Comp covers fire chief's injuries after fall from ladder truck
Case name: Adams v. City of Shreveport, No. 47,515-CA (La. Ct. App. 11/14/12).
Ruling: The Louisiana Court of Appeal granted summary judgment to a city on a fire chief's widow's suit claiming that the city's response to the chief's injuries fell below a reasonable standard of care.
What it means:
In Louisiana, a worker's exclusive remedy for workplace injuries is workers' compensation unless the injuries are the result of an intentional act.
A fire chief for a city fell from the top of a ladder truck while readying the truck for service after a parade. He sustained severe trauma to his spinal column resulting in a fractured neck. Nearby emergency medical technicians employed by the city rushed to the chief's side and attempted to stabilize him until he could be transported to the hospital. Paramedics arrived after two to three minutes, recognized that the chief was not receiving oxygen, and unsuccessfully attempted emergency oxygenation. By the time he arrived at the hospital, he suffered severe and irreversible brain damage from a lack of oxygen. The chief died 10 months later of complications resulting from injuries due to the lack of oxygen. The chief's widow sued the city, arguing that the city's response to his injuries fell below a reasonable standard of care that should have been provided. The city asserted that workers' compensation provided the exclusive remedy. The Louisiana Court of Appeal granted summary judgment to the city.
The widow asserted that the city's decision not to supply quicktrach kits to all paramedic units supported her argument that the intentional act exception to the workers' compensation exclusive remedy was applicable. The court disagreed, finding that the widow failed to establish that the chief's injuries resulted from an intentional act by the city. There was no argument that the chief's injuries were consciously desired by the city. Also, it may have been foreseeable that one of the medical units that was not equipped with a quicktrach kit would need one but that a person at the parade would suffer an injury requiring one did not rise to the level of "substantial certainty" needed to establish an intentional act. The court explained that the city made an effort to respond to an emergency situation requiring rapid decision-making that failed to mitigate the chief's injuries.
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March 11, 2013
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