Articles Posted in Wrongful Death

transportation_manila_philippines_388826-1024x768We all expect the government to take appropriate measures to keep roads safe. If you or a loved one has been harmed from an unsafe road condition, you might be able to file a lawsuit against the Department of Transportation and Development. 

Lacy Johnson was driving a car that was involved in a tragic accident near Oakdale, Louisiana. While driving through a curve on the road, she went into the opposing lane of traffic and hit a tree stump. The accident killed Johnson and Breann Sonnier, who was a passenger in the car. 

Sonnier’s surviving family members filed lawsuits against the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development (“DOTD”), alleging there was faulty construction and maintenance of the road. Before trial, the court ruled that plaintiff’s traffic experts could not testify about whether the DOTD project was a “major reconstruction” and if the roadway where the accident occurred was an unreasonable risk of harm. The trial court also ruled a lab report showing Johnson had a 0.10% blood alcohol concentration at the time of her death would be admissible. The jury ruled against plaintiff and found the roadway where the accident occurred did not have defects that created an unreasonable risk of harm. Sonnier’s mother filed an appeal.

new_zealand_accident_insurance_0-1024x768Vicarious liability in the context of work-related accidents is a complex legal issue that necessitates careful analysis of the state’s code. The case of Sarah Barber serves as a compelling example of the potential consequences when a government employee causes an accident while performing their job duties. Understanding the nuances of vicarious liability and the specific provisions governing such cases is essential to determine the employer’s liability for the actions of their employees.

Sarah Barber (Barber) was driving her car with passengers on Highway 107 in Pineville, Louisiana, when her car collided with Larry Jeane (Jeane), heading northbound on the highway. The collision occurred when Jeane’s car crossed the median and hit Barber’s vehicle. Mr. Jeane succumbed to injuries, while Barber’s passengers sustained severe injuries. The passengers in Barber’s vehicle filed a lawsuit against the City of Pineville, its insurer, and several other defendants. 

The primary issue discussed in this case was whether the State was vicariously liable for the accident caused by Jeane because he was on the job as a state Marshal when the accident happened. The Plaintiffs claimed the state was vicariously liable for Jeane’s actions since Jeane’s job is directed by the State Legislature. For the passengers to be successful in their vicarious liability claim, they needed to show the state was responsible for the Marshal’s actions under La. C. C. art. 2320 and La. R.S. 42:1441.4.

bauer_elementary_asbestos_1-1024x768Unraveling the complexities of jurisdiction is essential when determining which court has the authority to hear a lawsuit. Whether a case is heard in state or federal court can have strategic implications, but the path to federal court is paved with complex legal requirements. In this article, we delve into the intricacies of jurisdiction and explore the factors determining whether your lawsuit can be heard in federal court.

The four Legendre brothers filed a lawsuit against Huntington Ingalls, Inc. (formerly known as Avondale) in Louisiana state court. The Legendres claimed Avondale exposed their sister to asbestos, resulting in her death from mesothelioma. 

The Legendres’ father had worked at Avondale’s shipyard building tugs for the United States government. He used asbestos for insulation in the tugs’ engine rooms. The Legendres claimed asbestos had stuck to their father’s body and clothing, which exposed their sister to asbestos when he returned home from work. 

nuclear_waste_radioactive_trash-1024x529Exposure to naturally occurring radioactive materials generally increases due to human activity. Proving harm from these activities may be difficult, however. The following Jefferson Parish case demonstrates the need for substantiating your injury claim with evidence. It further shows the weight a court may place on expert witnesses.   

In this case, over 1,100 individuals, referred to as the “Dottie Adams” plaintiffs, filed a petition together stating they were either directly or indirectly harmed by exposure to radioactive material caused by Exxon Mobil Corporation, Mobil Exploration, and Producing North America, Inc. (“Exxon”), and Shell Oil Company, Shell Offshore, Inc., SWEPI LP, ConocoPhillips Company, and Alpha Technical Services, Inc. (“Shell”). The Dottie Adams plaintiffs all lived, or currently live, in Harvey or worked near the contaminated Grefer Tract, a 33-acre industrial tract in Harvey.  

