Articles Posted in Negligence Claims

feet_tangerm_c3_bcnde-scaledIf part of a car falls on you at a vehicle yard, you should be able to recover damages for your injuries from the yard owner. However, if you do not provide sufficient evidence, you will likely be unable to recover for your injuries.

While Rico Lee was a customer at a Pull-A-Part vehicle yard in Harvey, Louisiana, he was injured when the rear of a pickup propped up on rims fell on his foot. He filed a lawsuit against Pull-A-Part and their insurer, claiming he was injured when the pick-up truck in Pull-A-Part’s control and control fell on his foot, injuring him. At trial, the jury found Pull-A-Part was not negligent. Lee appealed.

On appeal, Lee argued the jury erred in finding in favor of Pull-A-Part, and the trial court erred by not instructing the jury about res ispa loquitor. Res ispa loquitor is a legal doctrine that allows a court to find negligence by the mere fact that the accident occurred by using circumstantial (not direct) evidence. See Cangelosi v. Our Lady of the Lake Reg’l Med. Ctr. Here, La. C.C. art. 2317.1 required Lee to show the truck was in Pull-A-Part’s custody or control; it had a defect that resulted in an unreasonable risk of harm, Pull-A-Part knew or should have known about this unreasonable risk, and the defect caused his injury. 

district_court_h_c3-scaledIf you’ve been involved in a car accident and are considering filing a lawsuit, it’s essential to be aware of one crucial aspect often overlooked – the appropriate court venue. Venue refers to the location where a lawsuit is filed, and getting it right is crucial for the court to have jurisdiction, granting it the legal authority to issue judgments in the case.

Cea Tillis was involved in a car accident on Frenchmen Street. He filed a lawsuit against the driver of the other vehicle involved in the accident, Jamal McNeil, and his insurance company (the defendants) in the Second Parish Court for the Parish of Jefferson. Tillis asserted Jefferson Parish was the proper venue under La. C.C.P art. 74, which allows a lawsuit to be brought in the location where the accident occurred or where the damages were sustained. 

McNeil countered Jefferson Parish was not the proper court because the accident occurred outside the court’s jurisdiction, and Tillis did not live in the applicable area. The defendants argued the court did not have personal or subject matter jurisdiction and could not enter a judgment in the case. The Second Parish Court eventually transferred the case to the First Parish Court. The First Parish Court ruled in favor of the defendants, finding there was no personal or subject matter jurisdiction. The court then dismissed Tillis’ lawsuit, and he appealed. 

worker_inspects_construction-scaledGetting terminated from a job is always a stressful situation. You are likely concerned about how you are going to make ends meet. This is even more true if you believe your former employer has not paid you all the wages you are entitled to. 

Rick Calamia worked for Core Lab for under a year. He was terminated from his job. He claimed he was owed various unpaid wages, which Core Lab denied. Calamia filed a lawsuit against Core Lab under La. R.S. 23:631 for his purportedly unpaid wages and associated penalties, fees, and costs. Calamia claimed he was owed $1,808.16 for 73.8 hours of work, consisting of 7 hours of time entry pay, 16 hours of holiday pay, 49 hours of PTO, and 3.34 hours of Extended Illness Break hours, as well as 90 days of penalty wages. 

Core Lab argued Calamia had been paid everything to which he was entitled. One of the witnesses at trial was Cerly Watson, Core Lab’s payroll manager. She testified about the payroll procedure at Core Lab, including the two-week lag between when an employee submits a timecard and when it is reconciled on a pay statement. She testified about Calamia’s pay statements that were at issue in the lawsuit and explained how the discrepancies were later reconciled. At trial, the court ruled in favor of Core Lab and found Calamia was not entitled to additional wages. Calamia appealed.

prison_jail_cell_cell_0-scaledPrisoners, like all individuals, retain their constitutional rights even while incarcerated. However, proving a violation of these rights within the prison system can be challenging, as demonstrated in the following case. This case considers what a prisoner must show to succeed in a lawsuit against a prison supervisor alleging a constitutional violation.

