ice-calves-1543085-1024x770Ice storms can create hazards for the general public as well as employees. A Mansfield nurse found out that parking lot falls do not qualify for workers’ compensation benefits. A Shreveport Hospital was able to avoid paying workers’ compensation benefits with the help of an excellent attorney after the employee’s fall.

Joyce Lafitte-Nesom is a nurse manager at Christus Schumpert Highland Hospital (the Hospital) in Shreveport. She typically worked an eight-hour shift from 4:00 pm until midnight. She commuted to the Hospital from her home in Mansfield, Louisiana. On February 11, 2014, the area had an ice storm and many nurses were unable to make their shifts due to the storm. The Hospital was put on diversion and stopped accepting patients due to the shortage of employees.

Ms. Nesom worked until 1:40 am instead of midnight because she was told by Hospital security that the Hospital parking lots were icy and the Hospital was low on materials to apply to the parking lot to help alleviate the slippery conditions. The roads to her home in Mansfield were also closed by the police due to the hazardous conditions. After her shift ended, Ms. Nesom made a decision to wait until the roads were better. She tried to rest in an empty room, but at 5:00 am she gave up and started performing her normal duties. She did not count this toward her working hours for the day. Another nursing house supervisor who lived closer, Ahleeka Cummings, allowed Ms. Nesom to stay at her place until conditions improved.

rusty-car-1207835-1024x680Witnesses can be critical to winning a personal injury lawsuit after an auto accident. Without an impartial third party to attest to what happened, the case can devolve into he said/she said situation. Even worse, when one party is mentally unable to recall the events of the incident, the outcome becomes even more uncertain. Some may be tempted to think their case becomes a slam dunk after that. With one party not even sure of the facts, the other side has to prevail, right?

Plaintiff Lauren Condon (“Condon”) claimed she was rear-ended by Defendant Carol Logan (“Logan”) on the Pontchartrain Expressway in New Orleans on March 25, 2011. Logan denied fault, but Condon claimed a traffic ticket issued to Defendant for following too closely proves Logan was at fault. Condon filed a lawsuit against Logan and her insurer. After several unsuccessful attempts to depose Logan, Logan’s lawyer eventually divulged that Logan has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease and would not be able to testify, either in deposition or in court. Condon then moved for partial summary judgment on the issue of liability. Summary judgment is a procedure where the court makes a ruling without a full trial, based on the information provided in the pleadings and the discovery process. If there is no “genuine issue of material fact,” then the court makes a ruling as a matter of law. La. C.C.P. art. 966. In the case of partial summary judgment, the court rules on one facet of the case, rather than the entire claim.

Logan’s defense team tried to combat the summary judgment motion with affidavits from Logan’s husband and a statement from Logan in the police report. Condon argued these are not admissible and moved to strike the documents. Logan’s attorneys argued that, since Logan has been stricken by mental impairment since the accident, her statement to the police should be admitted under La. C.E. art. 804.

gavel-1238036-1-1024x685Listening is the most important skill for an attorney. This is of paramount importance when following court orders. A lawyer must be careful in how his actions appear and the actions he takes when attempting to enter in a case, but what happens when a lawyer violates court orders?

John Courtney Wilson (“Wilson”) attempted to enroll as co-counsel for a sexual harassment lawsuit involving Kendrica Sandifer and the Orleans Parish Sheriff’s office. After two attempts to enroll on Kendrica’s behalf, and two court orders barring Wilson from participating in the lawsuit, the district court sanctioned Wilson for his continued violation of court orders and violating his duty of candor to the court.

On September 16, 2012, Ms. Sandifer moved to enroll Wilson as attorney of record before Judge Barbier. This motion was denied since Wilson had a conflict with the scheduled court date for the lawsuit. On October 12, 2012, Ms. Sandifer filed a second motion to enroll Wilson. This motion to enroll was denied due to lack of experience on the part of Wilson. On December 17, 2012, Wilson and attorney of record, Jerry Settle, attempted to file a complaint before a second district court judge, a Judge Lemelle. The court asked Wilson to show cause as to why they shouldn’t be sanctioned for violating the first court order against his participation in the lawsuit. The court did not issue sanctions but struck Wilson from the record of the case. On February 11, 2013, Wilson filed a third complaint before the district court, again before Judge Lemelle. Before filing the lawsuit, Wilson filed a motion to enroll before a magistrate judge who granted Wilson’s motion. This was his third violation of a court order not to participate in the case, and Wilson failed to inform the magistrate judge of these prior court orders.

