Articles Posted in Civil Matter

car_accident_bellingham_fire-1-1024x683If you purchase an under or uninsured insurance policy, you might expect it to cover you if you are involved in a car accident. However, such insurance policies only apply in limited circumstances. By understanding your under or uninsured insurance policy and what evidence is required to establish your damages, you can avoid surprises down the road.

Tracy Brumfield was driving near Independence, Louisiana in her pickup. As she slowed to a stop, a car that Jacob Currier was driving hit into the back of her truck. Although Brumfield tried to turn to avoid hitting another car, her front door to hit into the rear bumper of the car in front of her, which allegedly hurt her leg and back. 

Brumfield filed a lawsuit against Currier, his insurer, and Allstate, who was the carrier for her under or uninsured motorist policy. She claimed Allstate was liable to her for all available relief under La. R.S. 22:1892 and 22:1973, including attorney fees and costs. At trial, Allstate stipulated Currier was solely at fault for causing the accident. However, Allstate moved for an involuntary dismissal of Brumfield’s claims for attorney fees and penalties. Allstate argued Brumfield had not proven her claim’s value exceed Currier’s liability policy limits. Allstate also claimed it had not been arbitrary capricious in failing to pay Brumfield, so she was not entitled to recover penalties and attorney fees. 

police_policemen_guards_security-1024x702Although the Constitution provides for the right to an attorney in criminal cases, this right does not apply to civil cases. What happens if you bring a claim for excessive force but your attorney withdraws? Are you entitled to have counsel appointed to represent you? 

Bobby Byrd was arrested on suspicion of burglary. Byrd filed a lawsuit against the cities of Bossier and Shreveport and four police officers under the Louisiana Constitution and 42 U.S.C. § 1983. He alleged the officers had used excessive force when arresting him. The defendants all filed summary judgment motion, which the district court granted and dismissed Byrd’s claims.  Byrd filed an appeal. 

The appellate court reversed the district court’s grant of summary judgment for three of the police officers, finding there were genuine issues of material fact about how those officers had acted. Because Byrd’s counsel had withdrawn prior to trial, he filed a motion that the court should appoint him counsel under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(1) and pursuant to the Americans with Disabilities Act as he had several mental illnesses. The district court denied Byrd’s motion, explaining there were no exceptional circumstances. Further, nothing in the Americans with Disabilities Act required the court to appoint Byrd counsel. 

surgery_eye_health_operation-1024x681Undergoing a surgery is always a nerve-wracking experience. You want to be able to trust that your surgeon conducted and reviewed the appropriate pre-operative tests. Can a surgeon be held liable if he or she fails to review the results of the pre-operative tests before performing the surgery? 

Roger Burchfield was admitted to Willis-Knighton Medical Center to receive non-emergency surgery on his gallbladder. Before the surgery, Burchfield’s surgeon, Forrest Wright, ordered a chest x-ray and EKG. However, Wright did not review the results prior to performing the surgery. If Wright had reviewed the tests, he would have seen Burchfield had congestive heart failure and multiple other possible heart issues. Burchfield himself did not know he had these heart issues. 

The surgery was successful, and Burchfield went home. However, about a day later, Burchfield started experiencing swelling. He went to the emergency room and was admitted into the hospital. The hospital found Burchfield had suffered a heart infection, respiratory failure, heart failure, and other issues. He was put in a medically induced coma before undergoing a heart transplant. Although Burchfield recovered from the transplant, he was no longer able to work as a mechanic and requires medical care for the transplant for the rest of his life. 

usps_post_office_building-1024x757In the bustling corridors of the U.S. Postal Service in Istrouma, Louisiana, a tale of workplace strife and legal intricacies unfolded. Catherine J. Valdry, a dedicated mail carrier, found herself entangled in a web of allegations against her supervisor, Clifton Maryland, a Customer Service Manager. What began as a refusal to join Maryland on a fishing trip soon spiraled into an alleged hostile work environment, as Valdry claimed she faced emotional distress and aggressive conduct. When she summoned the courage to report Maryland’s behavior, the situation took a turn for the worse, with ominous warnings and intensified micromanagement. Valdry’s pursuit of justice led her to the courtroom, where she aimed to prove her case, facing the challenging task of establishing a retaliatory hostile work environment. This article delves into the legal intricacies of her journey, from the district court’s initial ruling to the appellate court’s ultimate decision, which ultimately declared the case moot.

