A negligent driver pulled out from a stop sign before the road was clear and t-boned a mechanic on his way to work. The wreck totaled both vehicles. At the time of the wreck, the mechanic was recovering from a spine surgery and had been back to work full-time for three weeks. Because of the wreck, the mechanic developed post-traumatic stress disorder, had to have another spine surgery, and ultimately lost his career because of his permanent physical restrictions. The negligent driver refused to take responsibility and argued that the mechanic was not injured in the wreck. Kleinpeter & Schwartzberg tried the case to a jury over the course of three days. The jury found that the wreck aggravated the mechanic’s spine condition and also caused new injuries, and the jury compensated him accordingly.
A water company permitted its employee to drive a company truck notwithstanding the employee’s prior DUIs, traffic tickets, and drug charges. The company admitted that had it properly performed its routine background check, it would never have allowed the employee to drive a company truck. In between 12-hour shifts one night, the employee went to a bar without any sleep and without any food. He admittedly consumed at least 8 drinks and then chose to drive the company truck on public roads. He crashed into the retaining wall and abandoned his vehicle, unlit, on the side of the Interstate. Unaware of the peril immediately ahead, an 18-wheeler proceeded down the Interstate and crashed into the abandoned company truck. The 18-wheeler burst into flames, harming the driver and burning the passenger so severely that he ultimately died. The passenger’s daughter in Kansas hired California counsel which in turn hired Kleinpeter & Schwartzberg. Kleinpeter & Schwartzberg argued the case to a Louisiana jury, which returned the highest known punitive damage award for drunk driving in the history of this State. After the trial court granted a judgment notwithstanding the verdict, finding that the employee was not intoxicated and vacating the punitive damage award, Kleinpeter & Schwartzberg successfully reversed the trial court’s ruling on appeal. Thistlethwaite v. Gonzalez, 12-130 (La. App. 5th Cir. 12/18/12), 106 So. 3d 238.
On his way home from work, a chemical loader was rear-ended by a Freightliner tractor at approximately 60 miles per hour. The force of the impact was so strong it knocked out the bolts that held the chemical loader’s front seat panel and caused the seat to fully recline. Cervical and lumbar surgeries were recommended to treat his multiple herniated discs. On behalf of the chemical loader, Kleinpeter & Schwartzberg sought compensation for past and future lost earnings, past and future medical expenses, and physical and mental harm. The case settled for a confidential amount during mediation.
Cotton is much more flammable than most people think, and some companies fail to put warning labels on their clothing. A 10 year old child was lighting a candle when the edge of her dress brushed the candle. Within seconds, her cotton dress went up in flames, resulting in first, second, and third degree burns to over 25% of her body. Kleinpeter & Schwartzberg was admitted pro hac vice in California to assist with the child’s products liability case and to help get her compensation for her medical treatment and physical and emotional harm. The parties reached a confidential settlement during jury selection.
A fast food restaurant allowed portions of its parking lot to fall into disrepair. While exiting the restaurant and walking to her car, an 82 year old woman placed her foot on a loose piece of concrete, which crumbled beneath her foot and caused her to fall and strike her face on the concrete. Kleinpeter & Schwartzberg hired an expert to examine the parking lot. The investigation revealed that prior to the woman’s fall, the restaurant had undertaken steps to correct the deficiencies in the parking lot but failed to complete the work. The result: an uneven and movable walking surface located in an area of peak pedestrian traffic. Kleinpeter & Schwartzberg negotiated a settlement for the woman.
A logging company regularly used a skidder in its daily operations. This particular skidder did not have a working back-up alarm system to warn people present in the area when it was backing. During loading operations at a company work site, a skidder operator backed over a trucker who regularly hauled the company’s logs to the mill. Kleinpeter & Schwartzberg immediately investigated the facts surrounding the death of the trucker, performed a site investigation, and interviewed witnesses present at the scene. Results of the investigation showed the logging company had no regular maintenance program for the skidder or its alarm system, despite OSHA regulations. Just three weeks after the trucker’s death, the logging company and its insurer reached a confidential settlement with the trucker’s widow and three young children.
While checking chemicals loading into a tanker truck parked underneath an elevated loading platform, a panel shifted, causing the worker to fall and hit his back on the truck crash box. Kleinpeter & Schwartzberg investigated the fall, hired safety and engineering experts, and showed the loading platform was unsafe and was defectively designed. A jury decided in the chemical worker’s favor and found the product manufacturer owed the chemical worker damages for his past lost wages, loss of earning capacity, loss of enjoyment of life, and pain and suffering. The case settled after the product manufacturer appealed. Kleinpeter & Schwartzberg prosecuted a separate successful appeal during the case which clarified Louisiana worker’s compensation law. Ernest v. Petroleum Service Corporation and Carbis, Inc., 2002-2482 (La. App. 1st Cir. 11/19/03), 868 So. 2d 96.
