Articles Posted in Personal Injury

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the district court granting summary judgment on Plaintiff’s malicious prosecution claim on the ground that Defendants did not instigate Plaintiff’s criminal prosecution. Linda Linn and Mark Shuck (together, Plaintiffs) brought suit against Defendants claiming defamation and malicious prosecution. The district court granted summary judgment and partial summary judgment on the defamation claim based on the running of the statute of limitations and granted summary judgment on the malicious prosecution claim. Shuck appealed. The Supreme Court held (1) due to an answer to a special interrogatory by the jury, the court will not reach the statute of limitations arguments made by Shuck on the defamation claim; and (2) the district court did not err in granting summary judgment on the malicious prosecution claim where Defendants merely furnished information to law enforcement. View "Linn v. Montgomery" on Justia Law

Posted in: Personal Injury

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Plaintiff brought claims against her former attorney for legal malpractice. The district court submitted to the jury four claims (1) legal malpractice in Defendant’s representation of Plaintiff in her divorce, (2) legal malpractice in Defendant’s representation of Plaintiff in her potential claim for assault and battery against her ex-husband, (3) assault and battery by Defendant, and (4) punitive damages. The jury returned verdicts for Defendant on the legal malpractice claims and verdicts for Plaintiff on the assault and battery and punitive damages claims. Both parties appealed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) there was no error in the district court rulings granting motions for directed verdict on certain claims; (2) the evidentiary rulings of the district court were not in error; and (3) while Defendant’s cross-appeal was untimely, on the merits, the award of actual damages and punitive damages did not exceed the range permitted by the evidence. View "Stender v. Blessum" on Justia Law

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In this premises liability action, the district court entered judgment finding that a high school’s negligence was responsible for injuries sustained by a high school baseball player after a foul ball struck him while he was standing in an unprotected part of the visitor’s dugout at the high school’s baseball field. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) the high school owed a duty of care to the player, and substantial evidence supported the jury verdict; but (2) the district court abused its discretion in not allowing the high school to present evidence of custom and erred when it failed to instruct the jury on the player’s failure to maintain a proper lookout. The court remanded the case to the district court for a new trial. View "Ludman v. Davenport Assumption High School" on Justia Law

Posted in: Personal Injury

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Parents of a child born with severe disabilities may bring a wrongful birth claim based on the physicians’ failure to inform them of prenatal test results showing a congenital defect that would have led them to terminate the pregnancy. Plaintiff filed suit against several medical defendants, alleging that the doctors negligently failed to accurately interpret, diagnose, and respond to fetal abnormalities in her ultrasound and that, as a result of this negligent care, Plaintiff gave birth to a child with severe brain abnormalities. The district court granted Defendants’ motion for summary judgment on the grounds that Iowa has not recognized “wrongful birth” as a cause of action. On appeal, Defendants alleged that a wrongful birth claim is a new cause of action unsupported by Iowa law. Plaintiffs, in turn, noted a clear majority of other jurisdictions allow parents to sue under these facts. The Supreme Court held that wrongful birth fits within common law tort principles governing medical negligence claims, and no public policy or statute precludes the cause of action. The Supreme Court thus reversed the district court’s grant of summary judgment for Defendants, holding that wrongful birth is a cognizable claim under Iowa law. View "Plowman v. Fort Madison Community Hospital" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff, who was paralyzed in an accident during a work accident, filed a petition seeking a determination of permanent total disability (PTD) and also sought partial commutation of benefits in a lump sum. Defendant, the workers’ compensation insurer, disputed whether Plaintiff was PTD and resisted the commutation, although it continued to pay full weekly PTD benefits and explore settlement. The Iowa Workers’ Compensation Commissioner granted Plaintiff’s petition for partial commutation. Plaintiff then sued Defendant for first-party bad faith. On summary judgment, the district court determined that Defendant acted in bad faith. The jury awarded punitive and compensatory damages at a ratio of 88:1. The Supreme Court (1) reversed the judgments for compensatory and punitive damages, holding that, while Defendant knew or should have known it lacked any reasonable basis to dispute Plaintiff’s PTD status, the district court erred in ruling that Defendant was in bad faith as a matter of law for resisting the commutation; and (2) the district court properly denied Plaintiff an award of attorney fees incurred in prosecuting the bad-faith action. View "Thornton v. American Interstate Insurance Co." on Justia Law

