Articles Posted in Personal Injury

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The Supreme Court accepted two questions of law certified to it by the United States Court of Appeals, answering (1) a hyperlink to source material about a judicial proceeding may suffice as a report within the common law fair report privilege; and (2) Delucchi v. Singer, 396 P.3d 826, 830 (Nev. 2017), explains that application of Nevada’s anti-SLAPP statute, prior to the most recent amendments in 2013, is not limited to communication addressed to a government agency but includes speech “aimed at procuring any governmental or electoral action.” Plaintiff in this case filed a defamation action against Respondents, who posted an online petition to pressure presidential candidate Mitt Romney to reject Appellant’s campaign contributions, alleging that the petition was false and defamatory. The federal district court concluded that Nevada law governed the controversy and dismissed Appellant’s complaint, ruling that the state’s anti-SLAPP statutes applied. On appeal, the court of appeals certified two questions of law to the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court answered the questions and held (1) the fair report privilege immunizes Respondents from civil liability; and (2) communications with either the government or the public that are intended to influence an electoral result potentially fall under Nev. Rev. Stat. 41.637(1). View "Adelson v. Harris" on Justia Law

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In this case, the Supreme Court declined to adopt a risk-utility test for strict product liability design defect claims and confirmed that claims of design defect grounded on strict product liability in Nevada will continue to be governed by the consumer-expectation test. Respondent brought this suit against Ford Motor Company, alleging a design defect in the roof of the Ford Excursion and seeking damages based on theories of strict products liability and common law negligence. The case proceeded to trial on the strict products liability theory, and the jury returned a special verdict in favor of Respondent. The district court entered judgment on the jury’s $4.5 million damages award. On appeal, Ford urged the Supreme Court to adopt the risk-utility test for claims of strict product liability design defect, as set forth in the Restatement (Third) of Torts: Products Liability (Third Restatement). The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) this court declines to adopt the risk-utility test; (2) the jury was properly instructed on the consumer-expectation test; and (3) Respondent presented sufficient evidence to support the verdict. View "Ford Motor Co. v. Trejo" on Justia Law

Posted in: Personal Injury

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The Supreme Court’s exception to immunity for intentional torts and bad-faith conduct survives its adoption of the federal discretionary-function immunity test. Plaintiff sued Franchise Tax Board of the State of California (FTB) seeking damages for intentional torts and bad-faith conduct committed by FTB auditors. A jury awarded Plaintiff $139 million in damages on his tort claims and $250 million in punitive damages. The United States Supreme Court vacated the Supreme Court’s decision, holding that the Constitution does not permit Nevada to award damages against California agencies under Nevada law that are greater than it could award against Nevada agencies in similar circumstances. On remand, the Supreme Court held (1) FTB cannot invoke discretionary-function immunity to protect itself from Plaintiff’s intentional tort and bad-faith causes of action; (2) all of Plaintiff’s causes of action, except for his fraud and intentional infliction of emotional distress (IIED) claims, failed; (3) in regard to the IIED claim, substantial evidence supported the jury’s findings as to liability and an award of damages up to the amount of Nevada’s statutory cap; (4) FTB was entitled to the $50,000 statutory cap on Plaintiff’s IIED and fraud claims; and (5) FTB was immune from punitive damages because punitive damages would not be available against a Nevada government entity. View "Franchise Tax Board v. Hyatt" on Justia Law

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Pursuant to Nev. Rev. Stat. 86.371 and 86.381, a member of a limited limitability company (LLC) cannot be personally responsible for the LLC’s liabilities solely by virtue of being a member. Plaintiffs filed suit against an LLC (the water park) and two of its managing members (the member-LLCs) claiming that the negligence of the water park and member-LLCs contributed to their son’s injuries because of the water parks’ inadequate staffing of lifeguards. The district court granted summary judgment for the member-LLCs and dismissed the member-LLCs as improper parties pursuant to section 36.381. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the district court did not err in dismissing the member-LLCs as improper defendants as a matter of law. View "Gardner v. Henderson Water Park, LLC" on Justia Law

Posted in: Personal Injury

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Portions of the 2013 amendments to Nevada’s anti-SLAPP statutes clarified existing law such that they apply retroactively, but the remaining applicable portions of the 2013 amendments effected a substantive change in the prior anti-SLAPP legislation such that those portions are not applicable retroactively. Based on the findings found in a report prepared by Pat Songer, the Town of Pahrump terminated Appellants’ employment. Appellants filed a complaint against Songer alleging defamation and intentional infliction of emotional distress. Songer filed a special motion to dismiss pursuant to Nevada’s anti-SLAPP statutes. The district court applied the 2013 statutory amendments retroactively in deciding Songer’s special motion to dismiss. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the district court (1) properly applied the 2013 clarifying portions of the amendments in determining that Songer’s communication was potentially protected, but (2) erred in applying the remaining substantive portions of the 2013 amendments retroactively in determining that Appellants failed to meet the burden set forth in the 2013 amendments of establishing a probability of prevailing on their claims. View "Delucchi v. Songer" on Justia Law

