Articles Posted in Building Defects

trampoline_sports_equipment_sport_1-scaledSometimes, those delightful recreational activities we all enjoy carry an inherent risk. Often, we assume the risk of those injuries when we engage in that potentially reckless conduct. Knowing your legal options following these injuries is necessary, mainly because recovering for these somewhat ordinary injuries can be difficult. What does it look like when a party cannot recover for a recreational injury–here, an injury from a trampoline park visit?

Kurt and Tabitha Perkins visited a Shreveport indoor trampoline park, Air U. Kurt was injured while at Air U, and he was relatively young, had no known or apparent medical issues before the injury, and had done some time with the U.S. Marine Corps. The Perkinses filed a lawsuit against Air U and other parties, namely insurance companies and Air U’s unidentified employees. 

Kurt stated in a deposition that he did not know why his left knee gave out when jumping on the trampoline, as he had no other injuries or treatment to his left leg. The other patrons at the trampoline park, mostly young kids, had no trouble jumping on the trampoline. Kurt and Tabitha stated that they did not notice any defects on the trampoline and that Kurt jumped normally when he was hurt. Tabitha also said that an Air U employee did not call an ambulance because he was not a manager. 

flood_fields_pasture_trees-scaledThe story of an underdog seeking justice against a powerful corporation is a familiar legal narrative. And while we may be inclined to root for the little guy, that does not relieve him from proving he has a valid case.

In Louisiana, a plaintiff will not see his case go to trial if it lacks support to overcome a motion for summary judgment. The opposing side will look for holes in the plaintiff’s claim, posing the question: if you have not produced facts suggesting I committed this offense, how will you obtain the requisite evidence to prove it at trial? Accordingly, every “essential element” of a claim requires factual support to serve as a basis for deliberation at trial. La. C.C.P. art 996(c)(2).

The Mitchells, owners of a Shapes Gym in the Parish of Ascension, faced this “make it or break it” moment of summary judgment in their case against neighboring businesses, Wal-Mart, and Aaron’s. The Mitchells alleged that the neighbors’ improperly designed and maintained stormwater drainage systems were to blame for six inches of rainwater that flooded the gym in 2009 and again during litigation of the first flood claim in 2014. 

meat_barbecue_grill-scaledWhen preparing for a fundraiser, you understandably have lots on your mind. You have to coordinate food, RSVPs, and plan the event. However, if you are using something potentially dangerous, such as a propane barbecue, you also need to ensure you take reasonable steps to inspect it for any potential defects. Otherwise, you could be liable for injuries you or others suffer.

John Palir III was a pastor at Topsy United Pentecostal Church. A week before the church’s barbecue fundraiser, he and a deacon at the church were trying to light the barbecue pit on a barbecue trailer the church owned. When the deacon pressed the pilot button, Palir lit it with a lighter wand. That resulted in a ball of fire that blew Palir out of the trailer, where he hit the deacon’s grandson, who was standing nearby at the time of the explosion. Palir filed a lawsuit against the church and its insurer, GuideOne Insurance Company. 

At trial, Palir moved to exclude any instruction to the jury about him being liable for the explosion. The trial court allowed the church to present evidence of Palir’s negligence but not about whether Palir knew or should have known the barbecue trailer was defective or hazardous under La. C.C. art. 2317.1. At trial, the jury held Palir was 50% at fault, and the church was also 50% at fault. The jury also found the barbecue trailer was in the Church’s custody, it presented an unreasonable risk of harm to Palir, and the church knew or should have known about its defect. Palir appealed, arguing the jury erred in assigning him 50% of the fault. 

slip_heads_up_warningPersonal injury cases are notorious for their intricate nature, often posing challenges in determining fault and establishing liability. Complications escalate further when discrepancies arise regarding the facts surrounding the incident. When blame is uncertain, and parties refuse to accept responsibility, the legal landscape becomes increasingly convoluted. 

A recent Louisiana Court of Appeals case offered a detailed examination of an issue of material fact in determining fault in a personal injury lawsuit. By exploring the court’s decision and the supporting evidence, we gain insight into the complexities inherent in such cases and their implications on a motion for summary judgment.

