Articles Posted in Injury Law

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In 2010, E.R. was voluntarily admitted to the Psychiatric Department at Central Vermont Medical Center (CVMC) with a “psychotic disorder” after having threatened young children in his home. During his first few days at CVMC, E.R. was easily agitated, made threatening remarks, reported auditory hallucinations, was easily agitated, and had fair-to-poor judgment. The examining physician tentatively diagnosed E.R. with a schizophreniform disorder. This case arose out of the assault of Michael Kuligoski by E.R. after E.R. was discharged from another treatment facility, Brattleboro Retreat, and while he was undergoing outpatient treatment with Northeast Kingdom Human Services (NKHS). Plaintiff Carole Kuligoski, individually and on behalf of Michael, Mark Kuligoski, and James Kuligoski (collectively “plaintiffs”), filed suit against defendants Brattleboro Retreat and NKHS, raising claims of failure to warn of E.R.’s danger to others, failure to train E.R.’s parents in handling E.R., failure to treat, improper release, and negligent undertaking. The superior court granted defendants’ motions to dismiss for failure to state a claim, and plaintiffs appealed. After review, the Supreme Court reversed on the failure to warn and train claims, and affirmed on the failure to treat, improper release and negligent undertaking claims. View "Kuligoski v. Brattleboro Retreat" on Justia Law

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Defendant Dylan Stinson appealed a judgment finding him liable to plaintiffs Kevin and Linda Flanagan for damage to their vacation home from a fire started in an outdoor fireplace on their deck by a group of teenagers who were there without their permission. Stinson contended that: (1) there was insufficient evidence to find him liable for the damage under a concerted-action theory; (2) it was improper for the trial court to admit and rely on evidence of the actual cash value of the lost personal property; and (3) the pre and postjudgment interest rate awarded by the trial court was unconstitutional under the U.S. and Vermont Constitutions. Finding no reversible error, the Supreme Court affirmed. View "Concord General Mutual Insurance Company v. Gritman" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs, the parents of a newborn baby, alleged that on June 12, 2012, their son died as a result of the medical malpractice of the Hospital defendants and the Baker defendants (Richard Baker, M.D. and Mary Beerworth, M.D.). It was undisputed that this filing was within the period established by the applicable statute of limitations. The issue this case presented for the Supreme Court's review centered on the denial of motions to dismiss filed by the Hospital defendants and the Baker defendants. Both sets’ motions were predicated on plaintiffs’ failure to timely serve process. On appeal, the Baker defendants argued that the trial court’s grant of an enlargement of time to serve process expired prior to plaintiffs’ serving of the summons and complaint, while the Hospital defendants contended that although they signed a waiver of service, plaintiffs failed to file that waiver with the court before the expiration of the service period. Both sets of defendants also appealed the trial court’s conclusion that even if plaintiffs’ service was found to be untimely, it retained the authority to retroactively grant a motion for enlargement of time and extend the period for service after the running of the statute of limitations on the basis of excusable neglect. Finding no reversible error, the Supreme Court affirmed. View "Clark v. Baker" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff was injured when he struck a horse while driving on a Vermont State road. The horse belonged to Susan Wielt, who leased a house and land from Brian Toomey. Plaintiff sued Wielt and Toomey for negligence. Toomey moved for summary judgment, arguing he had no duty to keep the horse enclosed or to prevent its escape. The trial court granted summary judgment, and plaintiff appealed. Finding no reversible error, the Supreme Court affirmed that grant of summary judgment. View "Deveneau v. Weilt" on Justia Law

Posted in: Injury Law

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Plaintiff Dow Tillson underwent an elective procedure to remove a cataract in his left eye. Defendant Dr. Richard Lane, M.D., performed the procedure at Springfield Hospital. Plaintiffs alleged in their amended complaint that within twenty-four hours of surgery, Mr. Tillson’s left eye showed signs of infection. Dr. Lane made a presumptive diagnosis of endopthalmitis, but did not refer Mr. Tillson to a retinologist for treatment. Within forty-eight hours of surgery, Mr. Tillson was permanently blind in his left eye. Plaintiff sued for medical malpractice, and defendants the doctor and hospital, moved for summary judgment. Plaintiffs appealed the superior court’s decision to grant defendants’ motion. Upon review of the trial court record, the Supreme Court concluded that deposition testimony of plaintiff’s expert witness was sufficient to withstand a motion for summary judgment. Accordingly, the Court reversed and remanded the case for further proceedings. View "Tillson v. Lane" on Justia Law

