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Workers’ compensation is an exclusive remedy under Louisiana law for workplace injuries or work-related diseases or illnesses. When an employer knowingly subjects employees to harm, moreover, they may have an intentional tort claim against them. A case before the Louisiana First Circuit Appellate Court analyzed the elements required to bring a successful tort claim against an employer.forklift

The employee in this case was injured when a forklift backed up and rolled over his foot. Another employee had been operating the forklift at the time, and his employer rented the forklift from Deep South Equipment Company. The employee brought a lawsuit against Deep South and the forklift’s manufacturer on the ground that his injuries were caused by their negligent acts. He alleged the forklift was not properly maintained, or it malfunctioned because the backup alarm was not working.

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In an insurance coverage dispute following a car accident, the Louisiana Third Circuit affirmed a judgment finding that the plaintiff was not insured under either insurance policy, and it dismissed her claims against the insurance company.  A “garage policy” had been issued to a car dealership that provided uninsured motorist coverage and medical payment coverage.   The issue in this case was whether the plaintiff was in fact “insured” for the pdealershipurposes of UM coverage.  Specifically, the court here looked at the policy language defining coverage and whether the definition of “insured” violated Louisiana law.

In Lake Charles, Louisiana, in August 2013, the plaintiff in this case was involved in a two-car auto accident on I-210.  She contended that she suffered injuries as a result of the accident.  At the time of the accident, the plaintiff had been driving a borrowed car from Service Chevrolet, while her own car underwent repairs. A “garage policy” had been issued to Service Chevrolet, and the car driven by the plaintiff was a “covered auto” under the policy.

The plaintiff settled her claims against the other driver and the other driver’s insurer.  She then pursued a claim against the insurance company for Service Chevrolet for the remaining damages under the uninsured/underinsured (UM) “garage policy” and the medical payments coverage.  The insurer moved for summary judgment, contending that the plaintiff was not “insured” because she maintained her own insurance.  The trial court agreed and granted summary judgment.  The plaintiff appealed.

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In a recent automobile accident case, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeal addressed choice-of-law provisions as well as the question of whether the defendant driver had been covered by her automobile insurance policy at the time of the accident. The plaintiffs in this case brought a lawsuit for damages against the driver of the vehicle that struck them, their automobile insurance company, and the uninsured/underinsured motorist carrier.  The trial court granted the defendant insurance mailboxcompany’s summary judgment motion, based on the argument that the insurance policy had been cancelled before the accident because the defendant driver had not renewed by paying the required premium.  The plaintiffs argued the trial court erred, and the defendant driver had not properly canceled the insurance policy, according to law.

While the accident took place in Louisiana, on March 1, 2014, the automobile insurance policy had been issued in Mississippi.  The policy terms made clear that the policy would terminate on January 10, 2014, if the insured did not accept an offer to renew the policy and to timely pay the required renewal premium.  On appeal, the plaintiffs’ argument was that the insurance company had not mailed a notice of cancellation 10 days before canceling the policy, as required by Louisiana law.

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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 valtruckidity 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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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.

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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 issue on appeal was whether the Office of Workers’ Compensation (“OWC”) judge had erred in holding that the doctrine of contra non valentem did not apply to the facts of this case.  In other words, the issue was whether Lowe’s exception of prescription was properly granted.

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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.

truck repairsA 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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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 tbottle caphat 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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Recently, a Louisiana Court of Appeal addressed the issue of liability in a personal injury lawsuit following injuries to a bicyclist struck by a car.  The bicyclist plbicycleaintiff and the defendant driver presented their own versions of the incident, since there were no witnesses. In their opinion, the appellate court stated the rules of tort liability in Louisiana and the requirement that a plaintiff prove fault, causation, and damages in a negligence claim. Here, the lower court had found that the plaintiff failed to meet this burden, since there had not been physical evidence introduced by either party, and the court did not necessarily find the testimony of either party credible.

Procedurally, when the trial court judge held the plaintiff had failed to meet his burden of proof and dismissed his claim, the plaintiff appealed that judgment. On appeal, the plaintiff argued that the lower court should have applied Louisiana law regarding comparative fault, among other issues. The defendant countered by stating that the judge had not researched the issue of fault when she had found the plaintiff did not meet his burden of proof.

The appellate court stated that tort liability is set forth in La. CC. art. 2315. When a plaintiff brings a negligence action under Louisiana law, they must prove fault, causation, and damages. The court also stated that causation is a factual finding. On appeal, the standard is that of manifest error, meaning that the issue is whether the judge’s conclusion was reasonable. Here, the question was whether the trial court had been manifestly erroneous when they found that the plaintiff failed to prove the defendant had been at fault.

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In an appeal addressing liability for negligent conduct that led to injuries in a car accident, the Louisiana Third Circuit Court of Appeal focused on rules of contract interpretation.  Language within an airbagsagreement must be interpreted according to the common intent of the parties, which means assessing the general, plain meaning of the words in the contract. In this case, the issue was whether an agreement between the City and the State precluded the City’s liability for negligent acts by State employees.

The plaintiff in this case suffered injuries in a car accident as a passenger in a van when the driver collided with another vehicle.  The plaintiff, an inmate passenger, was being transported as part of an Interagency agreement between the City of DeRidder and the Department of Public Safety and Corrections. The City owned the vehicle, and the driver worked for the State. The City argued that the State should be held responsible for the negligent conduct of its employees, despite the fact that the City was responsible for transporting inmates.

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In order for appellate courts to have jurisdiction, or the ability to review and determine the merit of an appeal, there must first be a valid final judgment from a lower court. In a recent opinion, the Fourth Circuit made clear that a judgment must contain specific, “decretal” language in order to be considered valid. In this opinion, the issue was whether the judgment was in fact valid, since two lawsuits had been consolidated and judgment rendered agacar accidentinst multiple defendants. The appellate court made clear that in order to have jurisdiction, they must have specific language that makes clear against whom the judgment has been rendered, and in which amount.  When the court lacks jurisdiction to consider the merits of an appeal, it will be dismissed without prejudice or converted to an application for a supervisory writ.

The facts indicated that Larry Spencer’s tractor-trailer collided with a truck in which Joseph Urquhart was a passenger. Urquhart filed a Petition for Damages against Spencer, as well as Mr. Spencer’s employer (the owner of the rig) and their liability insurer.  Urquhart then amended his Petition to add the driver of the vehicle in which he was traveling, James Nye, as well as his insurer. Then, Mr. Nye filed a Petition for Damages against Spencer, the owner of the rig, and the liability insurer. The lawsuits were consolidated, and Urquhart’s claims against Mr. Nye and his insurer were dismissed after reaching a settlement.

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