Justia Wyoming Supreme Court Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Personal Injury

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The Supreme Court reversed the district court’s grant of summary judgment in favor of Defendants in this wrongful death action, holding that there were disputed issues of material fact that precluded the district court’s entry of summary judgment. Plaintiff, on behalf of the estate of the decedent, brought this action against a commercial trucking company and two of its drivers, alleging that the drivers illegally and negligently parked a semi tractor-trailer in an I-80 emergency lane, causing the vehicle the decedent was driving to collide with the tractor-trailer and the decedent to suffer immediately fatal injuries. Defendants asserted that they were entitled to summary judgment as a matter of law because Plaintiff did not prove that parking on the shoulder of the highway caused the decedent to lose control of his vehicle. The district court granted the motion for summary judgment. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the district court did not apply the proper standard and that Plaintiff must prove instead that the act of parking on the shoulder of an interstate highway created a reasonably foreseeable increased risk of injury to the decedent. Accordingly, the proximate cause issue should be resolved by the jury. View "Wood v. CRST Expedited, Inc." on Justia Law

Posted in: Personal Injury

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The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed and remanded in part the decision of the district court granting summary judgment to Anethesiology Consultants of Cheyenne, LLC (ACC) on its breach of fiduciary duty claim and on Dr. Ronald Stevens’ defamation counterclaim. ACC filed suit against Dr. Stevens and Cassandra Rivers alleging nine causes of action. Dr. Stevens counterclaimed against the members of ACC, alleging several causes of action, including defamation. The district court granted summary judgment for ACC on its first three causes of action and granted summary judgment for the counterclaims defendants on all of Dr. Stevens’ counterclaims. On appeal, the Supreme Court held (1) summary judgment was improperly granted on the fiduciary duties claims; (2) summary judgment was properly granted on the defamation counterclaim; and (3) the trial court erred in excluding certain email evidence. View "Stevens v. Anesthesiology Consultants of Cheyenne, LLC" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the district court’s dismissal of Appellants’ complaint against a school district and school district employees (collectively, Appellees), holding that Appellees were immune from suit under the Wyoming Governmental Claims Act, Wyo. Stat. Ann. 1-39-101 through 1-39-121. Appellants filed this action alleging that the school district employees had committed various torts against them, that the school district was liable for the employees’ actions under the doctrine of respondeat superior, and that the school district had committed direct acts of negligence. The district court dismissed the case under Wyo. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6). The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) Appellants did not properly allege that the school district employees acted outside the scope of their duties, and therefore, the district court did not err by dismissing Appellants’ claims against the employees; (2) this Court rejects Appellants’ request to recognize an exception to immunity for violation of school policy and/or criminal conduct; and (3) Appellants’ remaining argument was without merit. View "Whitham v. Feller" on Justia Law

Posted in: Personal Injury

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The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the district court ruling that governmental immunity barred Plaintiffs’ claims against the Wyoming Department of Transportation (WYDOT), the City of Riverton (City), and their employees. Plaintiffs’ seven-year-old child was killed after being struck by a vehicle in a crosswalk on her way home from school. The driver of the vehicle held a valid Wyoming driver’s license even though she could not have passed the eye exam, which was administered by a WYDOT employee. Plaintiffs sued the WYDOT, the City, Fremont County School District No. 25, and employees of those governmental entities. The district court dismissed the claims against the school district and its employees and that governmental immunity barred the claims against the remaining defendants. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the WYDOT’s performance of eye exams does not constitute a public service for which governmental immunity has been waived under Wyo. Stat. Ann. 1-39-108; and (2) the City was not a public utility providing public services for which governmental immunity has been waived under section 1-39-108 when it provided the marked street crossing where the child was struck. View "Archer v. State ex rel. Wyoming Department of Transportation" on Justia Law

Posted in: Personal Injury

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The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the district court dismissing SH’s complaint against the Campbell County School District seeking to recover damages for injuries she received when she slipped and fell on a school playground. SH, who received special education services in accordance with an Individual Education Plan (IEP), claimed that the Wyoming Governmental Claims Act did not bar her suit against the school district because the IEP was a contract, and therefore, the Act’s exception to immunity for contract claims applied. The district court found that the IEP was not a contract and, accordingly, there was no exception to governmental immunity under the Act. The Supreme Court agreed, holding (1) the IEP is not a contract; and (2) the IEP therefore does not create an exception to the School District’s governmental immunity. View "SH v. Campbell County School District" on Justia Law

