At the September 26, 2013 meeting of the Capital City Republican Women at BREC’s Independence Park, Baton Rouge, Louisiana attorney, Randy A. Piedrahita, discussed Louisiana’s Stand Your Ground Law. Piedrahita was joined in the lively and informative discussion by Rep. Barry Ivey, Police Chief Carl Dabadie Jr., and Greg Phares.
In McBride v. Estis Well Service, 12-30714 (5th Cir. 10/2/13), the United States Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals held that Jones Act Seamen may recover punitive damages for their employer’s willful and wanton breach of the general maritime law duty to provide a seaworthy vessel. Such breach reflects a reckless disregard for the safety of the crew, who remain “wards of admiralty” deserving special protection under maritime law.
The general maritime law cause of action (unseaworthiness) and remedy (punitive damages) were established before passage of the Jones Act, and the Jones Act did not address that cause of action or remedy. Thus, the Fifth Circuit held that the punitive damages remedy remains available under that unseaworthiness cause of action unless and until Congress intercedes.
The Court concluded as follows: “Like maintenance and cure, unseaworthiness was established as a general maritime claim before the passage of the Jones Act, punitive damages were available under general maritime law, and the Jones Act does not address unseaworthiness or limit its remedies. We conclude, therefore, that punitive damages remain available to seamen as a remedy for the general maritime law claim of unseaworthiness.”
The Fifth Circuit cited as authority three law review and journal articles authored by University of Texas School of Law Distinguished Teaching Professor and W. Page Keeton Chair in Tort Law, David W. Robertson. Professor Robertson is one of the nation’s leading experts in admiralty law and serves of counsel to the Baton Rouge, Louisiana admiralty and maritime law firm of Dué, Guidry, Piedrahita & Andrews.
BATON ROUGE–Eleven neighbors of the Monolyte Labs Inc. chemical facility in Slaughter, Louisiana filed a lawsuit in the 19th Judicial District Court in Baton Rouge on September 24, 2013 for injuries and damages that resulted from the November 9, 2012, explosion and fire that destroyed the facility and required a middle-of-the-night evacuation of residents from their homes.
The residents, represented by the Baton Rouge, Louisiana personal injury law firm of Dué, Guidry, Piedrahita & Andrews are experiencing a range of symptoms resulting from the blaze and subsequent protracted and continuing cleanup of the site. The fire destroyed the facility, which blended various toxic chemicals for use in the water treatment industry. The Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality had to repeatedly issue orders to owners of the facility to clean up the extensive chemical release and spill that resulted from the fire. Extremely strong chemical odors permeated blocks around the plant site for months following the explosion and fire.
Plaintiffs have experienced respiratory and other ailments since the incident. The five-year-old daughter of a couple whose home was near the Monolyte facility has required more than 20 trips to doctors and hospitals–some by ambulance–for treatment of respiratory problems since the Nov. 9 fire and release of chemicals. The lawsuit also claims losses other than physical injuries, such as diminished property values.
Sitting en banc, the Louisiana Third Circuit Court of Appeal recently affirmed the highest general damage award to a minor child for the wrongful death of a parent in Louisiana. The jury awarded $2.5 million in general damages to the minor boy for the devastating loss of his non-custodial mother, with whom he had a close relationship. The Louisiana Third Circuit Court of Appeal approved the following separate elements of wrongful death general damages and explained how each was different from the other:
1) Past, present and future mental anguish, grief and anxiety
2) Past, present and future loss of love and affection
3) Past, present and future loss of society, services and consortium
Mental anguish and grief refers to the pain, discomfort, inconvenience, anguish, and emotional trauma that accompany the injury. This includes the initial shock, anxiety, and distress that a minor child experiences as a result of the loss of a parent. Put another way, grief is the presence of an emotion as a result of a loved one’s death.
Loss of love and affection, on the other hand, goes beyond the initial grief and emotional trauma. These damages compensate the minor child for the enduring and irreversible loss of his parent. While grief and anguish will wane over time, the minor child will always feel the absence of the traditional characteristics of the parent-child relationship. Loss of love and affection is the absence of an experience; specifically, the absence of a love previously bestowed.
The factors for loss of consortium include loss of society and companionship, loss of support and family income, and loss of performance of material services, including educational and household help for children.
Rachel v. Brouillette, 12-794 (La.App. 3 Cir. 3/13/13), 111 So.3d 1137, 1142-43, writ denied, 2013-0690 (La.5/3/13), 113 So.3d 217 (Affirming the jury’s general damage award of $1 million for past, present and future mental anguish, grief and anxiety; $1 million for past, present, and future loss of love and affection; and $500,000 for loss of society, services and consortium. An additional $300,000 award for loss of support was also affirmed.).
Prior to Rachel, $750,000 was the highest general damage award ever affirmed by a Louisiana court for the wrongful death of a minor child’s parent. See Raymond v. Gov’t Employees Ins. Co., 09-1327 (La.App. 3 Cir. 6/2/10), 40 So.3d 1179, writ denied, 10-1569 (La.10/8/10), 46 So.3d 1268.
