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SERVING ALL OF LOUISIANA AND MISSISSIPPI

In the News

2021 Louisiana Legislative Session: Bills Potentially Affecting Your Practices

  • §22:1267.1 - Addresses the application of named storm/hurricane deductibles to multiple storms in the same calendar year.
  • §22:337(A)(17) - Requires workers’ compensation insurers to maintain an office in Louisiana to process claims or retain an adjuster with a Louisiana license.
  • §22:1674.1 - Requires and prohibits conduct by insurance claims adjusters and includes provisions pertaining to the financial interests of adjusters, general obligations of fairness, settlement negotiations, and other related matters.
  • §22:887(J) - Requires notices of reinstatement of coverage following the cancellation of policies.
  • §22:1272 - Limits the types of policies which may include defense expenses within limits (i.e. wasting or eroding policies). The following types of policies may not include provisions that reduce limits by payment of defense expenses: all personal lines, medical malpractice,  commercial vehicle, and commercial general liability. Certain classes of policies, including non-medical professional liability and others typically issued with eroding defense costs, are expressly exempt from this requirement. All others are subject to a case-by case waiver that may be granted by the commissioner.
  • §45:201.5 - Requires transportation network companies to advise drivers of the types of coverage and limits for each coverage provided and any liability coverages rejected by the company.
  • La. C.C.P. Art. 1001 - Extends the time for answering a lawsuit from 15 to 21 days. If discovery is propounded with the Petition, the delay for Answering the suit is 30 days.
  • §22:1982 - Requires additional disclosures addressing the calculation of depreciation, including a written explanation as how the depreciation was calculated. Prohibits insurers from requiring that repairs be made by a preferred vendor. Requires payment of general contractor O&P when a general contractor’s services are reasonably foreseeable. Requires a mandatory appraisal provision. Requires disclosure of a field adjuster’s report within fifteen days of a request. Increases minimum penalties for failure to make timely payments following a presidentially or gubernatorially declared disaster.

The firm proves plaintiff not injured in questionable accident

Lawyers from TWPD’s Baton Rouge office secured a defense verdict in a bench trial in south Louisiana involving a premise liability matter. The plaintiff allegedly injured her hand and arm when she was struck by several falling coolers placed at the top of a freezer. At trial, TWPD challenged both the applicability of the Merchant Liability Statute and the validity of plaintiff’s alleged injuries. First, the court found the Merchant Liability Statute did not apply because the plaintiff did not actually fall to the ground. Instead, general negligence would be analyzed. Second, the judge concluded that TWPD had successfully shown the plaintiff to be a fraud. Cross-examination of the plaintiff revealed clear inconsistencies between her version of events and the store’s surveillance system regarding the severe pain plaintiff claimed she experienced immediately after the incident. The plaintiff’s reports of pain and limitations were also inconsistent throughout trial. The judge concluded there was a clear showing that this plaintiff was malingering and faking.  He added: “Plaintiff tried to bootstrap the incident into a payday” and awarded no damages.

Congrats to Doran Drummond for LSU Law Coaching Award

Congratulations to Doran Drummond for receiving LSU Law Center’s 2021 Advocacy Program Coach of the Year Award! Doran was the co-coach of the LSU Law National Pretrial Competition team, which competed in October 2020. Named in honor of the late Professor Susan C. Kalinka, the award recognizes a coach of one of LSU Law’s moot court, trial advocacy, or dispute resolution external competition teams who embodies the inspiration and dedication of Professor Kalinka. Despite many hardships last year involving COVID and hurricanes, the team advanced to the quarterfinals of the 2020 Pretrial Competition: a competition which brings together many of the best trial ad teams from around the country. Doran has been coaching and mentoring students in the trial advocacy and moot court program at LSU since graduating from LSU Law in 2014. 

Firm secures defense verdict in favor of Employer in SEB Dispute

The firm’s Baton Rouge attorneys secured a workers’ compensation verdict in favor of an employer regarding a dispute over entitlement to supplemental earnings benefits(SEB). The employee was a laborer who suffered shoulder and wrist injuries in a work accident. Following surgery and conservative treatment, a functional capacity evaluation released him to medium duty work. The employee advised his doctor his job was medium duty, and the doctor initially released him to “full duty” based on the employee’s own description of his position. Following an objection from his lawyer, the release was modified to reflect “medium duty,” but claimant did not return to the job. A dispute arose as to whether SEB was owed because: 1) the employee and employer disputed the exact physical requirements of the job of injury; and 2) the employee and employer disputed whether the employer was required to specifically offer the position. The issue was whether a release to the job of injury means the accident no longer prevents an employee from earning 90% of his/her pre-injury income?

 

The employee alleged his job of injury required strenuous lifting: despite a 60 year old 90 pound female employee being physically capable of working the position. On behalf of the employer, we argued that because the employee was released to his job of injury and chose not to return to it, he did not carry his burden of proving he was unable to earn 90% of his average weekly wage, and thus the burden never shifted to the Employer. The evidence showed that the job of injury was available and there is nothing in the law indicating an employer must formally re-offer the position.  The SEB statute does not permit a claimant to choose not work and still collect SEB.  The OWC judge entered judgment in favor of our client and the suit was dismissed with prejudice.

The success we have seen is because of the way we built our practice. It’s about more than routine strategies. It’s about creative resolutions to difficult legal questions. It’s about how we treat our clients and each other and how we work together to build the best possible defense for every single case. It's practice, made perfect.