909 Poydras St, #2300, New Orleans, LA 70112

Legal News

Former Public Service Commission Chairman Jay Blossman has joined Milling Benson Woodward

Milling Benson Woodward, L.L.P., is pleased to announce that former Chairman of the Louisiana Public Service Commission, Jay Blossman, has joined the firm and will practice in the firm’s Mandeville office.  Jay’s practice primarily focuses on government and regulatory affairs.

Chadwick Collings to serve as General Counsel for the St. Tammany Parish Sheriff’s Office

Chadwick Collings and Milling Benson Woodward L.L.P. to serve as General Counsel for newly elected Sheriff, Randy Smith, and the St. Tammany Parish Sheriff’s Office.

https://www.theneworleansadvocate.com/news/sttammany/16115034-172/new-st-tammany-sheriff-to-hire-new-law-firm-for-the-office

Chadwick Collings successfully resolves a suit involving a claim for $75 million in unpaid bonds.

Chadwick Collings successfully resolved through a settlement a suit involving a claim for $75 million in unpaid bonds. The suit was extremely complex and involved numerous out of state parties, however, following a successful mediation, all sides were able to resolve their differences and achieve a final settlement.
https://www.nola.com/politics/index.ssf/2015/09/tammany_holding_pays_20_millio.html

Legal Issues Connected to EBOLA in the United States

Legal Issues Connected to EBOLA in the United States (PDF)

Read more…

More…

Stephanie B. Laborde is successful in defending the PCF

Stephanie B. Laborde successfully defended the Louisiana Patient’s Compensation Fund Oversight Board (“PCF”) and obtained dismissals in multiple cases in St. Bernard Parish involving alleged acts of medical malpractice. The plaintiffs maintained that the failure of the administrator to evacuate the nursing home in light of Hurricane Katrina was an act of “medical malpractice” and that the PCF was, therefore, liable to plaintiffs for amounts in excess of their settlements with the nursing home. On the PCF’s Motion for Summary Judgment, the trial court ruled that the decision not to evacuate the nursing home and to shelter in place during the hurricane was an administrative decision, not a medical one. The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeal affirmed the trial court’s ruling and maintained the dismissal of the plaintiffs’ suits against the PCF. Applications for supervisory writs were denied by the Supreme Court. Montalbano v. Buffman, Inc., 2011-0753 (La. App. 4 Cir. 3/21/12), 2012 Lexis 385, writs den., 2012-0880, 2012-0894 (La. 6/1/12).

Department Chairs James K. Irvin and Stephanie B. Laborde Secure Louisiana Supreme Court Victory

Partners Stephanie Laborde (Governmental Relations and Regulatory Affairs Department Chair) and James K. Irvin (Litigation Department Chair) secured a Louisiana Supreme Court victory last Friday, when the Court voted 7-0 to reverse the trial court and Second Circuit Court of Appeal’s judgments against the Louisiana Insurance Guarantee Association (“LIGA”).

The lower courts had held that LIGA was liable to pay the obligations of an insolvent reinsurer of a worker’s compensation self-insurance fund because the insurance was not reinsurance but instead direct excess insurance covered by LIGA. The Supreme Court recognized that the fund was an insurer that had ceded a portion of its risk to the insolvent insurance company as opposed to being an insured who purchased an excess policy to cover liabilities or damage above the limits of a primary policy purchased by the insured. Thus, according to the Supreme Court, the case presented a classic case of reinsurance, which is not covered by LIGA.

For more information on the firm’s litigation experience, please contact us at (504) 569-7000.

Partner Normand Pizza Secures Louisiana Supreme Court Insurance Defense Victory

Litigants in the area of medical malpractice were plagued by an unresolved insurance coverage issue that left a split in the circuits: Whether the coverage provision of a claims-made policy, which denied coverage for medical malpractice that occurred during the policy period but was first reported after the expiration of the policy period, violated La. R.S. 22:629.

However, on December 2, 2008, the Louisiana Supreme Court resolved this issue in the seminal case of Hood v. Cotter.

Milling’s Normand Pizza, was tasked with defending LAMMICO’s denial of Mr. Hood’s claim since it was reported outside the insurance policy period. Initially, the district court felt it was constrained by prior jurisprudence, and therefore denied LAMMICO’s motion for summary judgment on the issue of coverage. The district court held the LAMMICO’s policy afforded coverage for Mr. Hood’s claim. The district court noted that Dr. Cotter did not pay the applicable surcharge to the Patient’s Compensation Fund, and thereby granted the PCF’s motion which dismissed the PCF.

LAMMICO appealed the denial of its Motion for Summary Judgment to the First Circuit Court of Appeal, as well as the PCF’s dismissal. The First Circuit reversed the grant of summary judgment in favor of the PCF, and affirmed the denial of LAMMICO’s summary judgment. Specifically, the First Circuit found that LAMMICO’s policy provision which denied coverage for medical malpractice that occurred during the policy period but was first reported after the expiration of the policy period violated La. R.S. 22:629. LAMMICO and Mr. Pizza noted the importance of the issue of coverage in this case, and determined that this suit was ripe for review by the Louisiana Supreme Court. On December 2, 2008, the Louisiana Supreme Court found that LAMMICO’s claims-made policy provision did not violate La. R.S. 22:629, and therefore did not provide coverage for Mr. Hood’s claim. Therefore, the Court concluded LAMMICO’s Motion for Summary Judgment should have been granted.Mr. Pizza’s vigorous representation and litigation skills were instrumental in litigating a suit that ultimately created a brighter line between claims-made policy coverage and occurrence-based policy coverage.

