Articles Posted in Litigation

fire_firefighters_fire_truck-1024x683If you and your family members are injured in an apartment fire, you might think you would be able to recover for your injuries from the apartment owners.  However, the law may only allow you to recover for your damages with sufficient evidence to support your claim. 

Afrah Qasem and her daughter, Asary Shotah, tried to escape from a fire in their apartment by jumping out of the window of their apartment on the second floor. They filed a lawsuit against Acadian Apartments for the injuries they suffered.  Qasem and her daughter claimed they had been injured due to Acadian’s negligence.  They claimed Acadian did not have sufficient policies and procedures in place, did not have working fire alarms or fire extinguishers, and had insufficiently marked emergency exits.  

Acadian responded, claiming that Qasem and her daughter had caused the fire by using a candle or other similar device and did not extinguish the fire.  Acadian wanted $50,000 in damages for the fire. Acadian filed a summary judgment motion under La. C.C.P. 966, claiming Qasem and her daughter could not prove Acadian had caused the fire and was liable for their damages. The trial court granted Acadian’s summary judgment motion. Qasem and her daughter appealed, claiming the trial court erred in granting Acadian’s summary judgment motion. 

2015_garage_sale_002-1024x683Depending on the outcome of a trial, when the jury renders its verdict, you might be excited or sad. No matter how you feel, you must review the trial court’s judgment to ensure it is sufficiently precise and definite to meet the requirements for a final judgment.  

Charmane Manchester was injured while attending a garage sale held on property owned by Michael and Heather Watson. She claimed a wood post supporting the carport fell and hit her. She filed a lawsuit against the Watsons and their homeowners’ insurer, ANPAC Louisiana. 

In her lawsuit, Manchester claimed the Watsons maintained an unreasonably dangerous condition on their property, had not adequately warned people of the condition, did not properly inspect the wood posts, and held a garage sale in an unsafe area. The lawsuit proceeded to a jury trial. At trial, the jury found the Watsons owned and had custody of the wooden post that fell on Manchester at the garage sale. However, the jury did not find sufficient evidence that the wooden post was defective and an unreasonable risk of harm when the accident occurred. 

lying_promises_deception_dishonesty-1024x768What are the consequences of lying in a workers’ compensation claim? They can be harsh, as shown in the following lawsuit. Betty Reeder, a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) at Hardtner Medical Center, found herself embroiled in a legal battle after suffering an injury on the job. This article examines the details of the lawsuit, delves into the relevant Louisiana workers’ compensation law, and analyses the Appeals Court decision that shaped the outcome.

The chain of events leading to the lawsuit began in January 2013, when Betty Reeder tripped and fell on a wheelchair while performing her duties as a CNA. Following the accident, she received financial and medical support from the Louisiana Hospital Association Workers’ Compensation Interlocal Risk Management Agency through its agent, HSLI. She received weekly payments based on her average weekly wage for over a year, totaling approximately $23,000. 

However, the situation took a contentious turn when HSLI accused Reeder of making false statements to obtain compensation. The case went to trial, with Reeder having to forfeit her right to workers’ compensation benefits by violating La.R.S. 23:1208. Faced with the Workers Compensation Judge’s (WCJ) initial ruling against her, Reeder appealed the decision and sought a reconsideration of her case.

the_police_arrest_lego-1024x683In the world of litigation, there are often cases that raise questions about who should be held responsible for damages caused by certain events. Take the recent case of Christopher Blanchard, who claimed damages after his police car was hit by a stolen car. The trial court granted summary judgment in favor of the defendants, GoAuto Insurance Company and its insured, Demetrius J. Hicks, dismissing Blanchard’s claim for damages. The court ruled that Hicks, the vehicle’s owner, was not liable for the damages caused by an unknown thief who stole his truck and crashed it into Blanchard’s police car. To better understand how this came about, let us examine the facts and legal arguments of the case and explore the court’s reasoning for upholding the verdict.

