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Louisiana Court: Plaintiffs’ Claim That Infection Resulted from Hospital’s Failure to Properly Sterilize Surgical Instruments Falls Under Louisiana Medical Malpractice Act

In a case before the Louisiana Supreme Court, the issue was whether the plaintiffs’ claims that a hospital did not properly maintain and service equipment used to sterilize surgical instruments fell under the Louisiana Medical Malpractice Act (MMA). The district court had held that it was a tort claim, so it was not within the MMA. The significance for the plaintiffs was that under the MMA, the claim must first be presented to a review board, and it could therefore be dismissed on procedural grounds.   The plaintiffs were a husband and wife who sued The Spine Hospital of Louisiana on the ground that the husband had developed an infection after spine surgery. They alleged that the Hospital had not properly sterilized or cleaned their instruments, and the staff and employees did not use proper aseptic technique before surgery.  They sought to recover damages for medical expenses, pain and suffering, and the wife’s loss of society and companionship. The Hospital argued that as a “qualified health care provider” under the MMA, the plaintiffs’ claims had not been first presented to a medical review board, as required by Louisiana law.  The plaintiffs contended that coverage under the MMA must be strictly construed, and their allegations were centered on tort liability.

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Louisiana Court Finds Injured Worker Made False Representations to Receive Benefits, Forfeited Right to Workers’ Compensation Benefits

In a recent case before the Louisiana Third Circuit Court of Appeal, the court reviewed a case in which the workers’ compensation judge found the claimant had made willful misstatements for the purpose of obtaining Louisiana workers’ compensation benefits.  In this case, the court stated the level of proof necessary to show an injured worker’s false representations are more than inadvertent statements. In this case, medical testimony and surveillance video showed that the injured worker had in fact made false statements in order to receive benefits. In April 2012, Earnest Hypolite suffered a workplace accident when he slipped and fell during work at the M.A. Patout sugar mill. He aggravated a previous back injury.  His employer paid indemnity and medical benefits through their workers’ compensation insurer.  The insurer then terminated the benefits after investigating Mr. Hypolite’s claim and concluding that he made false statements to his treating physician and that he had been collecting income from a personal business.

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Louisiana Appellate Court Holds in Favor of School District, Finding No Causal Link Between Insufficient Supervision and Student Accident

Recently, the Louisiana Court of Appeal for the Second Circuit affirmed a judgment in favor of the defendants in a personal injury lawsuit brought by parents on behalf of their minor son, who was injured at school while moving a table, per a teacher’s instruction. The appellate court reviewed Louisiana law concerning claims of negligent supervision and stated that the law requires a court to consider the age of the children involved in the alleged incident. Furthermore, there must be proof of a causal link between the insufficient supervision and the accident before imposing liability on a school board. In February 2012, the P.E. Coach at Jonesboro Hodge High School instructed Jordan Boston and Clayton Hampton, two ninth-grade students, to move a table from the gym to the academic building following a science fair. While carrying the table, it slipped from Clayton’s hands and landed on Jordan’s left big toe. As a result, Jordan suffered a fractured left big toe.

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Louisiana Appeals Court Apportions Fault in Multi-Vehicle Car Accident, Finding Decision to Tow Vehicle at High Rate of Speed Contributed to Ultimate Collision

The Louisiana Third Circuit Court of Appeal recently issued a decision in a multiple-vehicle automobile lawsuit involving issues of fault and damages.  The court held that the trial court had erroneously allocated fault, and based on the evidence, the two individuals previously without fault were in fact negligent and partly responsible for the collision. Specifically, the court analyzed whether two individuals had breached a duty of care by agreeing to tow a vehicle at a high rate of speed. In their discussion, the court stated that the fault issue centered on State Farm alleging that the 95% apportionment of fault to Ms. Decuir had been an error.  State Farm asserted Mr. Jacobs should have been at least partially at fault, since he operated the towed truck.  Additionally, State Farm contended that a larger percentage of fault should have been assigned to Mr. Sampson because he did not safely regulate his speed, as the driver of the lead truck.

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