Articles Posted in Louisiana Supreme Court

by
A workers’ compensation claimant sought review of a judgment from the Office of Workers’ Compensation affirming the decision of the Medical Director denying his physician’s request for trial of a spinal cord stimulator. The court of appeal affirmed the ruling of the Office of Workers’ Compensation that the claimant had failed to show the Medical Director’s decision was not in accordance with the Medical Treatment Guidelines. Because the Supreme Court found the Medical Director and the Office of Workers’ Compensation misinterpreted the language of Louisiana Administrative Code, and thus misapplied the Medical Treatment Guidelines on neurostimulation to the claimant’s case, it reversed the lower court’s ruling and found the Office of Workers’ Compensation erred in affirming the decision of the Medical Director. View "Gulley v. Hope Youth Ranch" on Justia Law

by
In 2003, plaintiff Kimberly Thibodeaux became pregnant with her fourth child. Dr. James Donnell was her obstetrician-gynecologist throughout her pregnancy. During the course of the pregnancy, plaintiff was diagnosed with complete placenta previa and, in mid-November, at approximately 29 weeks pregnant, she was hospitalized for four days. Upon Dr. Donnell’s referral, she consulted a maternal/fetal medicine specialist who handled high risk pregnancies; the specialist recommended rest, limited activity, and delivery of plaintiff’s child at 36-37 weeks gestation. Plaintiff returned to the hospital with renewed vaginal bleeding and contractions. Dr. Donnell delivered plaintiff’s child via cesarean section. Shortly after the baby’s delivery, Dr. Donnell performed an emergency cesarean hysterectomy, which entailed removal of plaintiff’s uterus and cervix. After completing the hysterectomy, and while preparing to close plaintiff’s abdomen, Dr. Donnell discovered a large laceration to her bladder, which he repaired himself. After completing the surgery, Dr. Donnell ordered a test to determine if the bladder repair was successful. The test revealed that the bladder sutures were obstructing plaintiff’s ureters, the tubes that drain urine from the kidney into the bladder. This obstruction was then confirmed by a cystoscopy performed by a urologist, Dr. Robert Alexander, consulted by Dr. Donnell. The same day as the birth and cesarean hysterectomy, Dr. Alexander reopened plaintiff’s abdomen, removed the bladder sutures to free the ureters, and re-repaired the bladder laceration. Plaintiff followed up again with Dr. Alexander in late April 2004. Although her bladder healed, plaintiff continued to see Dr. Alexander for three years with irritative bladder symptoms, including urinary frequency every 30-60 minutes, urgency, urine leakage, painful urination, painful sexual intercourse, urination during sexual intercourse, excessive nighttime urination, and abdominal pain. Dr. Alexander diagnosed her with interstitial cystitis, also known as painful bladder syndrome, and prescribed medications, none of which relieved plaintiff’s symptoms. According to Dr. Alexander, plaintiff’s diminished bladder capacity was permanent. The Supreme Court granted review of this case to determine whether the court of appeal properly assessed damages under the principles set forth in “Coco v. Winston Industries Inc.,” (341 So. 2d 332 (La. 1976)). The Court found that, because the court of appeal found manifest error in the jury’s factual findings, the appellate court should have instead performed a de novo review of damages under the principles outlined in “Mart v. Hill,” (505 So. 2d 1120 (La. 1987)). Accordingly, the Court reversed the court of appeal and remanded back to that court for reconsideration under the proper caselaw precedent. View "Thibodeaux v. Donnell" on Justia Law

by
Customers of an indoor trampoline park, of Sky Zone Lafayette, must complete a “Participant Agreement, Release and Assumption of Risk” document (“Agreement”) prior to entering the facility. The Agreement contains a clause waiving the participant’s right to trial and compelling arbitration. Plaintiff, James Duhon, was such a customer, and was injured in the course of participating in the park’s activities. After plaintiff filed suit seeking damages, Sky Zone moved to compel arbitration pursuant to the Agreement. The district court overruled Sky Zone’s exception, but the court of appeal reversed, finding the arbitration provision should be enforced. After review, the Supreme Court found that the arbitration clause in the Sky Zone agreement was adhesionary and therefore unenforceable. View "Duhon v. Activelaf, LLC" on Justia Law

