Money_Cash.jpgIn a dispute characterized by the trial court as “ordinary people against nice doctors and [a] heartless soulless insurance company,” a successful doctor and his insurer appealed a judgment against the unsuccessful plaintiff that ONLY awarded them $3,539.75 for expert costs. The trial court was not persuaded by the “cold heartless” insurance company and the doctor to make the victim of the alleged medical malpractice pay them an additional $34,064.41 to compensate their out of state expert witness.

The dispute arose because an unsuccessful party in a lawsuit can be required to pay the costs (including expert witness fees, deposition costs and related expenses) of the successful party. See La. Civil Code article 1920 and La. Revised Statutes 13:3666 and 13:4533, which give the trial court great discretion in awarding costs as it may consider equitable.

Under the unique facts of the case, and recognizing the flexibility of the trial court in awarding costs, the Court of Appeal affirmed the trial court’s judgment because the defendants failed to introduce into evidence any documentation or testimony whatsoever to support the expert’s bills. William McDougald v. St. Francis North Hospital, 50-079 (La. App. 2 Cir. 10/14/15).
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LAFJ.pngLAJ Past-President (2014-2015) Steve Herman awarded Scott Andrews the prestigious Louisiana Association for Justice (LAJ) President’s Award for outstanding and highly dedicated service to the legal profession and the Association at the LAJ Fall Conference in New Orleans on September 11, 2015. Scott Andrews has been a member of the Baton Rouge, Louisiana law firm of Dué, Guidry, Piedrahita & Andrews for 19 years.

The Louisiana Association for Justice is a voluntary bar association whose statewide membership is composed mostly of lawyers who have a trial practice. Both defense and plaintiff attorneys belong to the association; however, most LAJ members represent consumer plaintiffs in civil actions. LAJ attorney-members are small business owners, maintaining a practice and supporting an office staff of fewer than 20 persons.

LAJ and its members pledge to promote justice for the workplace, a clean environment and quality and affordable health care for all Americans. LAJ members and trial lawyers in general seek fairness in the courts for the aggrieved and injured and work to uphold the honor and dignity of the civil justice system and the legal profession.

Thumbnail image for BestLawyers.pngBest Lawyers in America© 2016 lists every member of the Baton Rouge, Louisiana personal injury law firm of Dué, Guidry, Piedrahita & Andrews.
Paul H. Dué is recognized by his Best Lawyers® peers in the practice areas of Admiralty and Maritime Law, Appellate Practice, Personal Injury Litigation – Plaintiffs, and Product Liability Litigation – Plaintiffs.

Kirk A. Guidry is recognized by his Best Lawyers® peers in the practice area of Product Liability Litigation – Plaintiffs.

Randy A. Piedrahita is recognized by his Best Lawyers® peers in the practice area of Personal Injury Litigation-Plaintiffs.

B. Scott Andrews is recognized by his Best Lawyers® peers in the practice area of Personal Injury Litigation-Plaintiffs.

Best Lawyers® is the oldest and one of the most respected peer-review publications in the legal profession. This lists of lawyers are compiled by conducting exhaustive peer-review surveys in which tens of thousands of rated attorneys confidentially evaluate their professional peers.
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Thumbnail image for top100triallawyers.jpgBaton Rouge, Louisiana lawyers, Paul H. DuéKirk A. Guidry and B. Scott Andrews, have been selected for 2015 membership in The National Trial Lawyers Top 100 Trial Lawyers.

According to The National Trial Lawyers criteria, it is a member-driven organization composed of premier trial lawyers from across the country who meet stringent qualifications. Only top trial lawyers from Louisiana who are actively practicing in civil plaintiff 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.
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Super Lawyers logo.pngFor the third consecutive year, Louisiana Super Lawyers recognizes every member (Paul H. DuéKirk A. Guidry, Randy A. Piedrahita and B. Scott Andrews) of the Baton Rouge, Louisiana personal injury law firm of Dué, Guidry, Piedrahita & Andrews.

The reason each member has been selected for inclusions in the 2015 Louisiana Super Lawyers list in the practice area of Personal Injury is clear – more than 28 years of handling referrals of complex and difficult personal injury cases from lawyers around the world. The firm’s 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 two former Louisiana Supreme Court law clerks, a former U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals law clerk, an Adjunct Professor of Law, two past Presidents of the Louisiana Association for Justice (LAJ), and both a former Louisiana appellate judge and an esteemed University of Texas Law Professor “of counsel”.

