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. 

worker_masonry_concrete_stones-1024x691While involved in a legal dispute, there are strict timelines that must be followed, not only for filing an initial lawsuit, but also for filing any subsequent appeals. However, arguments can arise about what timeline applies to a certain factual situation. 

Angela Jackson was injured while working at Family Dollar. Jackson filed a claim against Family Dollar. The Office of Workers’ Compensation awarded her medical expenses, disability, and supplemental earnings benefits. It also awarded her attorney’s fees and penalties against Family Dollar. 

Family Dollar filed an appeal about a month and a half after the Office of Workers’ Compensation issued the judgment in Jackson’s favor. However, Family Dollar did not indicate if it was a devolutive or suspensive appeal. 

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.

stairs_away_gradually_rise-683x1024Sometimes, commonplace items such as stairs can lead to serious injuries. This case involves the unfortunate situation of a woman who fell down stairs and was injured. Under what circumstances can a building owner be held responsible for injuries from falling down the stairs? 

Earline Couvillion fell on stairs while leaving a building owned by Riverside Properties. The stairs were made of cement. The stairs were frayed on the edges and did not have a handrail. Couvillion claimed she herniated discs in her back, strained and cut her knee, and damaged her nerves as a result of her fall down the stairs. 

Couvillion filed a lawsuit against Riverside Properties and their insurer, claiming their negligence resulted in her accident. She claimed Riverside Properties had failed to maintain and keep the stairs safe, had not installed handrails, and had otherwise been negligent. Riverside Properties filed a summary judgment motion, which the district court granted. Couvillion appealed.

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. 

neighborhood_house_roof_line-1024x768Under the Louisiana Recreational Use Immunity Statues, owners and operators of property used for recreational purposes are immune for liability for tortious acts. Does this immunity apply when a child is injured playing in a gated residential community? 

Three Doyle children were playing in the common area of their subdivision in Covington, Louisiana when a rotted tree fell on one of the children, severely injuring him. His parents filed a lawsuit against Lonesome Development, the Natchez Trace Property Owners Association, Renaissance Property Management, and their insurers. The Doyles claimed Lonesome and Natchez Trace were responsible for maintaining the common area of the subdivision. The Doyles also claimed Lonesome, Natchez Trace, and Renaissance had responsibility and control for the rotted tree and should have known it posed an unreasonable risk of harm. 

Lonesome was the original owner of the Natchez Trace subdivision. Natchez Trace had an agreement with Renaissance, whereby Renaissance was responsible for maintaining and managing the homeowners’ association. Lonesome and its insurer filed a summary judgment motion, arguging it was immune from liability under La. R.S. 9:2791 and 9:2795 (the Recreational Use Immunity Statutes). Renaissance and Natchez Trace subsequently filed almost identical summary judgment motions. The trial court granted Natchez Trace’s summary judgment motion, finding it was immune under the Recreational Use Immunity Statutes, but denied Lonesome and Renaissance’s summary judgment motions. 

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