Articles Posted in Uncategorized

parade_festival_irish_parade-1024x683The vibrant spirit of Mardi Gras parades, with their kaleidoscope of colors and joyous revelry, often paints a picture of unadulterated celebration. Yet, beneath the surface of these festivities, unexpected tragedies can unfold, turning the jubilation into a legal labyrinth. Such was the case in Franklin, Louisiana, where a moment of revelry took a distressing turn as a float participant was tragically injured during a parade. What followed was a legal showdown, entangling federal regulations, contractual intricacies, and the question of liability. Amidst the sparkle and confetti, a courtroom drama unfolded, revealing the complex legal considerations surrounding the incident.

Troylond Wise was driving an 18-wheeler he owned but had leased to ACME Truck Line when he was involved in an accident during a parade. Before the accident occurred, Takisha Welch asked Wise to pull a truck for a Mardi Gras parade in Franklin, Louisiana. Welch paid $100 to Wise to use his tractor-trailer. On the parade day, Bridget Jackson was riding in the floating Wise was pulling. When Wise tried to turn right, Jackson was thrown from the float. Wise then ran over her twice. 

Jackson filed a lawsuit against Wise, ACME, and First Guard Insurance Company, the tractor-trailer’s liability insurer. Franklin subsequently settled with First Guard, so the claims against it were dismissed. Before the accident, Wise had a five-year lease with ACME, whereby Wise leased ACME his tractor-trailer. 

cellphone_camera_phone_mobile-1024x683Courts often hear contradicting testimony and must decide who to believe or who is more credible. For example, the following Calcasieu Parish case involves two individuals who were married at the time of the altercation but have since divorced and the importance of providing the most credible testimony.   

Although Mr. and Ms. Cooper agreed there was an altercation in their home, they disagreed with the subsequent facts of this case. Mr. Cooper alleged Ms. Cooper handed him her phone to show him a picture. He then alleged that Ms. Cooper angrily began demanding the return of her phone, and when Mr. Cooper refused, she battered his testicles. Mr. Cooper claimed he sustained permanent damage due to Ms. Cooper’s actions and subsequently filed a lawsuit seeking damages. 

Ms. Cooper, on the other hand, alleged that Mr. Cooper took her phone out of her hands with substantial force. She then alleged she pleaded for the return of her phone, but Mr. Cooper refused, and he then put her phone in his pocket. Ms. Cooper claimed she attempted to remove the phone from his pocket and may have unintentionally come into contact with his testicles and penis. However, she alleged she never intentionally grabbed or battered him. At trial, Ms. Cooper moved for an involuntary dismissal of Mr. Cooper’s claim. The 14th Judicial District Court for the Parish of Calcasieu granted Ms. Cooper’s motion and dismissed Mr. Cooper’s claim. This appeal to the Louisiana Third Circuit Court of Appeal follows. 

gavel_wood_courtroom_legal-1024x683After a lawsuit, a trial is when each side can articulate their case theories. Usually, the culmination of a trial is a judgment that can be appealed. However, there are other occasions where the court can discuss the judgments besides an appeal. An alternative to an appeal is the petition for nullity, which may further examine the case and the court’s decisions. What is a petition for nullity of judgment, and how can it be used to overturn a jury verdict? The following lawsuit, Jefferson Parish, Louisiana, answers this question.

Mr. Ezzell worked as a marine insurance adjuster until 2008 when he was punched in the head by Dr. Lucien Miranne in a bar. At the principal trial, Dr. Miranne was found liable for the injuries Ezzell suffered. Ezzell was awarded damages for past medical expenses, pain, and suffering, past lost wages, and two years of future lost earning capacity. 

The jury’s judgment was primarily based on testimony by Ezzell and his doctors that attested to his injuries and poor cognitive functioning. For example, one witness, Dr. Thomas, said his injuries would “make it difficult for him to return to the level of employment he had before. Dr. Miranne appealed this judgment arguing Ezzell was faking and exaggerating his injuries, the same argument made at trial. Rather than overturn the judgment, the appellate court awarded additional damages for future pain and suffering to Ezzell. 

door_front_door_input-1024x768Some doors, such as bathroom doors, are heavy and have quick automatic closing mechanisms attached. If a door of that nature hits you in the back on your way and knocks you down, who is liable? The following case out of New Orleans shows how courts deal with door-closing mechanisms and trip-and-fall lawsuits. 