This academic background, combined with dedication, hard work and extensive experience, has led to hundreds of millions of dollars in judgments, settlements and verdicts. The firm’s success has been shared with the extensive number of attorneys around the world who have referred complex personal injury cases to the firm – and who find the firm’s experience and funding assistance invaluable in representing their seriously injured clients.

The Louisiana trial lawyers at 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.

The firm and all firm members enjoy the prestigious AV Rating from Martindale-Hubbell and firm members have been recognized by Best Lawyers, U.S. News – Best Law Firms, National Trial Lawyers Top 100 Lawyers and Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum.
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Shield
Dué, Guidry, Piedrahita & Andrews attorney Paul H. Dué was recently selected by his peers as 2015 “Lawyer of the Year” for Personal Injury Litigation – Plaintiffs in the Baton Rouge, Louisiana area. Paul H. Dué received this same honor in 2009.

Only a single lawyer in each practice area and designated metropolitan area is honored as the “Lawyer of the Year,” making this accolade particularly significant. These lawyers are selected based on particularly impressive voting averages received during the peer-review assessments.

Receiving this designation reflects the high level of respect a lawyer has earned among other leading lawyers in the same communities and the same practice areas for their abilities, their professionalism, and their integrity.

In addition to the 2015 Lawyer of the Year award, Paul H. Dué was also listed in the 2015 Best Lawyers in America in the following practice areas:

Admiralty and Maritime Law
Product Liability Litigation – Plaintiffs
Personal Injury Litigation- Plaintiffs

Since it was first published in 1983, Best Lawyers has become universally regarded as the definitive guide to legal excellence. Paul H. Dué has been recognized by Best Lawyers every year since 1995.

Paul H. Dué began his legal career after finishing first in his law school class at the LSU Paul M. Hebert Law Center in 1966. His Baton Rouge, Louisiana personal injury law firm, Dué, Guidry, Piedrahita & Andrews, focuses on trial and appeals of complex personal injury, brain injury, burn injury, and wrongful death litigation, including car wrecks, truck accidents, and motorcycle accidents.

Paul H. Dué, a past-president of LAJ, had previously been honored with the LAJ President’s Award and the LAJ Stalwart Award. Paul is a Life Member of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum and has been selected for inclusion in Louisiana Super Lawyers since its inception.
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Insurance.jpgAshanti Green v. Michael Johnson, 2014-0292 (La.10/15/14), with Justice Hughes writing for the Louisiana Supreme Court, held that since the Allstate auto policy at issue contractually included UM coverage, the express provisions of the policy (or contract) governed whether UM coverage existed for the accident, and statutory UM coverage under La. R.S. 22:1295 was not at issue.

Plaintiff co-owned a motorcycle with a friend. When plaintiff was killed by an underinsured motorist, his beneficiaries filed a claim for UM benefits against the co-owner’s Allstate auto policy. The express terms of the Allstate auto policy did not provide for bodily injury liability coverage, but did provide for UM coverage.

In granting summary judgment in favor of Allstate, the lower courts relied on jurisprudential language holding that, “it is well-settled that a person who does not qualify as a liability insured under a policy of insurance is not entitled to UM coverage under the policy” as a basis for finding that there was no UM coverage for the accident at issue under the co-owner’s Allstate policy. The Louisiana Supreme Court reversed, holding that this jurisprudential language is limited to the provision of “statutory” UM as required by La.R.S. 22:1295, and does not apply to UM that is actually provided for in the insurance policy (or contract). Thus, the Louisiana Supreme Court concluded that even when an insurer is not required by law to provide UM coverage because the policy does not provide liability coverage, the insurer is nevertheless free to contract to provide UM coverage.

After analyzing the Louisiana Supreme Court jurisprudence, the Supreme Court articulated that when the existence of UM coverage under a policy of automobile insurance is at issue, Magnon v. Collins, Succession of Fannaly v. Lafayette Insurance Company, Filipski v. Imperial Fire & Casualty Insurance Company, and Cadwallader v. Allstate Insurance Company demonstrate a two-step analysis:

(1) the automobile insurance policy is first examined to determine whether UM coverage is contractually provided under the express provisions of the policy; and

(2) if no UM coverage is found under the policy provisions, then the UM statute (La.R.S. 22:1295) is applied to determine whether statutory UM coverage is mandated.

See also Bernard v. Ellis, 11-2377 (La. 7/2/12), 111 So.3d 995, 1000 (recognizing that an automobile insurance policy must first be examined for contractual UM coverage, and if contractual coverage is absent, “if a plaintiff is insured under the auto liability coverage, he is entitled to UM coverage” (citing Magnon v. Collins and Filipski v. Imperial Fire & Casualty Insurance Company)). If there is express contractual UM coverage in the policy, it is unnecessary to apply the UM statute to determine whether UM coverage is statutorily mandated.