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At issue in this appeal was a jury verdict rendered in favor of Rutland Hospital, Inc., d/b/a Rutland Regional Medical Center, and related entities (“RRMC”) and Dr. Santiago Cancio-Bello arising from injuries due to claimed medical malpractice in connection with the birth of Amy and Robert Labates’ daughter in 2007. Following the return of the jury verdict in favor of RRMC and Cancio-Bello, the Labates moved for a new trial on several different grounds, many of which concerned alleged juror misconduct, including a claim that a juror read an e-mail sent by RRMC to its employees during the trial and therefore tainted the verdict. The trial court denied the motion without a hearing and this appeal followed. The only issue before the Supreme Court centered on that e-mail. Finding no reversible error, the Supreme Court affirmed the trial court. View "Labate v. Rutland Hospital, Inc." on Justia Law

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On an afternoon in February 2009, two cars collided on State Route 63 in the Town of Berlin. The westbound car crossed the center line and crashed into plaintiff Kathleen Vanderbloom's car, which was heading east. The driver of the westbound car was killed. Plaintiff suffered serious, disabling physical injuries. Plaintiff filed an action against the State of Vermont, alleging that it negligently designed and constructed a state highway, causing her to suffer injuries in a car crash. The superior court granted summary judgment to the State on sovereign-immunity grounds. Finding no reversible error in the dismissal of plaintiff's case, the Supreme Court affirmed. View "Vanderbloom v. Vermont Agency of Transportation" on Justia Law

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David Gauthier began work at Green Mountain in May 2007 on an at-will basis as a full-time maintenance technician and was responsible for maintaining and repairing production machinery. In response to a request by Gauthier’s supervisor that the human resources (HR) department investigate internet use in the maintenance department, a Green Mountain HR generalist requested a “Websense” report for eleven maintenance technicians, including Gauthier (a Websense report “provides detailed information about internet use and access in connection with a particular employee’s log in information.”) The report showed that, during July 2011, Gauthier had 41,750 internet hits, an amount of internet hits “more than double the internet usage that [Green Mountain] generally considered excessive usage.” The day after the report was requested, but several days before it had been compiled, Gauthier sustained an injury while at work. Gauthier made a workers’-compensation claim, which Green Mountain accepted, and he continued to work until the day before he underwent an operation for his injury. Based in part on the result of the Websense report, an HR generalist submitted a disciplinary action plan to Gauthier's supervisor recommending that Gauthier be terminated. The report recounted that Gauthier was not required to access the internet frequently for business purposes and that he had been “engaged in the [Green Mountain] discipline process” for several years, including being placed on a CAP and receiving a written warning for violation of Green Mountain’s internet-use policy." Due to the timing with Gauthier’s workers’-compensation claim, however, the HR generalist was instructed to first send Gauthier a letter indicating that “there were some issues related to his performance that needed to be discussed once he returned from leave.” When Gauthier returned to work from his medical leave, he was placed administrative leave, then ultimately terminated. Gauthier filed a three-count complaint alleging: (1) workers’-compensation retaliation; (2) breach of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing; and (3) intentional infliction of emotional distress. Green Mountain successfully moved for summary judgment on all three counts. This appeal followed, with Gauthier arguing that the court erred by entering summary judgment in favor of Green Mountain on his claim for workers’-compensation retaliation and abused its discretion in denying his motion to amend his complaint. Finding no reversible error, the Supreme Court affirmed. View "Gauthier v. Keurig Green Mountain" on Justia Law

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This case stemmed from an indemnity dispute between two defendants in a suit arising after plaintiff Michael Hemond suffered a tragic electrocution injury while working on an electrical switch. Defendant Frontier Communications of America, Inc., who owned the electrical equipment on which the accident took place, claimed implied indemnity from Navigant Consulting Group, Inc., a contractor. Navigant cross-claimed for indemnification from Frontier based on express statements in the parties' contract. The court granted summary judgment to Navigant on both Frontier's claim for implied indemnification and Navigant's claim of express indemnification against Frontier. Frontier appealed, arguing the trial court erred in concluding that the undisputed facts demonstrated that Frontier failed to meet the requirements for implied indemnification and that a valid express indemnification agreement existed between the parties. Finding no reversible error, the Supreme Court affirmed. View "Hemond v. Frontier Communications" on Justia Law

Posted in: Injury Law

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This case stemmed from an indemnity dispute between two defendants in a suit arising after plaintiff Michael Hemond suffered a tragic electrocution injury while working on an electrical switch. Defendant Frontier Communications of America, Inc. appealed trial court decisions denying its cross-claims for indemnity against three codefendants, Stantec Consulting, Inc., Turner Electric Corporation, and Graybar Electric Company. Frontier argued on appeal that it was entitled to implied indemnification from all three codefendants and express indemnity from Graybar, and the court erred in granting summary judgment because there are disputed questions of fact. Finding no reversible error, the Supreme Court affirmed. View "Hemond v. Frontier Communications" on Justia Law

Posted in: Injury Law