Baton Rouge Premises Liability Attorneys
Unsafe Commercial Premises: Back Injuries — $3,600,000
Edgar Major v. Cotton’s, Inc., 536 So.2d 471:
Our client, a bread deliveryman, injured his back when carrying a load up a ramp at the rear of a warehouse food store. At the top of the ramp, the head clearance required our client to duck while still pushing the load uphill. He twisted his back. Three back operations left our client disabled from any occupation for which he was suited.
The defense had a strong case. So strong, in fact, that our client’s prior attorney abandoned the case once he obtained a delay for the start of trial. The defense produced witnesses who claimed:
- Our client was not supposed to be using and had been warned not to use the ramp, and a forklift had been provided for him for his deliveries, which he should have stacked on a pallet reserved for him;
- Our client had appeared intoxicated on the day of the accident, and stated that he was going to fall on the ramp and bring a lawsuit;
- The low clearance was not present at the top of the ramp at the time of the accident, having been removed when the ramp was first installed at that location;
- Our client had told someone he had injured his back the weekend before the accident while riding a recreational vehicle.
The weakness of each defense was revealed to the jury through aggressive cross-examination of each witness produced by the defense. After a trial by jury, a verdict of $1,379,000 was returned for our client.
The prior attorney who thought the case couldn’t be won had agreed to limit the liability of the warehouse food store to promote settlement and avoid trial — without the knowledge of our client. His agreement meant that a maximum of $640,000 could be collected from the warehouse operator and owner.
A lawsuit against the former attorney was then filed on behalf of our client and the weekend before the start of trial, settlement was reached with that attorney’s legal malpractice insurer for $600,000 in cash and $5,000 per month guaranteed for 30 years and thereafter payable for the rest of our client’s life. The total past and guaranteed compensation for our client is $3,100,000. If our client lives his normal life expectancy, an additional $500,000 will be paid.