black-hole-1181587-1024x768If injured on someone else’s property, it is important to know what has to be proven in order for a legal case to go forward. If the injury occurs from a defective structure, then the owner of the premise must have constructive knowledge of the defectiveness. The factors a court evaluates when the defective structure is on public property differ from those of a private owner. So, what happens if you are injured on someone else’s property?

A judgment by the 19th Judicial District Court granting the East Baton Rouge Parish Housing Authority (“the Authority”) a summary judgment motion and dismissing the claim by Andrew Blevins (“Blevins”) and his employer’s insurance company, Stonetrust, was affirmed by Louisiana First Circuit Court of Appeal. Summary judgment is granted when there is no real dispute as to the facts of the case, and the party who requested the summary judgment, known as the mover, is entitled to win the case as a matter of law La. C.C.P. art. 966.

Blevins was working at Electrical Building Service, LLC (“EBS”) and while on the Authority’s property, he stepped into a hole that was hidden by tall unkempt grass, causing him to fall and fracture his ankle. Blevins alleged that the Authority was aware or should have been aware of the giant hole that injured him. When a premise owner should have known about a defect, the knowledge is called “constructive notice.” If constructive notice is shown, the Authority is liable for damages. Here, those damages included medical fees and workers’ compensation benefits that Stonetrust wanted as a reimbursement payment.

StockSnap_D6BZSQ2NM2-1024x683Walmart is buzzing with pedestrian traffic on a daily basis. Where crowds of people are gathered, accidents are sure to follow. Sometimes Walmart’s products are knocked off of shelves, children spill juice in the aisles, and liquid products can slip from a person’s grasp and splatter across the floor leaving a hazardous environment for anyone to slip and fall. Despite Walmart’s best efforts to keep the stores clean, accidents still happen. As a result, legal services may be needed. If that is the case, information about the parties involved is exchanged between the opposing counsels for a period of time known as discovery. Information may be gathered through depositions or a series of questions under sworn testimony out of court. Once sufficient time has been provided for discovery, a party may determine that there is no factual basis for the case to move forward. Because of this lack of material fact, the party may then make a motion for summary judgment. This motion, if granted, can result in a dismissal of the entire lawsuit. Our justice system, however, provides an appeal process for situations where these judgments were granted in error! So, what do you do when you have been blindsided by summary judgement?

In January 2014, Mrs. Mirian Rivas took an ordinary trip to a Walmart in Harvey, Louisiana. While there, she unexpectedly slipped and fell, resulting in injuries. Mrs. Rivas filed for damages in September of 2014 and served Walmart with discovery requests. The following December, those discovery requests were answered and properly mailed by Walmart. Mrs. Rivas and her co-plaintiff, Mr. Cardona, were then deposed by Walmart on April 15, 2015.

Exactly one month later, Walmart filed a motion for summary judgment asserting that Mrs. Rivas lacked sufficient legal elements in her claim against Walmart for her injuries under La. R.S. 9:2800.6. Mrs. Rivas asserted that Walmart’s discovery answers were not completed and that she needed further opportunity to depose the Walmart employees named in Walmart’s answer. The Trial Court granted Walmart’s motion for summary judgment against Mrs. Rivas stating that the discovery time was sufficient. An appeal was instantly filed with the Louisiana Fifth Circuit Court of Appeal alleging the Trial Court erred in granting Walmart’s motion because Mrs. Rivas lacked sufficient time for the discovery process.

lab-work-1575844-1024x683Have you ever been tempted to take a sick day, just because you need a break? Have you ever called in or left early because you are feeling under the weather and you would not be able to forgive yourself if you exposed the entire office to the bug you caught? Although many employees may stretch the truth on sick days sometimes, there are occasions where it becomes irresponsible and unprofessional. One Louisiana man attempted to test the boundaries of worker compensation when he requested medical payments for his sickness. So, how can you determine if someone is faking symptoms in a workers compensation case? 

