Articles Posted in Personal Injury

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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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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 arbitratitrampolineon 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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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.  scissors

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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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.

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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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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 faccar accidentt 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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Recently, the Louisiana Third Circuit Court of Appeal addressed an appeal by a school teacher who suffered injuries while working at her assigned school, in the Lafayette Parish School District.  This lawsuit centered on both workers’ compensation and tort issues following the battery of the teacher by a student known to have formerly presented dschool hallwayisciplinary issues. The appellate court upheld the lower court’s judgment in favor of the school board, dismissing the plaintiff’s tort claims.

In this case, Jenna Field, “Plaintiff,” worked as an English teacher at Northside High School. One of her students, Charles Benjamin, Jr., was attempting to leave the classroom in order to fight with another student in the hallway. As Plaintiff tried to block him by holding the door to the hallway closed, Mr. Benjamin repeatedly hit her in the stomach. He was arrested and charged with battery. Mr. Benjamin pled no contest.

At the time of the battery, Plaintiff was six weeks pregnant. Her doctor had noted that she was bleeding after the incident but stated it may have been coincidental, since bleeding is not uncommon for pregnancies at that stage. Later, Plaintiff’s child was born with an injury to her kidney, determined to be congenital in nature.  Plaintiff received and continued at the time of the appeal to receive psychological treatment.

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