Perrier & Lacoste Obtains Unanimous Defense Verdict – August 2022
The Perrier & Lacoste trial team of Ralph Aucoin, Jr. and Guy Perrier obtained a defense verdict in the 22nd Judicial District Court following a three-day jury trial.
The claim was brought by a driver who was rear-ended by a third vehicle after she stopped on Hwy 25 for the defendant’s tractor-trailer which was attempting to back into a parking lot at night in the dark.
As a result of the collision the plaintiff sustained severe neck and back injuries with treatment consisting of medications, physical therapy, multiple injections including 7 lumbar ESIs, 2 cervical ESIs, 2 cervical facet injections, and 3 cervical RFAs administered by Dr. Steve Lee. The plaintiff ultimately underwent a C4-5 ACDF performed by Dr. Shamieh and was continuing to treat at the time of trial. Past medical expenses totaled $351,029.60. At trial Plaintiff also alleged to have suffered a mild traumatic brain injury based on one post-accident visit to a neurologist and a negative CT of her brain. Plaintiff’s expert life care planner, John Mark Hanawalt, testified that the total cost of her future medical care which included medications, therapy, injections, and a recommended lumbar fusion surgery would cost $1,380,168.00. Prior to trial the plaintiff claimed that her general and special damages totaled $2.2M.
Defendants contested both liability and medical causation. During her sworn deposition testimony, the plaintiff confirmed that the road where the accident occurred was straight and unobstructed. She saw the defendant’s tractor-trailer backing into the parking lot and came to a stop for 30-50 seconds approximately 50 feet from it before she was rear-ended by the third vehicle.
During discovery, the defendants learned that the plaintiff had been a professional rodeo barrel racer. A dangerous occupation that took a physical toll on her body. She was involved in at least 5 earlier incidents in which she had been thrown from a horse, kicked in the head, fallen off a tractor, rolled over, and trampled. She was also involved in an earlier work-related fall from a delivery truck. She had been taking medications and undergoing chiropractic care for neck and back complaints for years leading up to the subject accident. She continued to work as a delivery driver after the accident and was raising and training horses to barrel race.
The plaintiff was also involved in two subsequent accidents. The first, just 3 months after the accident at issue, happened when her zero-turn lawn mower fell off its jack stands while she was performing repairs injuring her head and hand. The second occurred 9 months after the subject accident when she struck a cow that had escaped its enclosure.
Defense expert, Dr. Everett Robert testified that plaintiff did not sustain any anatomical injury to her spine as a result of the subject accident. If anything, she suffered from noting more than some sprain/strain to her neck and back for which the appropriate treatment would have been 2-3 months of conservative therapy and would not include injections or surgery. There was no need for any future medical care.
At the end of the trial the jury deliberated for 13 minutes before reaching a unanimous verdict that the defendants were not at fault for the subject accident.