James Palmisano fell at work due to the water in the hallway. Palmisano alleged that the water leaked from the men’s and women’s toilets. He filed a lawsuit for his injuries, claiming two plumbing companies, Prejean and Colville Plumbing & Irrigation, Inc., were called to fix the problem but didn’t. 

prison_prison_window_window-scaledWhen prison officials do nothing to fix a large hole that leaks onto the floor in a jail cell, could the inmate have a claim for cruel and unusual punishment? The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals case answers no. Many instances of inmates complaining about mistreatment are not uncommon to hear about, but when do we draw the line from complaints to unusual punishment? The subsequent lawsuit helps us answer this question of Eighth Amendment rights violations.

Ceasar Shannon was a Dixon Correctional Institute prisoner for over three years. The cell he was in had a large hole in the ceiling that would leak water when it rained. Shannon, along with other inmates, had made many complaints to maintenance requesting it to be fixed. Many times the guards just put buckets to catch the water dripping. One of these times, Shannon woke up at night to use the bathroom and slipped and fell on the puddle from the leak. Shannon suffered injuries to his back, shoulder, and hip.

Shannon filed a lawsuit against the Louisiana prison official under 42 U.S.C § 1983 action in federal district court. Under 42 U.S.C § 1983 a person can seek remedies against others who violated their constitutional rights. Shannon claimed the prison guards were aware of the hole in the wall and did nothing to fix the problem, thus showing deliberate indifference to Shannon’s health and safety, violating his Eight Amendment right to be free of cruel and unusual punishment. In response, the State filed a motion to dismiss. The State claimed slip-and-fall cases are negligence claims, not actionable under § 1983. The district court held in favor of the State. Unhappy with the district court’s ruling, Shannon appealed to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals.

exxon_valdez_cleanup-scaledWe have all read headlines about lawsuits filed against gas and energy companies by workers who have developed health problems at their facilities. But what happens when a plaintiff files a lawsuit which could be barred by a workers’ compensation act? Will the claim be able to withstand a peremptory exception? How does the plaintiff fight against such a motion?

Susan Mulkey appealed a trial court judgment sustaining a peremptory exception dismissing her claims against Exxon Mobil Corporation for damages. Her case arose from the death of her husband, Michael Mulkey Sr., who was exposed to toxic chemicals during his time at Exxon. Mulkey Sr. worked at Exxon for thirty-five years, during which he was exposed to benzene. He was subsequently diagnosed with acute myelogenous leukemia. 

Mulkey Sr. claimed forty-one employees of Exxon were liable for his damages because of their negligence in properly safeguarding the work environment. When Mulkey Sr. died from leukemia, his wife and children filed a lawsuit for damages. Exxon filed a peremptory exception, claiming Mulkey failed to state a cause of action, which the trial court sustained. Exxon was eventually dismissed from the lawsuit, which Mulkey appealed. 

school_primary_school_east-scaledSchools are institutions for learning and public meeting spots for numerous events. People come and go daily and the safety of all visitors is paramount. But what happens when a visitor to a school is injured on the premise? Can a school be held liable for a visitor’s injuries on its campus?  The following case out of Kentwood, Louisiana, shows the need for adequate proof when pursuing a trip and fall lawsuit against a school.

John Williams went to pick up his grandson at Kentwood High School when he fell on what he described as a hole in front of the gym’s entrance. He filed a lawsuit seeking damages from the Tangipahoa Parish School Board (TPSB). TPSB filed for summary judgment, arguing the case should be dismissed because Williams could not show proof of unreasonable risk of harm at the school. The trial court granted the motion. The judgment was then appealed to the Louisiana Court of Appeal First Circuit. 

In reviewing the matter, the appeals court noted TPSB is a public entity and, under the Louisiana Civil Code, a public entity is responsible for damages caused by the condition of buildings within its care and custody. La.R.S. 9:2800A. This legal concept is vicarious liability, in which a person or company is held liable for acts committed by a third party. 

louisiana_baton_rouge_state-scaledWhen someone is injured in an accident, the question often arises, who is at fault? Certain factors must be met to find fault in an injury case. The following case outlines the elements which must be proven to file a personal injury lawsuit against a public park in East Baton Rouge.  

