claim. Furthermore, the district court did not err in concluding that plaintiff presented insufficient evidence that WTVR made the defamatory statements with actual malice. Finally, the district court did not abuse its discretion in denying plaintiff's pre-trial motion to compel WTVR to disclose the identity of its confidential source where she did not provide a sufficiently compelling interest in the identity of the source to overcome competing First Amendment concerns. View "Horne v. WTVR, LLC" on Justia Law

Posted in: Personal Injury

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Optometrists across the country noticed that Chase Amazon Visa credit card accounts had been fraudulently opened in their names, using correct social security numbers and birthdates. The victims discussed the thefts in Facebook groups dedicated to optometrists and determined that the only common source to which they had given their personal information was NBEO, where every graduating optometry student submits personal information to sit for board-certifying exams. NBEO released a Facebook statement that its “information systems [had] NOT been compromised.” Two days later, NBEO stated that it had decided to further investigate. Three weeks later, NBEO posted “a cryptic message stating its internal review was still ongoing.” NBEO advised the victims to “remain vigilant in checking their credit.” Victims filed suit under the Class Action Fairness Act, 28 U.S.C. 1332(d)(2). The district court dismissed for lack of standing. The Fourth Circuit vacated. These plaintiffs allege that they have already suffered actual harm in the form of identity theft and credit card fraud; they have been concretely injured by the use or attempted use of their personal information to open credit card accounts without their knowledge or approval. There is no need to speculate on whether substantial harm will occur. The complaints contain allegations demonstrating that it is both plausible and likely that a breach of NBEO’s database resulted in the fraudulent use of the plaintiffs’ personal information. View "Hutton v. National Board of Examiners in Optometry, Inc." on Justia Law

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Lipitor, a pharmaceutical drug, is prescribed to lower patients’ “bad” cholesterol and triglycerides. Plaintiffs, more than 3,000 women, claim that they developed diabetes as a result of taking Lipitor. The Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation consolidated the lawsuits for pretrial proceedings. The parties agreed on four bellwether cases. Plaintiffs enlisted general experts, to testify that there was a causal association between Lipitor and diabetes; specific experts, to testify that Lipitor proximately caused the onset of diabetes in the bellwether plaintiffs; and an expert biostatistician, who concluded that taking Lipitor led to a statistically significant increased risk of diabetes. Plaintiffs also sought to introduce internal Pfizer emails, information from Lipitor's labeling, a statement in Lipitor's FDA New Drug Application, and information from the Lipitor website. Citing Federal Rule of Evidence 702, the court excluded the opinions of the statistician; the general causation expert, except relating to a specific dosage; and the specific causation opinions. The rulings left the plaintiffs without their bellwether cases, limited to a subset of patients who had taken an 80 mg dose. The court issued show-cause orders asking whether any plaintiff could submit evidence that would enable her claim to survive summary judgment given prior rulings. Some plaintiffs submitted evidence showing only that they were not diabetic before taking Lipitor, that they were diagnosed with diabetes after taking Lipitor, and that they lacked certain risk factors that might make them especially likely to develop the disease. After the court rejected the evidence, the plaintiffs unsuccessfully argued that the cases ought to be returned to their transferor district courts for individual resolution on the issue of specific causation. The Fourth Circuit affirmed summary judgment for the defendants. View "Plaintiffs Appealing Case Management Order 100 v. Pfizer, Inc." on Justia Law

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The Fourth Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal of plaintiff's defamation suit against her employer, Remedi, in an action alleging that a coworker engaged in crude, baseless, and ignorant speculation about the reasons for plaintiff's absence from work to undergo a medical procedure. The court held that the coworker's statement, while offensive and odious, would not support an action against Remedi under Virginia law because a company cannot be held liable for employee statements made outside the scope of employment. View "Garnett v. Remedi SeniorCare of Virginia" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed suit against GBMC, seeking to recover funds to Medicare and to collect for herself under the Medicare Secondary Payer Act, 42 U.S.C. 1395y, which authorizes a private cause of action for double damages where a recalcitrant payer "fails" to reimburse Medicare. Sixteen days after plaintiff filed the federal suit, GBMC paid her $403,722.24, which represented the amended final judgment amount plus post-judgment interest. The Fourth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of GBMC's motion for summary judgment, holding that, although plaintiff was injured when GBMC was obligated under law to pay for her medical care but did not, GBMC did not fail to reimburse plaintiff because its payment was well within plaintiff's proposed deadline. View "Netro v. Greater Baltimore Medical Center, Inc." on Justia Law

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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