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While on his way to a casino, defendant failed to notice signs indicating his intended exit was closed. Not being able to exit the interstate, defendant decided to make an illegal turn through the median of the interstate in an area intended for “authorized vehicles only.” Defendant slowed his vehicle abruptly in the left hand lane of travel in an attempt to enter the turn-through, resulting in plaintiff rear ending the tire truck as it was beginning its turn. Vicarious liability and independent negligence claims were made against defendant. It was alleged the defendant’s vehicle was defective. The trial court entered a default judgment against Defendants on Plaintiffs’ liability claims and struck Defendants’ defenses due to spoliation and discovery abuse.
Plaintiff’s spinal cord was severed at the T2-T3 level. Plaintiff also suffered a severe brain injury and numerous other injuries including numerous fractures to his extremities and back. Plaintiff requires 24-hour attendant care. Plaintiff’s speech, cognitive ability, and the function of upper extremities have greatly improved as a result of his parents’ unyielding dedication and The Institute for Rehabilitation and Research (TIRR) in Houston.
After the trial court’s entry of the default judgment the case settled on March 22, 2012, for $30,641,914.74.
The case concerned unique facts regarding whether or not the employee was in the course and scope of his employment at the time of the crash. The spoliation motion and motion for default judgment included allegations the defendant failed to disclose photographs in a timely fashion that showed the truck’s left rear taillight was taped up at the time of the accident due to pre-existing damage. The tape was removed before plaintiff’s expert had an opportunity to inspect the truck, despite a Court Order to the contrary. Plaintiff alleged the defendants tampered with the taillights, including the replacing of bad taillight bulbs before the truck was inspected by plaintiffs’ expert. Defendants also, despite being asked in discovery and by the Court, failed to disclose the fact their liability expert had previously rendered a report that was damaging to defendants on several significant issues; the expert subsequently issued another report that contradicted his initial undisclosed report. Further, the liability expert denied issuing an earlier narrative report. Defendants furnished inconsistent information throughout the discovery process.
$23,000,000 Jury Verdict – Wrongful Death
The recent victory in the case of Ron Warren, individually and on behalf of the estate of Derek Hebert vs. Teleflex, Inc., was the result of a wrongful death lawsuit filed on behalf of the surviving family members of Derek Hebert. Derek was a 20 year old college student who was heading to celebrate Contraband Days on Lake Charles in a 21 foot boat on May 7, 2005. Evidence presented at trial showed that the boat took a sudden and violent turn to the left which caused Derek and several other passengers to be thrown overboard. Sadly, Derek was almost immediately run over by the propeller of the boat, causing fatal injuries.
The case was originally tried in 2014 with a verdict for the defense; however, Plaintiff’s attorneys appealed that verdict on the grounds that Teleflex misled the court on the applicability of a 2006 owner’s manuals to the involved 1998 product. A new trial was granted. At the new trial, the Plaintiffs were victorious, winning $125,000 in compensatory damages and an additional $23 million in punitive damages. Because the case was brought under general maritime law, punitive damages were available if the defendant acted with “wanton and reckless disregard for the rights and safety of others.”
Propane Gas Explosion; Severe Burns, $6,300,000.00 Settlement
Client was badly burned in a propane explosion at a trailer park. Client had rented a house trailer. Two days after moving in, the client attempted to light the stove. He turned on the propane tank and unsuccessfully tried to light the pilot light on the stove top. When he tried to light the oven, the stove exploded. Client sustained second and third degree burns over 60 percent of his body. Jogging shorts protected the plaintiff from the waist to mid thigh. His face was not burned. The fire self-extinguished, causing little damage to the trailer. Investigation revealed that the stove was disconnected from the open propane line. Broussard and Hart proved that the propane company failed to do a leak test at the time the propane was delivered. Further, Broussard and Hart proved that the propane did not contain the proper amount of odorant, so that the leak could not be detected by smell. The case settled just days before trial.
Casino settles liquor liability death case for $5,950,000.00
A head on collision between two vehicles resulted in the death of both drivers early one morning in Cameron Parish. As a result of intoxication, one of the drivers had crossed the centerline into oncoming traffic. The intoxicated driver had been over-served with alcohol by the casino while he gambled all night. Casino employees allowed the intoxicated driver to gain access to his vehicle and drive off of the premises. In pretrial rulings that were litigated and affirmed all the way to the Louisiana Supreme Court, Broussard & Hart was successful at having the courts determine that maritime law applied rather than Louisiana’s dram shop immunity statute, and that maritime punitive damages were available. The pretrial rulings on the applicable law were critical to the case resolution.
