Articles Posted in Wrongful Death

Six of the nineteen people onboard a 129-foot commercial lift boat that capsized off the Louisiana coast Tuesday afternoon have been rescued so far. The vessel, the Seacor Power, had left port less than two hours before the accident and encountered rugged seas on its way out to the Gulf of Mexico.

The Coast Guard was on the scene within 30 minutes and several other good Samaritan vessels have been assisting the Coast Guard in the search and rescue operation.

Broussard & David offers their thoughts and prayers to family and friends of the missing crewmembers in this difficult time and hope that all crewmembers are safely rescued.

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.

Following the December 14th Salt Mine collapse, Cargill recently decided to shutter its salt production on Avery Island. Though its lease expires at the end of 2021, Cargill stated that the business decision was based on future economics and production capacity after a slow winter. All operations at the mine have been suspended since the incident due ongoing federal investigations.

 

Eighteen employees of Cargill, a global food corporation, reported to work inside Avery Island’s Salt Mine on December 14th. Those employees’ lives would change within hours as the salt mine’s roof collapsed, leaving two employees stranded inside. 

 

24-hour search teams began looking for the missing employees immediately; although, the rescue was not successful until the next day. Around 3:00pm on December 15th, the search team found the first employee and identified him as 27-year-old Lance Begnaud. The second employee, 41-year-old Rene Romero, was found later that evening. Both suffered fatal injuries and were pronounced dead upon recovery. 

A 73-year-old man died from injuries sustained in an ATV accident. While at a gas pump one of the three passengers accidentally stepped on the accelerator causing the ATV to strike a nearby planter. The force of the collision caused the ATV to almost flip on its side and ejected the other passenger before striking a parked truck.

The driver of the ATV was cited for operating an ATV on a public roadway and, pending toxicology, there may be additional charges. Information regarding the additional passenger is unknown.

Broussard & David offers their condolences and sympathy to the family and friends during this difficult time.

On March 6, around 7 p.m. The Coast Guard received word that a boat struck the Norfolk Southern Railroad Bridge in Lake Pontchartrain. There were five people on board at the time of the incident. Four passengers were located and transported to a New Orleans area hospital by Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries as the Coast Guard searched for the fifth.

On Sunday March 7, the body of the fifth passenger on board was located in Lake Pontchartrain by St. Tammany Parish Sheriff’s Office. The sheriff’s office, Coast Guard, and Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries were all involved in the search for the fifth passenger following the incident. The four other passengers that were involved in this incident sustained serious injuries but are said to be in stable condition.

Broussard & David offer their condolences and sympathy to the family and friends during this difficult time.

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.

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.

The family of a Walter Huang has filed a wrongful death suit against Tesla Motors Inc. following a crash that ended his life. On March 23, 2018, Mr. Huang was traveling southbound on Highway 101 when his vehicle, a Tesla Model X, misread the lane lines, failed to detect a concrete traffic barrier, failed to brake the car, and instead, accelerated the car until it struck the median at 71 miles per hour (according to an investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board). Huang was killed on impact.

According to the suit, “Based on Tesla’s advertising and promotional material, Decedent Walter Huang believed the Tesla Model X’s technology was such that the autopilot features included designed-in programs, software, hardware, and systems that would eliminate the risk of harm or injury to the vehicle operator.” It continues to allege that Mr. Huang “reasonably believed the 2017 Tesla Model X vehicle was safer than a human-operated vehicle because of the Defendant’s claimed technical superiority regarding the vehicle’s autopilot system, including Tesla’s ‘traffic-aware cruise control’, ‘autosteer lane-keeping assistance’ and other safety components.” Huang’s family notes that, despite these advertisement claims by Tesla, Mr. Huang complained on numerous occasions about his vehicle’s autopilot problems that Tesla was never able to resolve.

Plaintiff’s attorneys hold that Tesla either knew or should have known about the vehicle software’s defects that consequently left owners and operators of the Model X in danger of crashing, and moreover, Tesla either knew or should have known that said owners and operators were wholly unaware of the Model X’s defects. Thus, these operators should have been notified of the software issues, sparing them of potential harm. Instead, Mr. Huang was unknowingly driving a computer-operated vehicle that had the potential to malfunction and crash at any moment, and this potential was tragically actualized resulting in Mr. Huang’s death.

Tia Coleman is calling the defense of Branson Duck Vehicles and Ripley Entertainment “callous and calculated” following a duck boat accident on July 19, 2018. Nine of Coleman’s family members and eight others were killed when the amphibious boat capsized during a storm. Ten days later, Coleman and her attorneys filed a $100 million wrongful death suit against the two companies, but the defendants have cited an 1851 law known as the Shipowners’ Limitation of Liability Act.

According to the law, a shipowner may limit damage claims following an accident to the value of the vessel and any pending freight so long as he can prove that he lacked knowledge of the vessel’s problem beforehand. Because the duck boat in question was a total loss with no value following the accident and there was no pending freight, Ripley and Branson’s attorneys are claiming zero liability. Needless to say, the 167-year-old law was originally written for a different purpose. At the time, maritime insurance did not exist. Thus, in creating the law, Congress hoped to encourage vessel purchases and maritime transport by guaranteeing protection for sea-vessel owners in case of an accident.

Following a Coast Guard investigation of the accident, probable cause of negligence was found on the part of the boat’s captain, though the defense contests this finding. On the basis of the finding, Coleman and her attorneys filed an additional federal lawsuit in September against the boat’s operator and manufacturer. “This tragedy was the predictable and predicated result of decades of unacceptable, greed-driven and will ignorance of safety by the boat industry,” the suit states. If such an argument holds and the accident is proven to have been the “predictable” result of “willful ignorance”, it is possible that the Shipowners’ Limitation of Liability Act will be deemed inapplicable in this particular case.