After years of litigation, Exxon filed motions for summary judgment alleging that several of the Dottie Adams plaintiffs could not substantiate their claim that they or their property were exposed to radioactive material above naturally occurring background levels. In their motions, Exxon included an affidavit from its expert health physicist, who stated, in part, that it was more likely than not the plaintiffs’ properties were not impacted by the naturally occurring radioactive material from the operations occurring in the Grefer Tract. 

craftsmen_building_scaffold_19584-1024x679The evolving nature of employment now means the relationship between employer and employee can be indirect and through different contracting methods. In addition, many people employed by one company are, in fact, on the job doing work for another. A recent case in Louisiana highlights these distinctions and the risks posed to workers and their families when seeking compensation.

While working in 2013, Michael J. Louque Jr. was crushed to death by a piece of heavy machinery that rolled off the truck it was being loaded onto. Mr. Louque was employed by River Parish Maintenance (RPM) but was working at the Motiva Enterprises, LLC (“Motiva”) manufacturing complex. Upon his death, the family of Mr. Louque filed a lawsuit against Motiva and others, seeking compensation for his wrongful death. 

The contract that brought Mr. Louque to the Motiva manufacturing complex was actually between RPM and Shell Oil Products US (“Shell”). This point is crucial in understanding the state of the Louque’s litigation, as Louisiana law prohibits employees from directly suing their employers in a tort claim rather than pursuing worker’s compensation benefits. See Deshotel v. Guichard Operating Company, Inc.

bauer_elementary_asbestos_1-1024x768Although most people have heard of both state and federal courts, many do not know when a party in a lawsuit can move a case to a different court. This happened to Howard Zeringue, who first filed a lawsuit in Louisiana state court, but soon found himself in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana after the company he sued removed the case to federal court. This case helps answer the question; My lawsuit was removed to Federal Court. What does that Mean?

Zeringue sued Crane Company (“Crane”) and twenty others for the injuries they allegedly suffered from asbestos exposure.  Zeringue claimed he was exposed to asbestos while working for the United States Navy and at two other jobs. Additionally, Zeringue claimed Crane designed and supplied products with asbestos to the sites where he worked and was exposed to asbestos. 

Although Zeringue initially filed the case in state court, Crane removed the case to federal court under the federal officer removal statute. See 28 U.S.C. § 1442(a)(1). Crane argued any product Crane allegedly manufactured and provided to the Navy would be subject to the Navy’s discretion on whether to use asbestos and whether to include a warning on the product. Zeringue filed a motion to remand the case back to state court. The district court ruled in his favor, holding Crane had not shown the government had exercised its discretion concerning the design and warning problems at issue.  Crane appealed the district court’s ruling that sent the case back to state court. 

asbestos_garage-1024x597Insurance policies are often lengthy and very complicated. Therefore, understanding who may be liable when an injury occurs is critical, as failure to do so may lead to complex and expensive court proceedings. The following Iberville Parish case demonstrates the problems that arise when multiple insurance companies and policies are involved in one lawsuit and when evidence is not properly admitted.  

After working as an electrician in several shipyards and plants in south Louisiana for most of his life, Sidney J. Mabile, Sr. filed a lawsuit against The Dow Chemical Company (Dow) and Westgate and its predecessor, Industrial Electrical Constructors, Inc. (IEC) for asbestos-related injuries. Following a jury trial, Sidney’s claims against Westgate and IEC were dismissed, although Dow was found to be one of three defendants liable for his damages. Dow and Sidney ultimately settled. 

While the case with Sidney was pending, Dow filed a cross-claim against Westgate and IEC (collectively Westgate). Dow argued that Westgate was under an Agreement for Services that mandated Westgate to indemnify Dow for claims brought by a Westgate employee against Dow for any injuries on Dow’s premises. In other words, Dow argued that Westgate owed Dow an indemnity for Sidney’s original claim. 

boat_rowing_boat_blue-1024x746Hydraulic steering is part of modern-day recreational vessels. When a boat’s hydraulic steering fails, what party bears liability? The owner, driver, or manufacturer? In the following case, the Louisiana 3rd Circuit Court of Appeal was asked to determine liability and proper damages when a boat’s hydraulic steering system failed.