18-Wheeler found liable for striking stalled vehicle; $4,507,788.00 Judgment
This case arises out of a multi-vehicle crash, which occurred on I-10. The client and her children filed suit against the defendant, who operated a waste management business. A heavy trash truck hit the client’s vehicle. The client was found over one hundred feet from her vehicle, after having been apparently dragged that distance by the defendant’s truck. The client suffered injuries including: a fractured collar bone, a gash to the back of her head, burns/abrasions on her arms, legs, and stomach, a shattered kidney, fractured pelvis, a broken right foot, and loss of bone in her lower right leg from abrasion. Client underwent numerous surgeries, including removal of her damaged kidney and multiple skin graphs. The client was left with many disfiguring scars. At trial, client and defendant presented starkly different views on how the accident occurred. In fact, defendant contended that it never struck the plaintiff’s vehicle, or her body. Multiple experts on both sides were presented, including three different accident reconstruction experts, two biomechanical experts, two physics professors, and multiple computer simulations of the crash. The court completely rejected the defendant’s version of the accident and found the waste management truck 100% at fault.
Power company pays $4,350,000.00 in damages for injuries caused by power line contact
A police officer, while investigating an automobile accident in which a truck struck a power pole, was hit in the head by a 22,000 volt power line. Electricity coursed through the officer’s skull and out the bottom of his feet. Miraculously, the officer lived. But he suffered from extensive burns and neurological injuries. The power company claimed that the police officer was totally responsible for his own injuries, and that he walked into a power line he should have seen. Broussard & Hart was able to show, through extensive accident reconstruction, that the power line was initially at a safe height, and was seen by the power company’s lineman who first responded to the crash – but the lineman ignored the dangerous situation that was created and inexplicably failed to cut the power. That power line later fell on the officer. In one of the most hard fought cases Broussard & Hart has ever handled, including numerous battles fought in the appellate courts on Writ Applications, the power company settled this case on the eve of trial.
Fatal Helicopter Crash Case Settled During Trial Just Before Closing Argument for $3,075,000
Client’s husband, an offshore oil worker, was killed when the helicopter in which he was riding crashed during take off from offshore oil platform. A forensic investigation and a crash reconstruction showed that the helicopter’s landing skid had become entangled with a hatch handle on the offshore platform’s helideck. This entanglement caused the helicopter’s pilot to loose control of the aircraft as he attempted lift-off. This case was tried twice in Federal Court. During the first trial, the jury returned a defense verdict. Broussard and Hart was able to convince the trial court that the jury’s verdict was against the great weight of the evidence, and the new trial was granted. Just before the end of the second trial, the defendant finally met the plaintiff’s reasonable settlement demand.
Helicopter Crash $1,771,573.00 Jury Verdict
Client was injured when the helicopter in which he was riding as a passenger, crashed on takeoff from an oil platform in the Gulf of Mexico. The crash occurred as a result of fractured tail rotor shaft, which should have been detected during a routine inspection. A review of maintenance records disclosed that the manufacturer of the helicopter knew of the potential for problems with the tail rotor shaft, but neglected to see that the problem was corrected. The client recovered from all of his injuries, except for a knee injury that caused permanent problems. Both the Appellate Court and Louisiana Supreme Court affirmed the Jury’s verdict. Through expert testimony and extensive discovery, Broussard and Hart were able to prove that their client was unable to perform his previous job duties because of the numerous stairs and ladders he had to climb every day. The jury verdict included over $800,000.00 for future lost wages.
