Archive | December, 2014

Diane Morgan, As Provisional Administrator of the Estate of Keibreon Morgan, and In Person v. Pam Schooler, et al

Diane Morgan, As Provisional Administrator of the Estate of Keibreon Morgan, and In Person v. Pam Schooler, et al
(March 2014)

Keith W. McDaniel and Heather M. Nagel obtained a defense verdict for the Union Parish School Board following a jury trial in Union Parish, Louisiana in March 2014.  Plaintiffs, Diane Morgan and Reginald Bilberry, brought suit as a result of the death of their son, Keibreon Morgan.  Keibreon, a sophomore at Farmerville High School, complained of pain and cramping during football practice in September of 2010.  After he was pulled from the practice field and addressed, an athletic trainer called an ambulance.  En route to the hospital, he lost consciousness, and he later died at the hospital. Following his death, an autopsy revealed a cardiomyopathy or an enlarged heart.  His heart weighed nearly two times that of an average heart for a 15 year old.

Plaintiffs filed suit naming the Union Parish School Board; Joe Spatafora, head football coach; and Pam Schooler, former principal.   In advance of trial, the trial court dismissed Joe Spatafora and Pam Schooler in their individual capacities, and the trial moved forward against the Union Parish School Board only. At trial, plaintiffs alleged that Keibreon died as a result of a heat related injury.  Plaintiffs retained an expert who opined that the coaching staff and athletic trainer were negligent because they failed to remove Keibreon from the heat and into an ice bath when he first reported complaints.  Plaintiffs also retained a cardiologist who opined that the Keibreon Morgan’s heart was not enlarged given his height and weight.

The school board defended the plaintiffs’ allegations with evidence demonstrating that Keibreon had undergone a conditioning program during the summer and that the team had a heat related emergency plan and hydration program in place.   On the day of Keibreon’s death, coaching staff immediately removed Keibreon from the practice field, provided him water and used an athletic trainer to assess his complaints and symptoms.  During the assessment, the trainer properly alerted 911 when she obtained a concerning blood pressure reading.

Defendants called the treating pathologist who testified that the autopsy showed that Keibreon Morgan died of an enlarged heart.  Moreover, he explained that Keibreon showed no signs of dehydration, which would have been expected in a death caused from heat exposure.  Defendants also retained a cardiologist, who testified that Keibreon suffered from an enlarged heart, which caused him to suffer an arrhythmia that went undetected by the emergency responders because they failed to put him on heart monitor.

Plaintiffs asked the jury to award general damages of $500,000. The jury found that the defendants had not caused the death of Keibreon Morgan.

Comments are closed

Brooks v. Brister-Stephens, Inc

Brooks v. Brister-Stephens, Inc.
(February 2014)

Lance B. Williams obtained a $1,100,000 verdict on a subrogation suit seeking property damage from a house fire.  The suit stemmed from a fire which occurred on June 14, 2010, and resulted in a total loss of the home and property of homeowners.  The homeowners uninsured losses and their insurer’s subrogation rights were pursued against the air conditioning repair service that performed work on the home four days before the fire.  Mr. Williams produced expert testimony which demonstrated that the repairmen damaged the natural gas apparatus for the home, causing a gas leak which was ignited by the air conditioner. The case went to jury trial in the 22nd Judicial District Court, St. Tammany Parish, Louisiana.  The jury deliberated for one hour, before finding the defendant 100% liable for all damages on February 5, 2014.

Comments { 0 }

Franklin vs. Ford Motor Company and Jim Taylor Ford Lincoln Mercury, L.L.C.

Franklin vs. Ford Motor Company and Jim Taylor Ford Lincoln Mercury, L.L.C.
(January 2014)

Keith W. McDaniel and Quincy T. Crochet obtained a defense verdict for Ford Motor Company following a jury trial in Lincoln Parish, Louisiana in January 2014.  Plaintiffs, Vivian and James Franklin, brought suit as a result of an alleged inadvertent deployment of the seat-mounted driver’s side airbag in a 2005 Lincoln LS. Vivian Franklin testified that as she was driving the airbag deployed.  She described the road on which she was travelling as “smooth as glass,” and she denied hitting any potholes or objects.  Although she brought the vehicle safely to a stop after the deployment event, Mrs. Franklin claimed that the deployment caused multiple cervical and lumbar disc injuries including bulges and an annular tear, headaches and chronic pain throughout her body, and difficulty with memory, vision and hearing.  Plaintiffs sued Ford and alleged that the side airbag system was defective in manufacture, design and due to inadequate warnings.

Ford defended the system, with data obtained from the diagnostic module of the Lincoln LS.  The module’s readout confirmed that multiple sensors within the system sensed necessary crash pulses and deployed the airbag.  Ford also presented evidence to demonstrate that elements of the system’s design were state-of-the-art at the time of manufacture, that the system conformed with the custom of the industry in design intent, that the vehicle complied with all applicable Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards and that the design properly balanced the risk of deployment in non-crash events with the need for deployment in severe side impact scenarios.  Ford also disputed Mrs. Franklin’s claim regarding the condition of the roadway through the use of DOTD records which documented widespread damage in the area of the incident.

To rebut damages and demonstrate the relatively low level of risk from a deployment in a non-crash environment, Ford presented the results of a static airbag deployment test in an exemplar Lincoln LS with an anthropomorphic test device (i.e., a “test dummy”) instrumented with various sensors.  The video of the airbag deployment established that the deploying bag moves away from a properly positioned driver.  Additionally, sensors in the dummy’s cervical and lumbar spine areas confirmed that forces acting on the dummy were inconsequential and less than the forces experienced through loading the spine during many activities of daily living.  Based on these test results, Ford argued that the subject airbag deployment did not cause Mrs. Franklin’s disc injuries and that the deployment was not the source of her ongoing complaints.  Instead, Ford contended that Mrs. Franklin’s disc injuries long pre-dated the airbag incident and that her past medical records document longstanding complaints of the same type she claimed started after the airbag deployment.

The jury found that plaintiffs failed to establish a product defect under any of the theories advanced pursuant to the Louisiana Products Liability Act.

Comments are closed

Happy Holidays!

Comments are closed