In 2011, Gail Encalade visited her insurance agent’s office in an office building on General DeGaulle. Before leaving, she pushed the restroom door open without issue and entered the bathroom. When exiting, she pulled the restroom door, and the door began to close behind her. As it was closing, she alleged it hit her on the back, causing her to fall forward, sustaining injuries to her shoulder and face.

In April of 2012, Encalade sued for damages, America First Insurance Company (AFIC) and other defendants were negligent in failing to maintain safe public areas, that being the restroom specifically. She argued the AFIC should have known of the problems with the doorways and the door equipment. AFIC answered the lawsuit by filing a motion for summary judgment. 

coins_currency_investment_insurance_0-1024x683Auto insurance can be beneficial when you are in a car accident. However, it isn’t uncommon to have specific provisions in your insurance policy that can limit your coverage. A recent case out of Kenner, Louisiana, interpreted whether certain caveats in an insurance policy can limit a client’s uninsured motorist coverage (UM/UIM).

Denise Breaux was driving on Interstate 10 behind a truck driven by Jonathan Blum. When a ladder fell off the back of Blum’s truck, Breaux tried to dodge the ladder that fell right into her path. Unfortunately, Breaux’s vehicle collided with Danny Castille’s tractor/trailer while attempting to avoid the ladder. Castille and his wife filed a lawsuit against Breaux, her insurer, and Blum, and then later added Lloyds at Lloyd’s, London (Lloyds) as a defendant. The Castilles were seeking UM/UIM coverage from Lloyds under a surplus lines insurance policy that was issued to Mr. Castille.  

Lloyds asserted that the Castilles were not entitled to UM/UIM coverage because they specifically issued an insurance policy that applied when the tractor did not have the trailer attached, known as Bobtail Liability insurance. Further, they argued that liability insurance was only available when the tractor was bobtailing; therefore, UM/UIM coverage only applied in the same scenario. Since, at the time of the accident, the Castilles’ tractor had a trailer attached and was not bobtailing, Lloyds sought summary judgment. 

wreck_shattered_broken_accident-768x1024Injury and negligence alone cannot support a personal injury claim. There must be causation or a link connecting a negligent act and the related injury to succeed at trial. A consistent medical history and a plaintiff’s credibility can enormously impact whether a jury decides that a negligent act caused an alleged injury. This principle was affirmed by the Calcasieu District Court when plaintiff Treima Williams was unsuccessful in her claim for damages arising from a road traffic accident. The case below shows how contradictory medical history can affect the outcome of your injury lawsuit.

A truck driven by Marvin Gainous rear-ended Williams’ vehicle. Gainous had been stopped behind Williams. However, his truck moved forward and struck her vehicle when his foot slipped off the break. Williams claimed that her head, neck, and left shoulder started hurting immediately after the incident. Following the accident, she called an ambulance, which arrived shortly afterward. Williams complained of pain in her left shoulder and back at the hospital, and she was prescribed pain medication. X-rays of her back were interpreted as normal. 

Williams had prior back injuries from a motor vehicle incident in 2006, another motor vehicle injury in 2011, and an injury she sustained at work in 2011. Williams had also complained of back pain during her pregnancy in 2012. Williams received treatment for neck and back strain from 2013 to 2015. In 2016, an independent medical exam was conducted by an orthopedic surgeon who testified that while he believed Williams suffered neck and back strain based on a subjective assessment, there was no objective evidence. He deduced that the MRI could be that of a completely asymptomatic patient. 

An employee suffering an injury at work can be concerning for both the employee and employer. This concern can be increased when the injury sustained at work is an aggravation of a previous injury. However, as one Louisiana individual discovered, providing solid evidence backing your workers’ compensation claim can be critical to the lawsuit.

Mrs. Alexander worked as an administrative assistant at Stupp Bros in Baton Rouge. On February 12th, 2015, Mrs. Alexander was asked to order toner for the printer. Mrs. Alexander had to obtain the serial number from the back of the printer to collect toner and kneel down to acquire the serial number. While kneeling down and pulling the printer off the wall, Mrs. Alexander felt a tear on her back. Mrs. Alexander fell over and was transported Mrs. Alexander to Prime Medical with some assistance.

While at Prime Medical, Mrs. Alexander was diagnosed with a lower back strain, given over-the-counter medications, and was given a release to return to work. Mrs. Alexander complained about pain and said she had undergone two previous back surgeries while visiting Prime Medical. Four days after the accident, Mrs. Alexander went to the emergency room at Lane Regional Medical Center. An M.R.I. performed on Mrs. Alexander revealed several issues involving a disc in her back.

