Timing is everything in civil litigation. The difference of a day or two can determine whether a suit is timely or not timely, meaning if the court will even hear the case being filed. As such, the difference between a suit that is timely and one that is not timely can make the difference between a plaintiff receiving full compensation for their claims and a plaintiff (or his or her surviving family members) receiving nothing.
Mr. Jerry Bozeman dedicated his life to protecting others from fire-related disasters. Sadly, while carrying out his duties he was exposed to asbestos due to improperly built and maintained facilities. As a result of the City of Shreveport failing to protect their employees, including Mr. Bozeman, from the hazardous material in the fire station where he spent a great deal of time, the loyal fireman suffered from asbestos,-related mesothelioma. Mr. Bozeman’s two children, Corey Bozeman and Matthew Bozeman, brought suit under theories of negligence and strict liability under a claim of wrongful death in addition to survival benefits.
The primary issue before the Court of Appeal for the Second Circuit State of Louisiana on appeal was whether the case was actually able to be appealed to the First Judicial District Court for the Parish of Caddo, Louisiana. There was some contention as to whether the plaintiff could appeal the trial court’s granting of the City’s exception of no cause of action as to the plaintiffs’ wrongful death claims and non-intentional torts. The City was denied motion for summary judgment and its request for another exception to intentional tort claims and executive officer liability; the plaintiffs did not want to appeal these parts of the trial court’s judgment.
Under Louisiana law, an appeal cannot be taken from a partial final judgment until it has been designated as a final judgment. This means that a court must designate a partial final judgment in order for an appeal on that ruling to be made. The appellants, the plaintiffs at trial, urged the appellate court to consider their appeal timely. The appeal came less than two weeks after the partial final judgment was certified by a court as a final judgment. This was well within the time that a plaintiff has to appeal a final judgment and, as such, the appellants won their appeal.
Since the appellants were successful in arguing that they in fact had the right to appeal the decision because it was final, the appellate court also had to weigh their case on the merits. The appellate court determined that the trial court has erred in not revising the grant of an exception of no cause of action to the City of Shreveport. Specifically, the appeals court ruled that the lower court failed to match a superseding Supreme Court decision that directly impacted the case.
While the trial court made its initial decision in 2007 based on a 2005 holding by the Supreme Court, this higher court ruling was specifically abrogated. As such, the appellate court in this case determined that holding that decision not to apply retroactively would be unfair to the appellants and ruled in their favor.
Mesothelioma and asbestos litigation is a constantly evolving area of the law. The trial court’s decision was not incorrect at the time it was initially rendered due to the fact the Supreme Court is considered to be the overarching law of the land. However, due to the fact that the law changed during the time that the partial final judgment was not an entirely final judgment, a change in ruling took place. When this decision was replaced with a newer one, the lower court’s decision both could and should have been changed to comply with the most recent Supreme Court ruling. Because the trial court failed to change its ruling when appropriate, it was found to be in error. You can read more about the case here.
If you or a loved one is suffering from mesothelioma or a loved one has died from mesothelioma, you may be entitled to benefits and awards. Contacting an attorney is crucial to preserve your legal rights before the timing no longer allows it.
The Berniard Law Firm can help you get all of the money and care the law says is yours. Contact them at 1-866-574-8005 for more information or if you think you have a claim.