by
Customers of an indoor trampoline park, of Sky Zone Lafayette, must complete a “Participant Agreement, Release and Assumption of Risk” document (“Agreement”) prior to entering the facility. The Agreement contains a clause waiving the participant’s right to trial and compelling arbitration. Plaintiff Theresa Alicea executed the Agreement prior to her husband, Roger Alicea, taking their minor sons to Sky Zone. The Aliceas’ son, Logan, was injured while jumping on a trampoline. The Aliceas filed suit against Sky Zone, individually and on behalf of Logan. Sky Zone moved to compel arbitration pursuant to the Agreement. The district court overruled Sky Zone’s exception and the court of appeal denied Sky Zone’s writ application. After review, the Supreme Court held the arbitration clause in the Sky Zone agreement was adhesionary and therefore unenforceable. Accordingly, the Court affirmed the rulings of the lower courts. View "Alicea v. Activelaf, LLC" on Justia Law

by
Plaintiffs Brandy Fecke, and her parents Stephen and Karen Fecke, and the defendant, the Board of Supervisors of Louisiana State University and Agricultural and Mechanical College (“LSU Board”), sought review of the court of appeal’s judgment. In 2008, Brandy, a 23-year-old, senior at LSU, went to an indoor rock climbing facility located at the LSU Recreation Center (“Rec Center”) to fulfill a compulsory rock climbing assignment for an Outdoor Living Skills Activity course. Upon arrival, Brandy executed the “Rock Wall Participation Agreement” required by LSU. After instruction and a climbing demonstration by the Rec Center employees, Brandy successfully climbed the wall. While descending, however, she fell, landing on her left foot and fractured the talus bone in her ankle. As a result of the injury, Brandy underwent three surgeries and required additional surgery, including either a permanent ankle fusion or ankle replacement. The Feckes filed a petition for damages against the LSU Board. Following a trial, the jury found the LSU Board 75% and Brandy 25% at fault, and awarded Brandy total damages of $1,925,392.72, and Karen Fecke $50,000.00 for loss of consortium. The LSU Board appealed. The Court of Appeal reversed in part, amended in part, and affirmed as amended the trial court judgment. The Supreme Court granted certiorari to interpret specific provisions within the Louisiana Governmental Claims Act, including La. Rev. Stat. 39:1533.22, and to resolve three issues: (1) whether plaintiff was entitled to legal interest on an award for future medical care paid directly to the health care provider from the Future Medical Care Fund (“FMCF”); (2) whether plaintiff was entitled to recover attorney’s fees and costs from an award for future medical care prior to its placement into the FMCF; and (3) whether plaintiff, who was unemployed at the time of the injury, was entitled to recover the loss of future earnings. After review, the Supreme Court held: a plaintiff who is awarded future medical care pursuant to La. Rev. Stat. 13:5106(B)(3)(c) was not entitled to legal interest on the award and could not recover attorney’s fees or costs from the award prior to its placement into the FMCF. Furthermore, the Court held that a plaintiff who was unemployed at the time of the injury could recover the loss of future earnings, as defined in La. Rev. Stat. 13:5106(D)(2). View "Fecke v. Bd. of Supervisors Louisiana St. Univ. & Agricultural & Mech. College" on Justia Law

by
The issue this case presented for the Louisiana Supreme Court's review was whether the duty to defend in long latency disease cases could be prorated between an insurer and its insured when occurrence-based policies provide coverage for only a portion of the time during which exposure occurred. In the underlying Arceneaux suit, plaintiffs alleged that they suffered hearing loss from exposure to unreasonably loud noise in the course of their work at American Sugar’s refinery in Arabi, Louisiana. Two sets of plaintiffs, the Barbe plaintiffs and the Waguespack plaintiffs, filed suit against American Sugar in 2006. These suits were consolidated with the Arceneaux action, which was filed in 1999 against American Sugar’s predecessor, Tate & Lyle North American Sugars, Inc. This opinion concerned only the Barbe and Waguespack plaintiffs, and not the Arceneaux plaintiffs whose claims had been litigated extensively in the trial court, the court of appeal, and the Louisiana Supreme Court. Continental Casualty Company argued that defense costs should have been prorated among insurers and the insured if there were periods of non-coverage. American Sugar Refining, Inc. claimed that the duty to defend as agreed upon in the policy provided for a complete defense so long as the duty to defend attached, even if some claims fell outside of coverage. The Supreme Court held that the duty to defend should have been prorated in this case based upon policy language. View "Arceneaux v Amstar Corp." on Justia Law

by
This case arose from post-operative injuries plaintiff Richard Dupuy sustained based on a hospital’s alleged failure to properly maintain and service equipment utilized in the sterilization of surgical instruments. The issue before the Supreme Court was whether the plaintiffs’ claims that the hospital failed to properly maintain and service equipment utilized in the sterilization of surgical instruments fell within the Louisiana Medical Malpractice Act (“MMA”). The Supreme Court concluded the claims did fall within the MMA and reversed the ruling of the district court which held to the contrary. View "Dupuy v. NMC Operating Company, LLC d/b/a Spine Hospital of Louisiana" on Justia Law

