Vacations should be a time for relaxation and unwinding from the stresses of everyday life. No one who spends their hard-earned money renting a vacation condo expects to be injured during their stay. But how much responsibility does the owner of the condo have for maintaining the furniture in the unit?
Elizabeth Alvarado rented a condo at the Lodge at the Buffs, a resort in St. Francisville, Louisiana. Unfortunately, Alvarado was severely injured inside the condo when a stool she was sitting on collapsed underneath her. Alvarado filed a lawsuit against the Lodge and also Cole Properties, the owner of the condominium unit. Both the Lodge and Cole Properties denied any wrongdoing and filed a motion for summary judgment to dismiss Alvardo’s lawsuit.
According to Alavardo, the stool was missing screws, which caused it to collapse. In the rental agreement for the condo that Alvarado signed, it stated that Cole Properties was responsible for furnishing and maintaining a rental unit. However, it was up to Lodge to notify Cole Properties of any defects in a unit. The trial court granted the defendants’ motion for summary judgment, reasoning that neither the Lodge nor Cole Properties knew of the stool’s defective condition. In the trial court’s view, it was unreasonable to expect the Lodge or Cole Properties employees to check and inspect every single piece of furniture in a rental unit. Unless there was a visibly obvious defect, the employees had no responsibility to make repairs. Alvarado appealed to Louisiana’s First Circuit Court of Appeal.
Workers in the State of Louisiana are protected by laws that prohibit employment-based discrimination. But often, the litigation process is complicated; employees who believe they are victims of discrimination and harassment face a challenging burden of proof in order to recover from their employer.
Mr. Hui Chen worked as an equipment mechanic for Ochsner Clinic in New Orleans. Chen routinely exceeded expectations during his annual performance reviews, but his employer suggested that he develop his technical skills, communication ability, and confidence in order to better resolve certain recurring issues on his own and with a team. Chen declined his employer’s recommendations for training and eventually refused to sign his performance evaluations.
When Chen injured his ankle at work, he took three months off for recovery. During Chen’s leave, a back-up mechanic assumed his responsibilities and discovered numerous quality control issues that Chen should have repaired as part of his routine work. When Chen returned from leave, he disputed the needed repairs; nevertheless, he received a corrective action and was ultimately placed on probation for failing to properly assess and diagnose the issues. Because Chen claimed his ankle pain interfered with his duties to perform daily inspections, he performed only six out of 25 scheduled inspections and was ultimately terminated for insubordination.
There are multiple federal laws that affect the employer-employee relationship. Two such laws are the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”) as well as the Family Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”). Lawsuits involving the laws often involve employees suffering from difficult circumstances. Such circumstances can become even more difficult if an employer does not comply with their duties under these laws. By ensuring compliance with these and other employment laws, employers can not only help their employees through difficult circumstances, but also avoid liability themselves.
Liza C. Ariza (“Ariza”) began working as a guard and drove a protected truck for Loomis in February 2008. Ariza claims that at the time that she interviewed for the job, she informed the branch manager that she had seizures. However, the branch manager denied that Ariza had ever told her that she had seizures or another disability. Ariza did not mark that she had seizures or another disability on Loomi’s employment forms. She also did ask for any ADA accommodation in the relevant portion of the form.
In September 2008, Ariza claimed that she underwent a fainting spell or seizure while she was driving a protected truck. Her coworker, who was driving in the truck with Ariza when the alleged incident occurred, testified that he did not see anything indicating a seizure. The records from the emergency room stated that Ariza had suffered a fainting spell. Following this incident, Ariza kept driving the protected truck and did not ask for any accommodations. In 2011, Ariza was promoted to a supervisor position. Ariza claimed that she was moved to this position to accommodate her disability, but Loomis countered that she had requested the new position because of demands from her schoolwork. In June 2012, Ariza allegedly had another seizure at work. At Loomis’s request, Ariza took FMLA leave.
