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In a recent landmark, unanimous opinion, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit ruled in favor of environmental justice for Louisiana and to hold the oil and gas industry accountable for the devastating effects of Big Oil on the fragile Louisiana coast, coastal parishes, and ecosystems.  The court rejected the motion to place coastal lawsuits under the jurisdiction of the federal judiciary, and these cases will fall under the jurisdiction of Louisiana state courts, effectively moving cases previously bogged down by seven years of delays quickly to trial. Richard Broussard, of Broussard & David in Lafayette, LA co-represented the Louisiana coastal parishes alongside John Carmouche of Talbot, Carmouche, and Marcello in Baton Rouge.  As the opinion was released, Broussard counted it “as a huge step forward for the citizens of Louisiana and all those who value the future of our environment.”

Environmental justice crusader, Ret. Lt. General Russell Honore, who has devoted his post military career to lead Louisiana’s charge for environmental protection, was equally impressed with the court’s decision for accountability for the nearly 25 billion dollars in catastrophic damage that has been caused by oil and gas in Louisiana.  Honore shared with Bayou Brief earlier this week, “Big Oil is no longer the sacred cow in Louisiana.  They need to clean up the mess, abandon the wells and pits, and pay for the decades of pollution of our wetlands.  Big Oil owns the (state) legislature, with their flag over the Capitol, but as courts proved in the BP case, these companies can and should be held accountable.”

LSU professor and spokesperson for protection of Louisiana’s coasts, James Carville called the court’s opinion “The best day Louisiana has had in the 21st Century.”  This monumental ruling is noted as the 85th failed attempt by oil and gas companies to divert lawsuits from Louisiana state courts.  This is the first opinion issued on the matter by the right-leaning Fifth Circuit, and Carmouche relayed to the Bayou Brief, “For our coastal parishes to have won in this court, the fact the vote was 3 to 0 in favor of the coastal parishes of Louisiana, and the fact that all three judges who voted to give our state courts the authority to determine the future of coastal Louisiana are appointees of President Trump demonstrates the restoration of Louisiana’s coast is not a partisan issue, but an issue of law and equity.”   Oil-and-Gas-Rig

Broussard & David law firm is excited to announce another FREE lunch for first responders next week.

In an effort to show appreciation to first responders and the critical role they play during the COVID-19 crisis, Broussard & David law firm will provide a meal to all uniformed fire fighters, police officers and paramedics on Wednesday, May 6 at Dwyer’s Café downtown.

In mid-April, the law firm offered a free lunch day at Judice Inn for first responders with the hopes of supporting local businesses as well as essential workers who put their own health at risk to serve our community. It was a great success with 289 meals served that day. Given the tremendous response, Broussard and David would like to continue the effort into May.

On January 6, the attorney for the Dudek family, a couple who tragically lost their child due to the tip over of a popular dresser from IKEA, announced a settlement of this matter. IKEA settled for $46 million after the toddler was crushed to death when the dresser toppled over on top of the child. This dresser has been appropriately recalled after at least five other children were killed. This is not the first settlement with these circumstances ending in this tragedy. In 2016, Ikea settled with three families in eerily similar circumstances for $50 million.

The current case arose when the Dudeks sued IKEA arguing that the company knew this furniture line was prone to tip over and fail to warn customers. In an effort to mitigate this problem IKEA offered a wall anchoring kit before issuing a full recall of the dresser line.

The Dudeks purchased the dresser in 2008, but claim they never got an alert about the recall. On May 24, 2017, Mr. Dudek went into his son’s room to find him trapped beneath the 70-pound IKEA dresser. Joseph passed away from asphyxia after being smothered and choked by the tip over.

Plaintiffs Latoya Fontenot and Michael Robertson were injured when an 18-wheeler changed lanes and struck their vehicle.  There was minor property damage on the Fontenot’s vehicle and neither plaintiffs sought medical attention at the scene.  Robertson and Fontenot began treating with chiropractor Dr. Rowdy Gautreau.  When conservative measures failed, Robertson and Fontenot both presented to Dr. William Brennan, a Lafayette neurosurgeon.  Dr. Brennan performed a laminectomy on Robertson; one year later, Brennan performed a fusion at L4/5 L5/S1.   Dr. Brennan also performed a three-level cervical fusion on Latoya.   Michael Robertson was enrolled in pain management after the accident and was treating with Dr. Sanjiv Jindia for chronic pain.  At the time of the accident, Robertson was working offshore.

