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Case Summaries

Injury & Tort Law

[04/26] Salvati v. The American Ins. Co.
In an insurance dispute involving the issue of whether the plaintiff in a wrongful death action, who reached a settlement with the defendants and their primary insurance carrier, can recover the amount exceeding the primary policy limits from the defendants' excess insurer, the district court's grant of defendant's motion to dismiss, on grounds that the settlement agreement did not trigger the excess policy because the agreement was not accompanied by a court judgment, is affirmed on alternate grounds, where plaintiff has not presented a plausible argument that the settlement agreement triggered the excess insurer's duty to indemnify.

[04/25] Lewis v. Clarke
In a personal injury suit brought against an employee of a tribal casino, who was involved in an auto accident while acting in the scope of his employment, the Supreme Court of Connecticut's judgment granting defendant's to dismiss for lack of subject-matter jurisdiction is reversed where: 1) in a suit brought against a tribal employee in his individual capacity, the employee, not the tribe, is the real party in interest and the tribe's sovereign immunity is not implicated; and 2) an indemnification provision cannot, as a matter of law, extend sovereign immunity to individual employees who would otherwise not fall under its protective cloak.

[04/21] General Refractories Co v. First State Insurance Co.
In a dispute involving the rightful allocation of asbestos-related losses under thirty-year-old excess insurance policies, and to decide which of two companies, a historical manufacturer of asbestos-containing products and its insurer, will bear costs associated with a staggering number of asbestos claims, the district court's judgment that the policy is ambiguous is reversed where the phrase 'arising out of' asbestos, when used in a Pennsylvania insurance exclusion, unambiguously requires 'but for' causation.

[04/21] Kwan v. SanMedica Int'l
In a suit alleging that defendants made claims concerning its product, SeroVital, that were unsubstantiated, the district court's ed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6) dismissal of plaintiff's second amended complaint is affirmed where: 1) pursuant to the holding in National Council Against Health Fraud, Inc. v. King Bio Pharmaceuticals, Inc., 107 Cal. App. 4th 1336, 1344 (Cal. App. 2003), the panel held that the district court did not err in concluding that neither the Unfair Competition Law nor the Consumer Legal Remedies Act provided plaintiff with a private cause of action to enforce the substantiation provisions of California's unfair competition and/or consumer protection laws; and 2) the district court did not err in concluding that the second amended complaint failed to allege facts that would support a finding that defendants' claims regarding its product, SerioVital, were actually false.

[04/20] In re Tronox Inc.
In an appeal of a district court order enforcing a permanent anti?suit injunction issued after a bankruptcy settlement, involving the toxic tort claims of than 4,300 individuals who allege significant injuries from the operation of a wood?treatment plant in Avoca, Pennsylvania between 1956 and 1996, the appeal is dismissed for lack of jurisdiction where the claims are barred by the injunction because they are generalized 'derivative' claims that fall within the property of the bankruptcy estate.

[04/19] Camerano v. US
In a wrongful death action lawsuit arising out of a fall decedent suffered while on a 'respite/nursing stay' at a facility operated by defendant, a federal entity under the purview of the United States Public Health Service, the district court's grant of summary judgment is affirmed where the two-year limitations period established by Congress expired.

[04/19] Quigley v. Garden Valley Fire Protection Dist.
In a personal injury action brought by a firefighter against fire protection districts and their employees, claiming she was injured as a result of their negligence, a dangerous condition of public property, and defendants' failure to warn, the trial court's grant of nonsuit against plaintiff's complaint, on the bases that defendants were statutorily immune from liability and the firefighter's rule prevented plaintiff from recovering, is affirmed where defendants are immune from liability for plaintiff's injuries.

[04/19] Turner v. Hubbard Systems, Inc.
In a suit brought by a solo law practitioner alleging that defendant violated the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA) when it issued a software license key that expired on May 31, 2011, despite the fact that he owned a permanent license to the software at issue, the district court's order adopting the magistrate judge's report and recommendation, denying plaintiff's motion to strike, and granting HSI's motion for summary judgment are affirmed where plaintiff failed to establish the necessary $75,000 amount in controversy.

[04/19] Jackson v. Mayweather
In a suit brought following the break up of plaintiff's relationship with a former boxing champion, alleging invasion of privacy (both public disclosure of private facts and false light portrayal), defamation and intentional and negligent infliction of emotional distress, based on defendant's social media postings about the termination of plaintiff's pregnancy and its relationship to the couple's separation and his comments during a radio interview concerning the extent to which plaintiff had undergone cosmetic surgery procedures, the trial court's denial of defendant's special motion to strike those causes of action pursuant to Code of Civil Procedure section 425.16 is reversed as to with respect to plaintiff's claims for defamation and false light portrayal, as well as her cause of action for public disclosure of private facts based on defendant's comments about plaintiff's cosmetic surgery. In all other respects, the judgment is affirmed.

[04/18] Coventry Health Care of Mo., Inc. v. Nevils
In an insurance class action arising in the context of the Federal Employees Health Benefits Act of 1959 (FEHBA) authorization of the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) to contract with private carriers for federal employees' health insurance, 5 U.S.C. section 8902(a) and (d), the Missouri Supreme Court's decision, preventing federal employee insurance carries from seeking subrogation and reimbursement if there is a conflicting state law, is reversed where, because contractual subrogation and reimbursement prescriptions plainly 'relate to . . . payments with respect to benefits,' section 8902(m)(1), they override state laws barring subrogation and reimbursement.

[04/18] Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. v. Haeger
In an appeal of sanctions awarded by the district court when defendant's bad faith behavior was discovered after the settlement of an underlying product liability suit, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals' decision affirming the full award--which represented the entire sum plaintiffs had spent in legal fees and costs since the moment, early in the litigation, when defendant made its first dishonest discovery response--is reversed where, when a federal court exercises its inherent authority to sanction bad-faith conduct by ordering a litigant to pay the other side's legal fees, the award is limited to the fees the innocent party incurred solely because of the misconduct--or put another way, to the fees that party would not have incurred but for the bad faith.

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