In 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.
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:
- Personal Injury Litigation – Plaintiffs (t1)
- Product Liability Litigation – Plaintiffs (t1)
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.
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.
(1) Personal Injury Litigation – Plaintiffs
(2) Product Liability Litigation – Plaintiffs
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.
According to performance measures developed by the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) and The Governor’s Highway Safety Association, 80 motorcyclists were killed in Louisiana accidents in 2011, 59 of whom were helmeted. On June 15, 2013, another fatal motorcycle accident occurred on Louisiana Highway 1065 in Tangipahoa Parish. A Tangipahoa Parish, Louisiana motorcyclist was killed when a an oncoming pickup truck allegedly made an illegal left turn into a private driveway on Louisiana Highway 1065 near its intersection with Louisiana Highway 442 in Tickfaw, Louisiana. The motorcycle crashed into the side of the pickup truck and, despite wearing a helmet, the rider was pronounced dead at the scene.
Louisiana State Police investigated the ninth auto accident fatality of the year in Troop D yesterday in Beauregard Parish, Louisiana. According to the LSP news release, a truck driven by an unbelted DeRidder man crossed the center line of Louisiana Highway 26. An oncoming SUV took evasive action, but was unable to avoid a collision into the belted driver’s door. The truck flipped several times, ejecting the unbelted driver who was pronounced dead at the scene. The belted driver of the SUV sustained moderate injuries. According to the news release, eight of the nine auto fatalities in Troop D were of unbelted drivers.
Nationwide statistics show that for SUV, pickup, and van occupants, seat belts reduce the risk of fatal injury by 60%. And, while air bags can save lives of belted occupants, they can actually make injuries much worse for unbelted occupants. The Baton Rouge, Louisiana accident and injury lawyers at Dué, Guidry, Piedrahita & Andrews encourage everyone to buckle-up and to remember that most fatal crashes happen within 25 miles from home.
La. R.S. 9:2794(A)(3) requires the Louisiana medical malpractice plaintiff to prove that as a “proximate result” of the defendant’s failure to use the required degree of care, “the plaintiff suffered injuries that would not otherwise have been incurred.” In a situation where the patient dies, the Louisiana Supreme Court has held that the plaintiff does not have to shoulder the “unreasonable burden” of proving that the patient would have lived had proper treatment been given. Hastings v. Baton Rouge General Hospital, 498 So.2d 713, 721 (La.1986). Instead, the plaintiff must prove “only that there would have been a chance of survival,” and that the patient was denied this chance of survival because of the defendant’s negligence. Id. at 720. See also Smith v. State through Dept. of Health and Human Resources Admin., 523 So.2d 815, 822 (La.1988).