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In the News

Mississippi attorneys secure summary dismissal in favor of car dealership

TWPD’s Mississippi attorneys won summary judgment for a BMW dealership in a case alleging negligent repairs and service. After the owner had put more than 430 miles on the vehicle after the repair shop’s service, the car’s engine “jumped time.” The affidavit of a BMW master technician established that there was no fault code, audible noise, or any visual inspection that indicated any issue with the timing components when the car was in the repair shop.  The Lauderdale County Court found a lack of evidence to establish that the repair shop had breached any duty or that there was any causal connection between the work the repair shop performed and the timing component failure that occurred weeks later.  TWPD’s attorneys identified the causation issue early in the litigation and pursued summary judgment even before discovery got underway, minimizing the litigation expenses and ending the risk of exposure for the client.

Mississippi attorneys recover attorney fees after prevailing in surety matter

TWPD’s Mississippi attorneys obtained an award of attorney’s fees and expenses totaling $136,000.00 in a Mississippi federal court suit to enforce an indemnity agreement in a surety bond case. The attorney’s fee award followed a successful recovery of $536,907.00 for the client under the surety contract.

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 Bill Signed into Law

After a lengthy negotiation process, the Louisiana Legislature passed a new tort reform bill on June 30, 2020.   Governor Edwards then signed House Bill 57, the Civil Justice Reform Act of 2020 into law. Although the bill’s proponents did not get all the reform measures initially proposed, supporters believe it is a step in the right direction for trying to lower Louisiana’s high insurance rates. The bill:

  • Reduces  the jury threshold from $50,000 to $10,000. It requires the party requesting trial by jury to timely post a cash bond within 60 days of requesting a jury trial. To be entitled to a bench trial, a plaintiff must stipulate or otherwise judicially admit their cause of action does not exceed $10,000 exclusive of interest and costs;
  • Limits recovery of medical expenses to the amount paid, instead of the amount billed. However, the bill gives some discretion to judges to adjust the     award under certain circumstances;
  • Repeals the seat belt gag order, thus allowing jurors to hear whether a plaintiff was wearing a seat belt at the time of a collision; and
  • Forbids the existence of insurance coverage from being communicated to the jury unless one of the following applies: 1) there is a factual dispute related to coverage that the jury will decide; 2) the existence of coverage would be admissible to attack the credibility of a witness; or 3) there is a cause of action brought against the insurer pursuant to La. R.S. 22:1973 or Section 1269(B)(1)(a) through (f);
  • Precludes the identity of the insurer from being communicated to the jury unless the identity would be admissible to attack the credibility of a witness; and
  • The new provisions will apply to all causes of action arising on or after January 1, 2021.

 

       

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.     

April 16, 2020, the firm’s Mississippi attorneys successfully obtained summary judgment in favor of a local restaurant.

On April 16, 2020, the firm’s Mississippi attorneys successfully secured summary judgment in favor of a local restaurant. The plaintiff alleged an allergic reaction to tacos while dining out. Her first known medical treatment occurred one month later when she was diagnosed with uterine fibroids which she claimed was related to her allergic reaction. The plaintiff sought over $130,000 in special damages. During discovery, the plaintiff admitted she had no evidence the tacos she ate contained alleged allergens and she had no proof her fibroids were causally related. Thus, the firm’s motion for summary judgment was granted.

The firm’s Mississippi attorneys secured defense verdict in Madison County.

TWPD's Mississippi attorneys successfully defended a large pool company by obtaining a defense verdict in Madison County Mississippi. The plaintiffs claimed negligence in the installation of an in-ground swimming pool, and filed suit against our client after the pool was fully installed instead of paying the remaining amount owed under the contract. On behalf of the pool company, we counterclaimed and our client was awarded the balance due under the contract plus attorney's fees.

In March of 2020, the firm successfully defeated a bad faith claim against a UIM carrier.

