Articles Posted in Legal Definitions

hammer_court_judge_justice-scaledCourt cases are contentious, polarizing atmospheres between the parties. Stubbornness is ripe, and the opposing parties are staunchly in, unsurprisingly, opposition. However, sometimes even opposing parties can agree. Any party can take issue with a court’s judgment, and sometimes ALL parties can take issue with a court’s decision–even if these issues are different. But when multiple parties raise various errors in a trial court judgment, how can the higher courts resolve such allegations of error?

 In 2001, a workplace incident occurred between the plaintiff, Bradley W. Smith, and the defendant, then-coworker Paul Babin. Smith alleged that while the two parties were in the parking lot at their workplace, Babin intentionally hit Smith with his vehicle. In his 2002 lawsuit, Smith claimed that Babin was liable for Smith’s damages and later amended the lawsuit to include Shelter Mutual Insurance Company (Shelter) as Babin’s liability insurer. 

In late 2014, a trial court heard Smith’s lawsuit on liability, causation, and damages and then heard Babin’s crossclaims. At the beginning of the trial, the parties entered a pretrial stipulation that determined Smith’s past medical expenses caused by Babin’s act totaled $338,556.27, for which both Shelter and Babin would get worker’s compensation credit. 

ant_dod_pomonkey_2015-scaledHospital admission can often be a terrifying experience, but even more so is an ICU admission. Your life is literally in the hands of hospital doctors and nurses. But what happens if you sustain injuries unrelated to your original illness or injury while in the ICU? A recent patient at Mercy Regional Medical Center in Ville Platte, Louisiana, was left with no legal recourse after sustaining multiple ant bites during her ICU stay.   

Linda Searile was admitted to Mercy Regional Medical Center (Mercy Regional) in September 2011 after falling and hitting her head. After her condition deteriorated, she was moved to the ICU. Two days later, a nurse discovered ants on Ms. Searile’s arm and in her bed. The nurse removed the ants and gave Ms. Searile medication for pain and itching.   Ms. Searile was discharged from Mercy Regional a few days later.   

Ms. Searile filed a lawsuit against Mercy Regional, asserting the hospital knew or should have known of the ant infestation and should have taken reasonable steps to eliminate the bugs. Mercy Regional filed a motion for summary judgment stating that Ms. Searile could not show that the hospital was negligent in any manner and that the lawsuit should be dismissed entirely. The Thirteenth Judicial District Court for the Parish of Evangeline agreed with Mercy Regional and dismissed the case.    Ms. Searile appealed to the Louisiana Third Circuit Court of Appeal.   

clock_time_dead_broken-scaledBefore taking on one of the nation’s largest, leading automotive manufacturing companies, it is essential to consult an excellent attorney with knowledge of the Federal Court system.  The importance of following the deadlines set by the Court in that system cannot be understated. Unfortunately, the lesson of how critical it is to follow court deadlines came to bear a harsh reality for the children of two deceased car accident victims in the following case.

 Sandra, Carnel, Darnell, Gregory, and Lashawn Joseph (collectively “the Josephs”) sued GM after the car their parents, George and Jeanette Joseph, were passengers in caught fire and crashed into the guardrail, causing their parents’ fatal injuries. In trying to gather evidence to support their claims against GM at the District Court, the Josephs sought expert testimony. Still, they failed to identify expert witnesses or produce expert reports before the District Court’s scheduled deadline passed. Therefore, the District Court denied the Josephs’ motion to reschedule the deadlines based on their failure to show good cause for not meeting the deadline. 

The Josephs did not object to this denial, and GM moved for summary judgment. The summary judgment argued that because Josephs had no experts to prove their claims, they had no case to go forward with. The Josephs attempted to admit expert testimony to challenge GM’s motion. However, the District Court neither allowed the testimony because the Josephs missed the previously scheduled deadlines nor allowed the Josephs extra time for discovery. As a result, the District Court ruled in favor of GM on the motion for summary judgment. The Josephs subsequently appealed to the Fifth Circuit.

Automobile insurance claims are complex enough, as it is unlikely that all parties involved will immediately agree on a settlement amount. These claims become even more convoluted when there are questions as to what state law should apply or when the insured isn’t fully aware of what his policy entails. Unfortunately, this is precisely what happened when a man was involved in an accident in New Orleans. 

Jones was involved in a motor vehicle accident in Orleans Parish, and the other driver, insured by Allstate, was found to be at fault. Jones settled with Allstate and then attempted to recover under his own uninsured/underinsured motorist claim from GEICO. GEICO denied his claim stating that Jones was in direct violation of his Georgia-issued policy and statutory law when he failed to obtain GEICO’s approval before settling with and releasing Allstate. 

Jones then brought a claim against GEICO, where he, in part, filed a motion for summary judgment seeking a judicial determination that Louisiana law applied, not Georgia’s. The Civil District Court of Orleans Parish granted Jones’ partial summary judgment claim and found that Louisiana law applied. GEICO then appealed the Trial Court’s ruling to the Louisiana Fourth Circuit Court of Appeal, where the issue focused on whether the Trial Court correctly granted Jones’ motion for partial summary judgment. 

time_clock_defect_showing-scaledTiming is an important part of claiming worker’s compensation in Louisiana. Louisiana R.S. 23:1209(C) requires that:

  1. The employee files an initial claim or makes other suitable arrangements within one year of the injury; and
  2. The employee makes any subsequent claims no more than three years after the last payment of medical benefits.

building_hospital_enschede_928636-scaledPeople may be fired for a variety of reasons. Often a dismissed employee feels the termination was unjust or racially based. Bringing a lawsuit under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 is difficult. A plaintiff must present evidence for a prima facie case of discrimination to survive summary judgment. The following case out of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, demonstrates the difficulty of doing so.