Plaintiff cited for Failure to Yield - Allstate pays policy limits over $1.5 million Plaintiffs
A driver and his passenger were on their way to work in the pre-dawn hours when they stopped at a convenience store. As they pulled out of the convenience store parking lot and turned right onto LA Highway 384, they traveled approximately 122 feet and were struck from the rear by a Ford F150 truck. The force of the collision propelled Plaintiffs’ truck 202 feet forward, rolled it over, after which it came to rest in a ditch. Both Plaintiffs were men in their 30’s, working as welders. Plaintiff driver was hospitalized for three days. He sustained a grade 3 splenic laceration, multiple lumbar spine transverse process fractures, and bruises to his chest and abdomen. He returned to his work as a welder in two weeks. Plaintiff passenger was hospitalized for sixteen days. He sustained lacerations to the scalp and face, a right parietal bone fracture, a sternal fracture, a mandible fracture, a scapular fracture, a left tibial fracture, a left humeral fracture, and muscular and nerve damage to the left shoulder. He underwent surgeries for fixation of the left humeral fracture and left tibial fracture. He also required surgery for incision, drainage, and debridement of the scalp and facial lacerations. He returned to work as a welder in three months. The investigating State Trooper cited the Plaintiff driver for failure to yield. The other driver was cited for careless operation. A download of the crash data recorder from Defendant’s Ford truck showed that when Plaintiffs pulled out onto the highway the Ford F150 truck was traveling 86 mph, whereupon it accelerated to 96 mph at the point of collision. Plaintiffs obtained a Motion for Summary Judgment against Defendant on the issue of liability. The Third Circuit Court of Appeal reversed. While Plaintiffs’ writ application was pending at the Louisiana Supreme Court, the case settled for the available policy limits and legal interest in the total sum of $1,543,969.18. Trapp, et al. v. Martin and Allstate Property and Casualty Insurance Company, No. 2017-2028, 14th JDC, Calcasieu Parish, 10/18 Plaintiffs’ Counsel: Steven Broussard, Aaron Broussard, and Randall E. Hart of Broussard & Hart, LLC, Lake Charles Plaintiffs’ experts: Nicholas M. Kasner, crash data retrieval technician and analyst, A&M Forensics and Engineering, Inc., College Station, TX; Dr. Larry Stokes, vocational rehabilitation, Metairie
Grocery store settles for $1.5 million for back injuries caused by patron’s slip and fall
Grocery store janitor was mopping the floor and failed to follow grocery store’s own safety rules regarding placement of warning signs. Client, a grocery store patron, slipped on the wet floor and fell hard onto his back. Client suffered serious injuries, for which he had several surgeries. After fully preparing this case for trial, the grocery store settled at mediation.
FAA found liable for airplane crash; wrongful death claims settled after trial for $1,500,000.00.
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) was found to be liable for an airplane crash in which four people were killed, including the pilot. The crash was a direct result of the actions of an FAA controller at Lake Charles (Louisiana) Municipal Airport. The controller closed the tower with the airplane in trouble and only a few miles away because the controller would not be paid overtime for manning his post after 10:00 p.m. The controller knew that the plane, with four passengers on board, had just missed a landing at the Welsh airport due to fog. The pilot had radioed the controller in Lake Charles and asked the controller to remain on duty until the plane landed, but to no avail- the tower was shut down while the pilot was seeking help in landing at the Lake Charles airport. Minutes after the tower was shut down, the plane crashed near Country Club Road south of Lake Charles. The pilot’s survivors did not join into the damage suit against the government.
Electrical Contact Case, $ 1,250,000.00 Settlement
A General Contractor was performing remodeling work at a motel. Plaintiff was on the roof of the motel doing carpenter work. As the plaintiff was installing a piece of metal flashing, he received an electrical injury when the flashing came into contact with an improperly placed high voltage electrical line. Plaintiff suffered electrical burns, which resulted in permanent disability. A key issue in this case was the location of the high voltage conductor at the time of the accident. Immediately after the accident, the defendant moved the conductor without documenting its location. Broussard and Hart retained experts who were able to reconstruct the conductor’s location using photographs and survey work, proving the defendant’s negligence.
Five month old baby’s cardiac arrest and brain injury caused by medical negligence — $1,123,929.60 recovered
A five month old infant went in for a routine esophagogastroduodenoscopy (EGD) procedure, in which a flexible tube is inserted through the mouth, down into the stomach for an inside view of the child’s upper digestive tract. For reasons the doctors could not – or would not – explain, the child suffered a cardiac arrest during the EGD procedure. The baby was without a heartbeat for over 10 minutes, and suffered permanent brain damage. After assembling a team of medical experts from the West Coast, Broussard & Hart was able to prove that the physician performing the EGD procedure negligently perforated the child’s esophagus. Air from the scope’s tip, pumped into the baby by the defendant doctor, quickly filled the baby’s mediastinum, shutting off the blood supply to the child’s heart and causing cardiac arrest. Damages recovered were the maximum allowable by law, which places statutory limitations on recoverable damages.
