La. Supreme Court grants Writ Application; Rules in favor of Gold Weems Civil Rights Litigation Team

October 10, 2023

On September 30, 2016, a resident  at Pinecrest Supports and Services Center (“Pinecrest”) fell off of a bed, resulting in paralysis.  The resident (“Plaintiff”) blamed two (2) Pinecrest employees, and filed suit against them, Pinecrest, and the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals ("LDHH") - the state agency that runs Pinecrest.  LDHH was represented by the Gold Weems Civil Rights Litigation Team – Steven M. Oxenhandler, Michael J. O’Shee, Joshua J. Dara, Jr., M. Allison Johnson, Connor C. Headrick, and R. Morgan Briggs.

The Plaintiff insisted at his deposition that he fell in a certain way and manner.  The Gold Team retained a bio-mechanical expert to reconstruct the incident according to what Plaintiff insisted happened.  After conducting an extensive scientific analysis of the incident, the expert concluded Plaintiff’s injuries could not have happened as described by Plaintiff.

The Gold Team (and the other defendants) filed a Motion for Summary Judgment ("MSJ") based on that expert testimony.  At the hearing on the MSJ, the trial court excluded the expert witness’s report and testimony without a Daubert hearing having been conducted, and then denied the defendants’ MSJ because there was no scientific evidence to support the arguments made.  After the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeal declined to intervene on writ applications filed there, all defendants filed a Writ Application with the La. Supreme Court seeking to have the trial court’s evidentiary ruling reversed as improper.

On October 10, 2023, the La. Supreme Court, in a per curium opinion, granted our Writ Application, reversing the 3rd Circuit denial and the trial court decision to exclude the expert witness testimony.  The defendants will now be able to re-urge the MSJ with expert testimony, and have a chance to prevail outright on their defenses.

La. Supreme Court per curiam opinion