horses serious personal injury

State Supreme Court Looks at Immunity Statute in City Park Horse Bite Personal Injury Claim

Louisiana “Equine Activity Immunity” Statute Examined in Serious Personal Injury Case

On September 23, 2013, Danielle Larson, an Illinois resident, but frequent visitor to New Orleans’ City Park horse facility was bitten by a horse.  On May 3, 2017, the legal odyssey for Ms. Larson continues with a ruling by the Louisiana State Supreme Court in Larson v. XYZ Insurance Company. Ultimately the court decides that Louisiana’s Equine Activity Immunity Statute did not apply.

On this day, as Larson was visiting with the horses, she arrived at a stall where a pony, Wesley, was standing at the gate. Larson placed a carrot in her hand and held it out, but the carrot was knocked from her hand by the horse, causing the carrot to fall to the ground. As Larson squatted down to pick up the carrot, Wesley also reached for the carrot. Instead of biting the carrot, however, Wesley bit off Larson’s thumb.

Larson required substantial medical care. Doctors attached her injured hand to her groin for four weeks to keep what remained of her hand viable. Larson will have to be fitted for a prosthetic thumb or transfer a toe to her hand.


Because of the serious personal injuries sustained, Larson filed a Petition for Damages alleging that Equest Farm and its insurer were liable for her injuries under theories of negligence and strict liability.  However, Louisiana provides immunity for “participants” of “equine activities” under certain conditions. The Horse Farm asserted that the Equine Immunity Statute, La. R.S. 9:2795.3 applied and that Larson, although seriously injured, should not be granted recovery against it.

It was stated that Larson, who visited Equest Farm for the purpose of visiting and feeding horses owned by that facility, was a “participant” and should not recover.

The original court dismissed Larson’s case, citing the immunity statute.  However, she appealed.

The court of appeal reversed the summary judgment, finding that Larson was not a participant engaged in an equine activity, and thus the farm was not afforded immunity under the statute. Larson v. XYZ Ins., 2015-0704 (La. App. 4 Cir. 3/23/16), 192 So.3d 181. The appeal court concluded that the definition of “engages in an equine activity” found in subsection (A)(1) of the statute, which must be strictly construed, does not include “a visitor to a stable who feeds treats to a horse.”

So then, the farm and its insurer appealed to the Louisiana State Supreme Court.

Here, the Louisiana State Supreme Court agreed with the court of appeal and found that more facts and examination of the immunity statute were warranted.

The bottom line, Danielle Larson might recover for her serious personal injures after all.

This type of case illustrates how important it is to hire an attorney who can handle your serious personal injury case. Insurers and others don’t want to pay money for claims if they don’t have to pay. Here, Ms. Larson had her case dismissed, then reinstated, and now affirmed by the Louisiana State Supreme Court.

Contact Law Firm at (225) 933-1500 or visit if you need legal advice regarding a serious personal injury. We offer free consultations and are glad to help you if we can.


Audi Volkswagen Porsche

Volkswagen to pay $157 million to 10 states in settlement of emissions cheating lawsuit

Volkswagen’s Emission’s Cheating Plan

A multi-state court settlement has occurred with auto manufacturer Volkswagen over its emissions cheating plan and use of software designed to produce false readings on vehicle emissions tests.

Volkswagen, based in Wolfsburg, Germany, has agreed to pay $157 million to 10 states to settle emissions cheating plan environmental lawsuits filed last year concerning the company’s use of the software.

 The settlement marks the first time these 10 states  – all of which have adopted California’s stringent vehicle emission standards – have secured an environmental settlement from an automobile manufacturer for violations of state emissions laws.

Maine’s Attorney General Janet Mills says “We will not tolerate the flouting of our state’s environmental laws, the legacy of Senators Ed Muskie and George Mitchell. We will enforce Maine’s environmental standards stringently.”  “Our air, water and natural resources and the health of our people are critically important. The action by VW to deliberately violate Maine’s motor vehicle emission standards affected all of us and it was important to bring this action on behalf of the people of Maine.”

The settlement covers 3-liter, six-cylinder diesel engines and is separate from a $603 million agreement reached last year with 44 states, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico that covered 2-liter engines, according to the Associated Press.