Kyle Smith Hauenstein was imprisoned at Rapides Parish Detention Center -1 (“RPDC-1”). He filed a lawsuit against the Rapides Parish Sheriff, William Hilton, and the Assistant Warden, Pat Ashley. He alleged Hilton and Ashley violated 42 U.S.C. § 1983 by delaying providing him adequate medical treatment after his right foot developed an infection. He claimed they were “deliberately indifferent” to his serious medical needs. 

Sheriff Hilton filed a summary judgment motion, arguing qualified immunity prohibited the Section 1983 claims from being brought against him in his individual capacity. The trial court denied Sheriff Hilton’s summary judgment motion, finding qualified immunity did not prohibit Hauenstein from bringing the Section 1983 claims against Hilton in his individual capacity. Hilton appealed. 

helicopter_adac_rescue_helicopter-scaledIf you do a favor for your boss outside of work and are injured, can you still sue for workers’ compensation benefits? This is a complex question dependent on the facts of a case. Workers’ compensation is only available for injuries suffered during employment. If the court finds that the favor was outside the scope of employment, an injured employee may only recover tort damages. In the following case, the appellate court reversed a finding of workers’ compensation in favor of tort liability. In this case, the injured worker fought against a reduction of award to offset the workers’ compensation benefits already paid to the plaintiff. 

LaFayette truck driver Tommie Hebert was employed by Industrial Helicopters, Inc. as a commercial fuel transporter for nearly 30 years. Industrial Helicopters primarily served as an aerial herbicide application company. The owner of Industrial Helicopters also owned Game Management, Inc. Game Management leased hunting land and operated deer tracking and capturing surveys. His boss’s son asked Herbert to work as a deer netter on a Game Management helicopter survey. During the survey, Herbert fell from the helicopter to the ground and was seriously injured. The status of workers’ compensation became muddled because of the dual businesses. 

Hebert was originally granted workers’ compensation benefits because he was found to be within the scope of his job at Industrial Helicopters when he fell. On appeal, Hebert was conversely found to be outside the scope of employment during the deer netting. Industrial Helicopters was only liable for tort damages based on this finding. Hebert additionally motioned for his court costs to be paid by the defendant. 

aircraft_carrier_infirmary_hospital-scaledMedical malpractice claims are not always limited to instances during treatment or surgery and may, as one young patient argued, include failures that occur afterward or post-operatively. 

Justin Thomas, an eighteen-year-old, aspiring armed serviceman, underwent a right shoulder arthroscopy at Lafayette Surgicare to repair his repeated rotator cuff dislocations. The surgery was considered an outpatient procedure that Thomas’s surgeon, Dr. Otis Drew (Dr. Drew), performed beginning just before 9:00 AM on July 1, 2013, and completed around 11:00 AM the same day. Before and after the surgery, Thomas was given significant anesthesia and medication. By 1:50 PM that afternoon, Thomas was discharged into the care of his parents. Less than six hours later, after Thomas’s mom gave him a prescribed dose of oxycodone, he fell unconscious and was unresponsive to Narcan, so an ambulance arrived at Thomas’ parents’ home taking him back to the hospital, where he lay in a coma for five days. As a result, Thomas experienced brain damage and lost the use of the left side of his body. 

In May 2016, a medical review board determined that despite Thomas’s injury, the medical staff, including Dr. Drew, met the required standard of care. Nevertheless, three months later, Thomas filed a lawsuit against Dr. Drew, the anesthesiologist, Lafayette Surgicare, Lafayette Surgery Center, and The Regions Health System of Acadiana. His complaint alleged that he was released too early post-operatively and prescribed extensive anesthesia and heavy narcotic medication that induced him into a coma. In response, Dr. Drew filed a summary judgment motion that the trial court, Fifteenth Judicial District Court Parish of Lafayette, granted, dismissing Thomas’s claims. Thomas appealed to Louisiana’s Third Circuit Court of Appeals (Third Circuit), arguing that the trial court erred in finding that his expert affidavit was inadmissible and did not create a genuine issue of material fact.

prison_robben_island_south-scaledThe burden of proof lies heavily on claimants to establish the elements of the claim they bring forward. Failing to do so can result in the dismissal of the charge. In the case of George Preston, a prisoner in a Louisiana jail, his complaint against Lieutenant Hicks and four state correctional officers for excessive use of force highlights the importance of meeting the requirements to substantiate a claim. Analyzing the alleged violation of Preston’s Eighth Amendment rights, the court carefully considered the evidence and ultimately decided to dismiss some claims while allowing others to proceed.

