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N A K E D Louisiana O W N E R S H I P 
All Things Legal in Louisiana


July 31, 2004

New Orleans Attorneys Charged with Tax Evasion

BizNewOrleans reports: "Two Jefferson Parish lawyers have been indicted by a federal grand jury with failing to pay income taxes on more than $2 million in legal fees. Former Gretna law partners David C. Loeb and Harold E. Molaison were each charged with income tax evasion and conspiracy to defraud the government."

Posted by EES at 06:35 PM

July 22, 2004

Episode of Deep Vein Thrombosis Not an "Accident" Under Warsaw Convention

On June 18, 2001, Michael Blansett flew from Houston, Texas to London, England on a Continental Airlines flight. During the flight, he suffered an episode of deep vein thrombosis (DVT), causing a cerebral stroke that left him permanently debilitated. DVT involves the clotting of blood in the extremeties and can cause death or disability if a clot migrates to the lungs or other vital organs.

Blansett sued Continental, alleging Continental's liability under Art. 17 of the Warsaw Convention. Article 17 makes an airline responsible for an injury to a passenger on an international flight when the injury results from an "accident." Continental moved to dismiss Blansett's complaint under FRCP 12(b)(6), but the district court denied the motion. The district court reasoned that Continental's failure to warn passengers about DVT and instruct them how to avoid it might be an "accident" under Article 17. Continental took an interlocutory appeal under 28 USC § 1292(b), and the U.S. Fifth Circuit reversed, holding that Continental's failure to warn and instruct about DVT could not have constituted an "accident" under Article 17. Blansett v. Continental Airlines, Inc., No. 03-40545 (5th Cir. July 21, 2004).

Posted by RPW at 09:55 AM

July 21, 2004

Email Notice in Middle District

The Middle District of Louisiana recently sent notices advising that in the Fall of 2004 the court will allow attorneys in civil and criminal cases to receive notice of filings via E-mail.

In order to take advantage of the new system you will be required to consent in writing. The consent form allows you to designate a primary E-mail address and up to 3 additional E-mail addresses (i.e. for your secretary or paralegal). When you receive notice by E-mail the body of the message will contain a hyperlink to the PACER system where the filed document is stored electronically. You will be allowed one free look at the document, whereupon you may print the document or save it as an electronic PDF file (for later printing or for whatever purpose you might have).

If you have questions about the new service you can contact the Middle District's clerk office at 225-389-3500. You can download a PDF copy of the written consent form here.

Posted by EES at 01:20 PM

July 19, 2004

Posting Lull

News will not be updated regularly for the next two weeks as the bar exam approaches.

Posted by AJR at 11:09 AM

July 16, 2004

Class-Action Filed Against Testing Firm

The Times-Picayune reports that a class-action lawsuit has been filed in federal court against Educational Testing Services after it improperly graded teacher certification tests. The grading error delayed the certification of 486 Louisiana teachers, some for more than a year, and affected over 4,100 teaching candidates in 19 states. This story provides more background on the situation.

Posted by AJR at 10:02 AM

Suit Alleges Ochsner Charged Uninsured More

The Times-Picayune reports that Ochsner Clinic Foundation is one of three large nonprofit hospital systems named in class-action lawsuits filed Thursday. The suits claim that the hospitals charge uninsured patients more than it charges patients with insurance and that the hospitals claim more charity work than they actually provide.

Dr. Patrick Quinlan, chief executive officer of Ochsner Clinic Foundation, called the allegations against his institution "flawed" and said it will vigorously fight the lawsuit.

Attorneys for the plaintiffs allege that Ochsner and the other hospitals "often use predatory and 'goon-like' collection methods against poor patients."

Posted by AJR at 09:55 AM

Bankruptcy Judge Shakes up Business

The Advertiser reports that federal bankruptcy Judge Gerald Schiff has ordered an outside manager to take control of Southern Structures. The company, which is in Youngsville, manufactures pre-fabricated metal buildings and was once the city's largest employer. The outside management was ordered because the company has allegedly given large donations to a religious group, Traveling Light Ministries, and replaced experienced employees in favor of members of the same religious organization. Traveling Light Ministries is apparently organized by Terri Kamm, who was the chairman of Southern Structure's Board of Directors until the firm declared bankruptcy.