Valdry filed a retaliatory hostile work environment lawsuit. When bringing forth a prima facie case of retaliatory hostile work environment, the district court stated the harassment must be severe and affect the complainant’s employment. In response to the lawsuit, Maryland filed a motion of summary judgment. Summary judgment is appropriate when there is “no genuine issue of material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” The facts are considered in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party. Galindo v. Precision Am. Corp.

The district court granted the summary-judgment motion, although the Fifth Circuit was undecided on whether the retaliatory hostile work environment claim was applicable under Title VII. The district court also presumed the motion would consider all events occurring after Valdry’s internal complaint about Maryland on September 13, 2013.

accident_auto_crash_car-1024x768Why would you appeal a judgment when the jury ruled in your favor? The following case involves a situation where the jury ruled in favor of an injured person, and he was awarded substantial damages. Still, instead of basking in the glow of victory, he chose to appeal the judgment. Why would anyone appeal when the scales of justice have tilted in their favor? The answer to this question lies in the intricate dance of legal strategy, discretion, and the quest for justice. Let’s delve into Kupke’s case to unravel why one would appeal a judgment even when the jury ruled in their favor.

Walter Kupke was rear-ended by a truck Jorge Silva was driving. Rader’s Insulation owned the truck. After Kupke’s vehicle was first hit, it got pushed into an intersection, and another car hit it. Kupke suffered various injuries, including back pain, and complained of hearing loss. He filed a lawsuit against Silva, Rader’s Insulation, and Rader’s insurer, Shelter Mutual Insurance Company. Kupke settled with all the defendants besides Shelter Insurance. At trial, the jury awarded Kupke $79,455.80. Despite prevailing at trial, Kupke filed an appeal claiming the jury had not awarded him sufficient damages based on the evidence presented. 

A jury has wide discretion in awarding both general and special damages. See La. C.C. art. 2324.1.  The appellate court cannot determine what it thinks is the appropriate award only if the trial court abused its discretion when it awarded the plaintiff damages. See Guillory v. Lee

calculator_calculation_insurance_1680905-1024x683Although money can never replace a loved one, if you find yourself in the tragic aftermath of a loved one’s death, you might be looking to recover damages from the responsible parties. However, the process of recovering damages can be difficult and emotionally charged. This is especially true if an insurance policy is involved and the insurer argues it is not required to provide coverage. 

Austin Trombley died while working at Rowdy Adventures, a zipline park owned by Howard Prince Jr. and located in Arkansas. While working during the summer at Rowdy Adventures, Trombley was living at a nearby camp, which Prince also owned. On the night he died, Trombley got drunk and was killed in a one-car accident while driving in a car owned by Abigale Williams. Williams was also in the car at the time of the accident, but she survived. 

Trombley’s parents filed a lawsuit against Prince, Rowdy Adventures and the owner of the camp’s land, which was owned by Prince. His parents accused Prince of negligent supervision. ASI Lloyds was Prince’s homeowners’ insurance carrier. ASI claimed its policy did not cover Prince because of the business pursuit and motor vehicle exclusions in his insurance policy. 

coins_currency_investment_insurance-1024x683Automobile insurance policies can help compensate you if you are injured in a car accident. However, it is essential to be aware of potential policy exclusions that limit what you are entitled to recover. This is especially true with uninsured/underinsured motorist (“UM”) insurance because an insurer is allowed to have exclusions, such as the exclusion of vehicles covered by the insurance policy. 

Easter McGee was riding in a car her nephew was driving. A wheel flew off, causing her nephew to crash the car into a tree, injuring McGee. Her nephew had liability and UM insurance through Allstate. Allstate paid McGee the liability policy limits. McGee released claims against her nephew but reserved her rights to pursue coverage under his UM policy. 

McGee subsequently filed a lawsuit against Allstate, claiming she was entitled to recover under the UM coverage because her damages exceeded the policy’s liability coverage limits.  Allstate filed a summary judgment motion, claiming McGee was not entitled to recover under the UM provisions because she had been injured in a one-car accident where the driver was at fault, and his liability insurance covered McGee. Further, the UM coverage excluded vehicles with liability coverage under the insurance policy. The trial court granted Allstate’s summary judgment motion. McGee appealed.

construction_worker_work_worker-1024x683When receiving medical care, the choice of medical professional can influence your treatment. If you have been injured on the job, you might not be sure if you can pick your own doctor or if you have to use a doctor your employer selects. Under the Louisiana Workers’ Compensation Act, an injured worker is entitled to select a physician in any specialty for an initial visit. The employer is not required to approve the employee’s choice of physician. What happens if the employer claims the employee was not injured on the job? 

