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Louisiana Supreme Court Holds Trampoline Park’s Agreement to Arbitrate is Unenforceable

The Louisiana Supreme Court recently addressed whether an indoor trampoline park could compel arbitration according to an agreement signed by the parent of a minor injured while jumping on a trampoline.  In this decision, the court reviewed rules of contract law and examined the specifics of the location and the wording of the arbitration clause to find that in fact it was adhesionary and unenforceable. Sky Zone Lafayette is an indoor trampoline park, and patrons must complete a “Participant Agreement, Release and Assumption of Risk” before participating in the facilities at Sky Zone.  The Agreement has a clause that compels arbitration and waives the participant’s right to a trial. The plaintiff in this case completed the Agreement before her husband took their son to Sky Zone. Their son was injured on a trampoline, and the family brought a lawsuit against Sky Zone, individually and on behalf of their son.  They alleged that Sky Zone had been negligent and that this caused their son’s injuries.  Sky Zone responded and sought to compel arbitration under the Agreement. The plaintiffs contended that they did not knowingly consent to arbitration and that the Agreement was ambiguous and adhesional. The district court overruled the exception, and the court of appeal denied Sky Zone’s writ application.

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Louisiana Court Finds Plaintiff Continued to Receive Workers’ Compensation But Not Credit for Sick and Annual Leave After Termination from New Orleans Police Department

Recently, the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeal for Louisiana addressed whether a disabled former New Orleans Police Department officer should have accrued sick and annual leave after he was discharged from the Department. The plaintiff in this case worked as a New Orleans Police Department officer until he was found to be disabled as a result of depression resulting from an investigation into payroll fraud by the Department. In 1988, Plaintiff filed a Petition for Workers’ Compensation, naming as defendants the City of New Orleans and the Police Department.  The parties entered a consent judgment, which became the subject of the litigation before the appellate court. The main issue before the court was whether the consent judgment could be enforced against the City. Plaintiff contended that his claim was a workers’ compensation matter, and since he still received workers’ compensation disability payments, he was an employee of Department.  As an employee, Plaintiff argued that he continued to accrue annual and sick leave, making that portion of the consent judgment enforceable.

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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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