Archive for the ‘Loss of Consortium’ Category

Beyond Control – Woman Injured on Costa Rican Bicycle Tour; Claims Survive Motion to Dismiss (CO)

October 15, 2015

Steinfeld v. EmPG International, LLC (Colorado)
(trial court disposition)

A woman fell off her bicycle during a bicycle your vacation in Costa Rica.  She and her husband filed a lawsuit against the bicycle tour company.  The lawsuit was filed in Pennsylvania where the plaintiffs resided, but the Pennsylvania District Court held that is lacked personal jurisdiction over the defendant tour company that was based in Colorado.  The defendant filed a motion to dismiss based in large part on the assumption of risk and waiver of liability forms (“Releases”) signed by the plaintiffs prior to their participation in the tour.  However, the Colorado District Court applied Colorado law (as having the “most significant relationship” to claims), denied the motion, and allowed the case to proceed to discovery, finding that the Releases did not bar all of the plaintiffs claims.  The Court explained:

“A waiver implicitly or explicitly is grounded on warranties of fitness, and assumption of risk can only take place when the risk is inherent and clearly foreseeable.  The Complaint in this case abounds with allegations of misrepresentations and abandonment of good faith attempts to fulfill the obligations of the contract.”

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Imperfect Storm – Hockey Arena Snow Remover Not Liable for Slip and Fall Injury During Storm (NY)

August 17, 2015

Harvey v. LAZ Parking Ltd. (New York)

A hockey fan slipped and fell on an icy pedestrian area while exiting a hockey arena.  He filed a lawsuit against the city and its snow removal contractor.  The fan’s wife also filed a claim for loss of consortium.  The defendant filed a motion for summary judgment.  The trial court granted the motion, and the plaintiffs appealed.

On appeal, the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court affirmed the trial court decision, holding that the defendants were not liable pursuant to the “storm in progress rule.”  According to the rule, “[a] landowner has no duty to remedy a dangerous condition resulting from a storm while the storm is in progress and has a reasonable amount of time after the storm has ended to take corrective action.”  The defendants relied on plaintiffs’ own testimony that there was precipitation during and after the game, and they also relied on weather data and climatological records establishing the timing of the precipitation.  The evidence was sufficient to demonstrate that the ice was formed by the ongoing weather conditions.  Once established, the burden then shifts to the plaintiff to produce  “admissible evidence that the ice that caused plaintiff’s slip and fall existed prior to the storm in progress, and that defendant[s] had actual or constructive notice of the hazard.”  The Court concluded that the plaintiff’s expert affidavit failed to meet that burden.

Black and Blue Light Special – Sporting Goods Store Not Liable for Injury Caused by Bicycle Riding Patron (LA)

May 15, 2015

Orr v. Academy Louisiana Co, LLC (Louisiana)

Plaintiff and her daughter entered an Academy Sports and Outdoor Store in Alexandria, Louisiana to shop for shoes.  While plaintiff was attempting to help her child try on a pair of shoes, she was struck by an adult male who was riding a young girl’s bicycle.  The bicycle rider initially offered assistance to the injured plaintiff, but when she refused, he fled the scene.  After plaintiff reported the incident to the store, they located the bicycle, but could no the man involved.

Plaintiff sued the store and its insurance company, and her husband joined the litigation with a loss of consortium claim.  The defendants denied liability, asserted the fault the unknown bicycle rider, and argued comparative fault on the part of plaintiff.  After a trial on the merits, the trial court found that the store was one hundred percent at fault for the plaintiff’s accident, awarding plaintiff its jurisdictional limit of $50,000 in damages.  Defendant appealed, alleging the trial court erred: (1) in finding that plaintiff had met her burden of proof; (2) in finding that the store was negligent when the incident could not have been reasonably anticipated; and (3) in failing to assign fault on the unknown customer/tortfeasor.

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Can’t Catch a “Brake” – Woman Injured on Foreign Bicycle Tour Forced to Litigate Away from Home (PA)

April 20, 2015

Steinfeld v. EMPG International (Pennsylvania)

The Pennsylvania plaintiffs were injured during a trip to Costa Rica.  Prior to leaving for Costa Rica, the plaintiffs visited the website of defendant EMPG International, LLC (a Colorado limited liability company) and consummated an online transaction to rent bicycles and sign up for a bicycle tour while in Costa Rica.  The bicycle equipment was allegedly not in the condition originally promised by the defendant, and one of the plaintiffs was injured during the tour due to faulty brakes on the bicycle.  The plaintiffs filed a federal lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, alleging negligence, negligent hiring and retention, vicarious liability, joint enterprise, agency, breach of contract, violation of the Pennsylvania Consumer Protection Law, fraud, negligent misrepresentation, and loss of consortium.

The defendant filed a motion to dismiss the action based on a lack of personal jurisdiction and a failure to state a claim under which relief could be granted.  Following a pretrial conference, the Court entered an order permitting the parties to conduct discovery regarding jurisdiction, and the court required the parties to submit a joint stipulation of facts with respect to jurisdiction so that it could rule on the defendant’s motion to dismiss.  After reviewing the evidence and stipulated facts, the Court found that the “plaintiffs’ cause of action did not arise out of or relate to the company’s contacts with Pennsylvania.”  However, because the defendant was subject to general personal jurisdiction in Colorado, the Court transferred the case to the U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado.

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Collision Course

July 11, 2007

Schipper v. Dahl Trucking, Inc. (Minnesota-UNPUBLISHED)
(Two Truckers Collide; Waiver and Release Precluded Negligence Claim Against Trucking Company; Issue of Loss of Consortium Claim Remanded; Waiver and Release Protections for Trucking Company Employee Unclear)

The plaintiff Doug Schipper and his wife were residents of Minnesota. Schipper owned a company called Midwest Cargo, which owned and operated a truck. Schipper entered into a written agreement with defendant Dahl Trucking, Inc., an Iowa corporation headquartered in Minnesota, to provide freight transportation. The contract contains the following provision:

9. THE CONTRACTOR EXPRESSLY WAIVES ANY CLAIM, DEMAND, ACTION, OR CAUSE OF ACTION AGAINST CARRIER AS A RESULT OF THE DEATH OR INJURY OF CONTRACTOR OR CONTRACTOR’S EMPLOYEES IN CONNECTION WITH THE PERFORMANCE OF CONTRACTOR OR THE CONTRACT AND FURTHER AGREES TO HOLD CARRIER HARMLESS AND INDEMNIFY CARRIER FORM [sic] SUCH CLAIMS.

The contract also required Schipper to maintain business-liability insurance, and it provided that it “shall be governed by the Laws of the State of Iowa and Minnesota, both as to interpretation and performance.”

Thereafter, Schipper and defendant Chad Jongbloedt, an employee of Dahl Trucking who was a resident of Minnesota, were both hauling freight, when they were involved in a collision. Schipper was injured and filed a lawsuit against Dahl and Jongbloedt, alleging negligence. Schipper’s wife also filed a claim for loss of consortium. The parties filed cross-motions for summary judgment, and the district court granted defendants’ motion based upon the waiver and release provisions. The plaintiffs appealed.

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