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Plaintiffs Todd Huval and Chad Boyer were former Louisiana State Troopers employed by the State of Louisiana, Department of Public Safety and Corrections, Office of State Police. In 2007, they were terminated based on an investigation which exposed alleged violations of employment policy and state law. Both were accused of providing confidential information to a third party. The Louisiana Supreme Court granted certiorari in this case to determine whether the district court had subject matter jurisdiction over tort claims stemming from the disciplinary action over which the State Police Commission presided. The lower courts concluded that subject matter jurisdiction was proper in district court. The Supreme Court agreed. View "Huval v. Louisiana" on Justia Law

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Following Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, the Louisiana legislature in 2006 passed Act 853 and Act 567, which amended the laws governing compensation for levee servitude appropriations with a particular focus on appropriations for use in hurricane protection projects. The Louisiana Supreme Court granted certiorari in this matter for three purposes: (1) to interpret specific provisions of the 2006 amendments to La. Const. art. I, section 4, La. Const. art. VI, section 42, and La. R.S. 38:281(3) and (4); (2) to determine the amount of compensation that was due a property owner whose property was appropriated by a levee district pursuant to a permanent levee servitude for use in a hurricane protection project; and (3) to determine whether La. R.S. 38:301(C)(2)(f) or La. R.S. 13:5111 governed an award for attorneys’ fees in a levee servitude appropriation dispute. The Court held the 2006 amendments to La. Const. art. I, section 4, La. Const. art. VI, section 42 and 38:281(3) and (4) reduced, rather than eliminated, the measure of damages to be paid to a property owner for the taking of, or loss or damage to, property rights for the construction, enlargement, improvement, or modification of hurricane protection projects from “full extent of the loss” to the more restrictive “just compensation” measure required by the Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution, which was the fair market value of the property at the time of the appropriation, based on the current use of the property, before the proposed appropriated use, and without allowing for any change in value caused by levee construction. Furthermore, the Court held La. R.S. 38:301(C)(2)(f) governed an award for attorneys’ fees in a levee appropriation dispute. View "South Lafourche Levee Dist. v. Jarreau" on Justia Law

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The Louisiana Supreme Court granted review of this matter to determine whether the appellate court erroneously applied the domestic abuse battery statute, La. R.S. 14:35.3. The appellate court determined there was insufficient evidence to support the defendant’s conviction under the statutory provision requiring that an offender and victim be past or present members of the same household. As interpreted by the appellate court, La. R.S. 14:35.3 required the state to show the offender and victim engaged in a relationship comparable to the civil law concept of “open concubinage.” After that review, the Supreme Court found that the appellate court’s requirement that the state prove “open concubinage” between the victim and offender was not grounded in the statute. Moreover, the appellate court’s requirement of proof of “open concubinage” thwarts the broader inquiry into the circumstances of the relationship intended by the legislature. The Court reversed the appellate court and reinstated the trial court’s ruling that the totality of evidence was sufficient to find the victim and offender were part of the same household and, therefore, was sufficient to support the conviction. View "Louisiana v. Davis" on Justia Law

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A workers’ compensation claimant sought review of a judgment from the Office of Workers’ Compensation affirming the decision of the Medical Director denying his physician’s request for trial of a spinal cord stimulator. The court of appeal affirmed the ruling of the Office of Workers’ Compensation that the claimant had failed to show the Medical Director’s decision was not in accordance with the Medical Treatment Guidelines. Because the Supreme Court found the Medical Director and the Office of Workers’ Compensation misinterpreted the language of Louisiana Administrative Code, and thus misapplied the Medical Treatment Guidelines on neurostimulation to the claimant’s case, it reversed the lower court’s ruling and found the Office of Workers’ Compensation erred in affirming the decision of the Medical Director. View "Gulley v. Hope Youth Ranch" on Justia Law

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Defendant Corei Guidry was charged with one count of possession with intent to distribute heroin, one count of possession with intent to distribute cocaine, one count of possession with intent to distribute Tramadol, and one count of conspiracy to commit simple escape. The charge of possession with intent to distribute heroin carried the highest sentence: ten to fifty years at hard labor. The issue this case presented for the Supreme Court's review was whether the trial court could allow a criminal jury to be informed of the possible mandatory minimum sentence faced by the defendant if, after a conviction on the offense being tried, he were to be sentenced under the Habitual Offender Law. After review, the Court found the district court erred in denying the State’s motion in limine, which sought to disallow the defendant from mentioning in argument the mandatory minimum sentence the defendant could be subject to under the Habitual Offender Law should the State seek to enhance his sentence under that law and should the court find the State has proved all of the elements to warrant enhancement of the sentence. "We find the issue of the possible mandatory minimum sentences that may be imposed if the defendant is convicted and the State successfully pursues enhancement of the sentence under the Habitual Offender law is too attenuated from the guilt phase of trial to be discussed before a jury, because it shifts the focus of the jury from its duty to determine guilt or innocence to issues regarding sentencing, possibly causing confusion of the issues and inviting the jury to speculate as to why a defendant may be facing such a term of imprisonment." View "Louisiana v. Guidry" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs alleged that an infection developed after negligent medical treatment was provided by the defendants. Accordingly, they filed a Request for Medical Review Panel and, subsequently, a lawsuit. The Supreme Court granted the plaintiffs’ writ application to determine whether the medical review panel complaint was sufficient to survive an exception of prematurity. After review, the Court found the brief descriptions of malpractice contained in the complaint were broad enough to encompass the specific allegations contained in the petition for damages. Thus, the Court reversed the lower courts’ grant of the exception of prematurity and remanded the case for further proceedings. View "Coulon v. Endurance Risk Partners, Inc." on Justia Law

