Mareitta Dotson v. McDonald's Corporation et al.
U&E WINS JURY TRIAL ON LIABILITY! Plaintiff, the mother of a deceased minor child, brought suit against a property owner who operated a late night drive-thru service after several people gathered on the property of the business late at night for the purpose of getting into a fight. The facts at trial showed that the two fighting groups had bad blood between them over the course of the night, and had attempted to fight before meeting up at the location. The first group arrived and purchased food by using the drive thru, but contacted the other group and told them where to meet to finish the fight. The first group waited, while eating their food, parked in the lot. At the time, the business was busy serving customers. Then, suddenly, the second group arrived in large numbers. The manager was alerted and immediately called for the police. While on the phone with the police, the manager observed the two groups begin to fight. After ending the call, the manager heard several gun-shots. Police nearby responded to the sound of the gun-shots. Pursuant to Louisiana law, a property owner does not generally owe a patron protection from the criminal acts of third parties unless it is shown that the owner knew or should have known of the intended harm. Here, the jury found no breach of duty by the property owner who allowed people to eat in their cars in the parking lot, but called the police as soon as it was aware that something was wrong. This case was tried before a Caddo Parish jury, which generally has developed a reputation as being moderate. (U&E File 24-11015)
Dorothy White et al. v. Dollar Tree Stores,
Inc. et al.
U&E WINS BENCH TRIAL IN MERCHANT CASE! Plaintiff alleged that while retrieving a bottle of liquid laundry detergent from a shelf at the Dollar Tree store, the cap and bottle separated, causing the bottle to fall to the floor, whereupon the contents splashed into plaintiff’s eye allegedly causing a chemical burn. The shelf on which the laundry detergent was stocked was chest-high. Plaintiff admitted at trial that she grabbed the laundry detergent bottle by the cap only, turned the bottle and then slid the bottle off the shelf. We established on cross-examination that when plaintiff turned the bottle she noticed that the cap was loose. Plaintiff lied to the judge when she testified that she never needed reading glasses before this incident. On cross-examination, she was shown the emergency room records which specifically indicated reading glasses and the strength of reading glasses she was using. Plaintiff went to the emergency room for treatment and thereafter saw several physicians, racking up over $8,000 in medical bills. However, plaintiff only called one eye doctor who testified that chemical burns typically heal in just a few days. Although plaintiff introduced certified copies of her other medical records, she did not call any other medical providers. The store manager testified that although customers leave the store a mess, the store employees perform daily “zoning,” and that the caps on the laundry detergent are checked and tightened before they are placed onto the shelf. Following the bench trial and the submission of post-trial briefs, the Zachary City Court trial judge found in favor of Dollar Tree stores and dismissed plaintiff’s case. The judge also ordered plaintiff to pay all of defendant’s costs. (U&E FILE 68-12060)
Karla D. Davis et al v. Nola Home Construction,
L.L.C. et al
U & E wins work product summary judgment on claims against general contractor in CDC (Orleans Parish). The plaintiffs claimed $540,000 in property damages for poor construction work. They sued the insured as the general contractor for the house. Even though there were allegations of resulting damage, the court granted summary judgment to the insurer on the basis that the entire house was the insured’s work product and therefore excluded from coverage under a CGL policy.
Celestine Jones v. Golden Corral Corporation
U&E Obtains Defense Verdict in United States District Court for the Middle District of Louisiana. Plaintiff claimed that she required a lumbar fusion as a result of a slip and fall at a restaurant. Plaintiff’s fall was captured on video. Plaintiff claimed the floor was wet, but employees contradicted this contention. The jury took less than 30 minutes to return a defense verdict, finding that U&E's client was not liable for the alleged fall.
Joannette Gullotto v. Southern Insurance Company and
U&E Obtains Comparative Fault Verdict in bench trial. This case involved a “near accident” which plaintiff alleged occurred when a large red truck pulling out of the Shintech plant cut in front of her causing her to slam on her breaks and almost run off of the road. Plaintiff recalled the color of the truck, the time of the “near accident” and had some vague recollection of markings on the truck which came about only after her lawyer showed her photographs of the defendant’s truck. There was no police report. Plaintiff did obtain information from the Shintech visitor log indicating that the defendant’s truck left the plant at or about the time plaintiff claims this “near accident” occurred. The driver of defendant’s truck testified that he had no knowledge of any accident or near accident, nor did he recall seeing plaintiff’s vehicle. He further testified that he came to a complete stop at the stop sign located at the plant exit and then proceeded onto the highway without incident. Plaintiff testified that she observed the truck at a complete stop at the stop sign, but that it “pulled out” into her lane of travel when she was approximately 20 feet away from the plant entrance. Plaintiff claims to have sustained a knee injury in the accident for which she underwent arthroscopic surgery. Her surgeon related the tear and the arthroscopic surgery to the incident. Plaintiff stipulated to damages below $50,000, making this a bench trial. The key issues were identification of defendant and liability. After a bench trial, Judge Best ruled that more likely than not the defendant’s truck was involved in this incident and that the driver likely failed to see plaintiff’s vehicle as he should have. The court found that plaintiff was comparatively at fault for failing to see a large, bright red, slow-moving truck sufficiently in advance to avoid the alleged incident. The judge assessed defendant with 60% fault and plaintiff with 40% fault. In light of the stipulation by plaintiff that damages did not exceed $50,000, this resulted in a net award to plaintiff of $30,000, $5,000 above the pre-trial settlement offer. Prior to trial, plaintiff had demanded $50,000 and, therefore, the net verdict was $20,000 less than plaintiff’s demand.
