exposed electrical wiresIn a recent opinion from the Louisiana First Circuit Court of Appeal, the court considered a utility company’s appeal of a jury verdict awarding the plaintiff damages in a wrongful death action. The background facts are as follows. The plaintiff was patronizing a bar in Baton Rouge in 2013 talking with a bar employee and a bar owner. The decedent was on the rooftop when he leaned against a parapet wall and reached out to grab a wire hanging approximately one foot away from the building. Roughly 8,000 volts of electricity flowed through the wire and transferred to the decedent’s body, causing his hand to catch on fire and burn off. The decedent died as a result of the incident.

An investigation revealed that the wire was placed too close to the building and that the placement violated the National Electrical Safety Code (NESC). The decedent’s father initiated a wrongful death action against a number of defendants, including the utility company responsible for maintaining the wire. After the close of evidence, the jury returned a verdict apportioning 65 percent fault to the utility company and 35 percent fault to the decedent. The total wrongful death award to the father was $1.35 million. The jury also awarded expenses for funeral and burial costs.

The utility company admitted that the electrical line violated the NESC, but appealed, alleging that the trial court erred when it ruled that it owed the plaintiff a duty to disclose its negligence to the plaintiff after the accident. It also challenged the court’s decision to admit evidence that it described as prejudicial based on this alleged admission. The utility company claimed that these issues tainted the jury’s deliberation and the ultimate verdict in the plaintiff’s favor.

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empty wooden stairsIn a recent opinion from the Louisiana Fifth Circuit Court of Appeal, the plaintiff appealed a judgment from a trial court granting summary judgment on behalf of the defendant, a daycare center.  The plaintiff filed suit against the daycare center after she suffered an accident while picking up her minor son. The plaintiff was 32 weeks pregnant at the time the incident occurred. As the plaintiff was exiting the building, she was carrying her 18-month-old son and using her cell phone when she fell down stairs located at the entrance of the building. According to her petition for damages, her injuries included a fractured tibia and fibula. Her older child experienced bruising and a broken clavicle. Although no one witnessed the accident, people soon arrived to assist the plaintiff, and she was taken to the hospital.

In her petition, the plaintiff sought damages from the daycare center claiming that it was liable for failing to warn her of the dangerous nature of the stairs and for allowing the defective stairway to persist on its premises. In response to these allegations, the daycare center alleged that the plaintiff was comparatively at fault and that her decision against using the handrail while talking on the phone and holding her baby was the cause of her injuries.

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In a recent appellate opinion, the liability of a City and a miniature train ride operator was considered.  In May 2006, a local school program conducted a field trip for students and faculty at a park. A local miniature train company donated free rides to the children and chaperones. At approximately 1 p.m., the plaintiffs, who were chaperones working for the school, in addition to two other adults, boarded one of the train compartments. When the train approached the first curve, the conductor stated that he observed a jiggling sensation. He looked over his shoulder just in time to observe one of the cars tipping over. The conductor stopped the train, but both cars had tipped over while the locomotive remained on the tracks. The passengers in the cars were thrust into a fence that bordered the train track.

trainThe plaintiffs filed a lawsuit for damages against the train company. The school filed a motion to intervene, seeking reimbursement for workers’ compensation benefits they allegedly paid to the plaintiffs. In response, the train company filed a cross-claim against the City, claiming that the City failed to provide an appropriate defense and should be required to indemnify the company if it is found liable for the plaintiffs’ damages.

During the first bench trial, which is a trial that does not include a jury, the plaintiffs testified that they did not act or contribute in any way to the accident. The plaintiffs also introduced two inspection reports for the tracks, one issued six months before the accident and the other issued a number of weeks prior to the accident. In general, the reports indicated that some of the rail tiles were “loose and rotten,” in addition to other maintenance issues. The plaintiffs also offered the testimony of the owner of the railroad operation, who stated that it was the City’s responsibility to maintain the track and to perform repairs. The City offered evidence in an attempt to refute that it was responsible for the routine maintenance and inspection of the train and the railroad tracks.

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doctors in surgeryIn a recent opinion from the First Circuit Court of Appeal for the State of Louisiana, the plaintiff appealed a trial court ruling granting summary judgment in favor of the defendants in a medical malpractice action. In June 2006, the plaintiff underwent a spinal fusion surgery performed by a certain surgeon who later left the practice and moved out of state. Another physician who worked at the same neurosurgery center took over the plaintiff’s follow-up care and eventually referred the plaintiff to the defendant-physician for continued care. In particular, the plaintiff complained of persistent post-operative lower back pain, which extended to his buttocks and legs and caused him to experience difficulty sitting down.

The defendant is experienced in the field of pain management and neurology. When he first examined the plaintiff, he suggested that the plaintiff undergo a discogram to determine the source of his chronic pain. Following the procedure, the plaintiff reported experiencing severe headaches and reduced control of his bladder and bowel functions, along with worsening pain in his lower limbs. At this time, the defendant diagnosed the plaintiff with a spinal fluid leak. Shortly thereafter, the plaintiff admitted himself to the emergency room, where he was diagnosed with corda equine syndrome.