A painting company, contracted to perform work for a chemical plant, regularly exposed its workers to a variety of chemicals. Painters and sandblasters had to use sandblasting equipment which required an air compressor with a certain type of filter. The painting company refused to provide its worker with the air filter, causing him to suffer permanent brain damage and nerve damage in his limbs. Kleinpeter & Schwartzberg investigated the company and its practices and filed a suit for the worker and his family based on the painting company’s intentional choice not to provide the worker with proper safety equipment. After trial, the court found in favor of the worker and against the painting company, compensating the sandblaster for past wages, future wages, loss of enjoyment of life, as well as mental and physical pain and suffering. A worker’s compensation case was successfully prosecuted for the worker as well. LeBlanc v. Cajun Painting Inc., 94-1609 (La. App. 1st Cir. 4/7/95), 654 So. 2d 800.
After a day of tubing on a river in Mississippi with his friends, a teenager crashed his truck into a vehicle carrying a husband and wife returning home after visiting the hospital where their first grandchild was born. The husband was severely injured, and the wife was thrown from the vehicle and killed. The teenager fled the scene, but police arrested him a few days later in Louisiana. A Mississippi attorney contacted Kleinpeter & Schwartzberg for help in finding out what happened and identifying responsible parties. Kleinpeter & Schwartzberg conducted substantial discovery and found an insurance policy on the truck and another policy covering the driver. The insurance company denied coverage. After trial, the court found coverage and ordered that the insurance company be liable for the harmful acts caused by the driver. McGehee v. Benton, 2006-2335 (La. App. 1st Cir. 9/14/07), 2007 WL 2685582, writ denied, 2007-2020 (La. 12/7/07), 969 So. 2d 638.
A trailer hauling a load of cattle entered a sharply curving ramp on the interstate, just before the Mississippi River Bridge, rolling over the ramp and landing on the highway below. The crash resulted in massive injuries and the subsequent death of the passenger sleeping in the trailer’s cab. The passenger’s children, who lived in Arizona, contacted their attorney who called Kleinpeter & Schwartzberg for help. Suit was brought against the DOTD because of defective highway design and inadequate warning signs at the site of the accident. After a jury trial, verdict was rendered in favor of the passenger’s children and wife for the wrongful death of the passenger and the pain and suffering he experienced before dying. The jury’s compensatory verdict was the highest amount ever in Louisiana for a survival action involving an acute injury. Wingfield, et al. v. State of Louisiana, et al., 2001-2668 (La. App. 1st Cir. 11/8/02), 835 So. 2d 785, writ denied, 2003-0313 (La. 5/30/03), 845 So. 2d 1059.
A motorcyclist on his way to celebrate his daughter’s seventeenth birthday by watching her start as a pitcher for her high school softball game, was riding down the highway when an SUV suddenly pulled in front of him. Unable to stop in time, the motorcyclist skidded into the SUV. He was taken to the emergency room and evaluated with acute injuries to his knees and shoulders. These injuries later resulted in multiple surgeries to both knees and both shoulders, and he will need total knee replacement surgeries on both knees. Kleinpeter & Schwartzberg successfully mediated the case, compensating the motorcyclist with past and future earnings loss, past and future medical costs, pain and suffering, and loss of enjoyment of life.
A young driver with a minimum liability insurance policy crossed the center line and struck Kleinpeter & Schwartzberg’s client head on. The liability insurer delayed and refused to pay the policy limit, but Kleinpeter & Schwartzberg made sure the client got the medical treatment he needed. By the time the insurer finally offered to pay what it owed, Kleinpeter & Schwartzberg recommended to their client that he go to trial. He won a judgment for full compensation. The attorneys then argued that the insurance company failed in its duty to properly settle for the policy limit and was therefore liable for the entire court judgment. After a fight in federal court, the insurance company settled in mediation for a substantial recovery. The firm had previously made law in this area in favor of consumers and victims. Maryland Casualty Company v. Dixie Insurance Company, 622 So. 2d 698 (La. App. 1st Cir. 1993), writ denied, 629 So. 2d 1138 (La. 1993).
For fourteen months, a tankerman worked at an oil company’s dock supervising the loading of liquid benzene concentrate onto barges. Several months before the job concluded, the tankerman began to experience flu-like symptoms, headaches, dizziness, chills, and nausea. He contacted attorneys who referred him to Kleinpeter & Schwartzberg. Suit was filed against the oil company and other parties. After litigating for several years, a trial took place, and the court found the oil company totally at fault for the tankerman’s injuries. The court compensated the tankerman for past and future medical expenses, past and future lost wages, and general damages, which was affirmed on appeal. Manuel v. Shell, 94-590 (La. App. 5th Cir. 10/18/95), 664 So. 2d 470.
A 9 year-old boy with spina bifida was supposed to be transported to and from his local public school in a specially equipped school bus. On three different occasions, the child fell out of his inadequate seat restraint and was bruised and injured. The local School Board claimed it was doing all it could. Kleinpeter & Schwartzberg filed an emergency proceeding to require that the school meet its duty to provide safe transportation for this child. Just before the hearing, the School Board agreed to add safety equipment and provide a special aide to help ensure the boy’s safety.