Last year before the November Presidential election, former Counsel for the Democratic Party and Executive Committee Member Randy Piedrahita quietly switched his voter registration to Republican. On June 11, 2013, at the Ronald Reagan Newsmaker Luncheon, Randy and two other former Democratic officials were formally welcomed into the GOP by East Baton Rouge Parish Republican Chairman Woody Jenkins and State GOP Chairman Roger Villere. Randy briefly spoke to thank the Republicans for their warm welcome and to note that, as the son of legal immigrants and a Lifetime NRA member, he was aligned with them on many issues ranging from gun control and entitlement abuse to fiscal reform and encouraging self versus governmental reliance. Randy fielded questions and discussed constitutional and historical roots of gun rights, and is looking forward to working with Republicans to better this State and these United States.
On May 22, 2013, Randy Piedrahita and the Baton Rouge, Louisiana law firm of Dué, Guidry, Piedrahita & Andrews were chosen by the government of Baton Rouge to represent Baton Rouge in its claims for millions of dollars in losses attendant to the BP oil spill. Randy and the Dué firm will begin working with Farrell and Patel, a Florida firm with extensive experience with BP oil spill claims, which had previously filed suit for Baton Rouge.
Read the article in The Advocate.
Dué, Guidry, Piedrahita & Andrews also represents private citizens and businesses injured by the BP oil spill, the worst natural catastrophe in American history. Its clients include fishermen, processors, leaseholders, businesses and restaurants directly injured by the spill, both locally and as far away as Tennessee.
Louisiana Trial Lawyer, B. Scott Andrews, of the Baton Rouge, Louisiana personal injury law firm of Dué, Guidry, Piedrahita & Andrews, has been selected for membership in The National Trial Lawyers Top 100 Trial Lawyers. Scott Andrews is already a 2012-2013 member of The National Trial Lawyers Top 40 Under 40.
The National Trial Lawyers is a member-driven organization composed of premier trial lawyers from across the country who meet stringent qualifications as civil plaintiff trial lawyers. Through educational and networking opportunities, the organization strives to help its members build law practices which encompass superior knowledge, skill, experience and success.
Only top trial lawyers from Louisiana who are actively practicing in civil plaintiff and/or criminal defense law are eligible for invitation. Invitees must demonstrate superior qualifications, leadership skills, and trial results as a legal professional. The selection process for this elite honor is based on a multi-phase process which includes peer nominations combined with third party research. Prospective members of The National Trial Lawyers are carefully screened prior to receiving an invitation for membership. Membership is not automatically renewed; attorneys are reevaluated annually to determine whether their activities and accomplishments qualify them for continued membership.
Baton Rouge, Louisiana motorcycle accident lawyer, Scott Andrews, of the Louisiana motorcycle injury law firm of Dué, Guidry, Piedrahita & Andrews sends many thanks to Redman Pools and the Blowout’s for the fabulous Blowout’s 2nd Annual Biker Bash Rally at the Galveston County Fairgrounds in Hitchcock, Texas in March 2013. “Riding my new Harley Road Glide from Baton Rouge, Louisiana through Pecan Island, across the Gulf Coast and through Port Arthur, Texas on the way to Galveston was a visual smorgasbord of everything great Louisiana and Texas have to offer,” says Andrews. A great time was had by all at the Biker Bash Rally!! Ride Safe and Ride Often!
Every member (Paul H. Dué, Kirk A. Guidry, Randy A. Piedrahita and B. Scott Andrews) of the Baton Rouge, Louisiana personal injury law firm of Dué, Guidry, Piedrahita & Andrews has been named to the 2013 Super Lawyers list for Louisiana. The reason is clear – more than 25 years handling referrals of complex and difficult personal injury cases from lawyers around the world. This success is rooted in academia, with all firm members having graduated at the top of their law school class and having served as members of or as editors of their Law Reviews. The firm boasts former Louisiana Supreme Court and U.S. Fifth Circuit law clerks, Adjunct Professors of Law, past Presidents of the Louisiana Association for Justice, and both a former Louisiana appellate judge and an esteemed University of Texas Law Professor “of counsel”.
This background, combined with hard work and extensive experience, has led to hundreds of millions of dollars in settlements and verdicts. This success has been shared with the many attorneys who refer cases to the firm – who find the firm’s experience and funding assistance invaluable in representing their clients.
The members of Dué, Guidry, Piedrahita & Andrews combine their academic backgrounds, practical trial experience and financial “staying power” to add up to success for clients and the lawyers trusting the firm with referrals.
Baton Rouge, Louisiana personal injury trial lawyer, Paul H. Dué, has been selected by his peers to be included in The Best Lawyers in America, 19th edition for his work in the practice areas of Admiralty & Maritime Law, Personal Injury Litigation, and Product Liability Litigation. Listing in the 2013 edition marks fifteen years since Paul H. Dué was first listed in Best Lawyers. Through this distinction Paul H. Dué has proven to be a consistent and dedicated member of the law community.
Selection for Best Lawyers is based on an exhaustive and rigorous peer-review survey comprised of more than 4 million confidential evaluations by the top attorneys in the country. Our annual Best Lawyers publication has been described by The American Lawyer as “the most respected referral list of attorneys in practice.” Because no fee or purchase is required, being listed in Best Lawyers is considered a singular honor.
Best Lawyers in America is one of the most visible and targeted peer review publications in the legal profession.