Posted by AJR at 09:48 AM

Arrest of Public Works Director Complicates Policy Jury Case

The New Star reports that 4th Judicial District DA Jerry Jones said that the arrest of former Ouachita Parish Public Works Director Bo Boyte will not make his job easier. Boyte is one of two key witnesses in a Ouachita Policy Jury corruption probe and he was granted limited immunity for his involvement in the corruption in exchange for his testimony. Wednesday's arrest, however, was on charges of possession of stolen property and alteration of a vehicle identification plate and was, apparently, entirely unrelated to the corruption probe. "Common sense tells me (the arrests) may have an impact," Jones said. "The Police Jury investigation was a complicated one to start with, and this has not done anything to help."

Posted by AJR at 09:33 AM

Lake Bistineau Drawdown Underway

The Shreveport Times reports that 26th JDC Judge Dewey Burchett issued a ruling allowing the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries to drawdown Lake Bistineau. The judge found that the drawdown is the "only feasible plan for controlling aquatic growth of exotic plants." Accordingly, he refused to issue an injunction to delay the planned drawdown until the end of summer.

James Seales, LDWF District 1 fisheries biologist supervisor, has said this summer drawdown is needed to get sufficient drying action on the lake bottom. A proliferation of water hyacinth and hydrilla, both considered exotic or non-native plants, accompanied by leaf litter dropped by the massive cypress tree canopy, has contributed to a buildup of muck anywhere from 10 inches to 2 feet thick on the lakebed.
Posted by AJR at 09:28 AM

New Iberia Police Union Appeals

The Advocate reports that the New Iberia police union has appealed a district court ruling that approved the City of New Iberia's decision to contract its law enforcement to the parish sheriff. Charles Dirks, the union's attorney, says that 16th JDC Judge William Hunter's ruling could be the "beginning of the undoing of civil service protections for police and firefighters around the state."

This is post number 1,000 to Naked Ownership.

Posted by AJR at 09:22 AM

Cleanup of Hazardous Waste Site Sought

The Advocate reports that residents of Bayou Sorrel have filed suit seeking to have five buried pits of hazardous waste pits cleaned up. Steve Irving, the plaintiffs' attorney, said that the pits were discovered as part of another lawsuit and that this suit was filed when the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality didn't respond to a notification of the problem.

Posted by AJR at 09:14 AM

Gillis' Computer Files Detailed

The Advocate reports that prosecutors have filed a document detailing the files found on suspected serial killer Sean Gillis' (why isn't this guy's middle name used?) computer.

Posted by AJR at 09:10 AM

July 15, 2004

Fax Filing Beats Prescription

In Northern Insurance Co. of N.Y. v. Gabus, decided July 7, 2004, Judge Woodard of the Third Circuit explains the workings of the statutes allowing a suit to be filed by fax. The case arose from a fire that occurred on September 30, 2001. On September 30, 2002, an amended petition was faxed to the clerk of court naming Assurance Co. of America as an additional plaintiff. Under Louisiana law, Assurance had five days, excluding holidays, to get the original amended petition to the clerk. The clerk didn't receive the original until October 8. But the courthouse was closed from October 2 to October 8, so those days of closure didn't count against Assurance's five-day deadline. Result: Assurance's petition was timely.

Posted by RPW at 01:47 PM

Edwards Continues to Fight (and Lose)

The Advocate reports that Edwin Edwards has lost another bid to get out of jail. US District Judge Ralph Tyson issued a ruling denying Edwards' request to unseal a letter containing allegations of juror misconduct and to interview a former juror and his lawyer who were responsible for writing the letter. In his ruling, Judge Tyson "cites previous case law warning that juries 'should not be exposed to post-verdict fishing expeditions into their mental processes with the hope that something will turn up.'"

Posted by AJR at 10:10 AM

Officer's Discrimination Suit Moving Forward

The Advocate reports that US District Judge James Brady concluded that there is sufficient evidence to allow Mark Martello's discrimination suit against the Baton Rouge Police Department to proceed. Martello alleges he was discriminated against because he was depressed and Judge Brady found that the record was void of any admissible evidence "regarding a legitimate, non-discriminatory reason" that Martello was fired from the department after he refused to accept a desk job instead of returning to the street.

Posted by AJR at 10:05 AM

LA Floral Licensing Causing National Blemish?