Trees can add aesthetic value to your property and provide benefits such as shade in the summer heat and place for birds to nest. However, under certain circumstances, property owners can be held liable for injuries resulting from a fallen tree limb. This is exactly the situation homeowners and the Town of Delhi, Louisiana found themselves in after a tree limb fell on a car, causing severe injuries to a passenger.
In May 2012, Cheryl Wells was riding in the front seat of a vehicle that Natasha Hamilton was driving. There were also three other passengers in the car. A thunderstorm unexpectedly developed, causing a tree to fall across the road they were driving on. As a result, Hamilton had to take a different route using Charter Street. While driving along Charter Street, a large tree limb broke off and fell onto the vehicle. The tree limb crushed the vehicle’s roof and struck Wells on her head, rendering her a quadriplegic. Fortunately, no one else in the car suffered serious harm.
The tree whose limb fell onto the vehicle was located on the property line between Kristi and Chad Morgan’s home and the right of way owned by the Town of Delhi. After the accident, Wells filed a lawsuit against the Morgans and Delhi under La. C.C. arts. 2315 and 2317.1, claiming that her injuries resulted from the defective and dying tree on the Defendants’ property.
Medical malpractice claims often present complicated issues involving hard to understand medical principles. Such lawsuits can become further complicated by questions of whether hospitals, in addition to the doctors themselves, can be held liable for a failure to act that results in a patient’s death. This is the question faced by parties in a lawsuit alleging medical malpractice and negligence that followed the death of a patient initially treated at the Richardson Medical Center Hospital (“RMC”) in Rayville, Louisiana.
On the afternoon of May 28, 2011, Cleveland Coward was admitted to RMC for head injuries that resulted from a fight in which he was hit by his opponent several times with a steel pipe. Coward was examined by the attending emergency room doctor, Dr. David Lifshutz. After examining Coward, Dr. Lifshutz ordered a CT scan of Coward’s head. After being treated for a cut to his forehead and loss of consciousness, approximately 50 minutes after arriving at the emergency room, Coward underwent the CT scan. The images from the CT scan were sent to a radiologist located off-site. Coward subsequently underwent an alcohol screening that indicated that he was highly intoxicated. A few hours later, Coward was discharged and walked out of the emergency room under police custody. Coward’s discharge instructions did not mention the CT scan or any follow up procedures, but only told Coward to follow up with his primary care doctor in seven days, to change his wound dressings every 24 hours, and to take Tylenol as needed for pain.
The radiologist who reviewed Coward’s CT scan found that there was some tissue swelling, but no evidence of acute traumatic brain injury or visible fractures. However, the radiologist concluded his report with the statement “Urgent Finding: Pneumocephalus,” which refers to bubbles of gas or air within the cranial cavity. Neither Dr. Lifshutz nor another staff member communicated the results of the CT scan to Coward or the Richland Detention Center, where Coward was taken after his release from RMC.
How often do you walk along a sidewalk without paying attention to where you’re walking? Next time you’re out strolling, take notice of where you step! An obvious danger could prevent you from recovering for any injuries, as a local Louisiana woman recently discovered.
On July 18, 2012, Anita Melancon was walking on a sidewalk at the Perkins Rowe mixed-use shopping center in Baton Rouge when she tripped and fell, sustaining injuries. The sidewalk in question passed over a driveway ramp, creating a curb that varied in height. The sidewalk’s design required that pedestrians step down onto the ramp before stepping back up onto the sidewalk. Melancon tripped as she was stepping back up onto the sidewalk.
After filing a lawsuit for damages against Perkins Rowe and its insurer, Aspen Specialty Insurance Company (Aspen), the court granted Aspen’s motion for summary judgment, dismissing Melancon’s lawsuit. Aspen asserted that because the varying heights of the sidewalk curb were an open and obvious risk, Perkins Rowe did not have a duty to protect pedestrians from the danger created by the curb. Melancon disputed that the danger was “open and obvious” and appealed the dismissal of the lawsuit.
Maybe you’ve been there. Lying on a cold surgical table. The anesthesiologist places the mask over your face and says to count backwards from one hundred. “100…99…98…” Most people don’t remember much after that. But imagine waking up from a procedure and discovering that you have no feeling in your arm. Unfortunately, that’s what happened to Jason Dunn, who underwent a hemorrhoidectomy at Christus St. Francis Cabrini Surgery Center in Alexandria, Louisiana in 2012.
