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No Mulligan for Golf Cart Case
by Ron Davis

The victim of a bizarre golf-cart accident at a Louisiana shopping center has won a major settlement as a result of the injuries she suffered.

The shopping center is the Mall of Acadiana in Lafayette, and the accident occurred as the victim was leaving the center after shopping there. An employee of the facilities service firm under contract to the center struck her as he drove the golf cart through the property.

As later diagnosed by physicians who examined her, the collision with the golf cart caused her to suffer “possible underlying spinal pathology, associated headaches, possible median neuropathy at the right wrist, a contusion in the right forearm, and spasms in the upper back.”

Treatment has continued for persistent pain and to help her regain a normal level of activity. Moreover, an orthopedic surgeon concluded after 23 months of treating her that she can expect pain on a permanent basis, with a potential for surgery in the future.

She sued the shopping center’s contractor, and a jury found the golf-cart driver 75 percent at fault in causing the accident. As a result of that finding, the jury required the service contractor to pay the injured woman as follows:

Pain and suffering - $50,000.
Physical injury - $13,000
Past medical treatment - $17,134
Future medical treatment - $50,000
Loss of enjoyment - $40,000
Past lost wages - $30,000
Future lost wages - $0

The contractor appealed that award of damages as being excessive and an abuse of discretion.

A Louisiana appellate court, with one adjustment, agreed with the jury verdict, explaining, “While we acknowledge that the award is on the high end of such awards, given the particular circumstances of this case, we decline to overturn the considered award of the jury as an abuse of discretion.”

The adjustment cited by the appellate court related to the jury’s decision on lost future wages. Stated the court, “We find that the jury could have found that the injured woman was entitled to as much as $98,000 in future lost wages. The jury erred in finding that future lost wages were $0…. We find that a $30,000 award for past and future lost wages combined is appropriate.” (Martin v. ERMC, II, 2009 WL 3617685 [La.App. 3 Cir.])

Decision: November 2009
Published: December 2009



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