The Advocate is of the opinion that Louisiana's licensing system for florists, the only one in the nation, continues to turn up in the national media making the state look bad. Such exposure negatively impacts business because it "paints Louisiana as a place hostile to business."

Posted by AJR at 09:58 AM

Decision on Lake Bistineau Expected Today

The Shreveport Times reports that 26th JDC Judge Dewey Burchett, Jr. will decide whether the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries can move forward with a planned drawdown of Lake Bisteneau before 4:30 this afternoon. More specifically, Judge Burchett is considering whether to issue a preliminary injunction that would delay the drawdown until after the end of the recreational season at the Lake.

Posted by AJR at 09:53 AM

LaSalle Parish Courthouse to Reopen Soon

The Town Talk reports that portions of the LaSalle Parish Courthouse may reopen as soon as today. The courthouse was damaged by a fire on July 1 and court proceedings have been held in the School Board's media center since that time.

Posted by AJR at 09:50 AM

July 14, 2004

"Lifestyles of the Rich and Crooked"

This FBI press release details Melville Borne, Jr.'s recent guilty plea for failing to provide care and services to residents in nursing homes--"the first plea of its kind." The tone of the release is rather interesting, in a COPS sort of way.

Posted by AJR at 08:52 PM

State Immunity From Prescription Does Not Benefit Parish School Board

Article 12, § 13 of the Louisiana Constitution provides that prescription does not run against the state in any civil matter unless otherwise provided in the Constitution or expressly by law. Today, in Terrebonne Parish School Board v. Southdown, Inc., the First Circuit holds that this constitutional provision does not apply to a parish school board.

Posted by RPW at 03:17 PM

Claim For False-Light Invasion Of Privacy Held Premature

Louisiana courts generally hold that a claim for defamation is premature if the claim arises from statements made in litigation against a party to that litigation, and that litigation has not yet terminated. In Simpson v. Perry, rendered today, a five-judge panel of the First Circuit extends that rule to a claim for false-light invasion of privacy.

Posted by RPW at 03:04 PM

Appeal Timely When Motion Timely, Even Though Order Signed Late

The appellant filed its motion for appeal timely, but forgot to attach to the motion a form of an order granting the appeal. By the time the omission was corrected and the order signed, the deadline for appeal had passed. Nonetheless, the Second Circuit refused to dismiss the appeal. "[W]hen a timely filed order of appeal is not signed during the delay period, this is not a fault or defect imputable to the appellant, and the appeal should not be dismissed when the motion for appeal is timely filed, but the order is not signed until after the delay has run.... [W]e ... hold that the inadvertent failure to attach an order to the motion for appeal herein will not defeat appellant’s right to appellate review." Lifecare Hospitals, Inc. v. B&W Quality Growers, Inc., No. 39,065-CA (La. App. 2 Cir. 7/8/04).

Posted by RPW at 01:26 PM

Home Schooling Not In Best Interest Of These Children

"May [the chidren's mother] utilize her authority as domiciliary parent for making the major decision for the children's education (which is presumed in the best interest of the children) to lessen or avoid her economic support obligation to the children and to increase the permanent spousal support in her favor? Under the particular facts of this case, we find that the evidence rebuts the presumption that [the mother's] decision for home schooling is in the best interest of the children and that the trial court's ruling to the contrary was an abuse of its discretion." Donna G.R. v. James B.R., No. 39,005-CA (La. App. 2 Cir. 7/2/04).

Posted by RPW at 01:17 PM

Unauthorized Practice of Law

In Louisiana Claims Adjustment Bureau, Inc. v. State Farm Insurance Company (decided June 23), the Second Circuit held that a so-called "third-party adjuster" engaged in the unauthorized practice of law when it negotiated settlements on behalf of persons injured in automobile accidents in exchange for a 25% contingency fee. Thus, State Farm's statements to that effect were true, and hence State Farm could not be held liable for defamation. Nor could State Farm be held liable for tortious interference with contract, because the contracts between LCAB and its "clients" were against public policy and therefore void.

Posted by RPW at 12:15 PM

St. Tammany Clerk of Court Heads Online

The Times-Picayune reports that the St. Tammany Parish Clerk of Court will launch an online system next Monday. Land records and marriage licenses will be available Monday, free of charge, and civil and criminal records will follow in the future. The article notes that several other parishes also offer remote access to their records:

Jefferson Parish launched its JeffNet service in January to provide online access to land records, civil lawsuits, criminal records and marriage licenses. The site charges users a $100 setup fee and $50 a month.