This case involves a man filing a workers compensation claim against his former employer. The employee’s name is Remco Leidelmeijen, and he was working for the company, Ferncrest Manor Nursing Home, as a licensed practical nurse. One day, while performing his work duties, he entered a patient’s bathroom to empty out a catheter bag and slipped on water that was on the floor. As a result of the slip, Leidelmeijen first fell forward, hitting his face and jaw on the sink, and then he fell backward and hit the back of his head on the floor. Immediately after the accident occurred, he declined a request to call an ambulance and instead had a family member bring him home from work. He went to the emergency room later that day and received treatment for head trauma occurring at work, according to the emergency room records. He allegedly had injuries for his head, his mouth, and his teeth. Therefore, Leidelmeijen filed suit in hopes of paying the medical bills he accrued for treatment of injuries that he claims came from the accident. Ultimately, he ended up with partial relief.

Leidelmeijen’s only dispute was for his claim of medical benefits, which is what was tried in front of Judge Robert Varnado, Workers’ Compensation Judge of District Eight. This court ultimately found that Leidelmeijen failed to prove entitlement to medical benefits. The majority of the medical expert testimony introduced into evidence found that Leidelmeijen did not have the brain injuries he claimed from the accident but is instead malingering. A malingering diagnosis means that the person might be deliberately or consciously feigning symptoms for an ulterior purpose (e.g., avoiding work, receiving money, prolonging illness with the intent to avoid responsibility and so on, and/or obtaining medications). Leidelmeijen appealed the decision, and it went before Chief Judge James F. McKay, III, Judge Edwin A. Lombard, and Judge Rosemary Ledet. They affirmed the judgment against Leidelmeijen.

elevator-symbol-1444871-691x1024When one is injured by an employee’s negligence, it is reasonable to expect an award of damages from the employer. When an injured party files a lawsuit, however, the plaintiff must prove that the one who caused his injuries was indeed an employee of the business. For most cases, this is very easy to prove. When there is a question of identity, though, the evidence available can make or break the lawsuit.

When Mr. Juan Alvarez was injured in an elevator at Touro Infirmary in the Orleans Parish of Louisiana, he filed a lawsuit against Touro Infirmary (“Touro”) alleging that two employees of Touro dropped a large piece of wood on him. Mr. Alvarez was visiting a doctor at Touro in Louisiana when the incident occurred. Under the legal theory of respondeat superior, Mr. Alvarez claims Touro is liable for the damage caused by their employees. Under respondeat superior, one can sue an employer for injuries caused by the negligence of their employees. Importantly, a plaintiff must establish that the one who caused the injury was an employee of the defendant.

Mr. Alvarez added JCT Construction (“JCT”) to the lawsuit based on his belief that JCT was supervising a construction project at Touro during the incident. JCT filed a motion for summary judgment to dismiss the complaint on the grounds that Mr. Alvarez failed to establish a connection between JCT and the individuals who allegedly injured in him in the elevator. The District Court granted the motion, and while the plaintiff appealed, the Louisiana Court of Appeal for the Fourth Circuit affirmed the decision.

new-orleans-park-2-1501957-1024x768Essential to winning any legal case is having a good lawyer. However, it is even more essential to have a good lawyer when dealing with tricky cases of negligence against the local government. An oversight caused Kenneth Rivarde’s lawyer to submit an incomplete affidavit from a key witness resulting in a lost lawsuit against the city of New Orleans. Mr. Rivarde’s wife, Channelda Rivarde, perished in a motor vehicle accident at the intersection of North Rocheblave Street and A.P. Tureaud Boulevard in New Orleans, Louisiana. Her husband, Kenneth Rivarde (“Mr. Rivarde”) sued the City of New Orleans (“City”) claiming that the accident was a result of a high-speed chase when the New Orleans Police Department (“NOPD”) was pursuing a fleeing felon. The accident occurred when the felon ran a stop sign and struck the car Channelda Rivarde was a passenger in. So, what happens if your lawyer submits an incomplete affidavit in a fatal car accident case?