14-1024x682Often times during a lawsuit, cases involve a classic “battle of experts,” where each side presents an expert with an opinion which differs from their respective opponent’s side. The recent Jefferson Davis Parish case involved this exact situation.

Hayes Fund for the First United Methodist Church of Welsh, L.L.C. and other groups brought a lawsuit against a group of defendants including Kerr-McGee Rocky Mountain, LLC, alleging monetary losses which resulted from defendants’ mismanagement of two oil and gas wells in which the plaintiffs’ had royalty interests. Nevertheless, when it reached the Louisiana Supreme Court, it was mainly about the standards of appellate review.

The wells in question were both located in Jefferson Davis Parish. Plaintiffs alleged that defendants, when drilling the wells, did not follow the customary and industry-wide accepted protocols. For example, one of the well’s drill pipe was stuck, and later abandoned. Because of the remaining drill pipe, the hole could not properly be cemented, resulting in extraneous water to enter the reservoir and damage it, and causing loss of production and royalties for the plaintiffs. In another of the wells, the use of triple permanent packer caused the well to be “sanded up,” and resulted in the loss of lower zones. Overall, the alleged royalty loss of plaintiffs from both wells was $13.4 million.

class-classroom-conference-716276-1024x683Opinions vary on the principles of trickle-down economics, but on December 15, 2015 the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit issued an opinion which affirmed a lower court summary judgement decision for Northwestern State University to take down economics, along with one of its tenured professors.

In 1994, Robert C. Jones III (“Mr. Jones”) was hired as an economics instructor at Northwestern State University (“NSU”) and later gained tenure as an associate professor. Neither his education nor his instruction could have prepared him for the state enacted public university budget cuts that cost Mr. Jones his job as a result of the Great Recession of 2008. On July 22, 2010, the administrative representatives for NSU sent Mr. Jones a letter to notify him of the end of the economics concentration and his tenure. Following the notice, Mr. Jones presented a seven-page document to a committee of NSU faculty members outlining his arguments against the notice to end his tenure. The committee subsequently rejected Mr. Jones arguments unanimously. A year later, Mr. Jones filed a lawsuit seeking reinstatement and damages against NSU and argued that the university denied his procedural and substantive due process rights. The university raised a defense of sovereign immunity, while the administrative official claimed qualified immunity. The United States District Court for the Western District of Louisiana granted these immunities along with NSU’s motion for summary judgment. Mr. Jones appealed the decision to the Fifth Circuit, which ultimately affirmed the lower court’s judgment.

The Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution states that no state shall “deprive any person of life, liberty, or property without due process of law.” Procedurally, due process includes adequate notice as well as the opportunity to be heard. Due process becomes less clear to define, so courts often rely on case law, which is comparable to the present situation. 

apartment-architectural-design-architecture-1693946-1024x736Lease agreements are important documents that specify the rights and obligations of both lessor and lessee. Specifically, termination of leases must follow specified procedures and the tenant must be given adequate notice before leases can be terminated. That being said, does a letter from the lessor to the lessee constitute proper notice for termination of a lease? The Fourth District Court of Appeals of Louisiana recently held that a tenant was not given proper notice for termination of his lease and therefore, the termination was not valid.

In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, Kenneth Lobell, plaintiff, suffered extensive damage to property that he leased from Cathy Rosenberg and 2025 Canal St., L.L.C. On December 28, 2007, Rosenberg sent a letter to Lobell stating that he had defaulted on certain lease payments for a three-story building located on 2025 Canal Street. Rosenberg subsequently sent letters on January 31, 2007 and February 12, 2008 regarding these defaulted payments. The letters also stated her desire to terminate the lease. After a bench trial, the trial court judge held that there was a proper termination of the lease and Mr. Lobell owed certain costs and back payments to Rosenberg and 2025 Canal St., L.L.C.

The Fourth District Court of Appeals of Louisiana disagreed with the trial court and held that the lease was not properly terminated. Because leases are contracts between lessor and lessee, they afford certain rights and obligations to each party. See La. C.C. 2668. Lessees must pay rents for the property according to the terms of the lease agreement, among other obligations. See La. C.C. 2683. When a lessee does not pay rent, a lessor has two options: 1) obtain a money judgment based on the amount owed or 2) cancel the lease. See Richard v. Broussard 495 So.2d 1291, 1293 (La. 1986). To terminate a lease, the lessor must follow specific eviction procedures. These procedures include giving a five-day notice to vacate, followed by judicial procedures to effectuate an eviction. See La. C.C.P. art. 4701; see also La. C.C.P. 4731; see also La. C.C.P. 4733.

Contact Information