Orleans Parish Civil District Court allows remote access to its civil lawsuits and land records for $300 a year.

Tangipahoa Parish records are free online. The catch is that each of the 339 active users had to apply at the clerk's office to prevent the general public from accessing Social Security numbers, said Andi Mathew, network administrator.

Posted by AJR at 08:28 AM

Lake Bistineau Hearing Set for Today

The Shreveport Times reports that 26th JDC Judge Dewey E. Burchett Jr. expects a full courtroom as he considers whether or not to issue an injunction to prevent the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries from beginning to draw down the popular Lake Bistineau. The injunction seeks to delay the planned draw down until after Labor Day in an effort to minimize business damages.

Posted by AJR at 08:20 AM

Man Wants Mistrial, Man Gets Mistrial

The Shreveport Times reports that a trial on a charge of forcible rape against John Vincent Spano, which was set to begin on Monday, was delayed after Spano attacked his public defender.

Spano allegedly walked up to Rickey Swift, a senior attorney with the public defender's office, and decked him in front of at least 12 potential jurors, two prosecutors, two deputies, a bailiff and the judge in Courtroom H on the second floor of the Caddo Courthouse, sheriff's spokesman Sgt. Don Gibbs said.

Sounds like a scene straight out of The Practice.

Posted by AJR at 08:12 AM

DNA Profile Injuries are Justiciable

The Advocate reports that a civil suit seeking the destruction of 1,800 DNA swabs and the related genetic data, which was collected during the hunt for Baton Rouge serial killer, will likely move forward. United States Magistrate Stephen Riedlinger of the MDLA has recommended that the suit not be dismissed, noting that the potential for injury is "not merely conjectural, hypothetical or contingent; rather, it is real and immediate." Judge Polozola has been assigned the case.

Posted by AJR at 08:04 AM

Dutchtown Teens Not Indicted

The Advocate reports that an Ascension Parish Grand Jury decided that it did not have enough evidence to indict two Dutchtown High School students for planning another Columbine at their school. The case, however, remains open in the event that additional evidence is discovered.

Posted by AJR at 07:57 AM

July 13, 2004

Louisiana Bar Journal Archive

The Louisiana State Bar Association now has a searchable archive of Louisiana Bar Journal articles that have been published from 2001 to date (including the most Recent Developments in the law section).

Posted by AJR at 11:29 AM

Kenner Selects Firm

The Times-Picayune reports that the Kenner City Council chose the law firm of King, LeBlanc & Bland to represent it in its dispute with Police Chief Nick Congemi.

Posted by AJR at 10:27 AM

Community Outraged at Foreclosure

The Town Talk reports that a recent attempt to foreclose a mortgage is drawing threats of civil suits and criminal investigations. The Wells Fargo bank has agreed to delay the foreclosure and investigate the mortgage after it was made clear that one of the co-signors of the loan had been dead for seven years before he allegedly signed the note.

"I think this company is going to look at this old mortgage and decide that whoever took this mortgage should never have taken it," [Alexandria attorney Chris] Roy said, adding that he hopes the bank "writes it off," restoring James' full ownership.
Posted by AJR at 10:25 AM

LASC Blocks Longer Sentence

The News Star reports on a Louisiana Supreme Court decision that prevents the 4th Judicial District Attorney's Office from using a drunk-driving conviction as an enhanceable felony. The article provides a brief overview of the court's decision, which addressed conflicting statutory law.

Posted by AJR at 10:18 AM

Ouachita Malfeasance Trial Set

The News Star reports that the trial of former Ouachita Parish Public Works Director Frederick "Bo" Boyte, one of eight people indicted in a Policy Jury corruption probe, has been rescheduled for November 29, 2004.

Posted by AJR at 10:13 AM

State AG Investigating Caddo Judge

The Shreveport Times reports that the state attorney general's office is investigating whether battery charges should be filed against First JDC District Judge Michael Walker. The investigation stems from an altercation at Shreveport City Court a few weeks ago when Judge Walker allegedly chest-butted a deputy as the judge passed through a metal detector. Judge Walker has sent a letter seeking an apology from the marshal's office and the termination of the deputy involved in the dispute.