The City filed a motion for summary judgment to dismiss the case on the basis that there was no genuine dispute of material fact three days before the discovery cutoff date. The District Court granted the City’s motion.

Mr. Rivarde appealed and argued that the granting of summary judgment and dismissing the case was improper because it was prior to the completion of adequate discovery pursuant to LA C.C.P. art. 966(A)(3), and there was a genuine dispute of material fact as to whether the NOPD breached its duty by engaging in the high-speed chase resulting in the accident that ended Mrs. Rivarde’s life.

singer-4-1433613-1024x681In order for a court to assess a fair amount of money to be paid for one’s injuries, it is necessary for the injured party to present sufficient evidence to justify that amount.  Without sufficient evidence, it is entirely possible for a court to award an incorrect amount of money to the injured party. A trial court is generally allowed a certain amount of discretion (or freedom) to make a proper judgment.  It must, however, come to a reasonable conclusion. An appellate court may alter the award if the judgment is incorrect based on the evidence provided. In 2016, the First Circuit Court of Appeal decided to do just that in a case that involves lost wages over an inability to audition for new jobs. 

In October 2012, Dr. Ebony Woods was rear-ended in a car accident in Baton Rouge.  As a result of this accident, she suffered some neck, back, and leg pain for which she underwent several months of chiropractic treatment.  Since the other driver was a minor, Dr. Woods filed a lawsuit against the other driver’s tutrix (or legal guardian) and their insurance company, Pure Insurance Company.  She based her claims on negligence, stating that the driver in the other vehicle, Logan Hall, had driven inappropriately and caused the accident. She sought payment for her medical bills, pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment of life and lost wages.  Pure Insurance acknowledged the fault of Mr. Hall in the accident and the authenticity of Dr. Woods’ medical bills. In 2015, the case went before a judge. This trial was based on whether Dr. Woods was entitled to monetary damages for lost wages, pain and suffering, and loss of enjoyment of life.   The court awarded her $35,000 for her lost wages as well as $32,000 for her pain and suffering and loss of enjoyment of life. Pure Insurance appealed this judgment.

Part of Pure Insurance’s appeal was based on the fact that the trial court should not have awarded Dr. Woods the $35,000 for lost wages or opportunity of income.  Thus, the issue here was whether Dr. Woods was entitled to this amount based on the evidence she presented. In order for the court to award money for lost wages, a plaintiff must prove he or she would reasonably have made the amount requested if not for the defendant’s wrongdoing.  Driscoll v. Stucker  893 So.2d 32, 53 (La. 2005).  For lost opportunity of income, the plaintiff must prove that an injury resulted in an incapability to perform tasks they would otherwise be able to do for wages. Levy v. Bayou Indus. Maintenance Services, 855 So. 2d 968 (La. Ct. App. 2003).  This proof must be certain and not merely possible or conjecture.   Walker v. Bankston, 571 So. 2d 690 (La. Ct. App. 1990)

need-a-pill-1057199-1024x768Medical malpractice lawsuits are filed for a wide range of injuries and even death. When a patient finds himself in a scenario where he believes a medical professional could have done more to prevent his injuries or cure his condition, he may decide to go through with a lawsuit. Medical malpractice lawsuits often require expert witnesses to succeed and proving damages in these cases where the patient enters a medical facility sick or injured can be a tough case to win. So, can you lose your medical malpractice case if you do not have enough evidence?

In July 2011, Nickol Bell (“Bell”) went to Baton Rouge General Medical Center’s (“Hospital”) emergency room because of nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, loss of consciousness, dizziness, and maroon-colored stools. Bell was discharged from the hospital and later suffered gastrointestinal bleeding and hemorrhaging. Just a few hours after he was released, Bell was put into intensive care, where he received a blood transfusion and other medical treatments.

Bell and his wife brought a lawsuit for damages, alleging medical malpractice by the hospital and the physician who treated him, Dr. JL. The Medical Review Panel (“MRP”) concluded that the standard of care as to Dr. JL had not been breached, because based on the information Dr. JL had at the time, the doctor had provided adequate medical care. The nursing staff failed to inform Dr. JL of the maroon-colored stool. Although the hospital failed to meet its standard of care, MRP concluded that the hospital’s conduct was not compensable.