Blann Kyle filed a workers’ compensation claim against Boise Cascade Company (“Boise”), claiming he had lost his hearing as a result of his employment at a paper mill located in DeRidder, Louisiana. He filed the claim seven years after he retired. Kyle then filed a motion for an expedited hearing, under La. R.S. 23:1121. Kyle claimed Boise had not authorized his initial visit with his choice of physician. Kyle wanted the workers’ compensation judge to order Boise to authorize his initial visit to the physician he had selected, reimburse him for the medical expenses resulting from the testing and treatment by that physician, and pay penalties and attorneys’ fees. Boise countered that Kyle’s claims were prescribed, meaning he had waited too long to bring his workers’ compensation claim. Boise also claimed it was not proper for Kyle to request penalties and attorneys’ fees with his motion for an expedited hearing. The workers’ compensation judge denied Kyle’s motion, holding there was a “tenuous link” between Kyle’s alleged hearing loss and his employment. Therefore, Boise had acted properly in refusing him the choice of a physician. Kyle filed an appeal. 

Louisiana courts have recognized that hearing loss can be caused by occupational exposure and can be an occupational disease where an injured worker is entitled to workers’ compensation. See Arrant v. Graphic Packaging International, Inc. Under La. R.S. 23:1121, an injured worker is entitled to select a physician in any specialty without his employer’s approval. If the employer denies that, the employee has the right to request an expedited proceeding. The employee can also receive attorney’s fees and penalties. 

laocoon_statue_greek_vatican-1024x609If you prevail in a lawsuit, you might be entitled to various damages. One type of damages available in Louisiana is Lejeune damages, under La. C.C. art. 2315.6. Lejeune damages allow an individual to recover damages from the mental anguish of witnessing the injury of a third party. 

Louise Theresa Doty and her husband, Homer Doty, were at Prien Lake Mall in Lake Charles, Louisiana. While on a crosswalk, Brittany Nicole Fontenot hit Mr. Doty. Ms. Doty heard him yell and saw him lying on the ground with severe injuries. Mrs. Doty filed a lawsuit against Fontenot, her insurer, GoAuto, and her under/uninsured motorist insurer, State Farm. Mrs. Doty claimed her Lejeune damages under her State Farm insurance policy was a separate “bodily injury.” As such, she claimed she was entitled to recover beyond the money State Farm had already paid her husband for his injuries. 

Mrs. Doty settled her claims against everyone besides State Farm. State Farm filed a summary judgment motion claiming it had exhausted its policy limits with his payment of $50,000 to Doty. Mrs. Doty claimed she was entitled to recover her Lejeune damages under a separate limit. After a trial, the court awarded Mrs. Doty $50,000 in general damages and a $25,000 penalty for State Farm’s failure to pay her claim within thirty days under La. R.S. 22:1892(B)(1), and her expenses. State Farm filed an appeal.

time_tiempo_count_day_0-1024x683If the trial court does not rule in your favor, you might find yourself considering filing an appeal. However, just like filing an initial lawsuit, there are strict time limits for filing an appeal. If you do not comply with these time limits, the appellate court will be unable to consider the merits of your appeal, and you will be stuck with the trial court’s ruling. 

Aimee Lasseigne filed a lawsuit against Eastern Jefferson General Hospital and two doctors for damages that resulted from a spinal tap and related medical treatment she received at the hospital. The hospital and doctors filed exceptions of prescription, arguing Lasseigne did not file her request for a medical review panel until over a year from when the alleged medical malpractice occurred. The trial court granted the hospital and doctor’s exceptions of prescriptions and dismissed Lasseigne’s lawsuit on January 29, 2018. That same day, the clerk mailed a notice of the judgment’s signing to all the parties’ attorneys. 

On April 16, 2018, the trial court issued its written reasons for judgment. Lasseigne filed her appeal on May 11, 2018, seeking review of the trial court’s January 29, 2018, judgment, with the reasons issued on April 16, 2018. The hospital and doctors filed a motion to dismiss, claiming Lasseigne’s appeal was untimely.

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