Maine’s share of the money will go toward funding “environmentally beneficial projects and programs across the state.” Maine is entitled to receive $5,162,281, one of the smaller payouts, with Pennsylvania getting the largest settlement amount, $30,434,055.

The complaint against Volkswagen alleged the company and its subsidiaries, Audi and Porsche, secretly used unlawful software in vehicles to circumvent state emission laws.  The company sold more than 570,000 cars and sport utility vehicles that exceeded pollution standards in Maine, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Delaware, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Pennsylvania and Washington.  See Story Here.

United States Supreme Court

Judge’s Law Clerks Often Affect Views

Judge’s Law Clerks Can Give Insight to Ideology

Often, little thought is given to Jude’s Law Clerks but they hold social power behind the scenes. The US Supreme Court may not be something on your daily thoughts, but the direction of the Court often factors into things that we all can or cannot do on a daily basis.

Justice Neil Gorsuch is the newest member of the Court. As such, he relies on law clerks to help mold and draft his opinions. Typically speaking, they follow his ideology, but can perhaps influence decision based upon research.

Sometimes you can draw clues about a judge’s ideological leanings from the other judges his clerks worked for. In this case, it’s worth noting that almost all of the incoming NMG clerks previously clerked for conservative stalwarts — Justice Scalia, Justice Alito, and Judge Edith Jones of the Fifth Circuit (based in New Orleans) who was very conservative and basically gutted many an injured parties’ claim when possible.

Upon information and belief, they are as follows. For the remainder of October Term 2016:

1. Mike Davis (Iowa 2004 / Gorsuch)
2. Jamil Jaffer (Chicago 2003 / E. Jones / Gorsuch)
3. Jane Kucera Nitze (Harvard 2008 / Gorsuch / Sotomayor)
4. Matt Owen (Michigan 2008 / Gorsuch / Scalia)

For October Term 2017:

1. David Feder (Harvard 2014 / Gorsuch)
2. Matt Owen (Michigan 2008 / Gorsuch / Scalia)
3. Eric Tung (Chicago 2010 / Gorsuch / Scalia)
4. Lucas Walker (Harvard 2009 / Gorsuch / Alito)

As you might expect from their law school graduation years (they’re not kiddies), these clerks have tons of other valuable work experience outside clerking. For example, several worked in the Justice Department: Jane Nitze in the Office of Legal Counsel, Jamil Jaffer in the Office of Legal Policy and the National Security Division, and Matt Owen and Eric Tung in the Solicitor General’s office as Bristow Fellows.

The group exhibits diversity on some fronts but not others. There’s only one woman, Jane Nitze, but Jamil Jaffer and Eric Tung are clerks of color.

Hopefully, they are interested in protecting victims rights and preserving causes of actions where possible.  We will see.

Full Story

Jury Trial

Insurance Company Refuses Offer to Settle

Insurance Company Refuses Offer to Settle of $25,000; Jury Awards $4.4 Million

Following a 2015 Gwinnett County, GA verdict awarding $3.7 million to a man whose back was injured in an auto accident, his lawyers collected another $700,000 in attorney fees after the insurance company refuses offer to settle under Georgia’s offer of settlement statute.

The insurance company refused multiple offers to settle for her policy limits of $25,000 early in the litigation, and later declined a $475,000 settlement offer. The insurer offered to pay $11,000 in response to the early demands meant it was aware that its driver bore some liability.  The plaintiff had $13,000 in medicals and made a $25,000 demand.

The lead attorney for the defendant insurer, Waldon Adelman Castilla Hiestand & Prout partner Daniel Prout, Jr., did not respond to requests for comment concerning the settlement.

The accident happened in 2012 when a Chevrolet Colorado driven by Walter Smalls was struck by a Lincoln Navigator driven by Maria Camarillo. Smalls’ 18-year-old daughter, a passenger in the pickup truck, was the more seriously injured, although Smalls suffered abrasions to his face and a leg injury. After he was released from the hospital, Smalls experienced a sharp pain in his back that continued to worsen despite treatment. Then a 47-year-old electrician, Smalls ultimately required surgery and had to give up his profession, his lawyers said.