 While climbing spectator bleachers at a park, two-year-old Derrick Albert Jr. (DJ) fell and landed on a concrete surface. DJ’s parents, Brittany Hasbert and Derrick Albert, Sr., brought a claim against the Baton Rouge Recreation and Park Commission (BREC) for the Parish of East Baton Rouge, pursuing damages for the injuries DJ sustained from his fall. 

After receiving the lawsuit, BREC filed a motion for summary judgment to dismiss their claims. BREC argued DJ would be unable to prove the bleachers were defective and the bleachers were the cause of his injuries. BREC also argued that it didn’t have actual or constructive notice of a defect in the bleachers. 

foggy_sidewalk_morning_fog-scaledPremises liability is an active area of personal injury law, and accidents occurring on public property are no exception. The question often arises, who is liable for a slip and fall on a public sidewalk? In this case, the Louisiana Third Circuit Court of Appeal was asked to determine the premises liability of the town of Lake Arthur for a fall occurring on a public sidewalk built and maintained by this public entity.

On July 11, 2014, Robin Rogers Richard fell while walking along a sidewalk in Lake Arthur. The portion of the sidewalk where her fall occurred was a driveway that allowed maintenance vehicles to access a public park, with a sloping transition on either side running perpendicular to the street. This portion of the sidewalk was completed in September 2013 by John Anderson Concrete Finishes, Inc. (Anderson), under the direction of Robert Bertrand, the major of Lake Arthur. 

Ms. Richard filed a motion for summary judgment on the liability issue, arguing the slope of the transition area did not meet certain state and national requirements and was, therefore, defective per se. However, at her deposition, she indicated that her last step before her fall was on a flat portion of the new sidewalk, not the sloped portion. In response, Lake Arthur, Anderson, and its insurer, Seneca Specialty Insurance Co, filed motions for summary judgment alleging statutory immunity from liability and they were not liable because the condition of the sidewalk was open and obvious.

termite_tracks_tree_damageExpert testimony is one tool litigants can use to prove their arguments in a court of law. Expert witnesses are highly credible individuals with advanced knowledge in a particular field in a lawsuit. The testimony of experts is meant to assist the court in understanding the evidence in matters of fact. But not just anyone claiming to be an expert can testify on behalf of a litigant. As homeowners Blake and Courtney Freeman learned in a painful way, the testimony of six expert witnesses they offered was denied admissibility because it failed to meet Louisiana’s standards for expert testimony evidence.

 The Freeman family purchased a home in Houma, Louisiana, which at the time contained prior termite damage previously treated by Fon’s Pest Management. In 2010, the Freemans began renovating their kitchen and discovered additional termite damage in the kitchen cabinets. As a result, Fon’s Pest Management again treated the Freemans’ home on two separate occasions by drilling holes in the floor, injecting termiticide into the soil beneath the floor, and using spot treatments of termiticide around the house. The spot treatment chemical contained fipronil, a colorless, odorless neurotoxin. Following Fon’s Pest Management’s treatments, the Freemans began to experience health problems that they believed were caused by the termiticide used in their home. As a result, the Freemans moved out of their house and filed an action against Fon’s Pest Management for damages due to injuries caused by the exposure to fipronil. 

 In support of their theory of recovery, the Freemans relied on the expert testimony of three toxicologists, an engineer, an industrial hygienist, and a professional counselor. Fon’s Pest Management filed motions in limine, arguing that none of the expert’s testimony should be admitted into evidence because they failed to meet the required legal standard for experts. A motion in limine is filed by a party who seeks to have the court limit or prevent certain evidence from being presented by the opposing party at trial. These motions, usually filed before the commencement of a trial, are handled outside of the jury’s hearing. The trial court granted Fon’s Pest Management’s motions to exclude the Freemans’ expert testimony and subsequently granted Fon’s Pest Management’s motion for summary judgment.

Contact Information