Articles Posted in Drunk Driver

A Macy’s Department Store in Metairie recently became the subject of a premises liability action filed by a customer who reportedly slipped on a rug while shopping in the store.

The plaintiff reported that, in early December of 2013, she tripped and fell on a rug that was placed on the floor. As a result of her fall, the plaintiff claims that she injured her knee in the process. Attorneys for the plaintiff claim that the placement of the rug “created and represented an unreasonable risk of harm,” as well as demonstrating the merchant’s failure to properly inspect the premises and maintain a reasonably safe condition. The plaintiff seeks over $50,000 in compensatory damages.

The plaintiff’s lawsuit falls under the recognized theory of liability known “premises liability.” Premises liability against merchants is recognized in Louisiana and governed by Louisiana Revised Statutes 9:2800.6. This statute provides: “A merchant owes a duty to persons who use his premises to exercise reasonable care to keep his aisles, passageways, and floors in a reasonably safe condition. This duty includes a reasonable effort to keep the premises free of any hazardous conditions which reasonably my give rise to damage.”

When an individual suffers an injury at the hands of another, it can be a devastating experience to both the individual and his or her family. It can impose unforeseen medical costs, result in an inability to work, create a dire financial hardship, or otherwise create a very difficult experience for everyone involved. But this is why we have the civil justice system: to make the victim “whole” by providing a means for obtaining legal relief against the wrongdoer.

In pursuit of fairness and equity, however, the law sometimes recognizes considerations in favor of the wrongdoer. One of the most prominent of these considerations are statutes of limitations—or, as we say here in Louisiana, “prescription”. Prescription describes the procedural device that places a time limit on a plaintiff’s right to pursue a claim. So, for instance, if you were injured as a result of another person’s negligence, you have one year to file the claim in court before prescription bars you from filing the lawsuit altogether. While there are many nuances to this general rule and different prescriptive periods for different causes of action, it generally operates in this way. As mentioned above, prescription works in favor of the wrongdoer and for good reason. It ensures that injured plaintiffs pursue their claims with reasonable diligence, it gives defendants certainty about the timing of a potential claim against them so they can adequately prepare a defense, and it keeps the lawsuit temporally close to when the injury occurred so that potential witnesses and evidence to be presented at trial are still available.

But lawsuits can sometimes get overly complicated, leading to oversights and inaccuracies by parties to the suit, attorneys, and judges. One classic instance of such an oversight is where the plaintiff names the improper defendant in the lawsuit, and in the meantime, prescription on the claim against the proper defendant runs. What happens in this situation? Do the courts let procedural rules trump the overarching goals of equity and fairness in the justice system?

Operating in violation of both the Clean Water Act (CWA) and the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act (OCSLA), ATP Infrastructure Partners LP (ATP-IP) has agreed to pay a $1 million civil penalty to settle a federal lawsuit over illegal discharges of oil and chemicals from an oil platform in the Gulf of Mexico.

The lawsuit, instituted by the United States, was resolved by way of joint judicial enforcement action involving the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE), and the Justice Department.

In its complaint filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana, the United States alleged that ATP-IP “violated Section 311(b)(3) of the CWA when oil and other pollutants were discharged into the Gulf of Mexico from the ATP Innovator.” Violation of this provision in the CWA opened up ATP-IP to possible civil penalties. The United States also urged that ATP-IP was liable for injunctive relief under OCSLA, “as the owner of the ATP Innovator … [for] hidden piping configuration [that] was being used to inject a chemical dispersant into the facility’s wastewater discharge outfall pipe to mask excess amounts of oil being discharged into the ocean.”

Reduction of traffic accidents—particularly fatal traffic accidents—has long been at the center of public debate and the ambition of state and federal policymakers. The 1960s proved a watershed decade for transformation of traffic safety. With traffic fatalities on the rise in the 1960s, spiking at 49,000 traffic fatalities in 1965, public concern over traffic safety began to dominate the national discussion. Culminating with the 1965 publication of Ralph Nader’s “Unsafe at Any Speed”—a book that issued scathing criticisms of vehicle manufacturers for their willfully rejecting the addition of safety features into their automobiles—policymakers reacted. By calling on states to erect highway safety measures, the Highway Safety Act passed by Congress in 1966 was the first of many concentrated efforts to reduce this increasing problem. One important feature of this legislation was that it created the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, or NHTSA, which primarily operates as a safety administrator, promulgating rules designed to increase safety on highways, but also to increase safety of the vehicles themselves by imposing regulations on manufacturers.

With the bulk of this debate happening from the 1960s forward, traffic safety has long been on the minds of citizens and policymakers. Improving safety based on readily observable causes—prohibiting intoxicated driving, reducing speed limits, requiring operating traffic signals, etc.—is one thing, but as a recent study reveals, sometimes the causal or correlative connection between a phenomenon and traffic safety is more mysterious.

A recent study by University of Colorado-Boulder PhD candidate Austin Smith revealed a curious correlation between daylight savings time and increased traffic fatalities. This study reviewed data on fatal vehicle accidents from 2002 to 2011 and compared the number of fatal accidents that occur just before and after daylight savings time changes took effect.

“Sue early and sue often.” We hear this in society, in law schools, and among lawyers and laypeople alike when a loved one suffers injury at the hands of another. And rightfully so–the American legal system has always provided means for injured plaintiffs to recover for damages caused by wrongdoers. It’s a notion deeply embedded in our law and culture.