Posted in: Personal Injury

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The Barton doctrine is extended to a court-appointed accountant in the capacity of a special master, thus requiring an individual to seek leave of the appointing court prior to filing suit in a non-appointing court against a court-appointed special master for actions taken in the scope of his court-derived authority. Larry Bertsch and his accounting firm (collectively, Bertsch) were appointed as special master in a lawsuit between Vion Operations, LLC and Jay Bloom (the Lion litigation). The district court later discharged Bertsch from his duties as special master. When the Vion litigation was dismissed, Bloom filed the underlying complaint against Bertsch alleging, inter alia, gross negligence and fraudulent concealment based on Bertsch’s allegedly wrongful actions in the Vion litigation. Bertsch filed a motion to dismiss, which the district court denied. Bertsch petitioned for a writ of mandamus arguing, in part, that Bloom’s complaint was jurisdictionally improper because Bloom did not first seek leave of the appointing court before instituting the underlying action. The Supreme Court granted the motion, holding that Bloom must first have filed a motion with the appointing court in order to sue Bertsch personally. View "Bertsch v. Eighth Judicial District Court" on Justia Law

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Future medical expenses are a category of damages to which Nev. R. Civ. P. 16.1(a)(1)(C)’s computation “of any category of damages claimed” requirement applies, and a plaintiff is not excused of complying with the rule because the plaintiff’s treating physician has indicated in medical records that future medical care is necessary. Respondents were injured in a car wreck with Appellant and filed the underlying negligence action. As part of their initial disclosures, Respondents provided Appellant with a computation of their past medical expenses and medical records but did not provide Appellant with a cost computation of future medical damages. Consequently, Appellant filed a motion in liming seeking to prevent Respondents from introducing evidence at trial in support of Respondents' future medical expenses. The district court denied the motion, and the jury rendered a verdict in favor of Respondents. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the district court erred in permitting Respondents to introduce evidence in support of their future medical damages where Respondents failed to provide Appellant with a computation of those damages; but (2) Appellant’s substantial rights were not materially affected so as to warrant a new trial. View "Pizarro-Ortega v. Cervantes-Lopez" on Justia Law

Posted in: Personal Injury

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Respondent sued Appellant for damages arising out of a motor vehicle accident. An arbitrator found in favor of Appellant and awarded him damages. After a trial de novo, a jury found in favor of Respondent and awarded him damages. Because Respondent’s award failed to exceed the arbitration award by twenty percent, Respondent was liable for Appellant’s attorney fees and costs. The short trial judge offset the damages and attorney fees and costs awards and entered a net judgment in favor of Appellant. After Respondent failed to pay the judgment, the Nevada Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) suspended Respondent’s driving privileges until the judgment was satisfied under Nev. Rev. Stat. 485.302. Respondent requested an administrative hearing to contest the suspension, arguing that section 485.302 did not apply because he was not an uninsured driver and the judgment was not for personal injury or property damages. An administrative law judge agreed with Respondent and dismissed and rescinded the suspension. Appellant filed a petition for judicial review. The district court denied the petition. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the judgment for attorney fees and costs was not a “judgment” for purposes of chapter 485; and (2) therefore, the DMV was not required to suspend Respondent’s driving privileges upon receipt of the judgment. View "Simmons v. Briones" on Justia Law

Posted in: Personal Injury

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Howard Shapiro petitioned a New Jersey court to appoint him as conservator for his father. Respondents - Glen, Rhoda, Lynn, and Michelle Welt - opposed the petition. Howard and Jenna Shapiro (together, Appellants) filed a complaint alleging, inter alia, defamation for statements the Welts made on their website during the course of the conservatorship matter. The district court granted the Welts’ motion to dismiss, concluding that Appellants’ complaint was filed in an attempt to prevent a good-faith communication in connection with an issue of public concern under Nev. Rev. Stat. 41.637(4). The Supreme Court affirmed in part, reversed in part, vacated in part, and remanded, holding (1) section 41.637 is not unconstitutionally vague; (2) the district court must analyze statements made in relation to a conservatorship action under guiding principles enunciated in California law to determine if a statement is an issue of public interest under section 41.637(4); and (3) the district court must conduct a case-specific, fact-intensive inquiry that balances the underlying principles of the absolute litigation privilege as enunciated by Jacobs v. Adelson before determining whether a party has met their burden for proving a likelihood of success on the merits. View "Shapiro v. Welt" on Justia Law

Posted in: Personal Injury

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Michael Adams died after striking Susan Fallini’s cow while driving on a portion of highway designated as open range. Adams’ estate sued Fallini for negligence. The district court entered a final judgment against Fallini for $1,294,041. Thereafter, Fallini brought a motion pursuant to Nev. R. Civ. P. 60(b), contending that the district court should set aside the judgment because the Estate’s counsel committed a fraud upon the court. The district court granted the motion. Fallini then filed a motion for entry of final argument, arguing that Nev. Rev. Stat. 568.360 provided a complete defense to the Estate’s claims. The district court granted the motion and dismissed the action. The Estate appealed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) this court had jurisdiction to consider challenges to the district court’s Rule 60(b) order in this appeal; (2) the district court did not err in addressing the merits of Fallini’s the Rule 60(b) motion; and (3) under the circumstances of this case, the district court did not abuse its discretion in granting relief based on fraud upon the court. View "Estate of Adams v. Fallini" on Justia Law