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Case Summaries

Injury & Tort Law

[04/16] Byrd v. Aaron's Inc.
In a putative class action against stores that sell and lease office furniture and consumer electronics, alleging violations of the Electronic Communications Privacy Act of 1986 (ECPA), 18 U.S.C. section 2511, stemming from defendant's surreptitious monitoring of plaintiff's computer use via webcam and software, the district court's denial of motion for class certification is reversed where the court erred in applying the ascertainability precedent.

[04/15] Fin. Guar. Ins. Co. v. Putnam Advisory Co., LLC
In an action for fraud, negligent misrepresentation and negligence case, in which FGIC alleges that Putnam misrepresented the independence of its management of a structured finance product, which upon default, caused FGIC millions of dollars in losses, the district court's dismissal of plaintiff's fraud claim on the ground that the complaint did not adequately plead loss causation, and dismissal of the negligence claim on the ground that the complaint failed to allege a special or privity-like relationship between the parties, is vacated and remanded where plaintiff has sufficiently alleged both its fraud and negligence claims.

[04/03] Antonio v. SSA Security, Inc.
In this case, plaintiffs seek to hold defendant SSA Security responsible for a residential arson that was allegedly committed by one of its security guards. The district court granted summary judgment to SSA on plaintiffs' negligence-based claims and on their claim under the Maryland Security Guards Act (MSGA), concluding that the MSGA merely codified and did not expand the common-law doctrine of respondeat superior with regard to security companies. The judgment is affirmed, where MSGA section 19-501 does not impose liability beyond the common law principles of respondeat superior such that an employer would be responsible for the off-duty criminal acts of an employee, even if the employee planned any part of the off-duty criminal acts while he or she was on duty.

[04/02] AmeriPride Services, Inc. v. Texas Eastern Overseas, Inc.
In this Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) contribution action brought by plaintiff AmeriPride against defendant Texas Eastern Overseas, arising out of the contamination of the soil and groundwater in an industrial area of Sacramento, California, defendant challenges numerous aspects of the district court's decision. The judgment is vacated and remanded for further proceedings, where: 1) in allocating liability to a non settling defendant in a CERCLA contribution action, the district court is not required to apply either the proportionate share approach of the Uniform Comparative Fault Act, or the pro tanto approach of the Uniform Contribution Among Tortfeasors Act, but rather has discretion to determine the most equitable method of accounting between private parties; 2) because the district court first rued that it was adopting the proportionate share approach but later effective applied the pro tanto approach, it could not be determined whether the district court abused its discretion in allocating response costs; 3) a party can seek contribution under CERCLA section 9613(f)(1) only for settlement costs that were for necessary response costs consistent with the national contingency plan; and 4) the district court erred in setting the date on which prejudgment interest began to accrue and in assigning causes of action pursuant to California Civil Procedure Code section 708.510.

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Workers' Comp

[01/29] Ogden Entertainment Services v. Workers Compensation Appeals Board
In this case, respondent Ritzhoff sustained numerous orthopedic injuries and injuries to his psyche while working as a banquet server for defendant-petitioner. The decision of the Workers' Compensation Appeals Board (the Board) denying the petition for reconsideration and adopting the decision of the workers' compensation judge finding Ritzhoff totally permanently disabled is annulled and the case is remanded with directions for new proceedings, where the due process right of defendant to cross-examination of Ritzhoff was violated.

[01/06] Schultz v. Workers' Compensation Appeals Board
Decision of the Workers' Compensation Appeals Board denying benefits to plaintiff-employee is annulled, where: 1) under the "going and coming rule," workers' compensation benefits are generally not available for injuries suffered by an employee during a local commute to a fixed place of business at fixed hours, because the injury does not occur during the ordinary course of employment; 2) under the premises line rule, the ordinary course of employment is deemed to commence when an employee enters the employer's premises; and 3) the premises line rule applies to an employee injured in a single-car traffic accident if the employee was a civilian working on a secure Air Force base not generally open to the public, the employee entered the base in his personal vehicle after passing a guard gate using a security pass, the employee had travelled one mile inside the base when the accident occurred, and the employer had multiple locations on the Air Force base between which the employee travelled sometimes in his own vehicle to perform work.

[12/17] Cal. Ins. Guarantee Assn. v. WCAB
In this medical billing dispute, the decision of the Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board (the Board) adopting the Workers’ Compensation Judge’s (WCJ) findings of fact and determinations of the reasonable fee for various arthroscopic knee, shoulder, and epidural injection procedures is affirmed, where: 1) despite the fact that the Legislature created a new administrative independent review process for the resolution of billing disputes in the context of workers’ compensation, and although the text of the relevant medical fee legislation and resulting statutes is ambiguous, the most reasonable interpretation of the legislation is that it does not divest the Board of jurisdiction to decide the dispute at issue in this case; and 2) the WCJ’s findings are supported by substantial evidence.

[11/20] In the Matter of Maureen Kigin v. State of New York Workers' Compensation Board
In this case, claimant was injured on the job and entitled to worker's compensation, but upon receipt of acupuncture treatment, a Workers' Compensation Law Judge determined that claimant's medical provider failed to show that the additional acupuncture treatments were medically necessary. The Workers' Compensation Board affirmed the Judge's determination, arguing that the treatments were not medically necessary within the "Medical Treatment Guidelines." Order of the Appellate Division affirming the Board's decision is affirmed, where: 1) the establishment of the variance procedure was within the Board's broad regulatory powers; 2) it was reasonable for the Board to promulgate uniform guidelines for defining the nature and scope of treatment considered medically necessary; 3) nothing in the Workers' Compensation law precludes the Board from requiring proof of medical necessity from claimant's health care provider; 4) the carrier bears the burden of proffering "substantial evidence"; and 5) the Guidelines provide claimants with a meaningful opportunity to be heard on the denial of any variance request.

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