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Attorneys Serving Louisiana, Texas and Mississippi

Court of Appeals Upholds Wrongful Death Jury Verdict for Parents of Children Killed in Crash

On Behalf of | Apr 9, 2019 | Automotive

Wrongful Death

Louisiana’s First Circuit Court of Appeals heard an appeal of a $4.4 million wrongful death jury verdict in a case brought by the Lanus family, whose children (nine-year-old Sarai Lanus and six-year-old Daylon Lanus) were killed in a 2014 car accident off Highway 928. The court decided to uphold the verdict on April 3rd; it rejected the claims by the Department of Transportation and Development (DOTP) that the jury had committed 11 errors in its award of the Lanus plaintiffs.

Some of the errors claimed by the DOTD in its appeal include:

  • The jury unreasonably pinned 40 percent of fault to the driver, claiming her recklessness was the primary, if not sole cause of the accident.
  • The trial court barred critical evidence that Ms. Taylor has a 21-year history of a seizure condition.
  • The jury’s verdict was in error because there was no defect present to cause the driver to run off the road.
  • The jury failed to consider the financial inability of the DOTD to maintain its roads in anything more than a reasonably safe condition.
  • The jury applied an improper duty of care upon the DOTD.

The appeals court upheld the jury verdict holding the DOTD 60 percent at-fault for the Lanus children’s wrongful death. It did not find the 11 issues raised in the appeal were errors in the jury’s decision.

Initial Trial

On June 24, 2014, Sarai and Daylon Lanus were fishing with their father and two of their father’s friends off the side of Highway 928 in Ascension Parish when Shawnette Taylor lost control of her SUV, veering off the road down an embankment and colliding with the group. The three adults were rushed to the hospital, but tragically the children were pronounced dead at the scene.

The Lanus family alleged the design of the road was defective and was the principal cause of the accident. The family’s wrongful death lawsuit also claimed the DOTD was negligent in maintaining the roadway.

A Geismar jury concluded the roadway or right-of-way was defective and the defect posed an unreasonable risk of harm that the DOTD was aware of.

Contact Our Trusted Attorneys

If you are dealing with the wrongful death of someone you love, do not hesitate to call a trusted Baton Rouge wrongful death lawyer to review your case. We understand that no amount of compensation can fill the void of losing a loved one, but we want to ensure that you have a chance to pursue compensation to help with the financial burdens of losing a loved one. Our services are provided on a contingency fee basis, so there are no costs to you unless we obtain compensation on your behalf.

Call us today for a free case review at (800) 374-8422.


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