Articles Posted in Litigation

deer_roe_deer_herd-1024x558Entering into a settlement agreement can help efficiently resolve a lawsuit and allow both parties to move forward. However, sometimes you might be involved in multiple interrelated lawsuits. If you sign a settlement agreement with one party, are you precluded from pursuing other related litigation?

Donald Hodge Sr., who is now deceased, owned a deer farm located in Calcasieu Parish, Louisiana. The Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry (“LDAF”) learn the herd possibly had Chronic Wasting Disease, which likely came from six deer purchased from a farm in Pennsylvania. LDAF put a quarantine over the Hodge Farm. Hodge died the next day before he knew about the quarantine. 

Once the quarantine was in place, LDAF tried to locate the deer purchased from Pennsylvania. However, there were no deer at the Hodge Farm with tags indicating they were the likely inflected deer. Hodge’s children and administrators of his estate filed a lawsuit against LDAF. They wanted to lift the quarantine so they could sell the farm. They claimed the at-issue farm had been delivered to a different deer farm located in Mississippi, owned by Jared Oertling. The Hodges also sought damages from LDAF associated with the costs they incurred from the quarantine. 

house_townhouse_house_exterior_0-1024x768Buying and selling real estate can be stressful because of the emotions and large sums of money involved. In order to have certainty in transactions involving real estate, Louisiana law has strict requirements of what is required to form a valid contract, including signatures from both the buyer and seller. What happens if a would-be buyer unilaterally signs a contract and claims they own your property? 

James Gobert owed a house located in Lake Charles, Louisiana. He listed the house for sale with Lutricia Cobb, who owned a real estate company. He signed an agreement with Cobb whereby Cobb would act as his agent to lease and manage his property. 

Linda Haley personally contacted Gobert, without Cobb knowing, and made him an offer to buy his property. Haley asked to rent the property from Gobert while they tried to get a mortgage. Gobert suggested entering into a six-month lease that had an option to purchase. The lease set a monthly rental payment of $800 and included an option to buy the property for $131,000 at the end of the six month lease. 

prison_jail_barbed_wire-1024x768Prescription refers to the amount of time you have to file a lawsuit. If you do not comply with this procedural requirement, your case will be dismissed. In order to determine the date by which you must file your lawsuit, you need to know both the prescription period and when the period started to run. This case analyzes when the prescription period starts to run for false imprisonment and false arrest claims. 

The Eunice Police Department arrested Paul Powell, Marlon Eaglin, and two others. They were charged with second degree murder. A few months after his release from prison, Eaglin filed a lawsuit against the police department, the city of Eunice, and the chief of police (the “defendants”) for false arrest and imprisonment. Over a year after their arrest, but less than year after they were released from prison, Eaglin amended his lawsuit to add Powell as a plaintiff.

The defendants filed an exception of prescription, arguing Powell’s claims were prescribed because he filed them over a year after the date of his arrest. Powell argued he had not exceeded the one-year prescription period because his claims related back to Eaglin’s claims, which had been filed within the required time period. Powell also claimed his false imprisonment claim was not prescribed because he had filed it within a year of being released from prison.

oyster_oyster_roast_seafood-1024x683While many people enjoy oysters, few people are aware how oyster leases work. This case involves a couple who held oyster leases that were harmed when a company decided to renter a nearby oil well. Can that company be held liable for the damages to the holders of the adjacent oyster leases? 

Pero and Mary Ann Cibilic held oyster leases in a lake in St. Bernard Parish, Louisiana. Because of the lack of oysters following the BP oil spill and increase in prices, the Cibilics made a large investment to purchase and spread cultch, which is used for oyster cultivation. This resulted in the Cibilics having a good sized oyster crop in their leases.

Cox Operating started a project to re-enter one of its oil wells that was adjacent to the Cibilic’s oyster leases. Ships has to cross over the Cibilics’ leases in order to reach the well. To turn to the well, ships had to go down and back up with their propellers, which resulted in sedimentation harming the Cibilics’ oyster beds.

fire_department_resuscitation_1256591-1024x768Honesty is the best policy. This is especially true in the workers’ compensation space, because if you are found to have been fraudulent, you forfeit your right to workers’ compensation benefits. 

Before Alex Turner started working for Chicago Bridge, he completed the Louisiana Office of Workers’ Compensation Second Injury Questionnaire. He then started working as a carpenter’s helper for Chicago Bridge at a site in Hackberry, Louisiana. Approximately a month after he was hired, Turner injured his back while on the job. He immediately reported his injury to his supervisor and was taken to the onsite medical facility.