Normand Pizza can be reached at: [email protected]

Normand Pizza and Christina Soileau Successful in Fifth Circuit Court of Appeal

On May 29, 2009, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit rendered a decision which ended a dispute pertaining to when a disabled employee must receive his monthly payment of benefits.

Mr. Combe was the recipient of disability benefits, paid by insurer Life Insurance Company of North America (“LINA”). It was LINA’s practice to pay such benefits at the end of the month, once they had been accrued. LINA submitted it was entitled to do so, based on its policy and language of the district court’s judgment. However, Mr. Combe claimed that based on the language of the district court’s judgment, he was entitled to his benefits at the beginning of each month.

LINA filed a declaratory judgment on this issue, while Mr. Combe filed a Motion for Summary Judgment. After a hearing, the district court granted Mr. Combe’s Motion for Summary Judgment, holding that Mr. Combe was entitled to these benefits at the start of each month. The district court also awarded Mr. Combe his attorneys’ fees and costs.

Allowing this decision to remain as unchallenged meant that LINA and any future insurer would be required to pay disability benefits in advance of their accrual. Therefore, LINA appealed the district court’s decision, including the award for costs and attorneys fees.

In its decision, the Court noted that neither the policy nor the judgment clarified this issue. Therefore, Mr. Combe’s reliance on the language in the lower court’s judgment was misplaced. The Court noted that it was within LINA’s discretion to pay the benefits in arrears, because the benefits are designed to partially replace a salary, which is also paid in arrears. The Court reversed the grant of summary judgment, and also reversed the award for attorneys’ fees. Therefore, Mr. Pizza and Ms. Soileau were able to successfully defend an insurer’s decision to pay disability benefits in arrears.

Normand Pizza can be reached at [email protected].

Jim Irvin, Chair of Litigation Department, Secures Summary Judgement on Multimillion Dollar Case

Jim Irvin, Chair of the Litigation Department, teamed with Jim and John Madison of the Shreveport firm of Weiner, Weiss & Madison PC to secure a summary judgment on multimillion breach-of-contract and fraud claims brought by former partners against casino operator Jack Binion and his affiliated companies. Most of the claims were held by U.S. District Judge Maurice Hicks to be barred by a broad release in the former partners’ buy-out agreements. Those agreements also included participation clauses providing that the former partners would receive $millions in bonuses based upon appreciation of the companies if Binion sold out within five years, but claims for the bonuses were also denied because, although Binion had executed a contract to sell before the five-year deadline, Federal Trade Commission clearance to close the sale was not received until the deadline had passed. Following oral argument in Oxford, Mississippi, the summary judgment was affirmed by the Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit on March 27, 2008.

Milling Litigation Team wins partial Summary Judgment on Insurance Coverage in Mesothelioma case.

Tabor v. Anco Insulations, Inc., No. 66,929, 16th Judicial District Court for St. Martin Parish, La. Our client and its insurer cross-moved for summary judgment on boiler and machinery policy coverage.

The plaintiffs sued the client alleging that their decedent’s exposure to asbestos during machinery repairs in the 1960s caused their decedent’s mesothelioma. The client third-partied the insurer alleging that the repairs had been necessitated by covered accidents and breakdowns involving the machinery. The insurer moved for summary judgment on the grounds that the client could not identify any specific accident or breakdown and that notice of the claim was late. We cross-moved for partial summary judgment on liability and were able to show that while we could not identify breakdowns by time and date, they regularly occurred during the plaintiffs’ decedent’s employment. The court found this evidence sufficient to invoke coverage and held that notice of the plaintiffs’ claims five months after the client became aware of them was sufficient. Jim Irvin briefed and argued the cross-motions. He was assisted by team members Mag Bickford, Bill Davis, Philippe Langlois and Jennifer Fiore.

Michael D. Hebert Lead Counsel in Successful Defense of $125 Million Telecommunications Bond Issue

Michael D. Hebert was lead counsel in the successful defense of the City of Lafayette, Louisiana and its issuance of $125 million in utilities revenue bonds to finance a new fiber optics communications project.

The case, Naquin v. Lafayette City-Parish Consolidated Government (2007 WL 530009, https://www.lasc.org/opinions/2007/06C2227.opn.pdf), was recently decided by the Louisiana Supreme Court, and Mr. Hebert argued the case before that court. The case clears the way for the financing of a landmark fiber-to-the-premises project by the City of Lafayette, which seeks to provide telephone, cable/video, and Internet service via fiber optic cables citywide. When constructed, the project will be one of the largest municipally-owned communications projects of its kind in the United States.

Sheila L. Moragas

Chadwick Collings to serve as General Counsel for the St. Tammany Parish Sheriff’s Office

Chadwick Collings and Milling Benson Woodward L.L.P. to serve as General Counsel for newly elected Sheriff, Randy Smith, and the St. Tammany Parish Sheriff’s Office.

https://www.theneworleansadvocate.com/news/sttammany/16115034-172/new-st-tammany-sheriff-to-hire-new-law-firm-for-the-office

Chadwick Collings successfully resolves a suit involving a claim for $75 million in unpaid bonds.

Chadwick Collings successfully resolved through a settlement a suit involving a claim for $75 million in unpaid bonds. The suit was extremely complex and involved numerous out of state parties, however, following a successful mediation, all sides were able to resolve their differences and achieve a final settlement.

https://www.nola.com/politics/index.ssf/2015/09/tammany_holding_pays_20_millio.html

Legal Issues Connected to EBOLA in the United States