In March of 2020, the firm successfully defeated a bad faith claim at the trial level and before Louisiana’s Third Circuit Court of Appeal. After suit was filed, the plaintiff attempted to amend his petition and assert a bad faith claim against our client under La. R.S. 22:1982 and 22:1973. The firm moved to strike the amended petition on the grounds it was filed without reasonable grounds. The trial court agreed and granted the motion to strike which was also upheld on appeal.

Mississippi’s legislature recently enacted law addressing landowner liability for intentional torts of third parties.

Mississippi’s legislature recently enacted legislation addressing landowner liability for intentional torts of third parties on their premises. Under the old law, a person injured by a third party could sue the landowner if the owner had actual or constructive knowledge: 1) of the assailant’s violent nature; or 2) that an atmosphere of violence existed on the premises. The landowner was not permitted to apportion fault against the third-party assailant.

Under the new law, a plaintiff must prove: 1) that similar violent conduct occurred on the property three or more times within three years prior to the incident; 2) the three separate events must have resulted in three or more felony arraignments of the perpetrator; 3) the landowner must of had actual knowledge of the perpetrator’s violent nature; and 4) the jury can approption fault between the landowner and the perpetrator of the violent act.

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Louisiana Workers' Compensation Resources

Mileage Rates

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Form 1010A

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When used properly, the Form 1010A can ensure doctors are providing all necessary information and complying with the MTG.

Judicial Interest Calculator

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If you have any questions about how to calculate judicial interest, please give us a call.

Second Injury Fund Questionnaire

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Using SIF Questionnaires can be a pivotal part of the employment and workers’ compensation process. Call us with any questions.

Second Injury Fund

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Second Injury Fund, when pursued properly, can help offset costs of expensive claims involving workers with pre-existing conditions and also serve as the basis of a 1208.1 fraud claim.

OWC Districts Directory

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New 2020 Pain Management Guidelines

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These guidelines contained some marked changes in the area of pain management.

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AWW Rates for Mississippi

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Seminars

Our lawyers frequently present seminars before risk and management teams for insurance companies and other corporations across the country on a variety of legal topics. These seminars are regularly approved for CE/CLE credits by several states. Here is a list of our most recent seminars:

Trends in LA - Brain Injury and Punitive Damage Claims

State Approved Adjusters:

AZ, GA, TX, NH, CT, FL

Recent Updates in Handling Transportation Claims

State Approved Adjusters:

LA, TX, OH

XL Catlin General Liability and Auto Lunch and Learn

State Approved Adjusters:

LA, TX, NC

Fighting the Trends in Personal Injury Litigation

State Approved Adjusters:

LA, TX, NC, DE, FL

Recent Developments in Claims Handling

State Approved Adjusters:

LA, TX

Every T Crossed and Every I Dotted

State Approved Adjusters:

MS

The Definitive Accident

State Approved Adjusters:

LA

Defending General Liability and Workers' Compensation Claims

State Approved Adjusters:

LA, TX, NC

Auto Claims: Know the Law and Avoid the Traps

State Approved Adjusters:

LA, TX, MS

General Liability and Auto Lunch and Learn

State Approved Adjusters:

LA

Use of OWC Form 1002 and The Safe Harbor

State Approved Adjusters:

LA, TX, MS

Traumatic Brain Injury

State Approved Adjusters:

AZ, GA, NH, NJ, LA, TX, CT, PA

How to Handle Auto Third-Party and UM/UIM Claims in Louisiana

State Approved Adjusters:

LA, TX, NC

How to Successfully Mediate a Case

State Approved Adjusters:

NC

Updates in Louisiana Law

State Approved Adjusters:

LA, TX, CT, NC

Recent Developments in Louisiana General Liability Law

State Approved Adjusters:

NC

Workers' Compensation in Louisiana

State Approved Adjusters:

LA

Recent Developments in Louisiana General Liability Law and in Medicare Reporting Guidelines

State Approved Adjusters:

NC

Updates in Trucking Law and Investigating an Accident 101

State Approved Adjusters:

LA