Articles Posted in General Negligence

24-year-old Ryan Fontenot was riding his bike eastbound on U.S. Highway 190 in the early morning hours last week when he was struck from behind by an unknown vehicle. While looking to make a left-hand turn into Acadian Medical Center from the turning lane, the unknown vehicle hit Mr. Fontenot and propelled him off of his bike and into the westbound lane where he was struck again, causing fatal injuries. Sadly, Mr. Fontenot was pronounced dead at the scene.

The driver who struck Mr. Fontenot after he was ejected from the bike showed no alcohol in his system and no signs of impairment. However, the driver who initially hit Mr. Fontenot from the rear fled the scene immediately after the accident.

Though officers are unsure of the type of car that fled the scene, officers believe the hit-and-run vehicle is a ram pickup truck with damage to the left front bumper, headlamp, and fender.

An average of 16,500 car accidents occur daily across the United States. In the blink of an eye, a rear-end car accident can completely turn one’s life upside down by causing life-altering injuries. Such an event can leave one lost as to what to do next, scared as to the daunting recovery process that lies ahead, and confused as to where to even begin. Some insight into the expected process of legal settlements may aid you or a loved one in making important decisions following a tragic accident.

In Louisiana, a car accident resulting in an injury, death, or property damage resulting in over $500 requires the parties by law to contact the local police department. Following the accident, an injured party should seek legal assistance. This will significantly offset the post-accident burdens of both filing a claim with the negligent party’s insurance company and gathering  supporting evidence like medical examinations, photos, and witness testimony.

Further, an attorney can file suit against a negligent party, thereby holding that party liable for their actions. The lawsuit must be brought within 1 year of the date of the accident or else the claim is forever lost. Once the legal process begins, parties will work tirelessly to reach what is known as a settlement. A settlement resolves the dispute by dropping the claim before reaching trial in return for a monetary compensation. Settlement processes can last anywhere from a few months to a few years depending on the severity of the injuries and the accident. In the settlement process, the injured party seeks recompense for physical pain and suffering, repair or replacement of their car, medical expenses, mental anguish from the accident, lost wages, as well as other forms of damages.

On the morning of October 23, 1983 in Beirut, Lebanon, Iranian terrorists drove a truck loaded with explosives through steel fences and right up to a 4-story military barracks before detonating, leaving 241 United States Military personnel dead. Lance Corporal Lex Trahan, a Lafayette native and 19 years old at the time, was stationed for service in Beirut and on the 3rd floor of the barracks, was one of the casualties in the attack. Now, 37 years later, Lance Cpl. Trahan’s family will soon begin receiving installments of a $50 million settlement for his passing.

With the help of attorney Warren Perrin of the law office of the law firm of Perrin Landry deLaunay (associates on litigation with Broussard & David), Lance Cpl. Trahan’s family secured a $50 million award from a 2016 lawsuit filed against the Islamic Republic of Iran & Iranian Ministry of Information and Security for wrongful death, battery, assault, and intentional infliction of emotional distress. In the 1st U.S. District Court in Washington D.C., the plaintiffs, including both victims of the terrorist bombing and families of the deceased, were granted default judgement against the Iranian government after the foreign government did not respond following service of process.

The plaintiffs collectively received $338 million in the lawsuit. Lance Cpl. Trahan’s family and estate were awarded approximately $11 million in damages with the remaining $39 million awarded as punitive damages. The $50 million settlement is the largest award for the death of a teenager in United States history.

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.

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.

The plaintiffs in an air pollution lawsuit are requesting immediate access to a landfill in Jefferson Parish, Louisiana in order to conduct environmental testing. The lawsuit is one of roughly eighty that have been filed against the parish landfill, claiming that an abundance of strong odors is making living conditions unbearable in the surrounding area. Such tests, the plaintiffs argue, are essential to a well-rounded, well-informed case.

Against the plaintiffs’ motion are a multiplicity of tests that have already been conducted by the parish and state and that have concluded that the majority of the odors have origins distinct from the landfill in question. One particular study conducted by a California-based company pointed to a number of other potential sources of the smells, such as two privately owned landfills adjacent to the parish landfill. On the contrary, plaintiffs argue that there has been no “comprehensive analysis” of the gases emitted from the landfill, but rather, the state tests only looked for a limited subset of chemicals, resulting in an insufficient test scope.

Thus, to resolve the apparent testing issue, plaintiff’s attorneys are requesting access to the parish landfill to conduct their own private testing of the emissions and have hired a Maryland-based environmental scientist for the job. “Absent a prompt opportunity to inspect and sample at the landfill,” they say, “petitioners will lose the opportunity to obtain the most pertinent site-specific information that would help establish what has transpired over the last year and how those conditions affected petitioners.”

A wrongful death suit has been filed against Royal Caribbean Cruises, LTD following a zipline incident wherein a 27-year-old woman was seriously injured and her newlywed husband was killed. The incident occurred as a part of a shore excursion in Roatan during the journey of the Allure of the Seas, though the excursion was operated by an independent contractor, Extreme Caribe Zip Line Tour.

The 24-year-old husband, Igal Tyszman, did not survive his injuries after his wife, Shir Frenkel, became stuck halfway down the zipline, and he had already begun his descent. Tyszman had no way of stopping or slowing down, and he collided with Frenkel in midair. Records indicate that the zip line operators could not communicate to each other when one person had completed their ride and, thus, it was safe for the next person to begin, communication that could have prevented the tragedy.

