Articles Posted in Workplace Accidents

In an important maritime law decision protecting seaman all over the county, the Supreme Court of the United States upheld the Louisiana verdict secured for an injured maritime worker. Attorney Blake R. David (lead counsel) and J. Derek Aswell of Broussard & David represented the plaintiff. Guidry v. Tanner Marine, 16-61 (La. App. 3rd Cir. 10/19/16), 206 So.3d 378, writ denied (La. 1/23/17) 209 So.3d 90; writ denied (U.S. 6/12/17) 2017 WL 1494663.

In Guidry v. Tanner Services, a St. Landry Parish trial court found Ernest Guidry to be a seaman under the Jones Act and awarded general and special damages of $3,885,911.69. A 16,000 pound vibrating hammer fell on Guidry causing the amputation of his four fingers, a crushed foot, herniated discs in his neck and back, concussion, depression, post-traumatic stress, and total and permanent disability. The verdict was upheld by the Louisiana Third Circuit Court of Appeal, the Supreme Court of Louisiana, and the Supreme Court of the United States — the final judgment with judicial interest totaled over $4,280,000.00.

Defendant, Tanner Services, LLC, was awarded a contract to construct a bulkhead in Grand Isle, Louisiana beginning in January 2012. The Defendant used three barges and two tugboats to move the equipment, supplies, and store materials, as well as to act as “floating docks” or “work stations” for a crane and preparatory welding. The project also used floating mats described as a large piece of wood similar to a “raft.” Guidry spent the majority of his time on the floating raft. Previously, Guidry had been strictly a land-based shop welder for Tanner. The trial court found that he was reassigned to do maritime work, and that this reassignment changed his status to a Jones Act seaman who can recover for his catastrophic losses from his at-fault employer. The court also found that the raft was an appurtenance to the crane barge.

Jerome Moroux of the law firm Broussard and David, recently obtained a settlement of over $3.2MM on behalf of an offshore worker who sustained  an injury while entering a vessel in Vermilion Parish. The incident was unwitnessed and occurred as the worker was crossing the gangway that was not properly secured on the vessel.

Initially, the worker believed he had sustained only a twisted ankle. As he continued working offshore, however, plaintiff’s pain continued to worsen. He was ultimately diagnosed with CRPS in his right ankle and received a spinal cord stimulator in his low back for right ankle pain. Plaintiff also treated for depression following his injury.

The case was defended by ABC Boats and Doe’s employer, which denied liability and the extent of damages claimed. As to liability, defendants asserted that plaintiff misjudged the step from the gangway to the deck; defendants focused on the fact that plaintiff had provided multiple accounts of the accident to his various doctors and company representatives. Additionally, ABC Boats’s Captain testified that he observed the gangway one hour before the accident and it was properly secured; also, three passengers boarded the vessel in the hour before plaintiff and had no problems with the gangway. Concerning damages, defendants questioned the diagnosis of CRPS and denied that plaintiff’s psychological trauma were in any way related to the accident.

Blake R. David of the maritime law firm Broussard & David, LLC obtained a jury verdict of $3,885,911.69 on behalf of a welder who sustained injuries when a vibrating hammer fell and struck him. The verdict, awarding general damages and pre-judgment interest was affirmed by the Louisiana Third Circuit Court of Appeal. On January 23, 2017, the Louisiana Supreme Court denied the application for writ of certiorari on general damages and seaman status – allowing the award to stand.

Plaintiff Ernest L. Guidry, was a welder for Defendant Tanner Services, LLC for approximately two years before he was seriously injured. The defendant was awarded a contract to build a bulkhead on Grand Isle. Tanner had both land division and maritime division crews. Plaintiff had previously worked for Tanner as a shop welder in Eunice, Louisiana, but was reassigned to the Tanner Marine Division before his injury. The project utilized three barges and two tugboats on which a floating mat and other supplies were housed. After the reassignment, Plaintiff spent his working time on the water performing preparatory work for the project, which included welding connectors, welding sheet piles, and cutting holes in the sheet piles. Plaintiff also attended job safety analysis meetings each morning on vessels with the marine division crew. Plaintiff spent approximately 90% of his time working on the water, particularly the floating mat. Plaintiff was severely injured when the vibrating hammer used to drive in piles fell and struck him. The strike caused Plaintiff to fall into the water and caused multiple injuries, including a crushed foot, a concussion, herniated discs, depression, anxiety, the amputation of four fingers, and total and permanent disability.