On May 7, 2005, a boat owned by Glen Vamvoras and operated by his son Daniel Vamvoras was traveling in Lake Charles when its steering failed. As a result, the boat spun wildly, throwing its passenger overboard. The passenger, Derek Hebert, was then struck by the boat’s propeller and tragically died. 

The Louisiana Department of Wildlife & Fisheries (“Wildlife & Fisheries”) investigated the accident. It determined that the pre-owned boat purchased by defendant Glen Vamvoras lost its steering due to a hydraulic fluid leak on the boat’s steering system’s hydraulic lines at the hose/nut of the coupling assembly. Teleflex was the manufacturer and supplier of the boat’s hydraulic steering system, but the original Teleflex hoses of this vessel had been replaced by persons unknown with a non-Teleflex hydraulic hose. 

police_baltimore_police_officer-1024x648Despite stringent rules and regulations designed to keep unlicensed drivers off the road, minors often find their way behind the wheel. Police in Gonzales, Louisiana, were forced to reckon with the seriousness of such a driver when a high-speed police chase on Interstate 10 turned deadly in May of 2004. The outcome of this chase became the subject of a lawsuit left unsettled until 2017—a case which pondered: to what standard should police be held when engaged in an active car chase?

Just before eight o’clock in the evening, a Gonzales city police officer noticed an Oldsmobile without its headlights activated. The car, failing to stop or slow down, was pursued onto Interstate 10 by Louisiana State Police. The chase continued for nearly twenty minutes despite attempts to stop the vehicle with a spike strip. Then, the Oldsmobile’s fourteen-year-old driver lost control of the car and spun into a vehicle traveling in the opposite direction, driven by the Bristols. The Oldsmobile driver died on impact, while all seven passengers in the other car were severely injured, prompting a lawsuit against the Louisiana State Police. At trial, a jury found no liability for the Bristols’ injuries on the part of the department, and an appeal followed.

The Louisiana Highway Regulatory Act is excepted by La R.S. 32:24—which provides, under certain circumstances, statutory immunity to drivers of emergency vehicles. As such, police officers are allowed to exceed maximum speed limits and disregard other road rules so long as they maintain regard for the safety of others and have their audible or visual signals activated. However, this exception is not absolute: juries are allowed to determine, based on the circumstances and after being instructed on the law, whether a standard of ordinary negligence or a heightened reckless disregard standard should gauge the standard of care for an emergency vehicle driver. Lenard v. Dilley, 784 So.2d 706 (La. Ct. App. 2001).

black-train-on-rail-and-showing-smoke-72594-1024x727Everyone has experienced or knows about a situation in which a governmental body was liable for damages or injuries caused. When suing a city in Louisiana, there must be some evidentiary support for the elements required under La. R.S. 9:2800. Otherwise, cities would be getting sued for every crack in the sidewalk that someone tripped over. While the situation in this case was more serious than a crack in the sidewalk, there are limits, all the same, to ensure that the city is not liable for another’s wrongdoing. The question in this case is who is responsible for the failure to maintain proper signage at railroad tracks? And if the signage is not enough who is held responsible?

In this case, TG was working as an engineer on a Union Pacific train that was traveling north on a path that would cross Cedar Street in Grosse Tete, Louisiana. DA was driving a road grader traveling west of Cedar Street when he attempted to cross the train tracks. Unfortunately, DA was not able to drive across the train tracks and was subsequently struck by the train, causing his death. TG was allegedly injured and filed suit for damages against the Department of Transportation and Development (“DOTD”), Mr. DA and the Union Pacific Railroad Company, alleging the defendants were at fault for the injuries sustained when the train struck the road grader. DOTD claimed that it was not at fault, but instead that the Village of Grosse Tete was at fault for a number of reasons, including failure to maintain the roadway surface and warning devices.

As a result of DOTD’s claims, Goodmond filed an amended petition adding the Village of Grosse Tete as a defendant, for which it denied liability. The Village of Grosse Tete claimed that the plaintiff lacked sufficient support to establish the required elements to find it liable for the injuries Goodmond sustained. 

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