Defendants defended the case on all angles: liability and damages. On the first morning of trial, defendants stipulated to liability.  With respect to damages, defendants attacked Robertson’s credibility, particularly the fact that Robertson, a convicted felon, had testified that he did not return to work after the accident despite evidence that Robertson returned to his job for six days.  Defendants also argued that Robertson failed to disclose his 2010 treatment to “chronic back pain” to his treating physicians and that he overexaggerated the facts of the crash and the property damage to the vehicle.  With respect to Fontenot, the defendants argued that while Fontenot was treating with Dr. Brennan and complaining of neck pain, the visits she made to her primary care providers contained no mentions of neck pain.

Plaintiffs experts were as follows:  Sy Arceneaux and Stony Landry, vocational rehabilitation, and John Theriot, economist.  Defendants retained Dr. James Domingue to give expert testimony about Latoya Fontenot’s EMG, and Dr. Chambliss Harrod to provide an Independent Medical Exam regarding the plaintiffs’ need for surgery.

On November 7, 2019, a helicopter is presumed to have crashed in the Gulf of Mexico. The helicopter was owned and being flown by Panther Marine. Panther Marine was operating the aircraft under Panther Helicopters of Belle Chasse. The helicopter was hired by Cox Oil. 

The last communication was about ten minutes before the helicopter was expected to land. Unfortunately, the crew did not reach their destination.

 Because the last known location of the helicopter was approximately 13 nautical miles off the coast of Louisiana, the Coast Guard is searching for the two passengers. “The passengers were transiting from one offshore rig to another” the Coast Guard stated. Since beginning the search, the Coast Guard discovered debris at 40 nautical miles.  As of Saturday November 9th, the Coast Guard was still searching. 

ST. MARTINVILLE, LA – November 11, 2019

A Jones Act seaman was injured on January 29, 2016, when his coworker was piloting an Oceaneering survey vessel at high speeds while on his phone and slammed into a piling in the Empire Canal (Plaquemines Parish). The plaintiff was on the back deck of the vessel, an admittedly common practice at Oceaneering at the time, and he was slammed into the cab upon impact injuring his back.

Oceaneering contested liability arguing that the plaintiff should not have been on the back deck of the vessel while traveling at high speeds. Plaintiff successfully recovered under the Jones Act and unseaworthiness claims based on evidence that the pilot was on the phone, the crew was improperly trained, and that Oceaneering failed to have rules regarding phone use while operating vessels, having a lookout, or passengers working on the back deck while moving.

While thousands of cancer patients are currently involved in lawsuits against the agrochemical corporation Monsanto Company, only three have gone to trial, all of which have resulted in verdicts favoring the plaintiff. Most recently, a California jury awarded the plaintiff the eighth-largest personal injury verdict in United States history—$2.055 billion—claiming, both, that the company’s popular weed killer Roundup has carcinogenic properties and that the company “manipulated science, the media, and regulatory agencies to forward their own agenda.”

The couple receiving the award, Alva and Alberta Pilliod, both started using Roundup in the 1970’s. Now almost fifty years later, both individuals suffer from cancer; Mr. Pilliod suffers from non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma in his bones, including his spine, and Mrs. Pilliod suffers from non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma brain cancer. As a result, the couple received $55 million in compensatory damages. This, however, pales in comparison to the $2 billion punitive award against Monsanto, who continues to claim that the herbicide at play, glyphosate, is non-carcinogenic. Working against the defense is a “mountain of evidence” showing that the agrochemical company explicitly tried to interfere with governmental agencies who wanted to review the product. Various investigations have illuminated a concerning relationship between Monsanto and the Environmental Protection Agency, which involved EPA officials that offered to help Monsanto prevent another company from reviewing the effects the herbicide.

