Articles Posted in Personal Injury

by
In his 2010 Chapter 7 petition, the debtor listed a claim against Simms based on an injury while under Simms’ employ, but did not claim an exemption on Schedule C. In 2011, a complaint was filed against Simms; in 2012, a companion action was filed against BWC. The debtor filed amended schedules, valuing the Simms claim at $21,625, but claiming no exemption. The debtor never listed the BWC claim. In 2013, the certified that the estate had been fully administered except for the Simms claim, stating: The ... settlement shall remain property of the bankruptcy estate upon the entry of a final decree; if money becomes available ... the case will be re-opened. The bankruptcy court closed the case; the order contained no reservations regarding the claim. In 2015, the trustee was notified of a settlement offer and moved to reopen the case. The debtor argued that the trustee had abandoned any interest in the personal injury litigation and that the settlement encompassed the claim against BWC in which the trustee had no interest. The court approved a settlement of $180,000. At a hearing, without evidence or testimony, the bankruptcy court found that the claims were not abandoned. The Sixth Circuit Bankruptcy Appellate Panel reversed in part. The court made no findings to support approval of the settlement over the debtor’s objections. Because no court order preserved the personal injury claim as an asset, the bankruptcy court erred by holding that the trustee did not abandon that claim under 11 U.S.C. 554(c); the unscheduled BWC claim was not abandoned. View "In re: Wayne Wright" on Justia Law

by
Fleming had a sporadic work history in the coal industry. Between 1970 and 1991, Fleming worked for 25 different employers. In 2010, Fleming sought Black Lung Benefits Act payments. The DOL Office of Workers’ Compensation calculated that Fleming was employed as a miner for nine and one-quarter years and that he had contracted pneumoconiosis as a result of that employment. Aberry was designated as the employer responsible for payment of benefits. On appeal, an ALJ determined that Fleming could show he had worked 273.50 weeks in the industry (about 5.25 years), but that Fleming was credible and established that he had either been paid under the table or without proper records having been kept. Based on that determination, the ALJ found that Fleming engaged in coal-mine employment “for at least 15 years,” which entitled Fleming to the presumption of total disability under 30 U.S.C. 921(c)(4). The Benefits Review Board remanded, stating that the ALJ had neither explained how he resolved the conflict between Fleming’s “not [being] a good historian” and the ALJ’s crediting of Fleming’s testimony, nor resolved the conflicting evidence. The ALJ's second Decision again awarded benefits. finding that Fleming worked more than 15 years in coal-mine employment. The Sixth Circuit vacated. The evidence was insufficient to establish that Fleming had 15 years of employment. View "Aberry Coal, Inc. v. Fleming" on Justia Law

by
Jackson died in a car accident on U.S. Highway 70 after he lost control of his 2012 Ford Focus. Mrs. Jackson, who was a passenger in the car, was seriously injured. She sued, alleging that Ford was responsible for the accident because it equipped the car with a defective “Electronic Power Assisted Steering” (EPAS) system that caused the loss of control. The district court dismissed, finding that Jackson did not adequately plead proximate cause. The Seventh Circuit reversed, stating that “the district court demanded too much of Jackson under the familiar Iqbal and Twombly pleading requirements.” Jackson plausibly alleged that a defect in the 2012 Ford Focus’s EPAS system was a substantial factor in bringing about the accident, as is apparent from the litany of other accidents identified by Jackson where the EPAS system allegedly failed, causing the driver to lose control of the vehicle. Ford’s “hypertechnical arguments regarding the allegations” in Jackson’s complaint rest on an inaccurate understanding of notice pleading. View "Jackson v. Ford Motor Co." on Justia Law