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The district court did not abuse its discretion by certifying this case as a class action. Plaintiffs alleged that air pollution from a corn wet milling plant interfered with the use of their property. Plaintiffs filed a complaint alleging nuisance, trespass, and negligence under common law and statute. The district court granted Plaintiffs’ motion for class certification and divided the class into two subclasses, one for members in close proximity to the plant and the other for those in peripheral proximity. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the district court did not abuse its discretion in certifying the class and that Defendant failed to show that the class certification order violated its due process rights. View "Freeman v. Grain Processing Corp." on Justia Law

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William Cubbage was convicted of sexually violent offenses and was adjudicated a sexually violent predator. While in custody at the State’s civil commitment unit for sexual offenders (CCUSO), Cubbage was diagnosed with dementia and other physical and mental ailments. The district court subsequently discharged Cubbage from commitment and committed him to the Pomeroy Care Center. Thereafter, a child visiting the care center witnessed Cubbage sexually assaulting Mercedes Gottschalk, a resident of the Pomeroy Care Center. Gottschalk sued the care center for providing her care in a reckless and negligent manner. After Gottschalk died, her estate substitute itself as the plaintiff and also sued the State for negligence. The Pomeroy Care Center brought a cross-claim alleging negligence on the part of the State for contribution and indemnity. The district court granted summary judgment for the State, concluding (1) because Cubbage was unconditionally discharged from CCUSO, the State had no duty to supervise, monitor, or approve a safety plan; and (2) the doctrine of sovereign immunity prevented any claim of misrepresentation against the State. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that, under the issues preserved, no duty existed as a matter of law between the State and Gottschalk or the State and the care center. View "Estate of Mercedes Gottschalk" on Justia Law

Posted in: Personal Injury

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Lumber Specialties was hired as a subcontractor on a construction project to provide the truss package and certain engineering services. Dinsdale Construction was hired to supply the labor and building materials on the project. During a visit to the site, an employee of Lumber Specialties supplied false information to the builder regarding the structural integrity of the building. The visit was done was a courtesy to the builder and for the general goodwill of the business. The structure subsequently collapsed due to inadequate temporary bracing of the trusses. Dinsdale had not followed the industry standard temporary bracing plan. Dinsdale Construction brought suit against Lumber Specialties, alleging breach of contract and negligent misrepresentation. The jury returned a verdict for Dinsdale Construction on the negligent misrepresentation claim. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court vacated the decision of the court of appeals and reversed the district court judgment, holding (1) a defendant who is not acting in its information-giving capacity does not have a duty of care under the negligent misrepresentation tort; and (2) Lumber Specialties’ employee’s statements were excluded from the imposition of duty under the tort. View "Dinsdale Construction, LLC v. Lumber Specialties, Ltd." on Justia Law

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Father filed a petition seeking a permanent injunction precluding communication and contact between his minor children and their former softball coach. The district court granted a permanent injunction against the former coach that prevented him from contacting or communicating with the children but allowed him to attend certain extracurricular activities and to be present in the home of the children’s mother. The district court also ordered that the ruling granting permanent injunctive relief be sealed and not be disseminated. Father filed a motion requesting that the district court allow for the redissemination of the ruling and expand the terms of the permanent injunction. The district court denied the motion but allowed redissemination of the terms of the permanent injunction. The Supreme Court affirmed the district court’s decision with regard to the terms of the injunction and remanded for further proceedings, holding (1) because no hearing was conducted pursuant to the Iowa Open Records Act in support of the district court conclusion that the permanent injunction be sealed, the case must be remanded for a hearing regarding redissemination of the ruling granting permanent injunctive relief consistent with the requirements of the Act; and (2) the terms of the permanent injunction should not be expanded. View "In re Petition of Kent Langholz" on Justia Law

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Following the death of Cletus Roth, a resident of a nursing facility operated by The Evangelical Lutheran Good Samaritan Society, Roth’s estate and his adult children filed an action against Good Samaritan, alleging, inter alia, wrongful death, negligence, and loss of consortium. After removing the case to federal court, Good Samaritan moved to compel arbitration. The federal district court directed that the claims of Roth’s estate be submitted to arbitration but asked the Supreme Court to answer two certified questions of Iowa law relating to the adult children’s loss-of-consortium claims. The Supreme Court answered (1) Iowa Code 613.15 does not require that adult children’s loss-of-parental-consortium claims be arbitrated when the deceased parent’s estate’s claims are otherwise subject to arbitration; and (2) in light of the Court’s answer to the previous question, the second question has become moot. View "Roth v. Evangelical Lutheran Good Samaritan Society" on Justia Law