“Coal seam gas stinks.” – Anti-fracking poster. In this case, home-owner Plaintiffs sued four oil and gas companies claiming pollutants from drilling activities at three well sites contaminated their air, water, and land around their home. The trial court issued a modified case management order that required Plaintiffs to make a prima facie case in support of their toxic tort claims before discovery began — commonly called “Lone Pine” orders. Plaintiffs produced evidence of well water contamination and expert reports, but not evidence that the drilling caused their injuries. The trial court dismissed with prejudice. The court of appeals reversed because: 1) trial courts lack discretion under CRCP 16(c) to issue such orders; 2) the case was not complex or extraordinary enough to depart from normal procedure; and 3) existing procedures protect against meritless claims.
Tag Archives: Expert Testimony
William G. Strudley and Beth E. Strudley v. Antero Resources Corporation, Antero Resources Piceance Corporation, Calfrac Well Services Corporation, and Frontier Drilling, LLC, 2013 COA 106 (July 3, 2013)
William P. Settle and Corinna Settle v. Janet M. Basinger, M.D. and Rio Grande Hospital, 2013COA18 (February 28, 2013)
“O Captain! my Captain! our fearful [intubation] is done” – Walt Whitman. Two nurses and a doctor made a number of failed attempts to intubate a Patient prior to an Air Life transport. The attempts injured Patient’s throat who sued, among others, the ER doctor and hospital who handed him off to Air Life staff. Plaintiff appealed partial summary judgment in favor of hospital and ER doctor on issues of vicarious liability and certain evidentiary rulings at trial. The court of appeals held: 1) the “captain of the ship” doctrine does not apply to ER doctors and 2) negligent supervision cannot be brought under vicarious liability doctrines. The court also upheld the exclusion of facts plaintiff sought to use for impeachment, including the medical history of the ER doctor and that both the defendant and an expert witness were insured by the same carrier. Trial court’s rulings were affirmed.
Scene 1: “I just got rear-ended – I’m OK, just shaken.” Scene 2, days later: “My neck and back really hurt.” So starts a familiar drama in this personal injury case. The defense in this damages-only trial was how much of the medical bills the defendant should pay. The trial court instructed the jury to reduce damages if they found plaintiff had continued expensive treatment though it did not resolve her pain. The court of appeals reversed, finding zero support for the proposition that a plaintiff has an affirmative duty to end treatment if it is expensive and ineffective. Another instruction on the reasonableness and necessity of treatment, which was also given, sufficiently addressed the issue. Addressing evidentiary issues, the court cited Cosgrove for the collateral source rule, and approved admission of evidence of delayed recovery syndrome and previous domestic violence.
Win the battle, lose the war. In this construction contract case, on the evening before trial and after a year of litigation, Defendant moved to dismiss Plaintiff’s tort claim on the grounds that it was barred by the economic loss rule. The trial court did so, ostensibly under CRCP 12(b), but allowed Plaintiff to add a breach of contract claim. Plaintiff won at trial. Defendant sought, but was denied, mandatory attorneys’ fees because the tort claim was dismissed. The court of appeals held that, because Defendant moved to dismiss after the answer was filed, it was a CRCP 12(c) motion, so fee awards are not mandatory. The court also held that when a construction contract provides its own standard by which work must be performed, the contract’s standard applies, not industry standards. And, if a lay person could apply that standard, expert testimony may not be, and was not required here.
People in the Interest of A.V. and J.V., Children, and Concerning M.V., 2012COA210 (November 21, 2012)
“You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink.” This statement is a sad reality when attempting to rehabilitate parents before terminating their parental rights. In this case, a child enrolled in the Cherokee Nation was adjudicated dependent and neglected and removed from the mother’s care. The trial court entered a treatment plan for Father, who was addicted to drugs. Father was provided with substance abuse services and treatment, parenting education, supervised visits, and other help—all to no avail. Three years later, Father’s parental rights were terminated. On appeal, Father argued that “active efforts” were not made to rehabilitate him as required by the Indian Child Welfare Act. The court of appeals upheld the termination, and noted the Act does not require expert testimony to support a finding that active efforts were made and were later unsuccessful.