Posted by AJR at 10:10 AM

July 12, 2004

NOLA DA Jordan Criticizes Judge

The Times-Picayune reports that Orleans Parish District Attorney Eddie Jordan spoke out against Orleans Criminal District Court Judge Arthur Hunter on Monday. The article notes that in 2003 Judge Hunter presided over more than a third of the acquittals granted in the 12-judge district.

"The district attorney's office does not have a personal vendetta against Judge Hunter," Jordan said. "The record speaks for itself and the citizens of Orleans Parish need to know why violent offenders are let out to commit other crimes."
Posted by AJR at 10:09 PM

5th Circuit Says Blakely Doesn't Apply to Federal Guidelines

The Times-Picayune reports that the Fifth Circuit has issued an opinion holding that Blakely does not impact the federal sentencing guidelines. The case is US v. Pineiro. SCOTUSblog has more on what might be the quickest circuit split ever.

Posted by AJR at 10:04 PM

Suit Seeks to end Delays for Alternative Care

The Advocate reports that attorneys with the Advocacy Center are back in the Eastern District of Louisiana seeking to enforce a settlement agreement reached with the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals over alternative care arrangements. The settlement provides for an alternative to nursing homes for income restricted individuals that are Medicaid-eligible and age 65 and older, or disabled people 21 or older, who otherwise would qualify for nursing homes.

Posted by AJR at 01:22 AM

July 11, 2004

Another Local Article on Blakely

Judge Polozola on Blakely during a sentencing hearing last week: "Some judges around the country have already declared the guidelines to be unconstitutional, and I'm not certain what the appellate courts will do. I will give you two sentences today. One will be under the guidelines, and one will be without -- just like I did when in the '80s when I came on the bench." The Advocate provides the full story.

Posted by AJR at 08:23 PM

July 10, 2004

Mineral Code Requires Individual Notice, Not Class Notice, Before Suit On Mineral Lease

The Louisiana Mineral Code requires a lessor to give the lessee written notice of the lessee's failure to make timely or proper payment of royalties, as a prerequisite to a judicial demand for damages or dissolution of the lease. Can such a notice be given on behalf of a putative class, as a prerequisite to a class action on behalf of lessors against a lessee?

On March 25, we reported that the U.S. Fifth Circuit had certified this question to the Louisiana Supreme Court. But the Louisiana Supreme Court denied certification, leaving the question to be decided by the Fifth Circuit. And on July 6, the Fifth Circuit answered the question, holding that notice on behalf of a putative class does not satisfy the Mineral Code's written-notice requirement.

While this decision does not in itself rule out class actions on mineral leases, it will likely hamper any effort to instigate such a class action.

Posted by RPW at 02:54 PM

July 09, 2004

Jury Selection for Derrick Todd Lee Slated for August 2

The Advocate reports that jury selection for Derrick Todd Lee's first-degree murder trial in West Baton Rouge Parish is slated to begin August 2. The article also outlines several evidentiary decisions made by 18th JDC District Judge Robin Free.

Posted by AJR at 08:56 AM

Livingston Jury to be Sequestered

The Advocate reports that 21st JDC Judge Bruce Bennett will sequester the jury being selected in the first-degree murder trial of James "Pop" Skinner. Skinner is one of five men accused of kidnapping, beating and killing an Albany High School student in 1998. Juries have already convicted two other defendants in separate trials.

Posted by AJR at 08:51 AM

Patient Records in Limbo

The Times-Picayune reports that patients have been unable to get their medical records from 15 recently shuttered Vision Plaza locations in New Orleans. Vision Plaza's parent company has declared bankruptcy, which has raised multiple legal issues, many related to patient records.

James Sandefur, a doctor who is secretary of the Louisiana State Board of Optometry Examiners, a regulatory and licensing agency, called for doctors to get the records as soon as possible.

"State law says that patient records are the property of the doctor," he said. "The records should not be the property of the landlord or the company that went into bankruptcy."

Posted by AJR at 08:47 AM

Civil Sheriff Drops out of Criminal Sheriff Race

The Times-Picayune reports that Orleans Parish Civil Sheriff Paul Valteau has taken himself out of the running for the Orleans Parish Criminal Sheriff race. Sheriff Valteau was the front-runner and, as such, there will likely be a flurry of new candidates announced in the next two weeks as the race qualification deadline approaches.

