Justia Idaho Supreme Court Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in Injury Law
Ballard v. Kerr, M.D.
Charles Ballard filed suit for wrongful death and medical malpractice against Silk Touch Laser, LLP (“Silk Touch”) and its owner Dr. Brian Kerr. In 2010, Charles’ wife Krystal Ballard underwent a liposuction and fat transfer procedure at Silk Touch in Eagle. Krystal died less than a week later from septic shock caused by unknown bacteria in her right buttock. Charles’ suit alleged that the bacteria that caused Krystal’s death were introduced into her body during the procedure at Silk Touch because certain reusable medical equipment was not properly disinfected and sterilized. The first trial ended in mistrial. Upon retrial, a jury returned a verdict in favor of Ballard. Silk Touch raises twenty-one issues on appeal, challenging several of the district court’s evidentiary rulings, the sufficiency of the evidence supporting the verdict, several of the jury instructions, and the district court’s award of costs and attorney fees. Silk Touch also alleged that the jury verdict should be overturned because the district court permitted the jurors to submit questions to witnesses and the district court made improper comments on the evidence during trial. The Supreme Court affirmed the district court except for the award of fees, which was vacated and the issue remanded for reconsideration. View "Ballard v. Kerr, M.D." on Justia Law
Parks v. Safeco Ins Co of Illinois
A wildfire destroyed David and Kristina Parks’ house, which was insured by Safeco Insurance Company (“Safeco”). The Parks purchased an existing house, and Safeco paid the Parks a total of $255,000, the cost of the replacement house less the value of the land. The Parks filed a complaint against Safeco alleging: (1) they were entitled to $440,195.55 under the policy; and (2) Safeco committed bad faith in handling the claim. Safeco filed a Motion for Summary Judgment asserting that the policy was not breached and its conduct did not constitute bad faith. The Parks filed a Cross-Motion for Summary Judgment asserting that Safeco misrepresented the policy. Additionally, the Parks moved to amend their complaint to include a claim for punitive damages. The district court held that: (1) there was no breach of contract because the policy was unambiguous and the Parks received the amount due under the clear language of the policy; (2) Safeco did not commit bad faith in handling the claim because it complied with the terms of the policy and paid the Parks the amount owed; and (3) the Parks had not established a reasonable likelihood of proving facts at trial sufficient to support an award of punitive damages. The Parks appealed, but finding no reversible error, the Idaho Supreme Court affirmed. View "Parks v. Safeco Ins Co of Illinois" on Justia Law
Gearhart v. Mutual of Enumclaw Ins Co
In early 2011, Trent Gearheart was severely injured in an automobile accident caused by an underinsured motorist (“UIM”). After the accident, Trent’s parents, Ronald Gearhart and Brandi L. McMahon, who were divorced, each attempted to collect on their separately held auto insurance policies with Enumclaw. Each of those policies provided maximum coverage of $300,000 for accidents caused by underinsured motorists. Enumclaw contended that because of anti-stacking language in the policies, the total UIM benefit under the combined policies was limited to $300,000. The district court held on summary judgment that the UIM anti-stacking provision in each policy was invalid and, therefore, ruled that Enumclaw was obligated for the full $300,000 policy limit on both policies. Enumclaw appealed. Finding no reversible error, the Idaho Supreme Court affirmed the district court's judgment. View "Gearhart v. Mutual of Enumclaw Ins Co" on Justia Law
Morrison v. St. Luke’s RMC
On December 26, 2011, Mitchell Morrison arrived at the emergency department of St. Luke’s Regional Medical Center, Ltd. (“St. Luke’s”), in Meridian, complaining of chest pains. The emergency room doctor determined Mr. Morrison did not have a heart attack, but that he should consult with a cardiologist. On December 27, 2011, Barbara Morrison, Mr. Morrison’s wife, called for an appointment with the cardiologist, and the telephone was answered by a scheduler for St. Luke’s. The scheduler stated that the first available appointment for the cardiologist was in four weeks. Mrs. Morrison requested an earlier appointment, and she was given an appointment in three weeks with another St. Luke’s cardiologist. On January 11, 2012, Mr. Morrison died from a heart attack. On June 10, 2013, Mrs. Morrison, on her behalf and on behalf of her minor children, filed a wrongful death action against St. Luke’s, the emergency room doctor and the doctor's employer. Mrs. Morrison contended that St. Luke’s and the doctor's employer were liable based upon their own negligence and the imputed negligence of the doctor. St. Luke’s and the employer both filed motions for partial summary judgment seeking dismissal of the claims that they were negligent, and the district court granted those motions. The case was tried to a jury, which found that the emergency room doctor had not failed to meet the applicable standard of health care practice. Mrs. Morrison then timely appealed. Finding no reversible error, the Idaho Supreme Court affirmed. View "Morrison v. St. Luke's RMC" on Justia Law
English v. Taylor
Carol and Eric English appealed the dismissal of the their medical negligence claims against James Taylor, D.O., and Eastern Idaho Health Services, Inc., d/b/a Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center (collectively, the Respondents). Carol English sustained stroke injuries after undergoing a medical procedure performed by Respondents. The Englishes subsequently filed a complaint alleging the Respondents were negligent in performing the procedure, which they alleged caused Carol’s injuries. The district court dismissed the Englishes’ claims on timeliness grounds. Finding that the district court correctly determined that the Englishes' second amended complaint naming Respondents was barred by the applicable statute of limitations for medical malpractice suits, the Supreme Court affirmed. View "English v. Taylor" on Justia Law
Stiles v. Amundson
This appeal arose from a premises liability action brought against Walter Amundson, the owner of a piece of property in Kuna (the “Property”), by David Stiles, a social guest of one of Walter’s tenants. The district court dismissed the case on summary judgment, reasoning that: (1) Amundson had neither a general duty of care nor a duty to warn with respect to Stiles; and (2) although Amundson could be liable for any injury resulting from the negligent repair of the Property, Amundson's repair was not the proximate cause of Stiles’ injury. Finding no reversible error, the Supreme Court affirmed. View "Stiles v. Amundson" on Justia Law
Gerdon v. Con Paulos, Inc.