$850,000 Settlement – Slip & Fall at Casino
David Boudreaux and Marie Boudreaux vs. PNK (Lake Charles), LLC d/b/a L’auberge du Lac and Geraldine Spell, No. 2006-004334, 14th Judicial District Court, Parish of Calcasieu, State of Louisiana. Plaintiff slipped and fell on wet floor in a casino bathroom. As Plaintiff walked into the women’s restroom, a casino employee was walking out. Only the floor of the stall where Plaintiff slipped was wet. The casino risk manager and maintenance personnel testified that every time a janitor leaves a casino bathroom they should check the entire floor, including the stalls for water. However, the casino was unable to produce a document where the rule was written down for its employees. The casino employee either knew about wet floor and failed to warn or failed to check for wet floors before leaving the bathroom. The casino failed to adequately supply its employees with important safety rules.
Additionally, the casino was notified, but failed to take any pictures and failed to record the name of the janitor responsible for the bathroom. Plaintiff defeated summary judgment arguing application of an adverse presumption for failing to preserve evidence. Plaintiff underwent more than ten epidural steroid injections and rhizotomies. Eventually, Plaintiff required a two level discectomy and fusion. Future surgery to remove hardware is likely. Worker’s compensation lien in the amount of approximately $140,000 was reduced to $18,500. Plaintiff was 52 at time of settlement. Past medical expenses totaled approximately $296,631.00. Plaintiff is the manager of a personal loan company. Minor past wage loss claim with no future wage loss claim. Defendant conducted ten days of surveillance, which the Court excluded due to lack of impeachment value. Plaintiff’s counsel: Aaron Broussard; Broussard & Hart, L.L.C., Lake Charles, Louisiana. Plaintiff’s experts: James D. Perry, M.D., Lake Charles, Louisiana; and Dr. Gregory, J. Rubino, M.D., Lake Charles, Louisiana
18-Wheeler Crash $850,000.00 Settlement
An 18-wheeler made a left turn in front of oncoming traffic resulting in the plaintiff and his family striking the 18-wheeler. The husband/father suffered the most significant injuries, including a broken ankle, broken knee and a ruptured cervical disc.
Hotel Fire Death; Smoke Alarms Defective $750,000.00
Client’s husband was killed in a hotel room as a result of a fire, caused by a dropped cigarette. Broussard and Hart successfully proved that the smoke alarms were negligently maintained and that in many rooms, the alarms were defective. Because the fire was started by a cigarette in the sofa and took hours for the fire to develop, a properly functioning smoke alarm could have prevented this needless tragedy.
Medical Malpractice; Gall Bladder Surgery $612,499.00 Settlement
The plaintiff’s common bile duct was severed during a gall bladder removal operation. Client suffered severe infection and permanent injuries.
Medical Malpractice Wrongful Death $600,000.00 Judgment.
Clients’ baby died during delivery due to the obstetrician’s and the hospital nurses’ negligence. The jury assigned 80% of the fault to the doctor, and 20% to the hospital nurses. The client labored for a long period of time, which caused the perfectly healthy baby to go into fetal distress. When the doctor finally arrived at the hospital and retrieved the child from the mother, the once healthy baby boy was stillborn.
Head on Collision - $563,491.00
Client was driving her vehicle when a left turning truck crashed head on into her. The client suffered a back injury, requiring a lumbar two level fusion. Although the client had a pre-existing back condition, Broussard and Hart were able to prove that the crash aggravated the condition and caused additional symptoms and the need for surgery.
Surgical Error Results in Medical Malpractice Judgment of $508,605.00
The client initially went into the hospital for bladder suspension surgery. During the operation, the defendant surgeon mistakenly sutured a nerve, causing the plaintiff permanent leg pain and disability.
Premises Liability – $408,538.92 Settlement
Plaintiff fell on ice on the sidewalk at the Lake Charles airport. He had surgery on his wrist and shoulder, in addition to injuring his neck. Defendants alleged comparative fault upon Plaintiff and alleged immunity because there was an emergency declaration in effect due to severe winter weather. Defendants’ motion for summary judgment was denied.
To see Broussard & Hart’s published case results, please follow the links provided below and look for the highlighted sections.
- Louisiana Association for Justice – Vol. XXX, No. 1
- Louisiana Association for Justice – Vol. XXIX, No. 10
- Louisiana Association for Justice – Vol. XXIX, No. 9
- Louisiana Association for Justice – Vol. XXCII, No. 12
- Louisiana Association for Justice – Vol. XXV, No. 8
- Louisiana Association for Justice – Vol. XXIV, No. 3
- Louisiana Association for Justice – Vol. XXII, No. 2
- Louisiana Association for Justice – Vol. XXII, No. 1