Posted by AJR at 08:34 AM

Judge Developed in Wetlands?

KPLC-Lake Charles reports that 14th JDC District Judge Wilford Carter has submitted an "after the fact" wetlands permit application for a subdivision he developed in 2002. Landowners in the subdivision are in limbo after the US Army Corps of Engineers issued cease and desist orders to stop construction in the alleged wetlands. The article notes that Judge Carter has refused to refund any money because he is convinced that he has not violated the law.

Posted by AJR at 08:28 AM

July 08, 2004

AG Investigating Bogus Press Release

The Times-Picayune reports that the Louisiana Attorney General's office is investigating a Mississippi native for allegedly sending out a fake press release indicating the Governor Blanco was willing to settle the oysterman suit. "The person who did this was certainly trying to influence a certain crowd that the governor wanted to settle the case ... I don't know how many people are out there who still believe that the governor wants to settle the case," Denise Bottcher, Blanco's press secretary stated.

Posted by AJR at 10:46 PM

Casino Boat Not a Vessel for Jones Act Purposes

Is a cocktail waitress on a casino riverboat a Jones Act seaman? Not if the boat is permanently docked, says the U.S. Fifth Circuit. "The rule has never been “once a vessel, always a vessel.” ... [O]nce the TREASURE CHEST was withdrawn from navigation so that transporting passengers, cargo or equipment on navigable water was no longer an important part of the business in which the craft was engaged, the craft was not a vessel. Martin v. Boyd Gaming Corp., No. 03-30389 c/w 03-30459 (5th Cir. July 8, 2004).

Posted by RPW at 05:10 PM

DEQ issues Emergency Rule for Minor and Moderate Violations

The Office of the State Register has published a Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality emergency rule that outlines an alternative penalty assessment mechanism for minor and moderate permit violations. In the past three years alone, the DEQ Enforcement Division has received 8,139 referrals and has issued 4,259 actions. The emergency rule was developed because DEQ's strained budget and resource issues pose an imminent impairment to the Agency's ability to address minor and moderate violations.

Posted by AJR at 03:51 PM

EEOC Finds Evidence of Racial Discrimination by NOLA DA

The Times-Picayune reports that the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has found evidence indicating that mass firings that took place in the Orleans Parish District Attorney's Office after Eddie Jordan took office were discriminatory.

Posted by AJR at 03:34 PM

Everything that's believed is bullshit

Although it has no relation to Louisiana or the law (at least directly), this column is well worth a few minutes of your time. It documents a discussion with the legendary Alan Kay, the man who "invented or contributed heavily to the invention of: the personal computer, windows-type graphical user interfaces, personal computer networks, and object-oriented computer programming." Mr. Kay is upset that business has co-opted computers and has failed to put them to creative uses. You'll have to read the column to see what he is doing about it.

Posted by AJR at 03:11 PM

E-Discovery & Proposed Changes to the FRCP

Mike Tonsing has a thought-provoking article on proposed changes to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and e-discovery. Here's a sample quote from the article: "Marrying e-discovery with a mandatory initial disclosure requirement could produce a wholly unnecessary, expensive hurdle for parties at the outset of most cases..."

Posted by EES at 11:14 AM

Parish Off-Road Diesel Tax Struck Down

The Times-Picayune reports on the Louisiana Supreme Court decision in Ocean Energy Inc. v. Plaquemines Parish [pdf]. The decision reversed district and appellate court decisions upholding Plaquemines Parish's attempt to tax off-road diesel fuel used in marine vessels to service oil platforms in the Gulf of Mexico. The decision turned on whether off-road diesel is considered "motor fuel" as the term is used in the State Constitution.

Posted by AJR at 08:39 AM

Non-Jury Juvenile Convictions Can't be Used

WVUE Fox 8 of New Orleans reports on a Louisiana Supreme Court decision that makes it unlawful to allow juvenile convictions to be used in adult sentencing if the juvenile conviction was handed down without a jury. The case discussed is Louisiana v. Brown [pdf].

Posted by AJR at 08:34 AM

Foti to Present Another Check

The News Star reports that Attorney General Charles Foti will present a check to the St. Vincent DePaul Community Pharmacy in Monroe today. Attorney General Foti has been traveling across the state to deliver a settlement of more than $125,000 that was awarded to the State as the result of a class-action anti-trust settlement with the maker of the George Foreman grills, The Salton Corporation.

