Louisiana Appellate Court Affirms Finding that Injured Airplane Mechanic Offered Credible Testimony of His Work-Related Accident and Suffered Compensable Injury

Recently, the Louisiana Second Circuit Court of Appeal addressed whether an employee can prove their unwitnessed work-related injury through their own testimony. The court in this case stated the rule that an employee can in fact prove, through testifying, that an unwitnessed accident took place if there is no other evidence that discredits their version, and if the testimony is corroborated by circumstances after the alleged incident, such as medical records. The court also emphasized that a fact-finder is required to accept as true a witness’ uncontradicted testimony, absent circumstances that cast suspicion on the reliability of the testimony. Jerry Perez worked for Express Jet as an airplane mechanic for 13 years.  While working on a “pre-cooler” unit on a plane, Mr. Perez spent much of the shift with his neck extended. He testified that he felt a “pop,” and his neck cramped up. He stopped his work because he felt pain on his left side. Then, he massaged his neck and shoulder and completed his shift. Mr. Perez went back to work because he felt the injury would resolve itself. After a couple of weeks, Mr. Perez saw his medical doctor, who diagnosed thoracic pain and cervicalgia.  Mr. Perez then reported his medical symptoms to Express Jet and eventually was referred to a neurosurgeon. Mr. Perez underwent cervical surgery. There were no records of medical treatment for any cervical condition before the date of the alleged work injury.

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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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