The suit alleges that Extreme Caribe has a history of zip line incidents, citing more than ten, one of which led to a woman having both of her legs severed, and it asserts that Royal Caribbean was well aware of this and other incidents involving the excursion operator but failed to make those issues known to the participants. Additionally, the cruise ship misled the family to believe that the excursion was operated by the cruise company, itself. The plaintiff’s attorneys state, “These newlyweds were expecting a fun excursion with the highest safety standards, and that is obviously not what they received; and the consequences in this case proved tragic.” In addition to Frenkel’s physical injuries—multiple rib fractures, splenic fracture, multiple transverse fractures, and more—she also will have to undergo treatment for the emotional and mental trauma resulting from her husband’s death.

A lawsuit has been filed against the St. John the Baptist Parish School Board as a result of potentially carcinogenic emissions from a nearby neoprene manufacturing plant. The plant, located in Laplace, Louisiana, is one of only a few in the country that produces polychloroprene, a solid substance used to make adhesives, automotive or industrial parts, coatings, dipped goods, neoprene wetsuits, and the like. Consequently, however, manufacturing plants of this kind emit into the air a gaseous form of the liquid chemical chloroprene, which the Environmental Protection Agency has deemed to be a “likely carcinogen”.

The chemical plant has been owned by Denka Performance Elastomer since 2015, but it was formerly owned by Dupont Performance Elastomer who operated the plant since 1969. The specific health effects of chloroprene are not definitively known; however, many local residents are concerned that they are at risk. These fears have been previously articulated in lawsuits against Denka, but now those fears are directed at the school board. According to the case, which was filed by a parent whose child attends the school, “There is presently and has been for years a very serious health hazard and/or life-threatening health hazard to the children/students who attend school at Fifth Ward Elementary School.”

In response to the suit, the EPA established six monitoring stations around St. John Parish, one of which was located at the school in question, and data confirmed the suspicion of high chloroprene levels at the school. Denka, however, maintains the position that chloroprene is being wrongly depicted as a harmful chemical. According to the 2015 National Air Toxics Assessment also conducted by the EPA, St. John Parish residents have the highest risk of cancer from an airborne pollutant, but it is unknown if this risk is due to chloroprene or some other cause. With more research being conducted by the day, the parish school board is determined to prove the safety of its students.

That which has been boosting Louisiana economically for decades could at the same time be sinking it, literally. The oil industry has found a comfortable home in the southern part of the United States, hugely feeding the economies of Texas and Louisiana for as long as the current generations of residents can remember. In fact, the two states currently lead the country in oil production, and in Louisiana, the industry employs nearly 45,000 individuals. While statistics such as these paint the oil industry in a favorable light, though, many groups are calling its full impact on Louisiana into question.

Louisiana attorneys are certainly familiar with coastal litigation, protecting coastal plains and shores from environmental negligence or abuse, but as regards the oil industry, coastal litigation has almost exclusively been reserved for major incidents such as the Deepwater Horizon oil spill of 2010. Major spills, however, are not the only occasions in which oil drilling damages the Gulf Coast. In fact, an August 2018 article of The Bayou Brief argues that the drilling itself is cause for environmental concern as it expedites coastal erosion. That which is largely responsible for building up Louisiana’s economy—oil—is also responsible for tearing down its shores and critical wetlands.

Why, then, has the state not seen an increase in litigation to combat this coastal damage? According to the aforementioned article, the answer is candid but simple: money. Industry economists argue that if it faced increased litigation, it risks falling into another major recession leading to job cuts and profit decreases. Advocates for the continued drilling without environmental responsibility argue that plaintiff’s attorneys who pursue such litigation selfishly have no concern for the economic growth of the state; however, this is simply not the case. Rather, the pursuit of such coastal litigation places the long-term priority of ecological conservation above the short-term monetary concerns putting the ecosystem at risk.

A maritime allision between a boat and the Sunshine Bridge in Donaldsonville, Louisiana, raises questions as to who may receive compensation under maritime law. The crane barge, operated by an employee of Marquette Transportation Company, caused more than $5 million dollars of damage to the bridge. As a result, the bridge will be closed for nearly four months, and the frequent traversers of it are forced to extend each commute by at least an hour. The inconvenience thrust upon these local residents is tangible, but do they have a legal argument for compensation? Unfortunately, and perhaps unjustly, current maritime case law may not in their favor.

In the case Taira Lynn Marine Limited Number 5 v. Jays Seafood, Inc. et al., the primary issue is whether claimants who suffered no physical damage to a proprietary interest can recover for their economic losses as a result of a maritime allision. The case revolves around a 2001 incident in which a barge allided with a bridge, releasing toxic gasses into the air. As a result, the Louisiana State Police ordered a mandatory evacuation of all businesses and residence within a certain radius of the bridge, including fourteen businesses who made commercial use of the bridge and subsequently suffered economic loss. Though these businesses filed claims for compensation, the court ruled that “there can be no recovery for economic loss absent physical injury to a proprietary interest.”

In the case involving the Sunshine Bridge and Marquette Transportation, it is clear that the State of Louisiana has a right to compensation as the owner of the physically damaged bridge. It seems, however, that according to Taira Lynn that the local residents do not have such a right, though, according to sources, what was once a 90-second drive across the Mississippi River has turned into a 90-minute, 50-mile detour, costing drivers both time and money. In fact, local schools have had to adjust their start times to accommodate students who are simply unable to arrive at such an early hour due to the bridge’s closure. These affected citizens certainly do not have any ownership of the bridge, but in the interest of justice, this should not disqualify them from being compensated for their economic loss.