The anesthesia for Dunn’s operation was administered by Dr. Francis Robichaux. Dunn filed a medical malpractice action against Dr. Robichaux claiming that he suffered an injury to his left forearm and hand as a result of Dr. Robichaux’s failing to properly position his arm during the procedure. As a result of the injury, Dunn required corrective surgery for nerve damage. Dr. Robichaux filed a motion for summary judgment on the grounds that Dunn could not meet his burden of proof that Dr. Robichaux failed to meet the standard of care.
Dunn then filed a motion to continue so that he could depose Dr. Robichaux before responding to the motion for summary judgment. The trial court denied Dunn’s motion for a continuance and granted Dr. Robichaux’s motion for summary judgment.
In some legal situations, there will be conflicting laws and a question of which law correctly applies to the situation at hand. For that reason, Louisiana has developed a mechanism to determine what to do when there are conflicting laws. First, when determining what law to use, the court must look at each state’s relationship to the lawsuit, the people involved in the case, and the person whose status is at issue. La. C.C. art. 3519. Second, the court must consider the policies and needs of the interstate and international system, to ensure that justified expectations are upheld and the decision minimizes the consequences of subjecting parties to the laws of more than one state. La. C.C. 3515. Third, Louisiana law asks the courts to consider whether the application of a conflicting law would protect a child, minor, or others in need of protection. La. C.C. art. 3519.
In this case, Mississippi resident Kalyn Barber (“Kalyn”) was 18 years old when she was involved in an accident in Louisiana, resulting in Doy Cothern (“Cothern”) being injured. Cothern filed a lawsuit attempting to hold her parents vicariously liable for her actions, because, under Mississippi law, a “minor” includes any person under the age of 21. Mississippi Code Section 1-3-27. However, under Louisiana law, a father’s administration of his minor’s estate terminates at the time of majority, which is attained upon reaching the age of 18.
When considering the first factor listed above, the court must look at the nonexclusive list of factors laid out in Louisiana Civil Code article 3519 to determine which of the multiple laws should apply (i.e., Mississippi vs. Louisiana). The court found that the plaintiff, Cothern, lived in Louisiana, the accident occurred in LA, and all the injuries sustained occurred in LA. Therefore, the only connection to Mississippi in the dispute was that the defendant, Kalyn, was a resident of MS at the time of the accident, so the first factor favors the implementation of Louisiana law.
Every adult in America has dealt with insurance in some manner, whether it be life, car, house, rental, or health. Therefore, it is important to understand that the insurance policy you agree to constitutes the law between the you and the insurance company; it governs the whole relationship. As a result of the policy between the insured and insurer being drafted by the insurer, the insurer has the right to limit provisions, and impose restrictions or conditions, so long as these do not conflict with legal statutory provisions or public policy. Thus, strict compliance with the insurance policy terms and conditions is required for a change of beneficiary. Standard Ins. Co. v. Spottsville, 204 So.3d 253, 258 (La. Ct. App. 2016).
In this case, Tanya Offord (“Tanya”) had changed her primary beneficiary from her previous husband to her mother, Alfreda Smith. However, in February 2009, Tanya married Thurman Offord, Sr. Following her marriage to Mr. Offord, Tanya submitted a change of beneficiary to Allstate. She listed Mr. Offord and her three children as the primary beneficiaries, and she listed her mother as the sole contingent beneficiary. She also listed both Mr. Offord and Ms. Smith as the adult custodians for her children, so that they may receive and control any monies owed to any children who are minors at the time of her death.
Allstate responded to Tanya’s beneficiary change request, acknowledging receipt of Tanya’s beneficiary change request. They then informed her that they could not process the request because, per her policy, only one custodian could be named per child. They included a new beneficiary change request form for Tanya to complete and return. Tanya failed to resubmit the change of beneficiary request form and subsequently died without submitting the form.