A three-judge panel from the FirstCircuit Court of Appeal affirmed the trial court’s ruling finding the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development at fault for the severe injuries suffered by Evelyn “Joy” Menard when her vehicle struck an out-of-service signal wire hanging under the Essen Lane overpass.

The accident occurred in 2004 but the wire had been hanging under the I-12 bridge for decades, having been installed by the DOTD in 1967 and decommissioned in 1976. The wire had sagged over time and, by the time of the accident, was low enough that it was pulled down by a passing 18-wheeler.  Ms. Menard was travelling behind the 18-wheeler and her car became entangled in the downed wire, pulling her vehicle violently sideways, injuring her lower back and leaving her totally disabled.

At trial, DOTD acknowledged that following the decommission of the signal in 1976, it had no record of inspecting or servicing the wire, the pole, traffic signal, or any other component part of the signal governing the entrance to the intersection where the accident occurred. Ms. Menard’s expert testified that DOTD’s abandonment of the wire without inspection or any effort to maintain it rendered the wire unreasonably dangerous, especially in light of the risk of  the wire sagging over time.

Louisiana’s medical malpractice damage cap, set at $500,000.00 in 1975, could see a significant change in the scope of its application thanks to several lawsuits set to be argued before the Louisiana Supreme Court.

In 1975, the Louisiana Medical Malpractice Act set a $500,000.00 statutory maximum for any amount recoverable as damages (other than medical expenses) in a Louisiana medical malpractice suit.  However, there are instances of negligence which occurs in a medical context that can fall outside of the purview of the Louisiana Medical Malpractice Act.

The Louisiana Supreme Court is currently considering whether a hospital’s “negligent credentialing” of its doctors is subject to the statutory cap of $500,000.00.  In layman’s terms, the Court will decide whether administrative decisions made by hospital personnel are considered malpractice under Louisiana law.

In November of 2012, Carrie Marchiafava, 85, parked her car in the parking lot of Casey Jones Supermarket and went inside. When Mrs. Marchiafava returned to her vehicle, she found someone had parked too close to her passenger side door, making it difficult for her to back out.

Store employee William Sarradet attempted to assist Mrs. Marchiafava by backing her car out for her, but left the driver-side door open as he reversed the vehicle out of its parking spot. The open door knocked Marchiafava down and the car rolled over her. According to court records, Mrs. Marchiafava was dragged under the car for a distance. Sarradet then put the car back into drive and accelerated into the parking spot, rolling over Marchiafava again.

Mrs. Marchiafava was taken to a New Orleans hospital where doctors attempted to save her life. She suffered numerous broken bones and her skin was torn away from the tissue in several places.  Mrs. Marchiafava underwent multiple surgeries and survived for over a month before succumbing to her injuries.

On July 8, 2009 Hyundai Elantra, was involved in a low-speed collision in Newfoundland, Canada, spurring investigations into air bag inflators made by ARC Automotive, a Tennessee-based company.  Canadian officials contend that the driver would have likely survived had the ARC-manufactured airbag inflator not ruptured and sent shrapnel flying through the passenger compartment. This incident, the latest of several, lead both Canadian and American auto safety regulators to investigate ARC inflators, which are installed in roughly 8 million cars in the United States alone.  The products are mostly found in older cars made by General Motors, Fiat, Chrysler, Hyundai, and Kia.

This incident underscores the importance of a probe already underway by the United States’ National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. That investigation began in July 2015 after the agency received reports that an Ohio woman was seriously injured in a 2009 accident where her 2002 Chrysler Town & Country minivan crashed, rupturing its inflator. The injured woman’s husband complained in writing to NHTSA, informing the agency that his wife was hurt by shrapnel when the air bag deployed following a collision with a snowmobile. “Most of the shrapnel went into her chest, with the air bag plate breaking apart, striking her in the chin, breaking her jaw in three places,” her husband wrote.

The NHTSA also found  a similar injury involving someone in a 2004 Kia Optima. In both cases, the inflators were manufactured in ARC’s factory in Knoxville, TN.

ABBEVILLE–The District Attorney for the 15th Judicial District, Keith Stutes, has announced the filing of major litigation to recover for damages, restoration costs and actual restoration as a result of oil and gas exploration, production and transportation operations in Vermilion Parish which have “caused substantial damages to land and water bodies, geological formations, and cultural and economic opportunities in violation of Louisiana state law, rules and regulations.”

The 15th Judicial District includes Acadia, Lafayette and Vermilion parishes.

The action by Stutes makes Vermilion Parish one of six Louisiana coastal parishes filing such claims.  The others are Plaquemines, St.  Bernard, Jefferson, Lafourche and Cameron parishes.

Last month, the Court of Appeal for Louisiana’s Third Circuit affirmed a jury verdict of $125,000.00 in compensatory damages and $23,000,000.00 in punitive damages in favor of the plaintiff, Ron Warren, in a maritime products liability case.

