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Federal New Releases

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from Federal Courts

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Torts -- Premises liability -- Slip and fall -- Damages -- Evidence -- Collateral source rule -- District court did not abuse its discretion when it ordered plaintiff's health insurer to produce evidence concerning payments made by it to plaintiff's treating doctors or when it admitted this evidence at trial for limited purposes of attacking credibility of causation opinions proffered by plaintiff's doctors -- Although Georgia law gives plaintiff a right to recover damages undiminished by collateral benefits, it does not create a substantive evidentiary rule that bars admission of collateral source payments under all circumstances, but instead recognizes that there can be circumstances in which evidence of these payments is admissible -- Evidence was relevant to defendant's theory of bias stemming from insurer's business model and the incentives it creates for treating doctors who testify on behalf of their patients, district court did not abuse its discretion in finding that probative value substantially outweighed danger of unfair prejudice, and district court properly instructed jury about collateral source rule and directed jury not to reduce any damages it might award on account of insurer's payments -- Whether evidence was properly admitted to challenge reasonableness of claimed medical expenses need not be addressed where defendant ultimately did not use evidence for this purpose -- Although defendant twice strayed outside scope of district court's delineated collateral source boundaries, error was harmless -- District court did not abuse its discretion when it decided not to grant insurer's motions to quash in their entirety subpoenas related to insurer's business model and payment arrangement where basis for motions to quash was assertion that the information sought was protected by collateral source rule -- Evidence that may implicate collateral source rule is not “protected material” as contemplated by Rule 45(d)(3), nor does Rule 45 set “inadmissibility” as a ground for quashing a subpoena -- Spoliation of evidence -- District court did not abuse its discretion by denying plaintiff's motion for sanctions based upon defendant's failure to preserve all video material rather than preserving only that portion showing the hour in which plaintiff's fall occurred, which covered the entire time plaintiff was in the store
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Criminal law -- Habeas corpus -- Failure to register as sex offender as required by Georgia law -- District court erred by setting aside defendant's 1999 Georgia sodomy conviction, which gave rise to registration obligation, on ground that sodomy conviction was invalid under U.S. Supreme Court's intervening decision in Lawrence v. Texas and that counsel's failure to raise that point in state superior court resulted in Strickland prejudice -- Claim that Lawrence voided sodomy conviction was unexhausted, and district court therefore erred by entertaining it -- Moreover, Georgia appellate court correctly found that defendant suffered no Strickland prejudice as result of counsel's failure to challenge sodomy conviction in failure-to-register appeal, given appellate court's interpretation of Georgia law as precluding appellate court from entertaining collateral attack on sodomy conviction in an appeal from failure-to-register conviction -- District court's conclusion that appellate court's decision was based on unreasonable determination of facts was based on what district court considered to be state appellate court's erroneous interpretation of Georgia law, and federal court, on habeas review, may not second guess state courts on questions of state law
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Wrongful death -- Product liability -- Federal preemption -- Medical Device Amendments -- State law claims against manufacturer of external defibrillator device seeking damages for strict products liability, negligence based on manufacturing defect, fraudulent misrepresentation, fraudulent omission and concealment, fraudulent marketing and promotion, breach of express warranty, negligent misrepresentation, and negligent infliction of emotional distress -- District court correctly dismissed claim for negligent infliction of emotional distress given plaintiff's failure to make sufficient showing of physical injury, as required by Florida law -- However, in light of developing and binding precedent in Eleventh Circuit, district court erred in dismissing remaining claims on ground that claims were expressly preempted by Medical Device Amendments because they were premised on defect in defendant's device -- A plaintiff may proceed on claim, avoiding express and implied preemption, so long as the plaintiff claims breach of well-recognized duty owed plaintiff under state law and plaintiff can show harm resulting from violation of applicable federal law -- Discussion of individual claims in light of Florida law and express and implied preemption
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