The plaintiff filed a medical malpractice action against the defendant in accordance with the Louisiana Medical Malpractice Act (LMMA), as well as a number of other health care providers. A medical review panel gathered to assess the claim, and on that same day, they rendered a decision concluding that the defendants had not deviated from the appropriate standard of medical care. Additionally, the medical review panel noted that the discogram procedure had known risks and complications and that the procedure resulted in a meaningful surgery.

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xray of backIn a recent case from the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, the plaintiff appealed a jury verdict awarding $3,719.20 in her favor. The facts of the case are as follows. The plaintiff was sitting in the front seat of a vehicle driven by another woman when it was rear-ended by a car operated by the defendant. The plaintiff testified at trial that the vehicle was stopped at a red light at the time of the impact. The defendant testified that her vehicle was also stopped in traffic and that when the traffic started to move, she released the brake and collided with the car in front of her vehicle.

The police responded to the incident and generated a police report. An ambulance was also called but was ultimately unnecessary. The driver of the vehicle in which the plaintiff was riding transported the plaintiff to the hospital, stopping at the plaintiff’s residence to obtain her identification along the way. At trial, the plaintiff testified that she experienced neck and back pain immediately after the impact, which she reported during an examination at the hospital.

When offered pain medication in the emergency room, the plaintiff said she did not need it because she was already taking pain medication for a preexisting chronic back condition. The plaintiff had been treated for low back pain since she was diagnosed with scoliosis when she was 12. She underwent a surgery to place a rod in her back, which later broke, requiring a second surgery. In that same year, the plaintiff was involved in a car collision, resulting in injuries to her neck. In 2008, the plaintiff also experienced a slip and fall accident, and a CT of her lumbar spine taken in 2009 showed a protrusion and disc bulge.

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Kirk Guidry, Randy Piedrahita and Scott Andrews have been selected to the 2017 Louisiana Super Lawyers list in the practice area of Personal Injury.   According to Thomson Reuters, no more than 5% of Louisiana Lawyers are selected each year by the research team at Super Lawyers to receive this honor.  Super Lawyers is a rating service of lawyers from multiple practice areas who have attained a high degree of peer recognition and professional achievement.  The annual selections are made using a patented multiphase process that includes a statewide survey of lawyers, an independent research evaluation of candidates and peer reviews by practice area.  The Baton Rouge, Louisiana law firm of Dué Guidry Piedrahita Andrews L.C. handles serious personal injury and wrongful death cases throughout Louisiana.

Medical malpractice claims governed by the Louisiana Medical Malpractice Act originate with the filing of a request for review of the medical malpractice claim by a Medical Review Panel. The request for review must be filed with the Louisiana Division of Administration and shall contain, at a minimum, all of the following:

(i) A request for the formation of a medical review panel.

(ii) The name of only one patient for whom, or on whose behalf, the request for review is being filed; however, if the claim involves the care of a pregnant mother and her unborn child, then naming the mother as the patient shall be sufficient.

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Dué Guidry Piedrahita Andrews L.C. proudly announces it has been selected once again by its peers for inclusion in the U.S. News & World Report Best Lawyers – Best Law Firms rankings in the following practice areas:

Pedestrian awareness urged by Louisiana State Police after Baton Rouge fatality: Precautions such as wearing reflective materials, avoiding distractions, and walking a safe distance from travel lanes while facing oncoming traffic could help prevent many pedestrian related crashes.  Troop A News Release.

Karen Tullier was killed in Baton Rouge around 9:00 p.m. on Sunday May 22, 2016, while walking westbound on Burbank Drive near its intersection with Gardere Lane, after being struck by a westbound 1998 Kawasaki motorcycle.

Louisiana law requires that when sidewalks are not provided, any pedestrian walking along and upon a highway shall, when practicable, walk only on the left side of the highway or its shoulder, facing traffic which may approach from the opposite direction. La. R.S. 32:216. Louisiana law also requires every driver to exercise due care to avoid colliding with any pedestrian upon any roadway and shall give warning by sounding the horn when necessary and shall exercise proper precaution upon observing any child or any confused or incapacitated person upon a highway. La.R.S. 32:214.

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Super Lawyers 2016 selected every member (Kirk A. Guidry, Randy A. Piedrahita and B. Scott Andrews) of the Baton Rouge, Louisiana personal injury law firm of Dué Guidry Piedrahita Andrews L.C. for inclusion in the 2016 Louisiana Super Lawyers list in the practice area of Personal Injury.

Super Lawyers is a rating service of outstanding lawyers from more than 70 practice areas who have attained a high-degree of peer recognition and professional achievement. The selection process includes independent research, peer nominations and peer evaluations.

Dué Guidry Piedrahita Andrews L.C. and all firm members also enjoy the prestigious AV Rating from Martindale-Hubbell and have been recognized by Best Lawyers® and U.S. News – Best Law Firms®.