It is certainly expected that the defense will appeal the case, and though there is little chance that the verdict will be reversed, it is additionally expected that the initial $2 billion award will be dramatically reduced, similar to a previous Roundup case wherein a jury award of $289 million was cut down to $78 million. Plaintiff’s attorneys admit that, though the actions of Monsanto Company were egregious and reprehensible, the Supreme Court has issued guidelines that “punitive damages usually should not exceed 10 times the compensatory damages.”

The parents of Sherena Hundalani, 26, are fighting for justice after their daughter was tragically killed by a taxi in Queens, New York. Hundalani was standing on a sidewalk in front of a Mobil Station on February 24, 2019, waiting to cross the street, when a taxi struck her from behind, dragged her underneath the car, and then fled the scene. Hundalani was taken to a hospital before she later succumbed to her injuries. The taxi’s driver, Lakhvinder Singh, was questioned by police and claimed that the vehicle malfunctioned before he was then released without having any charges pressed against him. The case is still being investigated.

The suit, which names City of New York, the Department of Transportation, and the Taxi and Limousine Commission, alleges that Singh was using the Mobil station as an illegal turnaround at the time of the incident, a common practice among taxi drivers in that location. Hundalani’s parents, Prakash and Bina, claim that the various city agencies were aware of the dangerous conditions that led to their daughter’s death and allowed them to continue. “We are devastated beyond words by the loss of our beautiful Sherena,” they expressed. “We are grateful to so many friends who have supported us and expressed their love for our daughter, but there must be accountability when an innocent young woman is killed by a taxi licensed by the City of New York while standing on the sidewalk of all places.”

Though the Hundalani’s are seeking $25 million in damages, an outrageous New York taxi and limousine regulation is potentially standing in their way. That is, under current New York City law, insurance payouts for those injured or killed by a standard taxi or limousine are limited to $100,000 per person, $300,000, per accident, $200,000 in personal injury protection, and $10,000 in property damage. As a result, the city’s streets and sidewalks are being opened to reckless, unlicensed, and underinsured bicyclists as well as underinsured taxis and limousines who face very little threat of legal or financial consequences following a crash.

A Harris County man is suing a Houston construction company following a work incident that left him with a broken ankle. Jose Louis Amador was working on a concrete removal project on Highway 249 when another worker mishandled the excavator that he was operating.

The suit states that Amador was cutting steel wire attached to the concrete barrier being removed when the excavator approached him. The operator of the excavator then tried to remove a large portion of the barrier that contained a piece of wire that had not been cut. Consequently, the barrier was pulled onto Amador’s leg, breaking his ankle. Apart from the physical pain of the injury, the inconvenience of regular medical appointments, and mental anguish, Amador’s sufferings also included the inability to return to work for an extended period of time.

Amador and his attorneys filed the complaint on April 30, 2019 in the Harris County District Court. It claims that the sister construction companies in charge of the project, Webber LLC and Webber Materials & Equipment LLC, exercised negligence in their failure to properly train and supervise their employees.

A Louisiana man is suing a Texas fishing captain following injuries suffered while working on the captain’s vessel. David Robling, the plaintiff, was working aboard the fishing boat, Red Bull, on February 20, 2019, when he suffered injuries resulting from the negligence and unseaworthiness of the ship-captain, Delbert E. Bull, Jr. The suit, filed in the Galveston County District Court, is in accord with the Jones Act, specifically 46 U.S.C. §30104, which protects seamen injured in the course of their employment and which affords them the right to legal action and a trial by jury against the ship’s owner.

According to Robling’s complaint, the ship’s captain, Bull, turned on the boat’s winch without warning the crew. As a result, the boards, nets, and tickler chains were thrown overboard. Without time to react, Robling found himself in the path of the chains, which wrapped around his chest and violently threw him to the deck of the boat. Unable to free himself, Robling was then struck by other falling equipment leading to injuries and mental anguish.

This is not Robling’s first legal encounter with Galveston’s maritime industry. In 2015, Robling filed a complaint against a shipping company after he tripped on equipment that the previous crew had left behind. The fall left Robling with serious and disabling injuries that could have been avoided had the ship’s owner or crew properly maintained the ship and its equipment or warned him of the existing hazards on deck.

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