Posted by AJR at 08:28 AM

Ouachita Clerk of Court Cleans Up

The New Star reports that the Ouachita Parish Clerk of Court has started to clean up after Tuesday's ceiling collapse. The civil filing office has been relocated to the basement of the parish courthouse.

Posted by AJR at 08:22 AM

DNA Collection Suit Might be Dismissed

The Advocate reports that MDLA Magistrate Judge Stephen Riedlinger has recommended that a civil suit filed against the East Baton Rouge Sheriff and one of his deputies be dismissed because the claim has prescribed. Magistrate Riedlinger, however, found that the plaintiff, Floyd Wagner, had his Fourth Amendment rights violated when he was coerced into giving a DNA sample during last year's hunt for the Baton Rouge serial killer. Judge Polozola is handling the case at the district level.

Posted by AJR at 08:18 AM

Louisiana Hospitals Sue Government

The Times-Picayune reports that thirteen Louisiana hospitals have joined with hospitals in Mississippi and Alabama to file suit against the federal government claiming they are owed Medicare payments. The suit challenges the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' over reliance on a wage index to calculate Medicare payments.

Posted by AJR at 08:12 AM

July 07, 2004

US Senate Considers Class Action Bill

Washington Post reports: "Under the bill, class actions involving at least 100 plaintiffs could be sent to federal court if at least $5 million is at stake and fewer than two-thirds of the plaintiffs live in the same state as the primary defendant."

Update: according to this source the bill failed to reach a vote. Louisiana Senator Mary Landrieu (D) is said to be largely in favor of the Class Action reform bill.

Posted by EES at 11:24 AM

Trial Lawyer Image to be Presidential Campaign Issue

The Times-Picayune reports on John Kerry's selection of John Edwards as a running mate. Specifically, the article notes that the democratic ticket can expect a full-on assault on trial lawyers, but that Edwards populist image could have a positive impact here:

"In parts of the country where labor unions are weak, especially in the South, trial lawyers are seen as standing up for the little guy," said David Mark, editor of Campaigns & Elections Magazine. "It could make a difference in Louisiana."
Posted by AJR at 08:43 AM

Darnell Replaces Hughes on New Orleans Bench

The Times-Picayune reports that Michael C. Darnell, a New Orleans lawyer, has been named to temporarily fill the vacancy created when the Louisiana Supreme Court removed Yvonne Hughes from the juvenile court bench.

Posted by AJR at 08:37 AM

Derrick Todd Lee in Court

The Advertiser reports that state judge Thomas Duplantier told Derrick Todd Lee that he "will be in shackles with duct tape across his mouth" if he doesn't restrain himself when he is in court to defend charges that he murdered Trineisha Dene Colomb. The Advocate also reports on the appearance and files a second report about a few of Lee's attorneys missing his hearings because of apparent miscommunication.

Posted by AJR at 08:33 AM

Clerk of Court's Office Ceiling Falls in Ouachita

The News Star reports that a portion of a ceiling fell as a result of a leak in an air conditioner in the Ouachita Parish Clerk of Court's Office on Tuesday. The article notes that there were a few minor injuries, but does not address whether any records were damaged.

Posted by AJR at 08:24 AM

Blakely in in Louisiana

The News Star reports that the United States Supreme Court's recent decision in Blakely v. Washington is "proving confusing to U.S. Justice Department prosecutors, including those in Louisiana."

Posted by AJR at 08:18 AM

July 06, 2004

Just a Mention of Nudity

CNN reports on the Shreveport country club case discussed below. The case has been discussed on this site before, but I don't remember any claims about nude dining.

Posted by AJR at 09:55 PM

Men's Grille Can't Exclude Women, LSC Holds

My partner, Bob Markle, alerted me to this decision by the Louisiana Supreme Court. Said Bob:

"The Supreme Court today issued an opinion involving four female members of Southern Trace Country Club of Shreveport, Inc. who challenged the club's policy of restricting to adult men only the use of a dining area known as the “Men’s Grille.” Plaintiffs asserted this policy was facially discriminatory and in violation of Article I, § 12 of the Louisiana Constitution of 1974.

