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Family awarded damages in Sheriff’s Office lawsuit


Family awarded $174,584 in Sheriff’s Office lawsuit

Family awarded $174,584 by a Louisiana Judge after a woman’s arm was broken in 2010 during a self-defense class the Lousisiana Parish Sheriff’s Office presented.

The plaintiff filed a lawsuit Aug. 10, 2011, against the Sheriff’s Office, deputy Danny Toups and Sheriff Craig Webre. She was injured Aug. 12, 2010, during a Rape Aggression Defense course.

State District Judge Walter Lanier of Thibodaux assigned the Sheriff’s Office 90 percent of the fault and plaintiff 10 percent. The Sheriff’s Office is responsible for all court costs.

The breakdown of the award is as follows: $50,000 in general damages; $70,187.68 in past and future medical expenses; $29,396.34 in lost wages; $10,000 for her husband; and $5,000 for each of their three children.

Lanier awarded plaintiff’s husband and children damages because the husband had to take over more household duties and children’s activities because of her injury. She also could no longer participate in sports with her daughter or style the girl’s hair.

The judge also awarded Bridgefield Casualty Insurance Co. $69,483.37 for medical expenses and workers’ compensation paid for her.

In his reasons for judgment, Lanier said the plaintiff signed a waiver before the class, indicating she knew the risks.

“She failed to follow the instructions of (the teacher) and failed to use the proper technique taught to her throughout the course,” he wrote. “On the other hand, the Sheriff’s Office put on the program. They were the instructors and knew that they were dealing with a student that had never tried these techniques before and would probably not get them right the first time.”

Lanier previously dismissed the claims, saying it appeared the plaintiff’s arm was broken while she and Toups were standing. He said she should have used defensive tactics rather than pushing Toups and that the deputy could only have prevented the injury by not providing “realistic resistance.”

On June 5, the Louisiana 1st Circuit Court of Appeal reversed Lanier’s decision and sent the case back to him.

Judge Duke Welch wrote in the appellate court’s judgment that a video recording of the simulated attack shows Toups, at 6 feet 1 inch and 320 pounds, placing the plaintiff, 5 feet 4 inches, in a bear hug. She kneed the deputy and pushed against him.

Welch said Toups leaned toward her, pushing her backward, and moved his hand from her back to her right arm. She went to her knees with the deputy still holding onto her, and “a loud popping” was heard.

The plaintiff screamed that her arm was broken, and Toups let go, Welch wrote. She required two plates and 21 screws in her arm.

If you or a loved one have suffered a personal injury due to someone else, contact the Attorneys at Chhabra & Gibbs, P.A. by going to their website or calling them at 601-948-8005.

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