David Williams, an African-American man, worked for Franciscan Missionaries of Our Lady Health Systems, Inc., before being terminated in November 2012. Williams felt the firing was unfair and that he had claims to bring against the hospital. Williams’ lawsuit asserted racial discrimination and retaliation claims under Title VII and U.S.C. § 1981. 42 U.S.C. § 1981. The Federal District Court granted summary judgment for Our Lady Health on both claims. That ruling caused Williams’s case to be dismissed, so he appealed the ruling to the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit.

On appeal, the court must examine the district court’s granting of summary judgment and if the non-moving party has met their prima facie burden. Summary judgment is appropriate when there are no disputes of material fact, and the movant is entitled to judgment in their favor as a matter of law.

calculator_calculation_insurance_1044172-scaledIf you were wrongfully terminated from a civil service position within your local government, you might be eligible to receive some compensation for your trouble. For example, say you are placed on suspension and are on track to be terminated. However, you later appeal that decision, and your suspension and termination are lifted. As a result, you may be allowed to reclaim back pay and exceptional pay for the time you were prohibited from working. The following case out of Plaquemines parish discusses the issues of back pay and exceptional pay and how they apply within a court proceeding. 

Loukisha A. Daisy applied for the position of Chief Internal Auditor at the Plaquemines Parish Government (PPG). Daisy was accepted on the condition that she complete all required courses and possess a CPA within one year of her hire date. Daisy worked for PPG for one year but did not obtain her CPA certification within that timeline. PPG moved to terminate her employment for this failure as well as two other non-critical mistakes on her part. Daisy was suspended until she had a predetermination hearing. After the suspension, Daisy was terminated. 

Daisy appealed her termination to the Plaquemines Parish Civil Service Commission.  The Commission reinstated her to her previous position but failed to award all of the back pay she sought in her initial appeal. Therefore, she appealed the Commission’s decision to the Louisiana Fourth Circuit court of appeals.

forklift_machine_crane_1645850-scaledWorkers’ compensation is a financial support system that may be available to injured employees. It aims to ensure employees are compensated for their injuries and do not bear the entire expenses of medical bills. Workers’ compensation laws differ from state to state. Still, the general idea is that employees can get benefits regardless of who was at fault for the injury so long as the injury arose from an act during employment. 

While workers’ compensation provides employees a safety net, not all claims fall under the statutory regime. Sometimes plaintiffs, like David Lindsay,  believe that their injury might result from an intentional act by their employer, which could allow for a more significant damage award. Those workers will try to file their workplace accidents as intentional tort claims. The following case from the First Circuit in Louisiana discusses how employees try to recover damages outside of Workers’ Compensation benefits for their injuries on the job. It also helps answer the question, when can I file a tort claim against my employer if I am hurt at work in Louisiana?

David Lindsay was an employee at Packaging Corporation of America (PCA), where he operated forklifts as part of his duties. He suffered severe injuries when the forklift he was driving slipped and fell off a loading dock. This accident lodged his left forearm between a railcar and the safety cage on the forklift. 

school_book_know_read-scaledIf you feel you have been wrongfully terminated, you might think it is sufficient to file a lawsuit accusing your former employer of violating the law. However, merely making legal accusations is insufficient. To survive a motion to dismiss, you must include sufficient factual details to support your claims against your former employer. The case shown below demonstrates these principles.

Melissa Durham worked as a science teacher at Gonzalez Medically School. After she had worked there for about six months, the principal recommended firing Durham because of her unsatisfactory teaching performance, inability to manage her classroom, and repeated disregard for school policies. The Ascension Parish School Board superintendent agreed and fired Durham. 

Durham filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) asserting that the school board discriminated against her because of her age and mental disability and failed to reasonably accommodate her concerning the purportedly extremely disruptive and violent students. The EEOC gave Durham notice of a right to sue. 

motorcycle_motorcycle_689316-scaledWhen finding yourself as a defendant in a lawsuit, you will want to limit your liability as much as possible. Your liability could be altered when a co-defendant is found to be at fault for the injuries to a certain extent. However, when one defendant is dismissed before the trial begins, can another defendant seeking to split the fault appeal the decision? A case arising out of St. Charles Parish aims to answer this question.

Devyn Allen, the defendant, was driving westbound on U.S. Highway 90 when he moved from the westbound lane into the center turn lane. When riding his motorcycle, the plaintiff, Tobias Dixon, hit the back of Allen’s car. Dixon was thrown from his motorcycle upon impact and landed on the pavement. While still on the pavement, Dixon alleged that Patrick Jackson, the co-defendant, ran Dixon over in his pickup truck. Dixon then sued Allen; Progressive Insurance Company, Allen’s insurer; Jackson; Command Construction Industries, Jackson’s employer; the Gray Insurance Company, Command’s insurer; Louisiana Pizza Group (LPG), Allen’s employer; and Tudor Insurance Company, LPG’s insurer. 

Jackson, Command Construction, and the Gray Insurance Company then filed a motion for summary judgment, which asks the court to decide based on the arguments filed in favor of the filing party. Jackson argued that there was no evidence that he hit Dixon while lying on the pavement. The trial court agreed with Jackson and granted the motion. Following the decision, LPG appealed the decision arguing that there was a genuine issue of fact as to whether Jackson hit Dixon and that Jackson should also be held liable for Dixon’s injuries. 

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