The undisputed facts are as follows: Demetrius J. Hicks, a carpenter and subcontractor, parked his truck in front of a house he was inspecting, leaving the keys in the ignition and the engine running. Within minutes, an unknown thief stole the truck and drove off. Hicks tried to stop the thief but was unsuccessful. Eventually, the thief abandoned the truck behind Blanchard’s patrol car and fled on foot. The stolen truck collided with the police car, causing damage.

Blanchard filed a lawsuit against Hicks and GoAuto, the insurance company, seeking compensation for the accident. Hicks and GoAuto denied liability, claiming that Hicks’ truck had been stolen and the thief was responsible for the accident. The trial court granted summary judgment in favor of the defendants, dismissing Blanchard’s claims with prejudice.

vehicle_cargo_industry_1562094-1024x785Licensed and professional commercial truck drivers usually carry heavy materials on their journey. Keeping these materials secured for any type of roadway issue is paramount. But what happens when these large trucks roll over and you think the weight shift was due to faulty or improper packaging? The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals addresses the question as to whether there is enough evidence to bring a claim for a packaging malfunction that leaves you injured.

On January 17, 2014, Danny Barefoot exited the highway in his vehicle in Shreveport, Louisiana, lost control of his eighteen-wheeler truck, and rolled over. The exit rant was looped, and as he exited, the lumber he was carrying shifted, causing Barefoot to crash. Barefoot filed suit against Weyerhaeuser, claiming the company did not package the joists properly, causing the bands to break and the lumber to shift, which led to the truck rolling over.

Weyerhaeuser attempted to move for summary judgment. When a defendant moves for summary judgment, the plaintiff must make a positive showing of facts to support their claim. See La. R.S. 9:2800.6(A). In this instance, Barefoot would have to prove with enough evidence that Weyerhaeuser caused his injury from the truck rolling over.

mma_fight_maza_maza-1024x683What happens when a final judgment from a court lacks precise language as to the damages you should be awarded? The First Circuit Court of Appeals answers this question and explains the importance of precision and certainty in all civil case language.

While attempting to break up a fight between his friend Christopher and Trevor Wilson in early October of 2007, Ryan Martinez, who was a patron at Chevy’s Inc. (“Chevy’s), was struck in the face. Around a year later on February 29, 2008, Martinez wanted Wilson, Chevy’s and their respective insurers (“defendants”) to pay for the injury her received from the fight. Martinez claimed that Wilson punched him in the left cheek, resulting in a fracture that required his jaw to be wired shut for around eight (8) weeks. Martinez lost 30 pounds due to a lack of solid food, which prevented him from working and forced him to drop two classes he was enrolled in. His main assertion was that Wilson was liable for battery, entitling him to damages from the incident.

At the trial court level, the court found in favor of Martinez and awarded him special and general damages that were to be paid by the defendants. The court found in favor of Martinez and against Wilson and awarded damages (special and general) to Martinez for $35,128.66. 

horse_race_hippodrome_horses-1024x587Horse races represent a lot of things: money, power, competition. The outcomes of races matter a lot to those involved, and debates about those races can be pretty contentious, even getting to court. When a back-and-forth about the rightful winner of a horse race makes it to the Second Circuit Court of Appeals, how does the court deal with this unique and specific area of law?

The Second Circuit had to decide which horse, “Coalport” or “Benwill”, won the Unbridled Stakes horse race at Louisiana Downs. Coalport’s owners, the Ramseys, brought a suit against the Louisiana State Racing Commission (the “Commission”) after the Louisiana Downs Stewards questioned and reversed Coalport’s win at Unbridled Stakes. Ultimately, the Board of Stewards found that Coalport had fouled Benwill and prevented Benwill from winning the race. Accordingly, Coalport was demoted to second place, and Benwill took first place. The Ramseys first appealed the Stewards’ finding to the Commission, but the Commission affirmed the decision. The Ramseys then appealed to the 26th Judicial District Court, which reversed the decision and reinstated Coalport as the race winner. In its decision, the trial court held that the Commission should have assessed the Stewards’ decision with greater scrutiny and that there was insufficient evidence to conclude that Coalport fouling Benwill changed the race outcome. 