Posted in: Personal Injury

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The Supreme Court reversed the district court’s ruling granting summary judgment against FedEx Ground Package System, Inc. on Mariusz Bogdanski’s claim of vicarious liability of the claimed negligence of Damian Budzik and remanded the case to the district court for further proceedings. Bogdanski and Budzik were codrivers of a semi-truck that was involved in an accident in Evanston, Wyoming. The codrivers were hauling trailers owned by FedEx. Bogdanski sued Budzik, seeking damages for Budzik’s claimed negligence. Bogdanski also sued FedEx. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of Budzik and FedEx. The Supreme Court (1) affirmed the summary judgment in favor of Budzik and the summary judgment on Bogdanski’s direct negligent training claim; but (2) reversed the summary judgment against FedEx on the vicarious liability for claimed negligence claim, holding that the evidence was sufficient to raise a genuine issue as to whether Budzik breached a duty. View "Bogdanski v. Budzik" on Justia Law

Posted in: Personal Injury

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The Supreme Court consolidated Plaintiffs’ petitions for writ of review from the circuit court’s decisions granting Defendant summary judgment on Plaintiffs’ separate claims asserting invasion of privacy, granted the petitions, and reversed and remanded for further proceedings. In granting summary judgment for Defendant, the circuit court concluded that Wyoming does not recognize a cause of action for Plaintiffs’ privacy claims. Plaintiffs asked the Supreme Court to recognize a common law cause of action for the invasion of privacy tort defined by the Restatement (Second) of Torts, section 652B, as intrusion upon seclusion. The Supreme Court agreed with Plaintiffs, holding (1) the Restatement cause of action for intrusion upon seclusion is consistent with the value the state places on privacy; and (2) therefore, the tort is now recognized as part of Wyoming’s common law. View "Howard v. Aspen Way Enterprises, Inc." on Justia Law

Posted in: Personal Injury

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The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the district court granting summary judgment for Plains Tire & Battery, Co. in this case filed by Cindy and William Williams alleging that Plains was negligent in failing to maintain the area outside its store in a reasonably safe condition, leading Cindy to slip and fall. In granting summary judgment for Plains, the district court found that Plaintiffs failed to present a genuine issue of material fact as to whether Plains breached a duty to maintain its property in a reasonably safe condition. The Supreme Court disagreed and remanded the case, holding that Plaintiffs raised genuine issues of material fact. View "Williams v. Plains Tire & Battery Co., Inc." on Justia Law

Posted in: Personal Injury

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In this case alleging that Memorial Hospital of Sweetwater County was vicariously liable for the acts or omissions of a physician who worked at the hospital as an independent contractor, the Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the district court finding that the Hospital waived its immunity by purchasing liability insurance. The Hospital had moved for summary judgment on the ground that the physician was not a Hospital employee, and therefore, the Hospital was immune from liability for his acts or omissions. The district court denied the Hospital’s motion, finding that the Hospital waived its immunity to ostensible agency claims under the insurance exception at Wyo. Stat. Ann. 1-39-118(b). The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) the Hospital’s liability insurance did not provide coverage for liability beyond the liability defined by the Wyoming Governmental Claims Act, and (2) the Hospital’s liability insurance therefore did not extend the Hospital’s liability to include liability for its apparent agents. View "Memorial Hospital of Sweetwater County v. Menapace" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the district court’s order denying Kindred Nursing and Rehabilitation - Wind River’s motion to compel arbitration in this wrongful death action. Aletha Boyd died following her discharge from Kindred. Aletha’s daughter, Susan Boyd, filed this action alleging that Kindred’s negligence in caring for Aletha caused her death. Kindred moved to compel arbitration pursuant to an alternative dispute resolution (ADR) agreement signed by Leanna Putman, Aletha’s other daughter and representative under a power of attorney at the time of Aletha’s admission into the nursing home. The district court denied the motion without providing reasons for doing so. The Supreme Court remanded with instructions to order arbitration as required by the ADR agreement, holding (1) Putnam had the authority to sign the ADR agreement on Aletha’s behalf; and (2) the ADR was neither unconscionable nor lacked mutuality of assent or sufficient consideration. View "Kindred Heathcare Operating, Inc. v. Boyd" on Justia Law