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Walker v. Winn Dixie, et al

Walker v. Winn Dixie, et al
(June 2014)

Thomas Anzelmo obtained summary judgment on behalf of the City of Westwego and two Westwego Police Department deputies.  Plaintiff alleged he suffered neck, shoulder, and elbow injuries as a result of excessive force and battery, as well as mental anguish as a result of racial profiling by the deputies who responded to an alleged theft at a grocery store.  Plaintiff brought claims pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for violations of his 14th Amendment rights, as well as state law claims for battery.  The defense submitted that plaintiff lacked any evidence of a custom, policy or practice resulting in the violation of a constitutional right, that the officers were entitled to qualified immunity, and that plaintiff lacked any evidence of excessive force, a battery, or racial profiling by the deputies.  The Court sided with the defendants, noting the lack of evidence of wrongdoing by the officers and the lack of any custom, policy or practice by the city that lead to a violation of constitutional rights.  Accordingly, all claims were dismissed.

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Fleming v. Sheriff Newell Normand, et al

Fleming v. Sheriff Newell Normand, et al 
(May 2014)

Thomas Anzelmo obtained summary judgment on behalf of CorrectHealth Jefferson, LLC and two of its nurses.  Plaintiff brought claims of medical negligence against the nurses and CorrectHealth arising out of the treatment he received following an alleged chemical exposure to his eye.  Plaintiff developed a corneal ulcer that lead to a recommended corneal transplant.  The defense submitted evidence and expert testimony that showed that CorrectHealth and its nurses did not breach the applicable standard of care in their treatment of plaintiff’s eye, but instead responded appropriately to plaintiff’s medical complaints and condition.  Additionally, the evidence established that plaintiff’s corneal ulcer did not result from the treatment he received from CorrectHealth and its nurses.  Accordingly, the Court granted summary judgment in favor of the defense, dismissing all of plaintiff’s claims.

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Sylvia Richard v. Cameron Parish School District

Sylvia Richard v. Cameron Parish School District
(May 2014)

Lance B. Williams obtained summary judgment on behalf of the Cameron Parish School Board and Republic Insurance Company.  Plaintiff alleged a premises defect in the Grand Lake School Gymnasium.  Ms. Richard tripped and fell while working in the concession stand, causing serious injuries to her wrists, shoulders and head.  She underwent carpal tunnel releases in both wrists and sought ongoing medical treatment for cervical and neurological injuries.  Mr. Williams presented evidence that the condition which allegedly caused plaintiff’s accident was not under the control of the school board, but instead was controlled by an independent organization which ran the concession area.  Further, the court concluded that the condition was open and obvious to plaintiff and other workers in the concession stand.  Accordingly, all claims were dismissed.

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Tyron Eastwood v. Niblett’s Bluff Park Authority and Southern Insurance Company

Tyron Eastwood v. Niblett’s Bluff Park Authority and Southern Insurance Company
(April 2014)

Michael Sistrunk and Devin Fadaol won a victory for The Republic Group in this personal injury lawsuit alleging multiple injuries and surgeries to the legs, hip and lower back as a result of a slip and fall at the Niblett’s Bluff Park.   Defendants filed a Motion for Summary Judgment seeking dismissal of all of Plaintiff’s claims pursuant to Louisiana’s Recreational Use Immunity statutes, La. R.S. 9:2791, et seq.  The trial court originally granted the Motion for Summary Judgment, then reversed itself in a rehearing.  After the Louisiana Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit upheld the denial of Defendants’ Motion for Summary Judgment, Defendants took a writ to the Louisiana Supreme Court.  The Louisiana Supreme Court unanimously granted the writ application and granted the Motion for Summary Judgment, concluding that Defendants are immune from liability pursuant to the Recreational Use Immunity Statue.

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McNabb v. Ford Motor Company

McNabb v. Ford Motor Company
(March 2014)

Keith W. McDaniel and Quincy T. Crochet obtained summary judgment for Ford Motor Company in the 21st Judicial District Court for the Parish of Tangipahoa in two separate lawsuits filed by Hansford McNabb and his wife, Connie McNabb, as a result of a single vehicle accident that occurred on September 17, 2010.  According to plaintiffs, as Hansford McNabb was driving west on LA 10 in rural Tangipahoa Parish with his wife, Connie McNabb, riding as a front seat passenger, Hansford lost consciousness and their Ford F-250 veered off a curve and impacted a tree.  Connie McNabb sued her husband and alleged he was at fault for the accident.  However, Connie and Hansford also sued Ford and alleged that their injuries resulted from the non-deployment of the airbags in the F-250 due to an unspecified manufacturing defect.

Ford pushed plaintiffs for the details of their defect theory and the court ordered the production of liability expert reports, but the McNabbs failed to comply.  Ford then moved for summary judgment and argued that plaintiffs developed no proof of a defect and that they deprived Ford of the ability to inspect the vehicle because they failed to preserve it after the accident.  Plaintiffs suggested that the doctrine of res ipsa loquitur applied, but Ford countered that under controlling law res ipsa was inapplicable because the case did not present “highly unusual” circumstances and plaintiffs could not exclude other reasonable causes for the non-deployment – namely that the accident simply did not present forces which surpassed the deployment threshold.  After hearing oral argument on the motion, the court agreed and dismissed plaintiffs’ claims against Ford, with prejudice.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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John and Casie Dekerlegand v. John Arton d/b/a/ Chick-fil-A of I-10 at Louisiana Avenue FSU, et al

John and Casie Dekerlegand v. John Arton d/b/a/ Chick-fil-A of I-10 at Louisiana Avenue FSU, et al
(November 2013)

15th Judicial District Court, Lafayette Parish – McCranie Sistrunk defended Chick-fil-A in a premises liability case wherein the plaintiffs claimed employees mopped and failed to post caution wet floor signs.  The plaintiff claimed he suffered a disabling lower back injury which required epidural steroid injection and trigger point injection therapies for the remainder of his life.  Plaintiffs also presented claims for past lost wages, loss of earning capacity, and loss of consortium.  Past medical expenses claimed were approximately $60,000 for nearly five years of treatment including ongoing treatment at the time of trial.  Plaintiffs alleged economic losses and future medical treatment in excess of $1 million dollars.  Plaintiffs asked the jury to award $1.54 million.  Result – Defense verdict.

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Debbie Wallace v. JP Morgan Chase Bank

Debbie Wallace v. JP Morgan Chase Bank
(November 2013)

Devin Fadaol won a victory for JP Morgan Chase Bank in this wrongful arrest lawsuit.  The plaintiff claimed that JP Morgan Chase Bank was negligent in calling the police after a co-defendant informed JP Morgan Chase Bank that the check being presented by plaintiff to open a business account was invalid.  Judge Wilson Fields in Baton Rouge denied the Motion for Summary Judgment, but the First Circuit Court of Appeals reversed Judge Fields and granted the writ application, dismissing plaintiff’s case against JP Morgan Chase Bank.   The First Circuit held that the plaintiff failed to produce factual support sufficient to establish that they will be able to satisfy their evidentiary burden of proof at trial, and that the bank official’s communications to the police were protected by an conditional privilege or qualified immunity.

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