In 2008, Joseph Gerdon was seriously injured in a motor vehicle accident that arose out of and in the course of his employment. He was a passenger in a vehicle being driven by a coworker, who drove off the road. The Industrial Commission awarded Gerdon benefits. Gerdon requested a hearing to determine whether he was also entitled to benefits for a compensable psychological injury. That issue was heard before a referee, who issued proposed findings of fact, conclusions of law, and a recommendation that Gerdon had failed to prove that he was entitled to additional psychological care. The Commission adopted the referee’s proposed findings of fact and conclusions of law and issued an order. Gerdon appealed to the Idaho Supreme Court. Because the Commission’s decision was based upon its constitutional right to weigh the evidence and determine the credibility of conflicting expert opinions, the Supreme Court affirmed the Commission's order. View "Gerdon v. Con Paulos, Inc." on Justia Law
Mayer v. TPC Holdings, Inc.
While receiving benefits based on his impairment rating, Keith Mayer died of a heart attack unrelated to his work accident. Mayer’s impairment rating was paid out in full following his death. However, Mayer died before a determination was made as to what permanent disability benefits he may have been entitled to in excess of his impairment rating. The parties submitted the issue on stipulated facts and the Industrial Commission concluded that permanent partial disability less than total survived the death of an injured worker when the death was unrelated to the work accident. The Industrial Commission also determined that the disability of the deceased worker should be evaluated as of the time immediately preceding the worker’s death. TPC Holdings, Inc. (TPC) appealed that determination, arguing that Mayer’s claim for permanent partial disability did not survive death. Finding no reversible error in the Commission's decision, the Supreme Court affirmed. View "Mayer v. TPC Holdings, Inc." on Justia Law
Green v. Industrial Special Indemnity Fund
The Industrial Special Indemnity Fund (ISIF) appeals a decision of the Industrial Commission in which the Commission concluded that ISIF must pay a portion of Roy Green’s disability benefits because Green had a pre-existing condition. In 2006, Green was logging alone when a 1700-pound tree fell on him, striking him on his hardhat. The accident occurred after another tree that he had just felled knocked the culpable tree loose. Green avoided being crushed only because of the presence of a nearby stump. When Green came to, he found that his legs were tingling, he had little sensation and difficulty walking. Green managed to drive to St. Maries to seek medical treatment. After receiving treatment from various physicians and completing an Independent Medical Evaluation (IME), Green was referred to neurosurgeon Dr. Bret Dirks. Dr. Dirks diagnosed Green with a lower back injury that was directly related to the 2006 Accident. Dr. Dirks recommended surgery, and in early 2007, Green underwent a bi-level lumbar fusion with decompression surgery from L3 to L5. Following the surgery, Green expressed concern about “right-sided neck pain that goes into the right arm and makes it feel like jelly.” MRI images of Green’s cervical spine taken on July 11, 2006, and May 23, 2007, showed, among other things, a bulging disk at C5–6. Dr. Dirks recommended an anterior cervical discectomy and fusion at C5–6 with plating and cadaver bone. Dr. Dirks attributed the need for this surgery to the 2006 Accident. On October 30, 2006, Green filed a complaint against St. Joes Salvage Logging (Employer) and Travelers Indemnity Company (Surety). Two years later, on November 6, 2008, Employer/Surety filed a complaint against ISIF. The Industrial Commission considered whether Green had pre-existing injuries that subjected ISIF to liability. The ISIF appealed when the Commission held that it was responsible for a portion of Green's disability benefits. Finding no reversible error, the Supreme Court affirmed the Commission. View "Green v. Industrial Special Indemnity Fund" on Justia Law
Navo v. Bingham Memorial Hospital
Appellants Lucia Navo, Serena Navo, and Nicole Navo appealed the dismissal on summary judgment of a case arising out of the death of Ellery Navo during a surgery at Bingham Memorial Hospital (“BMH”). At trial, Appellants argued that BMH was liable both for its own negligence and for the negligent actions of certified nurse anesthetist Ryan Sayre (“Sayre”), an independent contractor who administered anesthesia services at BMH. Appellants supported their claim that BMH itself had been negligent with expert testimony from Dr. Samuel Steinberg. The district court held, inter alia, that: (1) Dr. Steinberg’s testimony was inadmissible because Appellants had failed to provide evidence that he was familiar with the relevant local standard of care; (2) Appellants had failed to provide any evidence that BMH employees had acted negligently; (3) Appellants had failed to plead that Sayre was an agent of BMH under a theory of apparent authority; (4) even if Appellants had properly pleaded a theory of apparent authority, they failed to provide evidence sufficient to create an issue of material fact; and (5) BMH was not entitled to discretionary costs, including attorney fees. After review, the Supreme Court found that the district court erred in holding that Appellants were barred from arguing "apparent authority in response the BMH's motion for summary judgment. Furthermore, the Court concluded the district court erred in finding no genuine issue of material facts existed as to whether Sayre was BMH's agent under "apparent authority." The Supreme Court vacated the grant of summary judgment and the award of costs and fees and remanded this case for further proceedings. View "Navo v. Bingham Memorial Hospital" on Justia Law