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Derroceus Abney was murdered on or about February 10, 2007. His body was found on or about February 23, 2007 hidden in an inoperable freezer. Investigators determined that the body had been moved to the freezer immediately after his murder. A fingerprint found at the scene was entered into a national database, and it was determined to be the fingerprint of defendant Channing Gray. Gray was arrested in 2013. The issue this case presented for the Louisiana Supreme Court's review was whether La. C.Cr.P. art. 576 could be applied to render timely the institution of a prosecution against defendant for obstruction of justice, following the dismissal of a prosecution for murder. The trial court denied the defendant’s motion to quash the bill of information charging him with obstruction of justice; however, the appellate court granted the defendant’s writ application, granted defendant’s motion to quash, and dismissed the bill of information. The appellate court concluded that the charge of obstruction of justice was not “based on the same facts” as the murder prosecution, contrary to the requirements of La. C.Cr.P. art. 576, and therefore was untimely filed. The Supreme Court disagreed with this, vacated the appellate court's judgment and reinstated the trial court judgment. View "Louisiana v. Gray" on Justia Law

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This action arose out of the construction of a facility by United Plant Services (UPS), in Trout, to which Entergy Louisiana, LLC (Entergy) provided electric services. Entergy’s competitor, Concordia Electric Cooperative, Inc., filed a complaint with the Louisiana Public Service Commission (LPSC) asserting that Entergy’s service to the UPS facility violated La.R.S. 45:123 and LPSC General Order No. R-28269, collectively referred to as the 300 Foot Rule, by providing service to UPS at a point of connection Concordia presumed to be within 300 feet of its existing electrical lines. An ALJ recommended the LPSC dismiss Concordia's claims because the judge found Concordia failed to show UPS or Entergy had intentionally placed the building and meter in circumvention of the 300 Foot Rule (enabling UPS to select Entergy as opposed to Concordia as its electric service provider). Concordia appealed, and a district court reversed the LPSC order. Because the Supreme Court found the LPSC did not act arbitrarily and capriciously in reaching its decision, it reversed. View "Entergy Louisiana, LLC v. Louisiana Public Svc. Comm'n" on Justia Law

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This medical malpractice case arose from the death of Lyric Pitts, seven month old daughter of plaintiffs David Pitts, Jr. and Kenyetta Gurley. A jury found in favor of defendant Dr. Rhoda Jones. Plaintiffs moved for a Judgment Notwithstanding the Verdict (JNOV), or alternatively for a new trial. The district court granted the JNOV and conditionally granted the new trial. The court of appeal reversed and reinstated the jury's verdict. The Supreme Court granted plaintiffs' writ application to review the correctness of the lower courts' rulings on the JNOV and new trial. After its review, the Supreme Court affirmed the court of appeal's ruling reversing the district court's grant of the JNOV. However, the Court reversed the ruling of the court of appeal relative to the new trial, finding no abuse of discretion in the district court's grant of a new trial. View "Pitts v. Louisiana Medical Mutual Ins. Co." on Justia Law

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Plaintiff Gerald Castille worked as a school bus driver for the St. Martin Parish School Board. During his first few years, plaintiff drove two "undesirable" routes, as they "required the assigned bus driver to travel very long distances while trying to maintain a safe and orderly bus populated with children from families that were known to have little or no respect for the bus operators. . . ." In 1980, plaintiff was assigned to the "Highway 31 Route," which was initially considered undesirable, plaintiff asserted it changed over time and became more desirable as the route became less populated. While driving that route for nearly thirty years, plaintiff claimed to have developed relationships with the students and their parents, noting the route gave him "a sense of purpose and dignity." In the spring of 2008, the costs of diesel fuel began to rise, and the School Board was forced to take steps to save money by redrawing and reassigning bus routes. Prior to the start of the 2008-2009 school year, the bus drivers received their new route assignments. The School Board assigned plaintiff a combined "Levee-Portage Route," two of his old routes, with no change in his salary, health benefits, or retirement. Plaintiff objected to this new route, but claimed the bus manager told him to try the route for a few weeks and come back if he was still unhappy. After two weeks, plaintiff requested to be returned to the Highway 31 route, but was told to deal with the current situation. He alerted his supervisors to the problems, but claim they took no action. According to plaintiff, he began experiencing anxiety and depression problems during this time. His problems continued until 2011, when a more desirable vacant route became available. Plaintiff filed the instant suit against the School Board, alleging the School Board violated La. R.S. 17:493.14 in assigning the bus routes in 2008. The Supreme Court granted certiorari in this matter to consider whether the court of appeal erred in awarding plaintiff damages for bad faith breach of contract. The Court found the court of appeal erred in awarding bad faith damages and therefore reversed that portion of the court of appeal's judgment, and affirmed in all other respects. View "Castille v. St. Martin Parish Sch. Bd." on Justia Law