Justia Non-Profit Corporations Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in Personal Injury
Sulzbach v. City & Borough of Sitka, et al.
The City and Borough of Sitka, Alaska allowed an independent nonprofit organization to host a public event at a city facility. The nonprofit organization arranged for a volunteer to hang decorations in the facility; a decoration fell, injuring an event participant. The injured participant sued the City, but not the nonprofit organization, for negligence. The City brought a third-party allocation of fault claim against the volunteer. The parties sought summary judgment, and the trial court concluded that, under federal law, the volunteer could not be held financially responsible for the accident and that the City could not be held vicariously liable for the volunteer’s actions. The remaining negligence issues were decided at a jury trial; the jury determined that the volunteer and the city had not been negligent and therefore were not liable for the accident. The event participant appealed. Finding no reversible error, the Alaska Supreme Court affirmed the trial court judgment. View "Sulzbach v. City & Borough of Sitka, et al." on Justia Law
Neppel, et al. v. Development Homes, et al.
Pamela Neppel, individually and as the parent and legal guardian of Z.N., an incapacitated individual, appealed amended judgment entered after a jury trial. She also appealed denying leave to amend her complaint, an order for an amended judgment, and an order denying her motion for attorney fees and costs. Development Homes, Inc. (DHI) cross appealed an order denying its motion for judgment as a matter of law. Z.N., at the time of the incident giving rise to this case, was living at a residential care facility operated by DHI. Neppel was Z.N.’s mother. Neppel filed this lawsuit alleging Z.N. was raped by another resident, referred to as S.O., who lived on the same floor of the facility as Z.N.’s housemate. Neppel alleged DHI had knowledge S.O. was a sexual predator and Z.N. was susceptible to abuse, yet DHI withheld information from her about the risk of placing the two together. Neppel also alleged DHI did not immediately report the rape or provide prompt and adequate medical care for Z.N. Along with DHI, Neppel sued various DHI employees, as well as S.O.’s co-guardians. The case was tried to a jury on counts of negligence and intentional infliction of emotional distress. The jury returned a verdict awarding Neppel and Z.N. $550,000 in damages. The jury specifically awarded Z.N. $100,000 for damages caused by DHI’s negligence. The jury also awarded Z.N. and Neppel $400,000 and $50,000 in damages, respectively, for past and future severe emotional distress caused by DHI. The jury did not find any of the individually-named defendants liable. DHI filed a motion to amend the judgment asserting it was entitled to charitable immunity under N.D.C.C. ch. 32-03.3, which set liability limits for certain charitable organizations. The court granted the motion and entered an amended judgment that applied the $250,000 charitable organization liability limit. After review, the North Dakota Supreme Court affirmed the order denying Neppel leave to amend her complaint and the order denying her motion for attorney fees and costs. The Supreme Court reversed the order denying DHI’s motion for judgment as a matter of law, finding Neppel’s appeal from the order for amended judgment was moot. View "Neppel, et al. v. Development Homes, et al." on Justia Law
Henrie v. Church of Latter-Day Saints
The Idaho Supreme Court determined the district court did not err when it found that the Church did not have a special relationship with Henrie such that it had an affirmative duty to control or protect him, nor was there any issue of fact as to whether the Church had a general duty to prevent Henrie's injury. This case arose out of injuries suffered by Bryan Henrie while he was participating in a community service event organized by the Mormon Helping Hands (“Helping Hands”), a priesthood-directed program run by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (the “Church”). Henrie argued on appeal that the district court erred when it dismissed his tort claim on summary judgment. Henrie was assigned to work with a crew felling burned trees and rolling or throwing the wood down an embankment on the property to be hauled away later. Later that day, Henrie was attempting to throw a tree stump down the embankment when it caught on his smock. He was pulled down the embankment by the stump, severely injuring his right knee in the process. Henrie asserted that “[a]t the very least, Defendant had a duty not to supply Plaintiff with gear or clothing that would put him or his bodily safety in danger or ultimately harm him . . . Defendant breached this duty of care.” He further asserted that “Defendant owed a duty to Plaintiff to use reasonable care in nominating, training, and supervising any and all of the clean-up organizers and volunteers, including those who spoke with and directed Plaintiff.” The Supreme Court affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment in favor of the Church. View "Henrie v. Church of Latter-Day Saints" on Justia Law