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Louisiana Court Upholds Employer’s Uninsured/Underinsured Policy that Excluded Reimbursement & Credit to Workers’ Compensation Insurer for Benefits Paid to Employee Injured in Car Accident

In a case involving issues of reimbursement for damages paid to a victim of a car accident, the Louisiana Second Circuit recently reviewed a judgment in favor of the victim and their employer’s uninsured/underinsured (UM) car insurance company.  At issue in this appeal was whether the district court had erred in holding that there were no genuine issues of material fact concerning whether the UM policy excluded reimbursement to the employer’s workers’ compensation insurance company. Craig and Cheryl Forgey filed a petition for personal injuries against Dina Maynor and her car insurance company, State Farm Mutual Insurance, as well as Arch, the insurer for Mr. Forgey’s employer, and State Farm, the auto insurer for Mr. Forgey.  The Forgeys claimed that Ms. Maynor solely caused the collision and that she caused severe injuries and other damages to Mr. Forgey.  These damages included lost economic opportunity, lost wages, lost earning capacity, and lost household services. Mrs. Forgey also allegedly suffered loss of consortium, service, and society. Arch denied the allegations but admitted it was the uninsured/underinsured (UM) carrier for Mr. Forgey’s employer.  Commerce and Industry Company then filed a petition of intervention, stating that Mr. Forgey’s alleged injuries were suffered in the course and scope of his employment with Evergreen. Commerce contended that if there was a judgment in favor of the Forgeys, Commerce was entitled to a judgment apportioning the proceeds of the judgment for any workers’ compensation benefits paid to Mr. Forgey.

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Appellate Court Holds Plaintiffs Injured in Boat Collision in Louisiana with Unknown Submerged Object Failed to Defeat Summary Judgment Motion on Negligence Claim

Recently, the Fourth Circuit reviewed a case involving injuries sustained in a boating accident.  The issue before the appellate court was whether the plaintiffs had met their burden of showing a genuine issue of material fact remained on the issue of liability for the defendant.  The defendant argued that the plaintiffs could not show there was solidary liability with an originally named defendant and that the claims against them were therefore prescribed. Approximately 15 years ago, Raymond Meladine, his wife, and his children were fishing on a boat early in the morning when they struck a submerged, unknown object beneath Lake Hermitage and suffered injuries.  The Meladines brought a personal injury lawsuit against six companies, claiming that each owned or operated an oil and gas production platform and pipeline in the Lake Hermitage area.  The Meladines alleged that their 18-foot boat hit an unmarked gas pipeline and that the defendants were liable because they failed to mark, maintain, or remove the pipeline or warn of the hazards it posed.  After they voluntarily dismissed without prejudice their claims against all six original defendants, Chevron USA and Stone Energy remained.

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Appellate Court Reverses Judgment in Favor of Store When Child Hurt by Falling Belt Rack in Louisiana Store

The Louisiana Second Circuit Appellate Court recently issued an opinion in an appeal brought on behalf of Wilkie and Ashley Santos, individually and as parents of their minor child, Payten.  The lower court issued a judgment in favor of defendant Dollar Mania, Inc. when the plaintiffs’ daughter was hurt by a belt rack that fell on top of her.  The issue was whether the defendant had shown no genuine issue of material fact remained on the plaintiffs’ negligence claim.  At issue was whether the store had exercised reasonable care to stabilize and make the racks safe, and whether it was reasonably foreseeable that a child might play with the racks and suffer an injury. On July 18, 2013, Mrs. Santos went shopping for school uniforms with her three children at Dollar Mania in Bossier City.  At the time, Payten was four years old and weighed about 45 pounds.  Inside the store, Payten and another child began playing with belts that were displayed in belt racks.  Eventually, Payten grabbed many belts, lifted them, and released them, but the belt rack began falling and eventually landed on top of Payten. A belt hook punctured her cheek. Payten’s parents brought a claim for damages against Dollar Mania, Inc. The district court judge granted Dollar Mania’s motion for summary judgment.

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Louisiana Appellate Court Reverses Judge’s Award Increasing Amount of Damages for Injured Plaintiff When Jury’s Original Verdict was Supported by the Evidence

A personal injury lawsuit involves many issues, including that of liability, or legal responsibility.  Recently, the Louisiana Second Circuit addressed the issue of damages.  Specifically, in this case, the court reviewed whether the jury’s award of general damages and denial of future medical expenses was supported by the evidence.  In this case, the judge had granted the injured plaintiff’s motion for a judgment notwithstanding the verdict (JNOV) on the damages issue. McLawrence Fuller was an active 70-year-old man with pre-existing medical conditions, including congenital spinal stenosis and degenerative disc disease.  Following a three-car accident in DeSoto Parish, Louisiana, he suffered lower back, neck, and leg pain.  After years of conservative treatment, he underwent a lumbar fusion with instrumentation. A three-day trial ended in the jury awarding Mr. Fuller damages for $375,835.58.  Mr. Fuller filed a JNOV, seeking to increase his general damages award and an award for future medical costs.  The trial judge granted the JNOV and increased the general damages award from $155,000 to $1,200,000.  Both defendants and Mr. Fuller appealed.

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