In this case, the Allstate auto policy provided UM coverage to the plaintiff because he met the definition of an “insured person” since he was a “person while in, on, getting into or out of an `insured auto’ with [the policyholder’s] express or implied permission.” The co-owned motorcycle qualified as an “insured auto” for purposes of UM coverage since it was an after-acquired “land motor vehicle” as set forth in the policy.

The motorcycle did not qualify as an “insured auto” for purposes of liability coverage since it was not an after-acquired “four wheel” auto as set forth in the policy.

Thus, the distinction between the UM provisions and the liability provisions vis-à-vis coverage was that the UM provisions included within the definition of “insured auto,” for coverage as an after-acquired vehicle, a “land motor vehicle,” which would encompass a motorcycle, while the liability provisions included within the definition of “insured auto,” for coverage as an after-acquired vehicle, only a “four wheel” auto, which would exclude liability coverage for a motorcycle.

The Louisiana Supreme Court found no ambiguity in this Allstate policy; the parties clearly intended to extend greater UM coverage to after-acquired vehicles, by defining an “insured auto” to encompass any “land motor vehicle” (with only three listed exceptions), than for liability coverage, which was limited to “four wheel” autos. The inclusion in the policy of differing definitions for “insured auto” in differing coverage sections produced no absurd consequences, and the policy was applied as written.
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Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Slip Trip and Fall and Premises Liability.jpgBufkin v. Felipe’s Louisiana, LLC, 2014-0288 (La.10/15/14), with Justice Hughes writing for the Louisiana Supreme Court, granted summary judgment in favor of a contractor because the contractor owed no duty to warn of the obstruction presented to pedestrians by a pick-up sized dumpster, a large inanimate object visible to all, placed on the sidewalk. The allegedly dangerous or defective condition was obvious and apparent, or stated differently, was open and obvious to everyone who may potentially encounter it.

The plaintiff was walking down the sidewalk when he encountered a dumpster obstructing the sidewalk that the plaintiff had known was present for more than four months. Before crossing the one-way street, the plaintiff looked in the direction of oncoming traffic, but failed to look in the opposite direction past the dumpster. While crossing the street, the plaintiff was hit by a bicycle traveling in the wrong direction on the one-way street.

The specific issue before the Louisiana Supreme Court was whether the sidewalk condition, created by the contractor’s allegedly insufficient posted warnings and the placement of the large curbside dumpster, produced a vision obstruction for pedestrians crossing the street at that location that was unreasonably dangerous, and, if so, whether the contractor owed a duty to place additional warnings on its signage and/or to construct a buffer zone that would mitigate against any vision obstruction created.

The Louisiana Supreme Court held that the evidence presented by the contractor on motion for summary judgment established that any vision obstruction caused by the dumpster to a pedestrian crossing the street was obvious and apparent and reasonably safe for persons exercising ordinary care and prudence. The Court further reasoned that the size of the dumpster was comparable to a pick-up truck and was the type of situation any pedestrian might encounter on a regular basis.

Once the contractor demonstrated that the plaintiff would be unable to prove that a duty was owed to him by the contractor, the burden shifted to the plaintiff to demonstrate that he would be able to meet that burden at trial. The plaintiff failed to produce any affidavit, deposition, or other evidence admissible on motion for summary judgment to show that the contractor did have a duty to warn pedestrians of the obstruction or take extra measures to aid pedestrians to see around the obstruction.
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BestLawyers.png
A lawyer from Dué, Guidry, Piedrahita & Andrews is listed in The Best Lawyers in America© 2015.

Paul H. Dué was selected by his peers for inclusion in The Best Lawyers in America© 2015 in the fields of Admiralty and Maritime Law, Personal Injury Litigation-Plaintiffs; and Product Liability Litigation-Plaintiffs.

Best Lawyers has published their list for over thirty years and has earned the respect of the profession, the media, and the public as one of the most reliable, unbiased sources of legal referrals.

Best Lawyers is the most effective tool in identifying critical legal expertise,” said President and Co-Founder Steven Naifeh. “Inclusion on this list shows that an attorney is respected by his or her peers for professional success.”

Lawyers on the Best Lawyers in America list are divided by geographic region and practice areas. They are reviewed by their peers on the basis of professional expertise, and undergo an authentication process to make sure they are in current practice and in good standing.
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