Justia Arkansas Supreme Court Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Personal Injury

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The Supreme Court affirmed the circuit court's order granting summary judgment to Defendant, Dr. Leslie Smith, based on quasi-judicial immunity, holding that Defendant was entitled to quasi-judicial immunity because the suit sought to hold him liable for his performance of functions integral to the judicial process. In 2011, Kenneth McFadden stabbed Virgil Brown to death in their shared apartment. At the time of the murder, McFadden was in custody of Greater Assistance to Those in Need, Inc. as part of his conditional release under Act 911 of 1989 and was serving psychiatric treatment by Dr. Smith. Plaintiff, Brown's daughter, filed this action against Dr. Smith on behalf of her father's estate, claiming that Dr. Smith's alleged failure to provide adequate treatment to McFadden rendered him liable for her father's death. The circuit court concluded that Dr. Smith was entitled to immunity because his treatment of McFadden arose solely from the conditional release order and was within the scope of that order. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that to the extent Dr. Smith's actions fell within the scope of the court's order he was entitled to quasi-judicial immunity. View "Martin v. Smith" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the circuit court's grant of summary judgment to Appellees on Appellant's negligence and civil rights claims, holding that summary judgment was properly granted. Appellant, as special administrator of the estate of his deceased son, filed a wrongful death action against the City of Little Rock and others over the City's alleged mishandling of a 911 call seeking rescue services for his son. The circuit court granted summary judgment in favor of the City. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the City proved entitlement to municipal immunity under Ark. Code Ann. 21-9-301; and (2) the circuit court did not err in granting summary judgment on Appellant's civil rights claims brought under 42 U.S.C. 1983. View "Yang v. City of Little Rock, Arkansas" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court dismissed Appellants' appeal from the order of the circuit court granting Appellees' motion for sanctions, holding that the order was not final. Appellant filed a personal injury complaint against Appellees. When Appellees discovered inconsistencies in Appellant's testimony and discovery responses, Appellees filed a motion for sanctions seeking dismissal of the complaint and an allocation of costs and fees. The circuit court granted the motion. Appellant and two attorneys filed a notice of appeal. The Supreme Court dismissed the appeal, holding that the Ark. R. Civ. P. 11 order was not final under the facts of this case. View "McHughes v. Wayland" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the circuit court entered on the jury's verdict finding that Davis Life Care Center (DLCC), a long-term care facility, was not entitled to charitable immunity and denying DLCC's motion for new trial, holding that the circuit court erred in submitting the charitable-immunity question to the jury. Plaintiff sued DLCC alleging negligence, medical malpractice, breach of an admission agreement, and other causes of action. DLCC filed a motion for summary judgment claiming entitlement to charitable immunity. The circuit court granted the motion. The court of appeals reversed and remanded for further proceedings, concluding that reasonable persons could reach different conclusions based on the undisputed facts presented. The circuit court submitted the question of charitable immunity to the jury, which returned a verdict against DLCC. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the issue of charitable immunity is a question of law for the court, rather than the jury, to decide. View "Davis Nursing Ass'n v. Neal" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the circuit court dismissing Appellant's premises-liability suit against Simmons Sporting Goods, Inc. for lack of personal jurisdiction, holding that Arkansas courts did not have jurisdiction to hear Appellant's claims against Simmons. Simmons, which was incorporated in Louisiana with its principal place of business in Louisiana, operated a retail sporting goods store in Louisiana. Appellant, a resident of Arkansas, broke her arm when entering the Simmons store. Appellant filed suit against Simmons in the Ashley County Circuit Court, arguing that personal jurisdiction because Simmons advertised in Arkansas, held a contest in Arkansas, and used an Arkansas printing company to produce advertisements for its store. The circuit court dismissed the case, finding that Arkansas lacked personal jurisdiction over Simmons. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Simmons' acts of advertising and conducting promotional activities in Arkansas was not sufficient for personal jurisdiction. View "Lawson v. Simmons Sporting Goods, Inc." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court dismissed Appellant’s appeal from the circuit court’s denial of his motion for reconsideration of an order that set a partial filing fee of twenty dollars with respect to Appellant’s pro se civil complaint in tort against four persons, holding that the circuit court did not err when it denied the motion for reconsideration. The circuit court denied Appellant’s request for reconsideration because it was not timely filed pursuant to Ark. R. Civ. P. 60(a). The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that because Appellant did not ask for reconsideration of the circuit court’s order until 155 days after the order had been entered, Appellant’s motion was untimely, and therefore, the circuit court did not err in denying it. View "Whitney v. Wells" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court dismissed Appellant’s appeal from the circuit court’s denial of his motion for reconsideration of an order that set a partial filing fee of thirty-five dollars with respect to Appellant’s pro se civil complaint in tort against the Washington County Sheriff and others, holding that the circuit court did not err when it denied the motion for reconsideration. The circuit court denied Appellant’s request for reconsideration because it was not timely filed pursuant to Ark. R. Civ. P. 60(a). The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that because Appellant did not ask for reconsideration of the circuit court’s order until 197 days after the order had been entered, Appellant’s motion was untimely, and therefore, the circuit court did not err in denying it. View "Whitney v. Washington County Sheriff" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court dismissed Appellant’s appeal from the circuit court’s denial of his motion for reconsideration of an order that set a partial filing fee of twenty dollars with respect to Appellant’s pro se civil complaint in tort against one person, holding that the circuit court did not err when it denied the motion for reconsideration. The circuit court denied Appellant’s request for reconsideration because it was not timely filed pursuant to Ark. R. Civ. P. 60(a). The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that because Appellant did not ask for reconsideration of the circuit court’s order until 155 days after the order had been entered, Appellant’s motion was untimely, and therefore, the circuit court did not err in denying it. View "Whitney v. Wallace" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed and remanded this case to the Workers’ Compensation Commission for further proceedings, holding that the evidence indicating that Deputy Cleon Morgan was an independent contractor and, therefore, there was not substantial evidence to support the Commission’s decision that Morgan was an employee at the time of his injury. The Commission found that, at the time of his injury, Deputy Morgan had two employers, the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Department and Brookshire Grocery Company. The Commission concluded that both were liable for Deputy Morgan’s workers’ compensation benefits as “joint employers.” Brookshire appealed. The Supreme Court reversed the Commission’s decision, holding that where all the factors that are to be considered in determining if Deputy Morgan was an employee or an independent contractor indicate that Deputy Morgan was an independent contractor, the case must be remanded for further proceedings for a determination as to whether Brookshire was indeed liable for workers’ compensation benefits. View "Brookshire Grocery Co. v. Morgan" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the circuit court’s grant of summary judgment and dismissal of Plaintiff’s civil rights and tort complaint on the ground of failure to exhaust administrative remedies. Plaintiff, an inmate incarcerated in the Arkansas Department of Correction (ADC), filed a complaint against ADC officials in their individual capacities under the Arkansas Civil Rights Act of 1993 (ACRA), Ark. Code Ann. 16-123-101 to -108. Plaintiff alleged that Defendants violated his due process rights when they failed timely to release him from punitive isolation and that Defendants committed the torts of false imprisonment, negligence, and excessive confinement. The circuit court found that Plaintiff had failed to exhaust his due process and tort claims as required by the Prison Litigation Reform Act (PRLA), 42 U.S.C. 1997e. Because the PRLA is a federal law that is not applicable to actions brought against public officials in their individual capacities under ACRA and Arkansas tort law, the circuit court erred in granting Defendants’ motion for summary judgment and dismissing Plaintiff’s case for failure to exhaust. View "Harmon v. Jackson" on Justia Law