Appellate Court Affirms Decision in Favor of Car Insurer, Holding Exclusion Valid Under Louisiana Law

The Third Circuit Court of Appeal for Louisiana recently affirmed a decision in favor of an automobile insurance company, finding they need not provide underinsured/uninsured (UM) coverage following a car accident. The issues on appeal addressed the validity of the “regular” use exclusion and whether, if the exclusion applied, the lower court erred in finding it applied to the plaintiff, who had been driving for her employer at the time of the accident. The plaintiffs in this case included a woman injured in a two-car accident and her husband. She had been driving a truck owned by her employer, and the other vehicle involved in the accident was underinsured.  Uninsured motorist coverage on the employer’s car had been rejected, so the plaintiffs filed a claim against their own underinsured motorist carrier, Louisiana Farm Bureau Casualty Insurance Company (Farm Bureau).  The trial court found in favor of Farm Bureau, and the plaintiffs appealed. In their discussion, the court stated that coverage under an insurance policy is a question of law.  The plaintiffs contended that the exclusion in the Farm Bureau policy did not apply because it violated Louisiana law. Specifically, the plaintiffs argued that the “regular use” exclusion was contrary to Louisiana law and not enforceable.

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Louisiana Employee’s Disputed Claim was Prescribed when Filed over Three Years from Employer’s Last Payment of Medical Benefits

In a recent opinion, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeal upheld a judgment of the Office of Workers’ Compensation, finding that an injured employee’s claim for compensation was prescribed.  Prescription serves to limit the time period within which workers’ compensation claims may be filed, and in this case, the time period was one year following the accident or injury.  The facts of this case were unique because the employer and employee had entered into a settlement agreement, and the employee argued that he was led to believe that his employer would take care of him.  The court analyzed the four common scenarios under which contra non valentem applies, and it determined that the facts of the underlying case supported the earlier ruling that the claim was time-barred. In this case, the employee worked for Lowe’s Home Centers, and he was injured in April 2006 in the course and scope of his employment. Over the next six years, he received indemnity benefits ($98,746.87) and medical benefits ($127,904.25).  In August 2012, the parties submitted a petition for settlement in which Lowe’s would pay $48,500.00 to settle past, present, and future claims for indemnity benefits, as well as all past reimbursable medical costs related to the alleged accident. The settlement document made clear the parties reserved their rights as they related to the employee’s future medical benefits. In September 2015, the employee filed a Disputed Claim for Compensation, and Lowe’s filed a peremptory exception of prescription, which was granted. The employee appealed.  The […]

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Louisiana Court Affirms Default Judgment in Favor of Plaintiff Hurt by Improperly Installed Lift Kit on Truck

Recently, the Louisiana Third Circuit Court of Appeal reviewed a default judgment entered against a company that allegedly improperly installed a lift kit on a truck. The plaintiff alleged that the company’s negligence led to his serious injuries when a tire came off his truck, and he was forced off the road. A default judgment provides for a judgment of default against a defendant that fails to answer within a set period of time.  In a personal injury lawsuit, plaintiffs are required to show competent evidence that convinces the court it is likely, or probable, that the plaintiff would prevail at trial. The plaintiff in this case filed a Petition for Personal Injuries against a company that had installed a lift kit on the plaintiff’s truck earlier. The plaintiff suffered injuries when the front left tire of his truck allegedly came off his vehicle, forcing the car to leave the roadway and strike a group of trees. According to the plaintiff, the company failed to make him aware that during installation, they had created a dangerous situation because the shearing off of the lug bolts had taken place.

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Louisiana Appellate Court Affirms Holding in Favor of Fast Food Restaurant

Addressing a case involving a claim of negligence based on “deleterious” food, the Louisiana Fifth Circuit Court of Appeal stated that a restaurant was entitled to judgment as a matter of law when the plaintiff had not met the causation and duty elements of her claim. In this opinion, the court looked at the plaintiff’s “ingestion” of the food at issue and whether medical evidence supported a finding that her alleged injuries resulted from consuming the spoiled food. Relying on Louisiana law and precedent, the court found that the plaintiff, in this case, had not met her burden of proof. During the early morning on Sunday, the plaintiff pulled through a fast-food drive-in and ordered a sandwich and a soda drink. Unfortunately, as she drank, she noticed a funny taste and discovered a live insect swimming in her drink. The plaintiff continued to attend her social obligations but felt nauseous and reported to the emergency room, where the tests came back normal. She then was prescribed medicine and discharged to follow up with her primary care physician.

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