The Commission appealed the trial court’s decision, arguing that the Commission’s evidence showed that it was more likely than not that the foul changed the race outcome, the Commission was not too deferential to the Stewards’ decision, and the trial court did not give the Commission proper deference to determine the credibility of witnesses. The primary issue for the Second Circuit to determine was whether Coalport’s foul actually changed the outcome of the race. 

site_truck_vehicle_transport-1024x683The discovery process of litigation is vital to a well-informed judgment rendered by the court. But discovery can be halted, disrupted, or dismantled by various motions. Finding and gathering all the necessary information in a lawsuit is incredibly important for all sides. Still, it requires showing a need for that information and the presence of facts in dispute. Identifying and presenting disputed facts of a case is necessary to help protect your case from a summary judgment dismissal. 

Heniff Transportation, LLC (“Heniff”) was a licensed professional truck driver transporting dangerous chemicals. One of the plaintiffs, Carl Davis, was a self-employed independent contractor working for Heniff. During this work, Carl attempted delivery of a tank of hydrochloric acid to GEO Specialty Chemicals (“GEO”). GEO personnel found defects in the tank, which Heniff owned. To address the defect, Heniff directed Carl to have Bastrop Tank Wash (“Bastrop”) repair the tank. Bastrop allegedly repaired the tank, but when Carl and GEO later began transferring the hydrochloric acid from the tank, the allegedly repaired hose ruptured, hydrochloric acid escaped from the fittings, and Carl’s required protective gear was knocked off his body. As a result, Carl suffered injuries to his eyes, face, and body. 

Carl and his wife, April, sued Heniff, Bastrop, GEO, Sparta Insurance (later replaced by Arch Insurance), ABC Insurance, and DEF Insurance, for damages and loss of consortium. In response, Bastrop filed for summary judgment, arguing that the part of the exploded hose was not a part that Bastrop repaired.

the_samuel_young_house-1024x683Owning property is not easy, especially when you have to share ownership with multiple individuals. Co-ownership can present challenging issues, especially when one owner wants to make renovations or sell the property. This case examines a dispute among family members involving property in the Parish of St. Bernard in Louisiana. 

The plaintiffs, including Charles Gettys, Jr., and defendants, including William Gettys, each had a one-fifth interest in the at-issue property. The plaintiffs sued to have the property sold and the proceeds divided among the five co-owners. William responded, claiming after Hurricane Katrina, the defendants said they no longer wanted to have an interest in the property and did not want to spend any more money on the property or repairs.  William claimed he completed a property renovation and moved into the house following Hurricane Katrina. William claimed before Hurricane Katrina that he had agreed with Charles that they would renovate the property together and then sell it. Then, they would split the money they made from the sale. The renovations purportedly cost $46,000. William claimed Charles had agreed to split the renovation costs with him.  

However, Charles had not paid for his share of the renovations. William argued Charles owed him his share of the total cost of the repairs and renovations. After trial, the court ordered the parties to sell the property via auction, at a $50,000 minimum bid, or through a private sale, with the first $48,476 of the proceeds to go to William to reimburse him for the renovations he carried out in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

medical_appointment_doctor_563427-1024x683In the face of the profound loss that accompanies the passing of a family member, the impact can be particularly agonizing when that loss follows the anticipation of medical intervention, such as a transplant. The immediate inclination might be to explore legal avenues through a medical malpractice claim, yet the determination of whether negligence played a role can be an intricate matter for the average individual. This Louisiana case shows how important it can be to obtain expert testimony to help show malpractice occurred. 

The medical malpractice case brought by Jarrard Green and his sister Bernadine Green arose from complications after a donated kidney failed post-transplant. Jarrard donated his kidney to Bernadine, who suffered from end-stage renal disease. The transplant was performed by one of the defendants, Joseph Buell. Several days after the transplant, the kidney failed and needed removal. Jarrard initiated a Medical Review Panel process which rendered an opinion in favor of the defendants stating there was no breach in the standard of care. 

A medical malpractice and lack of informed consent lawsuit followed. Defendants Dr. Joseph Buell, Dr. Douglas Slakey, and Tulane University Hospital filed a motion for summary judgment stating the Greens lacked the necessary expert testimony to support the allegations. The motion was granted by the trial court dismissing the claims. The Greens appealed. 

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