"Affirming the Second Circuit's judgment, the Court held that, based on the facts of the case, the club violated the plaintiffs’ constitutional right to be free from arbitrary, capricious, or unreasonable discrimination based on sex by enacting and enforcing a men-only policy in a public dining facility."

Albright v. Southern Trace Country Club of Shreveport, Inc., 2003-C-3413 (La. 7/6/04).

Posted by RPW at 06:35 PM

July 02, 2004

LSC Permanently Disbars Michael O'Keefe and Steven Edwards

Today the Louisiana Supreme Court permanently disbarred Michael H. O'Keefe because of his multiple felony convictions and for "runner-based solicitation" of personal-injury cases. The Court also permanently disbarred Steven R. Edwards, son of former governor Edwin Edwards, because of his convictions in federal court for extortion, racketeering, and money laundering.

Posted by RPW at 04:13 PM

Wrongful-Death Claim Governed By Law In Effect When Decedent Died

Act 431 of 1979 introduced comparative fault into Louisiana law. The Act became effective August 1, 1980, but by its terms does "not apply to claims arising from events that occurred" before its effective date.

Raleigh Landry was exposed to asbestos between 1959 and 1974. He was diagnosed with mesothelioma in January 2002, and died in November 2002. Today, the Louisiana Supreme Court held that his survivors' wrongful-death claims are governed by comparative fault. The Court reasoned that for purposes of Act 431, the "event" giving rise to a wrongful-death claim is the decedent's death. Landry v. Avondale Indus., Inc., 03-CC-3432 (La. 7/2/04).

Posted by RPW at 03:56 PM

R.S. 44:9(B)(1) Is Constitutional, La. Supreme Court Holds

Revised Statute 44:9(B)(1) allows expungement and destruction of an arrest record when the individual was arrested for a misdemeanor, but not when the individual was arrested for a felony. A trial court ruled the statute unconstitutional as violating the Equal Protection clauses of the United States and Louisiana Constitutions, and as violating separation of powers. But today, in State v. Expuged Record # 249,044, the Louisiana Supreme Court reversed that decision, holding the statute constitutional "because the statutory classification is rationally related to a valid state interest."

Posted by RPW at 03:41 PM

Injured Plaintiff Cannot Recover Medicaid "Write-Off"

In Bozeman v. State, DOTD, released today, the Louisiana Supreme Court holds that a personal-injury plaintiff whose medical bills are paid by Medicaid cannot recover the Medicaid "write-off" amount as part of the award for medical expenses. The Court distinguished Medicaid write-offs from Medicare or private-insurance write-offs, because Medicaid is free. "Medicaid recipients are unable to collect the Medicaid “writeoff” amounts as damages because no consideration is provided for the benefit. Thus, plaintiff’s recovery is limited to what was paid by Medicaid. However, in those instances, where plaintiff’s patrimony has been diminished in some way in order to obtain the collateral source benefits, then plaintiff is entitled to the benefit of the bargain, and may recover the full value of his medical services, including the “writeoff” amount."

Posted by RPW at 03:35 PM

Party in Med.Mal. Case Can Call Review Panel Member as Expert Witness

Louisiana law requires pre-suit screening of medical-malpractice suits by medical-review panel. In Medine v. Roniger, released today, the Louisiana Supreme Court holds that a party in a medical-malpractice suit may name a member of the medical-review panel as that party's expert witness, at the calling party's cost. In such cases, the panel member / expert witness may function the same as any other expert witness. While in this case, the panel members testified as defense experts, Chief Justice Calogero, writing for the Court, noted that in many cases, the Court's ruling would benefit the plaintiff, who otherwise might be unable to retain an expert witness.

Posted by RPW at 03:03 PM

July 01, 2004

School Corruption Probe Press Conference

Biz New Orleans reports that a press conference will be held on Friday at 10:00 AM to announce new developments in the ongoing corruption investigation of the Orleans Parish School System.

Posted by AJR at 04:56 PM

East Carroll Parish Clerk sets Record

The Newsstar reports that Edna Brock, the East Carroll Parish Clerk of Court, was sworn in for her 14th term of office this week. Ms. Brock has worked in the office since 1944 and has been the elected clerk since 1952. She doesn't plan on retiring anytime soon, which will likely cement her position as the longest tenured clerk of court employee in the state.

Posted by AJR at 08:44 AM
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