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Louisiana Tort Law Update

Here are some recent developments in Louisiana tort law, brought to you by Jean-Paul Guidry, a personal injury lawyer in Shreveport.

Cook v Depingre, Louisiana Second Circuit, No. 49,527-CA (1/14/15)

A landlord is not liable to a third person for injury caused by his lessee’s animal, although he is strictly liable for injuries caused by vices or defects of his building.

The strict liability of the animal owner under LSA-C.C. art. 2321 cannot be imputed to a non-owner. Here, plaintiff failed to show that the landlord possessed actual knowledge that there was a dangerous dog on the leased property, and the district court properly granted summary judgment.

Turner v Lafayette Parish Consolidated Government, Third Circuit, No. CA 14-384 (12/23/14)

Plaintiff, a paraplegic in a wheelchair, alleged that he suffered injury and damages when police officers put him face down on concrete with his hands behind his back to pat him down for weapons.  Plaintiff claimed that he told the officers that he could not be placed in that position due to his condition.

Plaintiff’s petition, however, only generally alleged injury and damages.  Further, the City, in support of its motion for summary judgment, attached excepts from plaintiff’s deposition, where, again, plaintiff did not specify his injuries or damages.  An MRI bill was the only evidence showing the nature of plaintiff’s injuries.

Plaintiff failed to offer evidence in opposition to the City’s motion for summary judgment, which was granted.  Plaintiff failed “to produce factual support sufficient to establish that he will be able to satisfy his evidentiary burden of proof at trial.”

Lagrappe v Progressive Security Ins. Co., Third Circuit, No. CA 14-720 (12/23/14)

The court upheld general damage awards of $70,000 and $330,000 to husband and wife.  Both were in their early sixties at the time of a car accident, which caused them significant injuries.  The award was not a clear abuse of the jury’s vast discretion, where the injuries were serious and greatly affected the activities that the couple participated in prior to the accident.

Jones v American Alternative Ins. Corp., First Circuit, No. 2014 CA 0367 (1/8/15)

The court held that it is not enough that an emergency vehicle use some type of signal as the vehicle approached and entered an intersection –  the signal must be “sufficient to warn motorists” of the approach of the emergency vehicle to satisfy the Louisiana Emergency Vehicle Statute, La. R.S. 32:24(C).

Still, the trial court did not err in granting summary judgment.  It was undisputed that at least a visual signal was used, and that the signals used by the emergency driver were sufficient to warn other motorists stopped at the intersection.  There was no genuine issue of material fact as to the issue of whether the driver was responding to an emergency.

Baker v State Farm Mut. Auto. Ins. Co., Louisiana Second Circuit, No. 49,468-CA (1/21/15)

The trial court erred by failing to apply the presumption of liability against the left-turning motorist, finding the defendant 100% at fault for the car accident.

Jurisprudence interpreting La. R. S. 32:104(A) has made it clear that a left-turning motorist has a strong duty of care.  For the left-turning motorist to overcome presumption of fault against him, he must prove that he was free from fault in the accident.

An oncoming driver has a right to assume that the left-turning motorist will obey the law in allowing him to continue in his proper lane of travel and will yield to his right-of-way.  Still, a favored motorist can be assessed with comparative fault if his substandard conduct contributed to the cause of the accident.

Guillot v Guillot, Third Circuit, No. CA 14-364 (12/23/14)

The trial court did not err in instructing the jury that it must return a verdict in favor of defendant if it found that plaintiff consented to the fight that produced the battery.

Comparative fault applies in suits involving altercations – except where there is consent or self-defense. Consent bars recovery for the intentional infliction of harm or offensive touchings of the victim.  When a person voluntarily participates in an altercation, he may not recover for the injuries he incurs regardless of who strikes the first blow – unless excessive force is used and its use is not reasonably anticipated.

 

If you have been injured, call J.P. today at 318-865-4878.

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