Anthony Miller v. Eldorado Casino Shreveport Joint Venture
J. Michael Nash obtains defense verdict in slip and fall accident. Plaintiff alleged personal injuries after a slip and fall accident in a public bathroom. The defendant property owner brought the cleaning company into the litigation through a third-party demand, alleging entitlement to indemnification and defense. Thereafter, plaintiff amended to likewise name the third party cleaning company. Through discovery, it was shown that the cleaning company stationed an employee in the bathroom in question, around the clock, and that the bathroom received thorough and complete cleanings approximately every 30 – 40 minutes. Plaintiff and several witnesses all agreed that they had no knowledge as to how long the alleged substance had been present. Cleaning logs maintained by the cleaning company show that the bathroom was cleaned 9 minutes before the accident. The trial court agreed that the cleaning policy was more than adequate, and that there was no showing of actual or constructive notice to the cleaning company of any spills that arose after their last cleaning. Thus, the trial court dismissed all claims against the cleaning company, including the demands for indemnification and defense. (3/19/12)
E.L. et al v. Braun, et al
Trial court grants Motion for Summary Judgment on Sexual Abuse Endorsement. Plaintiffs filed suit against homeowner and homeowners’ insurer for damages allegedly due to sexual molestation or abuse of a minor. Homeowners’ insurer brought a motion for summary judgment based on an endorsement in the policy excluding damages for sexual molestation or abuse. Plaintiffs argued the motion should be denied based in part on the incapacity of the alleged tortfeasor. The Trial Court (22nd JDC for the Parish of St. Tammany) granted the motion, dismissing all claims against the homeowners' insurer.
Port Ship Service, Inc. v.
Ellsworth Corp., Fireman's Fund Ins. Co. and Marcus
Trial court grants Motion for Summary Judgment on Peremption - U & E represented an insurance agent who did not procure flood insurance on commercial property policy. The insured testified that he requested flood insurance. The policy was issued without flood insurance just before Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast. The agent filed a motion for summary judgment on peremption because the suit was not filed within one year of the issuance of the policy. The trial court granted the motion for summary judgment, thereby dismissing the agent. Agent was dismissed because the insured's claims were perempted after one year of issuance of policy, despite the argument that the agent owed a duty to advise the insured that flood insurance was not procured. (8/31/11)
Levy v. Phillips and Jordan,
Inc. and U.S. Army Corp of Engineers
Trial Court grants MSJ for Indemnification - Ungarino & Eckert filed a Motion for Summary Judgment against the City of New Orleans seeking an order that the City of New Orleans must indemnify our client. Likewise, the City of New Orleans filed a Motion for Summary Judgment against our client seeking an order that the City of New Orleans does not owe indemnification. We were successful in convincing the federal judge that when the mayor issued an executive order that the City would indemnify all sub-contracts against all claims whatsoever arising from the debris removal activities that included tree removal and therefore we were successful with our indemnification argument. (6/29/11)
Raines v. Colley, 872 So.2d 537, 2003-1630 (La. App. 4 Cir. 4/7/04)
– Motion for Summary Judgment upheld in premises liability case
Crenshaw v. Bayou Land and Marine Contractors, 868 So.2d 933, 03-1231 (La.
App. 5 Cir. 2/23/04)
– Trial verdict upheld in construction bridge collapse case
Carroll v. Progressive Ins., 860 So.2d 154, 03-601 (La.
App. 5 Cir. 10/28/03)
– Motion for Summary Judgment upheld on insurance coverage issue
Coulon v. Witco Corp., 845 So.2d 1152, 03-117 (La. App. 5 Cir. 4/29/03)
– Motion for Summary Judgment upheld on contractual indemnity issue
Roach v. Kamath, 837 So.2d 118, 2002-1309 (La. App. 4 Cir. 12/30/02)
– Motion for Summary Judgment upheld in premises liability case (landlord /tenant)
Bailey v. Battiest Const., 809 So.2d 1118, 2000-1917 (La.
App. 4 Cir. 2/6/02)
– Motion for Summary Judgment upheld on insurance coverage issue
Cooley v. K-Mart, 799 So.2d 765, 2001-00527 (La. App. 3 Cir. 10/31/01)
– Denial of Worker’s Comp benefits upheld
Driscoll v. Provenzano, 783 So.2d 552, 00-1156 (La.
App. 5 Cir. 3/28/01)
– Upheld jury verdict in premises liability case (landlord / tenant)
Cangiano v. Forte Hotels, 772 So.2d 879, 00-40 (La. App. 5 Cir. 10/31/00)
– Upheld directed verdict in invasion of privacy case involving a hotel
Johnson v. Lee, 760 So.2d 1273, 00-78 (La. App. 5 Cir. 5/30/00)
– Upheld directed verdict in security guard altercation case
Araujo v. Eitmann, 762 So.2d 223, 99-1377 (La. App. 5 Cir. 5/17/00)
– Motion for Summary Judgment upheld on insurance coverage issue in sexual battery case
Jupiter v. Family Dollar Stores, 742 So.2d 1065, 99-414 (La.
App. 5 Cir. 9/28/99)
– Verdict upheld in premises liability case (falling ladder)
Brown v. K-Mart, 738 So.2d 697, 99-149 (La. App. 5 Cir. 6/1/99)
– Upheld denial of increase in worker’s comp benefits
Sapia v. Regency Motors, 276 F.3d 747 (5th Cir. 2002)
– Motion for Summary Judgment upheld in TILA /FCRA case
Shop-Rite v. Keating, 876 So.2d 966, 2003-1821 (La.
App. 1 Cir. 6/25/2004)
– Jury verdict in fire case upheld