Vermillion Parish Jury Awards Over $1.48MM to Plaintiffs in 18-Wheeler Collision
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.