Multi-Million Dollar Superdome Case

Attorney Cliff Cardone has had the privilege of successfully representing multiple victims in a tragic accident that occurred at the Louisiana Superdome. During a Saints’ football game on December 16, 2007, an elevator crashed with 18 people on board which caused life changing injuries. Mr. Cardone was able to receive settlements for many of the victims, but did go to trial on behalf of the three remaining passengers. Judge Ethel S. Julien presided over the non-jury trial and found in favor of the three women who were parties to the case. The judge awarded over $2 million dollars in damages for surgeries, past and future mental and physical pain and suffering, past and future loss of enjoyment of life, past lost wages, future lost earning capacity, and past medical expenses.

The incident happened at the end of the football game as everyone was leaving the game. As the group of people were in the elevator, it went into a free-fall due to overcrowding. After being lifted back to an unloading position, the elevator fell again with the passengers on board. The judgment is against SMG, which is a private entity that manages the Superdome for the state. In 2012, attorneys for SMG argued that the company was only liable for a maximum amount of $500,000 dollars in damages. Louisiana law provides that there is a monetary cap of $500,000 dollars for claims against the state. SMG tried to argue that since there was a contractual relationship with the Louisiana Superdome and Exposition District that this cap would apply to them and that they could not be held liable for any amount over $500,000 dollars. However, the judge rejected this argument and allowed Mr. Cardone to proceed with their case in which they received an amount vastly greater than the cap.

The victims’ experts showed that the cause of the malfunction of the elevator was more likely than not because of weight overload. The hoist ropes slipped in their grooves and it was not able to slow itself. Mr. Cardone proved through his witnesses that SMG had custody and control over the elevator in question. Further, he was also able to show that SMG failed to provide proper supervision, training, or even policies and procedures for its employees pertaining to service and maintenance of the elevator. In fact, the SMG personnel knew of the risk of overloading the elevators prior to the date of the accident. It was shown through the evidence that a Dome elevator on October 21, 2007, malfunctioned and went out of control because it was overloaded with too many people. There were 13 episodes of passengers being stuck in elevators from 2006 to 2007. In 2005, there was another incident of overcrowding in which the elevator fell around 12 inches. Mr. Cardone was also able to show that at no time after these incidents did the management of the company schedule a meeting with the technicians to address problems from overcrowding the elevators.

Based on the evidence of the case, the victims’ clearly were able to show that they were injured as a result of the negligence of SMG. The evidence proved that SMG was in violation of the requirements that are needed in running these elevators safely. SMG tried to take shortcuts, but it did not pay off. The evidence showed that the elevator technicians were well aware of the risk of overloading, but the company failed to recognize the security risk created by this dangerous situation. SMG could easily have provided load weight detectors or other security precautions to properly address the security issues of an overloaded elevator which presented a clear risk of harm to passengers. Mr. Cardone also hired an elevator expert who testified that there were no safety railings, there was a safety tag that revealed a safety inspection that was years out of date, and there was rust, dirt, and filth on the elevator car top. Throughout the trial, Mr. Cardone was able to prove that SMG was in control of the elevator, knew the risk of overloading the elevators, and that SMG did nothing to try to prevent these injuries.

All three of the women who filed suit against SMG were severely injured in the crash. Joycelyn Burch needed bilateral menisecotomies of her left and right knees almost a year after the crash. It was also shown that she suffered additional injuries to her neck and back. Almost four years after the crash, doctors were still able to find cervical spasms. After MRIs were performed, her doctors suggested surgeries every time she was treated for the neck and back pain. Doctors testified that Mrs. Burch will continue to have neck pain constantly throughout her life, even on a daily basis.

Mrs. Keela James was the second lady that was also on the elevator at the time of the crash. After the crash, Mrs. James had complaints of pain in her left leg and ankle, neck, lower back, and right shoulder. She subsequently aggravated a pre-existing severe cellulitis condition in her legs. In 2008, surgery was performed on her right shoulder in which it showed a right shoulder rotator cuff tear partial, anterior and posterior superior labrum tear, and other impingements and spurring. She suffered serious injuries in this crash, which have changed her life, and is still being seen by medical doctors about the pain she is continuously in.
Mrs. Kizzy Stamps was also unfortunately in the elevator compartment as it crashed as well. She was only 26 years old at the time of the crash and had no history of injuries or prior claims. MRIs of her spine showed a large disc herniation in her L4, L5 that compressed the right nerve root which is called a radiculopathy. After this, she had surgery to fix the herniated disc. In 2012, she still complained of low back pain in the middle of her back and pain radiating down her right leg. A repeat MRI showed a degenerative disc and broad based protrusions on the right side of the spine. Her injuries are permanent and disabling.
The award of over $2 million dollars, in which Mr. Cardone fought for, will be used for medical expenses and all other reasons caused by this horrific and easily preventable tragedy. The Cardone Law Firm represents victims of any type of personal injury caused by the negligence of another. We have dedicated our careers to fight for the best results for all of our clients. Being injured because of the negligence of another can create multiple issues and significant losses, an injured party should hire an experienced attorney who not only handles such accidents for injured parties, but also has the resources necessary for an injured person’s medical needs as well as the hiring of experts from a variety of fields in order to increase the value of the case. Cliff Cardone has practiced law nearly 40 years and has primarily handled personal-injury matters. If you have been injured, Phone Cardone at 504-522-3333 for a free in person consultation. He is direct, insightful, proactive and passionate about his client’s cases.

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