by
The issue in this appeal centered on whether a statutory prescriptive period could be shortened by an administrative rule. This issue arose in a workers’ compensation case where the hearing officer refused to consider the worker’s request to have medically recommended magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of his lumbar spine because the worker failed to appeal the Office of Workers’ Compensation Administration medical director’s decision denying his request for medical treatment within the 15-day time period required by an administrative rule. In so doing, the hearing officer sustained defendants’ peremptory exception of prescription. After review, the Supreme Court found the hearing officer erred as a matter of law. The Court therefore reversed and vacated in part that portion of the judgment sustaining the defendants’ peremptory exception of prescription, and the case was remanded for the Office of Workers’ Compensation (OWC) to consider the merits of the worker’s claim that the medical director failed to appropriately apply the medical treatment guidelines in denying the lumbar spine MRI requested by the worker’s orthopedic surgeon. The Court affirmed in all other respects. View "Arrant v. Wayne Acree PLS, Inc." on Justia Law

by
Plaintiff Meiko Prevo was arrested in April 2000 in East Baton Rouge Parish for felony crime against nature. Plaintiff ultimately pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of criminal mischief, a misdemeanor. She was sentenced to ninety days in jail, suspended, and placed on probation for a period of one year, which she successfully completed. Plaintiff was not required to register as a sex offender based on her conviction for misdemeanor criminal mischief. In September 2008, plaintiff was again arrested and charged with distribution of cocaine. She pleaded guilty, received a hard labor suspended sentence, and was placed probation for a period of five years with the State of Louisiana, Department of Public Safety Division of Probation and Parole. Thereafter, plaintiff reported to her probation officer, David Phillips. Officer Phillips reviewed plaintiff’s criminal history which identified her as a sex offender based on a disposition for crime against nature in April 2000. He also relied on an East Baton Rouge Parish “conviction notification” which showed she was convicted of crime against nature. Based on this information, Officer Phillips advised plaintiff that she was required to register as a sex offender based on what he understood to be her earlier 2000 conviction, and if she failed to do so, she would be sent to jail to serve her five-year sentence. Plaintiff objected to being required to register as a sex offender. Plaintiff registered as a sex offender. On several occasions after registering, plaintiff continued to ask Officer Phillips to further investigate her case, claiming each time that she was not a sex offender and should not have to be registered. According to plaintiff, Officer Phillips took no action on her requests. Plaintiff obtained a copy of her criminal records, confirming she had been convicted of criminal mischief. Assigned a new probation officer, Mike Ware, plaintiff informed him that she had not been convicted of crime against nature and was erroneously required to register as a sex offender. Officer Ware investigated plaintiff’s allegations and obtained information from the East Baton Rouge Parish Clerk of Court showing plaintiff’s guilty plea to the misdemeanor charge of criminal mischief. Officer Ware informed plaintiff of his findings and began the process of having her removed from the sex offender registry. Plaintiff thereafter filed suit against several defendants, including the State of Louisiana, Through the Department of Public Safety and Corrections Division of Probation and Parole, alleging that she was "coerced" to register as a sex offender and suffered significant injury as a result. After discovery, the State filed a peremptory exception arguing plaintiff’s petition sounded in tort and was subject to a one-year prescriptive period. A five-judge panel of the court of appeal, with two judges dissenting, reversed the judgment of the district court insofar as it granted the State’s exception of prescription. The State appealed and reversed, finding that the district court was correct in its judgment. View "Prevo v. Louisiana" on Justia Law

by
Plaintiff Patricia Thompson was injured when she slipped and fell in a puddle of water while shopping at a Winn-Dixie store. Plaintiff filed suit against Winn-Dixie, which in turn filed a third party demand against Southern Cleaning Services, Inc. (“SCSI”) which was contracted to provide floor care and janitorial services to Winn-Dixie. SCSI filed a third party claim against its subcontractor for those services, KAP Cleaning Services, Inc. (“KAP”). Following a jury trial, the jury returned a verdict in favor of plaintiff, finding KAP 70% at fault and Winn-Dixie 30% at fault. On appeal, the court amended the district court’s judgment holding that Winn-Dixie was statutorily 100% at fault. Winn-Dixie appealed. After a review of the law and record, the Supreme Court found the court of appeal erred in amending the trial court’s judgment to assign 100% fault to Winn-Dixie. The Court found the jury’s allocation of 30% fault to Winn-Dixie and 70% fault to KAP to be supported by the record. Therefore, the Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the court of appeal as to apportionment of liability and reinstated the district court’s judgment on the jury’s allocation of fault. View "Thompson v. Winn-Dixie Montgomery, Inc." on Justia Law