George Preston, a prisoner in a Louisiana jail, filed a complaint against Lieutenant Hicks and four state correctional officers for excessive use of force, violating his Eighth Amendment rights. The incident occurred when an officer opened an inmate’s cell. When the door opened, Preston rushed in and allegedly tried to hit the prisoner. The Sergeant on duty called for help from Lieutenant Bowie, Lieutenant Hicks, Sergeant Dauzat, and Sergeant Augustine. The officers then worked together to restrain Preston. 

Preston claimed Lieutenant Hicks knocked him to the floor and elbowed him repeatedly in his face. While on the floor, Sergeant Augustine pinned his left arm behind him while Lieutenant Hicks pulled and twisted his right arm. Preston alleged Hick’s actions caused his shoulder to dislocate. Preston claimed he only entered the cell as a joke and that the officer retaliated excessively. 

prison_prison_window_window-scaledWhen a prison official fails to provide necessary medical care to an inmate, legal action may be pursued against the individual. However, claiming deliberate indifference to an inmate’s serious medical needs requires meeting specific criteria. As exemplified by the case below, these factors are crucial in preventing individuals from bringing frivolous claims against government officials, ensuring that legitimate cases receive the attention they deserve.

In this case, Gregory Bailey, a Louisiana prisoner, filed a lawsuit against several defendants, including East Baton Rouge Parish Prison, the prison warden, the 19th Judicial District Court for East Baton Rouge Parish, a judge, and Dr. Vincent Leggio, alleging acts of deliberate indifference to his serious medical needs. The U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Louisiana dismissed Bailey’s claims, stating a failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) and summary judgment under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(a). This appeal to the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeal follows. 

In his appeal, Bailey moved to progress in forma pauperis, thereby challenging the District Court’s decision that his appeal was not accepted in good faith. The Court of Appeal then reviewed Bailey’s good faith claims regarding whether his legal points were substantiated on their merits and not frivolous. See Howard v. King

caterpillar_truck_dump_truck-scaledWorkplace accidents can strike unexpectedly, leaving individuals injured and grappling with the complex question of who bears responsibility. However, when such accidents involve heavy machinery and contractual relationships, determining fault can become even more challenging. In the case of Clark Nixon, a dump truck driver at Terrebonne Levee & Conservation District (TLCD), the lines blurred further when an incident unfolded on the job site. As Nixon seeks justice for his injuries, the lawsuit shines a light on the intricate interplay of liability, contractual obligations, and the need for skilled legal representation to recover medical costs and hold those at fault accountable.

Nixon worked a contract job as a dump truck driver at Terrebonne Levee & Conservation District (TLCD). Nixon’s duties as a dump truck driver included delivering dirt to TLCD, where the surplus would eventually be used to build a levee. Specifically, Nixon would back his truck up to the dirt mound and unload the dirt from his truck. Once finished, a bulldozer truck would follow by pushing the dirt mound up a ramp, then reversing down the ramp to make room for the next dump truck. On the TLCD job site, there was also an individual known as the “spotter,” who verified the dirt being dumped and directed the dump truck driver where to unload their pile of dirt. 

After a spotter verified the dirt in Nixon’s dump truck, Nixon began to back his truck towards a specific dirt pile to unload. David Danos was handling a bulldozer at the same time. As Nixon was reversing toward the dirt pile, his truck collided with Danos’ bulldozer, which was traveling down the ramp after moving the dirt. 

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. 

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