Chicago Bridge reassigned Turner to sedentary work. Turner complained the work still hurt his back because he had to lean over a table, so he refused to complete the sedentary work. He was eventually fired for insubordination. In Turner’s workers’ compensation case, the workers’ compensation judge found he was entitled to Supplemental Earnings Benefits and denied Chicago Bridge’s argument Turner had forfeited his right to workers’ compensation benefits by committing fraud. 

surgery_eye_health_operation-1-1024x681“Causation is an issue of fact.” “It is the test for determining the causal relationship between an accident and an ensuing injury.” D’Angelo v. Guarino. This definition was vital in the following case.

In this case, court records revealed that Dwayne Levine (Plaintiff) was involved in an accident in 2012 that required two surgeries to his right ankle: one to help stabilize it and the other to fuse his bones to his ankle. In early 2013, the Plaintiff was recovering and about to transition from a boot to a shoe, though he still reported faint pains. 

However, on July 26, 2013, before the Plaintiff’s six-month follow-up, he re-injured his right foot when he slammed on his car brake to avoid a road collision. Soon after the incident, the Plaintiff experienced pain and went to the hospital. There, he received a splint and medication. At his follow-up visit, he did physical therapy and was given more pain medication. When his pain continued, a CT scan revealed the sub-talar joint had not fused since his initial surgery. As a result, a revision surgery was done in October 2013 to fuse the joint and remove the metal implant. A skin graft procedure was also done to stop an infection and care for the injury. 

accident_auto_crash_car-1-1024x768Car accidents can often give rise to lawsuits with complicated issues of causation and damages. Often, one or both sides will have expert witnesses to help explain complicated issues to the jury. What happens if one side argues the other side’s expert witness should not be allowed to testify as an expert witness?

Sherman Turner was driving an 18-wheeler owned by AAA Cooper, his employer. While on the job and making a delivery in Alexandria, Louisiana, he accidentally missed where he was supposed to turn. Turner turned into another street to turn around the 18-wheeler. Chelsea Mace claimed she turned on to the same street as Turner, saw the 18-wheeler, and stopped her car five feet behind it. She claimed while her car was stopped, Turner started to reverse the 18-wheeler and ran into her car. Mace claimed as a result of the accident, she injured her back and her doctor recommended she undergo a lumbar fusion. A jury found Turner was not at fault for the accident. Mace appealed.

On appeal, Mace argued the trial court erred in allow defendant’s expert, Joseph Peles to testify as an expert in accident reconstruction and biomechanical engineering. Article 702 of the Louisiana Code of Evidence governs whether given expert testimony is admissible. At trial, Mace filed a Daubert challenge, arguing Peles should not be allowed to testify as an expert. Prior to being qualified as an expert, Peles explained his education and professional background involving biomechanical engineering and reconstruction. 

hammer_books_law_court-1024x768If you retain a lawyer, you expect they will fairly represent you. What happens if after you hired a lawyer, you learn that lawyer had previously represented one of the parties you are suing, multiple times? Just like in other lawsuits, it is essential that you file any lawsuit within the required time period for bringing a claim. If you wait too long, then a court may be unable to hear your claim.

A tractor trailer hit John Hoogacker’s vehicle while he was driving in Orleans Parish, Louisiana. Hoogacker hired Charles Hughes Jr. to represent him in a lawsuit against the truck driver and the truck’s owner. Hughes filed the lawsuit, brought on Brian Trainor as co-counsel, and retained expert witnesses. During a mediation, Hoogacker first learned Hughes had previously represented the truck’s insurance carrier multiple times. Hoogacker claimed Hughes pressured him to sign a settlement agreement. Hoogacker refused to comply with the settlement agreement. 

Hughes and Trainor filed motions to withdraw as Hoogacker’s counsel and to enforce the settlement. Hoogacker retained new counsel and agreed to proceed with the original settlement and release Hughes and Trainor from any claims. Hoogacker then file a lawsuit against Hughes and Trainor, alleging they conspired to commit fraud with the truck’s insurance carrier by not disclosing that Hughes had previously represented the carrier multiple times. Hughes and Trainor filed a motion claiming Hoogacker had no cause of action against them and had waited to file his lawsuit. The trial court granted the motion. 

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. 

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