Defendant contended Plaintiff was not entitled to seaman status under the Jones Act, barring recovery under that statute for the serious and permanent injuries Plaintiff sustained. However, both the trial court and Louisiana Third Circuit Court of Appeal disagreed. Both courts found Plaintiff contributed to the vessel’s function and accomplishment of the vessel’s mission and the plaintiff’s connection to the vessel fleet was substantial in duration and nature because of the amount of time he spent on the floating mat and the work he performed on the mat. These facts entitled Plaintiff to seaman status under the Jones Act, making that statute an avenue of recovery for the severe injuries Plaintiff received. Additionally, the Third Circuit Court of Appeal found that the award of general damages and prejudgment interest on the damages was not an abuse of discretion.

Jerome Moroux of the law firm Broussard & David, LLC recently obtained a jury verdict of over $1.4 Million on behalf of a railroad worker who sustained significant injuries when an unsecured steel rail fell onto him.

Plaintiff was a truck driver on the railroad.  As the truck driver, plaintiff was responsible for securing each steel rail individually as it was loaded on to the truck from the rail yard; however, on the day of the accident, plaintiff and the foreman loaded several rails without tying them down, intending to secure them all at once. Discovery indicated that the foreman was lax about safety oversight and that his crews routinely did not secure rails in the manner the railroad required.

While plaintiff’s foreman was operating the crane, the boom struck an unsecured rail, causing the rail to fall from the truck. The rail grazed plaintiff’s back, causing plaintiff to fall and strike his head. Plaintiff suffered a fractured ankle, a deep bruise/hematoma in his lower back, and a concussion. Over the course of two years, plaintiff underwent surgical repair of his ankle, as well as extensive treatment for his seroma/wound care in his lower back.  Additionally, plaintiff underwent a two level ACDF and treatment for post-concussive syndrome and anxiety and depression.  Plaintiff’s treating physicians testified that he would be restricted to light duty and more likely than not would need a back surgery sometime in the future.  A vocational rehabilitation counselor testified that plaintiff would not be able to return to work on the railroad.

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.

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.

Several major oil companies, including Chevron, ConocoPhillips, and Shell Oil, were recently named as defendants in a lawsuit filed in Gretna, La.  Hiemie Payne filed suit in the 24th Judicial District Court, alleging failure to inform the plaintiff of danger, failure to mark an area as dangerous, and overall negligence and carelessness.

The complaint states that Payne was an employee of Commercial Pipeline Services for three years during the 1980s.  During that time, he fulfilled a number of duties for the named companies, and was allegedly exposed to dangerously high levels of radioactive scale from products manufactured by the defendants.  Also, Payne claims that he was further injured due to the exposure to radiation in the form of aerosolized dust.

Suits of this nature pose a unique challenge, as plaintiffs must prove specifically which defendant caused him injury at what time in order to get a satisfactory verdict.  It is made that much more difficult that it took place three decades ago. The attorneys at Broussard & David have the knowledge and experience necessary to handle cases of this nature and will fight to obtain fair compensation for your injuries. If you or a loved one has suffered harm because of the fault of another, contact the attorneys at Broussard & David to discuss your legal rights at (337) 233-2323 (local) or (888) 337-2323 (toll-free).

FLYER- 8.5x11

The first annual Bicycle Safety Festival will be held on June 4th from 9am-12pm at Parc Sans Souci in downtown Lafayette. The Bicycle Safety Festival is presented by Lafayette Consolidated Government, Bike Lafayette, and Broussard & David, LLC. There will be free adult and youth bicycle helmets for the first 300 participants, free bike registration, free safety training and instruction, and participants are eligible to win a free bicycle (valued at $300 – courtesy of Hub City Cycles). Additionally, there will be food, refreshments and musical entertainment by Zydeco Radio.

In Acadiana, there have been far too many cyclists injured in preventable bicycle accidents. The aim of this event is to help cyclists and motorists become more knowledgeable about bicycle safety and the rules of the road. As Lafayette Consolidated Government embraces more bicycle lanes and smarter growth, bicycle awareness is becoming even more essential.

Broussard & David, LLC, a law firm located in downtown Lafayette, has a great deal of experience in representing people catastrophically injured in bicycle related accidents. In sponsoring this event, the partners at Broussard & David, LLC hope that — through education and training — the roads will be safer for bicyclists, motorists and pedestrians alike.