Camarillo’s insurer, Omni Indemnity, paid her $25,000 policy limits to Smalls’ daughter after a pretrial demand but refused four policy limit demands on Smalls’ behalf. The insurer responded with an offer of $11,000 and continued to decline policy limit demands as Smalls’ medical bills mounted. After Smalls sued in Gwinnett County State Court in 2013, the insurer offered Camarillo’s $25,000 limit during a mediation, which was declined. In 2014, Omni Indemnity turned down the $475,000 offer of judgment, and a few months before trial it rejected a demand for $1.2 million.

Following a four-day trial before Judge Pam South, the jury returned a $3.7 million verdict in November 2015.  Full Story

Call if you feel that you have a case and want to be treated fairly by the Insurance Company.  (225) 933-1500

Uber yellow cab verdict personal injuries

$26 Million Verdict Upheld Against Yellow Cab: Implications for Uber?

$26 Million Verdict Upheld in Taxicab Car Crash

A divided state appeals court has upheld a $26 million jury verdict awarded to a Chicago lawyer injured in a 2005 taxicab crash near Hinsdale, saying the Yellow Cab taxi affiliation must pay out for the accident because the injured passenger believed Yellow Cab was the driver’s “apparent agent,” even though Yellow Cab did not employ the driver and a Cook County trial judge refused to let YCA show the jury key evidence on how extensively all cabs are controlled by Chicago City Hall.

This is an interesting set of facts, although a tragic injury, because Uber operates on the same “independent contractor” platform.  When an Uber driver causes or is involved in an accident, insurers will surely point fingers, but not at themselves.

On March 16, a three-justice panel of the Illinois First District Appellate Court ruled 2-1 to let stand the verdict in favor of plaintiff Marc Jacobs, as the majority said they did not believe YCA had demonstrated Cook County Judge Daniel J. Lynch had abused his discretion in limiting what YCA could tell the jury about the impact of city regulation on the appearance of its cabs, and the misunderstanding this can create in the minds of passengers and the public as to who the otherwise independent cab drivers actually work for.

A Cook County jury had found in favor of Jacobs, awarding him and his wife a combined $26 million in damages. Personal Injury Law Firm also handles car accidents and Big Truck Wrecks.

The case centered on an Aug. 31, 2005, single-vehicle crash off the Interstate 294 exit ramp leading to Hinsdale, involving a Yellow-branded taxi driven by Cornelius C. Ezeagu.

Jacobs had entered the cab at a taxi stand in Chicago’s River North neighborhood, across from a restaurant at E. Grand Ave. and N. Rush Street where Jacobs had been dining with a “longtime client.” After his client left in her private car, Jacobs asked Ezeagu to take him home to Hinsdale.

On the exit ramp from I-294, however, Ezeagu’s minivan left the curved ramp, “went airborne for 32 feet, struck the ground and continued forward over a grassy drainage area, and then crashed into a concrete retention wall,” according to court documents.  Read entire story HERE.

Best plan? But uninsured/underinsured motorist’s coverage, and perhaps an umbrella policy.  Have health insurance.  And, if something happens contact the Law Firm at (225) 933-1500.  We want to help.

soil contamination Louisiana damages

Pennsylvania Judge Throws Out $4 Million Jury Verdict Over Water Contamination

Jury Awarded $4 Million: Judge Says ‘No.’

Its not over ’til its over.  Even when a jury verdict is rendered, the case might not be closed.  There was a bomb-shell decision today by a federal judge involving a water contamination trial from Susquehanna County, Pennsylvania.

In a 58-page ruling, Judge Martin Carlson threw out the jury verdict, and a $4 million dollar award for two families from the Dimock Township area.  Last year, a federal jury found Cabot Oil and Gas was a nuisance — after the families said the company contaminated their groundwater.  Cabot has denied any wrong-doing. Contaminated drinking water is becoming more and more of an issue.  We have written about it before, here.

The judge said he did not make this decision lightly — and says a new trial is needed.  Read the decision Here.

Soil contamination from underground gas storage tanks, old oilfield ‘legacy’ sites, leaking pipes of all sorts is real.  Often it will damage no only drinking water, but require expensive cleanup on the part of the landowner.  But, if you can tract the source of the pollution and contamination, there may be a claim.

In Louisiana, ‘orphan’ wells, old dump sites, and other sources of pollution are common.

Call Ed Kramer at (225) 933-1500 or visit and we are happy to discuss, for free, any potential claim that you may have.