The idea is simple: An individual suffers harm due to the fault of another and we expect the wrongdoer to make the victim whole again. Luckily for plaintiffs, the United States boasts one of the most robust civil justice systems in the world, making it relatively easy for injured victims to recover for the wrongs committed by another. But this mantra–“sue early and sue often”–has questionable weight here in Louisiana. There’s no doubt that the impetus for this mantra reflects the idea that injured plaintiffs may recover a big financial payout from the wrongdoer. In law, this big “payout” comes in the form of “damages,” better known as the money owed to the plaintiff for breaching their legal duty.

In most jurisdictions, there are two major forms of damages: compensatory damages and punitive damages. Intuitively, compensatory damages are designed to “compensate” victims for what they’ve lost due to the injury and to place the injured party in the position he would have been in had the accident not occurred, and punitive damages are designed to punish the wrongdoer for the damage he caused. The two categories of compensatory damages, special damages and general damages, generally compensate injured parties for quantifiable expenses (i.e. medical bills) and non-quantifiable damages (i.e. mental anguish, pain and suffering) respectively. Unlike compensatory damages, punitive damages are those that are imposed beyond what is necessary to compensate the victim. Punitive damages are designed to deter the tortfeasor and others from similar conduct in the future–they’re “punitive” in nature, and therefore, they are intended to be a punishment.

LAFAYETTE – Broussard and David Law Firm held a grand opening ceremony on Wednesday, October 15th, in honor of their recent move to a new location. Their new offices are located in the heart of downtown Lafayette on the corner of Jefferson Street and Vermilion Street in the historic Moss Building (557 Jefferson Street).

A crowd gathered to help Fr. Hampton Davis bless the new building. A ribbon cutting ceremony and reception followed in conjunction with the Chamber of Commerce Business After Hours event. Guests were able to tour the newly renovated building and learn about the history of its presence in downtown Lafayette.

For the last 200 years, the site of the historic “Moss Building” was the epicenter of local activity in a growing Lafayette. Today, the Moss Building plays an important role, once again, as downtown Lafayette enjoys a renewed vitality. Blake David, partner at the law firm, says that “Broussard and David was eager to invest in an opportunity to restore one of Lafayette’s landmarks and is committed to enhancing the downtown community so that it is a great place to live, work and play.”

Picture this unlikely scenario: An intoxicated motorist is driving his vehicle at speeds well in excess of the speed limit (let’s say, he’s traveling at 100 mph in a 35 mph zone). As the unsafe motorist approaches a downtown intersection, a jay-walking pedestrian begins to cross the street when it is clearly not her turn (the brilliant-orange “don’t walk” hand is flashing and unmistakable). She has her face buried in the daily newspaper and is wearing headphones, unaware of what’s happening around her. What happens next, as you might have expected, is that the speeding, drunken motorist collides with the inattentive pedestrian, causing her significant injuries and tens of thousands of dollars in hospital bills.

This hypothetical accident was intended to illustrate the legal problem of the “foolhardy” plaintiff–the individual who suffers an injury at the hands of another, though her inattentive, negligent behavior also has contributed to the damage. In layman’s terms, both the motorist and the pedestrian are at fault here. The driver should understand that operating a vehicle at high rates of speed while intoxicated is unsafe and endangers the public. Similarly, the pedestrian should know that she must obey traffic signals and should pay attention to her surroundings as she crosses the street. Thus, both the motorist and the pedestrian have a “duty” to act as a reasonably responsible driver and pedestrian respectively. Under this scenario, however, where both actors to this dramatic collision have breached their duties to act reasonably, causing this accident, who is responsible? Is the pedestrian permitted to recover damages (money) despite having negligently contributed to this accident and her resulting injuries?

Prior to 1980, Louisiana followed the traditional common-law approach to solving the issue of the “foolhardy plaintiff”–a plaintiff whose negligence contributed to his injury. This common-law approach was known as contributory negligence and operated as a total bar to recovery in a negligence action. While it sounds unduly restrictive of a plaintiffs’ ability to bring and maintain actions for injuries they suffered, this comparative negligence regime required more than just showing that the plaintiff contributed in some way to the injury–instead, the plaintiff had to be legally negligent. They must have had a standard of care (a duty), which, when breached, caused and contributed to their injury and was within the scope of foreseeable risk.

The Louisiana State Bar Association’s (LSBA) 2014-15 officers and members of the Board of Governors were installed June 5, in conjunction with the LSBA’s Annual Meeting in Destin, Fla.

Lafayette lawyer, Blake R. David, was installed by Louisiana Supreme Court Chief Justice Bernette Johnson as the Third District Member of LSBA’s Board of Governors. The Board of Governors is comprised of 22 volunteer leaders who are charged with fiscal responsibility for the LSBA and with administration of the affairs of the Association. The LSBA assists more than 22,000 members in the practice of law.

Blake R. David was raised in Lafayette and is a founding partner of Broussard & David, LLC. Mr. David focuses on personal injury and wrongful death litigation with an emphasis on offshore/maritime, trucking accident, aviation, products liability, industrial accident, and automobile claims.

A man accused of drunk driving faces two counts of vehicular homicide and a 2nd DWI, among other charges, after he rear-ended a vehicle while driving on I-10 over the Mississippi River Bridge, killing two passengers. Three others were transported to the hospital and treated for injuries that were not life-threatening. The accident remains under investigation.

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