The incident at the heart of the case took place over ten years ago. On May 7, 2005, Derek Hebert was riding in a small boat operated by David Vamvoras. They were traveling from Mr. Vamvoras’ home to the Lake Charles Country Club via a former channel of the Calcasieu River. During the trip, the boat’s steering system completely shut down, ejecting Hebert from the craft and into the path of the propeller. The propeller struck Hebert approximately nineteen times, killing him almost instantly.  A subsequent investigation of the accident revealed that the loss of a relatively small amount of hydraulic fluid resulted in the craft’s total loss of steering.  As a result, Warren filed suit for wrongful death and survival damages against numerous parties, including the manufacturer and designer of the boat’s steering system, Teleflex.

Warren alleged that Teleflex failed to warn boat owners and passengers of the potentially catastrophic danger caused by losing just a small amount of hydraulic fluid. At trial, evidence showed that Teleflex performed tests in 1989 and 2004 which revealed that the loss of only a few teaspoons of hydraulic fluid would result in the total failure of the steering system. Plaintiff further showed Teleflex had received thousands of complaints regarding hydraulic fluid loss, but Teleflex believed the problem occurred infrequently enough that a more specific warning was not justified. The jury disagreed and awarded Warren $23,000,000.00 in punitive damages.

A lawsuit was filed in the 24th Judicial District Court in Gretna, LA over an alleged dog attack which took place in March of this year.

Kevin Karrigan, a United States Postal Service employee, has sued Louis Alonso Gomez and ABC Insurance Co. for injuries sustained when Gomez’s dog purportedly bit Karrigan.

According to the suit, Karrigan was delivering mail on Presidential Street in Jefferson Parish when Gomez’s dog escaped its enclosure and attacked Karrigan. The suit claims that the fence enclosing the dog was defective, which allowed the animal to escape. The complaint further alleges that Gomez negligently failed to maintain the fence in a working manner, failed to maintain control of his dog, and failed to provide a warning of the danger.

A multi-car accident at a traffic jam in St. Martin Parish gave rise to a lawsuit filed in Lafayette earlier this month. Ronald P. Clauhs and Joseph Dimitri sued to recover damages for personal injuries against Scott J. Liriano and Liriano Motors, LLC. Suit was filed in the United States District Court for the Western District of Louisiana, Lafayette Division on June 6, 2016.

According to the complaint, the accident occurred on December 23, 2015 when Clauhs was driving a vehicle owned by Dimitri, who was the passenger at the time of the wreck. While travelling on I-10 eastbound in St. Martin Parish, Clauhs observed traffic congestion ahead and stopped behind the line of cars in his lane. Two more vehicles stopped behind plaintiffs’ vehicle. At that point, a company truck owned by Liriano Motors and driven by Liriano collided with last car in line behind the plaintiffs’ vehicle. The force of the impact triggered a chain reaction, which caused the plaintiffs’ vehicle to be rear-ended by the vehicle behind them. Liriano was cited by the Louisiana State Police for careless operation.

Plaintiffs’ complaint makes allegations against both Liriano and his employer, Liriano Motors. The allegations against the employer include that Liriano was working at the time of the accident and was therefore in the course and scope of his employment with Liriano Motors. Because Liriano was on a mission for his employer when the accident occurred, plaintiffs allege that Liriano Motors is vicariously liable for the accident. Plaintiffs also allege that Liriano Motors, as the owner of the truck, negligently entrusted the company vehicle to Liriano.

A suit has been filed against the United States government and their employee, Gilbert Yribe Jr., as the result of a vehicular accident.

Cristian Chestnut filed a lawsuit on May 24 in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana, stating that Yribe failed to maintain control of his vehicle and caused injury. The petition alleges that on June 2, 2014, Yribe, an employee of the United States Navy, rear-ended Chestnut’s vehicle in a manner which lead to injury.  The accident occurred in St. Tammany Parish.  On April 28, 2015, Chestnut reportedly submitted an SF95 (Standard Form 95) to the Department of the Navy.  An SF95 is used to present claims against the United States under the Federal Torts Claims Act (FTCA) for injury to self or property allegedly caused by a federal employee’s wrongful act or omission, so long as that act occurred within the scope of the employee’s federal employment.

The amount of damages sought is$5,010,000.  The plaintiff has requested trial by jury and seeks damages plus interests, costs, and all general and equitable relief the court deems proper.

Two Baton Rouge siblings were killed last week when their vehicle was struck by an oncoming train. Byron Henderson, 41, and Myra Henderson, 42, were driving their SUV westbound on Dorcy Road in White Castle, LA when it came to a complete stop while atop of the railroad tracks. The crossing is not outfitted with warning lights or crossing guards.

Union Pacific, the owners and operators of the train, allege that the train’s horn was blown continuously for  forty seconds prior to the collision. The Iberville Sheriff’s Office is still looking into why the vehicle was parked on the railroad tracks.  Investigators are hoping that footage from the train’s front-mounted cameras will shed more light on this event.

Union Pacific is cooperating with the Sheriff’s Office by conducting their own investigation into the events of that day.  While it is not currently know what speed the train was traveling at the time of impact, Union Pacific spokesperson Jeff DeGraff confirmed that their trains’ speed is limited to 60 mph in that area.