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In the News

TWPD secured dismissal of Louisiana premises liability suit

The firm’s Baton Rouge attorneys secured summary dismissal of a plaintiff’s premise liability suit filed in Lafayette, Louisiana. The defendant was a local supermarket. Plaintiff tripped over a piece of plastic that the supermarket used to display its price tags.  The Judge agreed that plaintiff did not present any evidence that the supermarket caused the plastic piece to fall or how long the plastic piece had been on the ground before plaintiff tripped on it.  The Judge also believed the plastic piece was “open and obvious” to all because it was approximately 3 – 3 ½ feet long, had multiple price tags stuck onto it, and because plaintiff had walked up and down the aisle on several occasions before he tripped on it. 

Louisiana Tort Reform Update

Senate Bill 418, the Omnibus Premium Reduction Act of 2020 was vetoed by Louisiana's Governor on June 12th. In response, the legislature has introduced new bills related to tort reform including the following:

HB57 is called the “Civil Justice Reform Act of 2020, and would allow evidence ofmedical expenses billed and paid.  It also reduces the jury threshold from$50K to $10K, and repeals the seat belt gag order.

HB44 is the new version of the Omnibus Premium Reduction Act.  It:

  • Reduces the jury threshold from $50,000 to $5,000 in personal injury cases. If the demand is between $5,000 and $35,000 in damage awards, the case would go  before a six-person jury
  • Changes  the collateral source rule
  • Changes the direct action statute
  • Changes the prescription period from one year to two years for motor vehicle accidents
  • Repeals the seat belt gag rule

The new bill also requires a mandatory 10% rate reduction for both personal and commercial auto insurance. We will keep you updated on the progress of these bills and additional tort reform efforts in Louisiana.

Combatting the Reptile Revolution

David Ball and Don Keenan’s website boasts $7.7 billion in “Reptile Verdicts and Settlements” since the publishing of their book, Reptile: the 2009 Manual of the Plaintiff’s Revolution. The manual touts research and methods to exploit a jury’s most primitive instincts of safety and self-preservation to maximize injury verdicts. The strategy is to engender a certain fear in jurors,such that the response is a desire to attack the defendant, rather than the desire to assess the true cause of an accident and the fair value of plaintiff’s damages. Especially in cases in which large companies are made defendants because they employed the person who allegedly caused the accident,the strategy is to paint the company as bad actor, one that places profits over the safety of the jury’s community, who should be punished.

A common Reptilian approach in Louisiana is an attempt to show that a company was negligent in its hiring, training,and supervision of its employees.  To support these allegations, plaintiffs will conduct costly and extensive discovery into a company’s internal policies and safety procedures. Even if some deficiencies could be found on those issues, in most cases it will have no relation whatsoever to the employee’s conduct in the subject accident. But plaintiffs will nevertheless portray these policies and procedures as insufficient and hazardous,hoping to convinces the jury that an accident was bound to happen, thus justifying punishing the company for conduct wholly unrelated to the facts of the accident at issue.

To combat this approach, defendant companies must show at the earliest stages of the litigation that there is no such viable separate claim against the company for conduct not related to the cause of the accident at issue.  Our firm has been successful in this regard.  Unless the facts show otherwise, we admit that the allegedly negligent employee was“in the course and scope” of his/her employment when the accident occurred.  Thus, our client admits that it will be responsible if in fact the employee’s negligent conduct is found to be the cause of the accident.  We then move to dismiss any separate negligence claims against the company, so that the employee’s conduct is the only conduct for the jury to address.  Getting these separate claims dismissed not only circumvents a plaintiff’s ability to paint the employer as a “bad, dangerous company,” but also narrows the scope of discovery and evidence that may be admitted at trial.

Let us put these defensive tactics to work for your company.

June 3, 2020 – Louisiana Supreme Court victory for TWPD

        Our firm’s Baton Rouge attorneys recently convinced the Louisiana Supreme Court to dismiss a personal injury suit against our client.  The  plaintiff in this automobile accident case filed suit in Louisiana almost two years after the accident.  The statute of limitations in Louisiana is one year. Thus, TWPD immediately sought dismissal of the suit on the grounds that it was filed too late. However, because the accident at issue occurred in Texas rendering Texas’ substantive law applicable to the case, the plaintiff argued that Texas’ two-year statute of limitations also applied.  The trial court and court of appeals agreed with the plaintiff and held that the suit was timely filed.  TWPD took the case to the Supreme Court and won.  The Supreme Court agreed with TWPD’s position that Louisiana’s one-year statute of limitation was controlling, and dismissed the suit.     

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.