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Louisiana Court Holds Automobile Insurance Policy for Temporary Substitute Vehicles Violates Public Policy Because it Places Burden on Car Owner to Have Vehicle Professionally Repaired

The Third Circuit Appeals Court recently addressed whether a clause in an automobile insurance liability policy contravened public policy. The clause defined a “temporary substitute vehicle,” which is a vehicle often used by the insured while the primary vehicle is under repair.  In this case, the issue was whether the specific requirement that the primary vehicle be serviced by a repair shop, rather than a home mechanic, denied coverage to those who could not afford to professionally service their vehicle. The reviewing court held that the definition violated public policy by “penalizing poverty,” since not everyone can afford to take their car to the repair shop. Ryan LeGros’ car, a 1995 Honda Civic, became inoperable in September 2012.  He borrowed Louis Istre, Jr.’s 1995 Mercury Sable to travel to work on September 27, 2012. Two days later, while returning from work in Mr. Istre’s vehicle, Mr. LeGros rear-ended a vehicle driven by Sherry Benoit.  At the time of the accident, State Farm provided Mr. Istre’s automobile liability insurance. Safeway provided Mr. LeGros’ liability insurance.  The repairs to Mr. LeGros’ Honda Civic were completed on September 30, 2012. After the accident, Ms. Benoit made a claim for the damages that resulted from the accident. State Farm paid the damages and filed a Petition for Subrogation. They sought reimbursement from Safeway for the $2,253.07 in bodily injury and property damages that were paid to Ms. Benoit. They asserted that Safeway was the primary policy that covered the accident.

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Louisiana Court Reverses Judgment in Favor of Employer When Genuine Issue of Material Fact Remained on Vicarious Liability Following Workplace Altercation

In an appeal before the Fourth Circuit, the court addressed whether an employer was potentially vicariously liable for an alleged intentional act by an employee. In this lawsuit, the court reviewed the grant of summary judgment in favor of the employer and held that in fact there remained a genuine issue of material fact regarding whether the altercation that took place was a personal matter, or whether it was foreseeable and work-related. Plaintiff Renata Loya filed an appeal seeking to reverse the grant of summary judgment in favor of Allied Cash Advance Louisiana, LLC (“Allied”).  Ms. Loya and Defendant Jasmine Lucas both worked for Allied and were involved in a physical altercation. The issue was which woman was the aggressor.  Initially, the argument began over an email concerning Ms. Loya’s and Ms. Lucas’ respective work responsibilities. Ms. Lucas was a store manager, and Ms. Loya worked as a sales associate. On the day of the incident, the two women discussed the terms of an email, which were work-related. A physical altercation then took place. Both women had signed the Field Associate Handbook at Allied, which stated they were prohibited from making threats or engaging in violent activities. After the incident, both women were terminated.

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Louisiana Appellate Court Finds Trial Court Erred in Making Credibility Determination, and Questions of Material Fact Existed Regarding Driver’s Liability in Single-Car Accident

In a recent personal injury lawsuit following a car accident in downtown New Orleans, the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeal reversed a lower court’s grant of summary judgment in favor of a driver and her automobile insurance company following a single-car accident.  The appellate court found that the trial court had improperly made a credibility determination when reviewing the summary judgment motion, and this error required reversal. Plaintiffs Dana Williams and Derrick Sykes were passengers in Eileen Maldonado’s vehicle when she drove through an excavated portion of a street in downtown New Orleans.  At about 10:30 p.m., as Ms. Maldonado drove through the intersection of Elks Place and Cleveland Avenue, the passenger side of her car fell into the excavated portion of the street. The plaintiffs alleged that Archer Western Construction, the company that was excavating the site, or Ms. Maldonado caused the accident. Mr. Sykes settled with Archer Western. Ms. Maldonado and Imperial, her car insurer, moved for summary judgment. They asked that the plaintiffs’ claims be dismissed on the ground that there was no genuine issue of material fact that Ms. Maldonado was without fault.  The trial court granted the motion, dismissing the plaintiffs’ claims against both Ms. Maldonado and Imperial.

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Appellate Court Holds Employee’s Expenses Related to Work Injury Were Reasonable and Necessary, Louisiana Employer Responsible for Payments

In a recent decision, the Louisiana Third Circuit reviewed a workers’ compensation case in which an employee suffered injuries in the course and scope of his employment, and he received treatment without submitting proper workers’ compensation forms to request authorization for continuing medical care.  The issue was whether the employer was responsible for paying for reasonable and necessary medical treatment, up to the $750 cap set forth by Louisiana law.  The appellate court also reviewed the award of penalties against the employer and attorney’s fees for the employee and workers’ compensation claimant. In this case, the employee worked for a trucking company as a driver. He was injured on January 4, 2013, while operating a flatbed truck that had been loaded with pipe. As he was delivering the pipe, a load fell from his trailer and onto him. He suffered severe injuries and underwent multiple surgeries. The incident took place in Arkansas, and the employee was treated by four physicians in that state.  He then requested that his employer write letters of financial responsibility so that he could continue treatment with these physicians. The employer refused and requested the physicians to abide by the guidelines, submitting a 1010 form. The employee then continued treatment, without completing the form or receiving more authorization from his employer.

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