Judge Holds No Liability Limitations in New Orleans Superdome Elevator Accident

On December 16, 2007 the Arizona Cardinals were visiting the New Orleans Superdome to battle the New Orleans Saints for a spot in the playoffs. The game was an exciting display of offensive power and ultimately the Saints tied the Cardinals by the half and kept the lead for the win.

After the game, as the crowds dispersed, a group of eight individuals seated in Section 619 boarded an elevator to leave.

The elevator then began a free fall.

The elevator plummeted from nearly the top floor of the Superdome and crashed on the bottom floor leading to serious injuries for the eight passengers. The group contacted the Cardone Law Firm and filed suit against the responsible parties to compensate them for their injuries as a result of obvious negligence.

The defendants included: the State of Louisiana (owner of the Superdome), Louisiana Stadium and Exposition District (the governing body charged with administration of the Superdome), and SMG, Inc. (for-profit corporation hired contractually to manage, maintain and oversee daily operations at the Superdome).

In 2009, the defendants filed an answer to the plaintiff’s complaints. The defendants’ answer cited a liability limitation. A liability limitation dictates the maximum amount of damages an entity can be sued for. Some insurance contracts may include a liability limitation. In this case, the $500,000 liability limitation is a statutorily created limitation [La. R.S. 13:5106(E)] to cap the amount of funds a state agency or political subdivision can be sued for. This amount, however, was severely inadequate in compensating the eight plaintiffs for their injuries and related costs.

The liability limitation does have a valid purpose. When it comes to municipal parties, excessive awards can be costly to the taxpayer and lead to budget cuts for public services. However, this limitation is reserved for bodies funded by the public, not for-profit entities such as SMG. SMG was contracted by a government body, but not a government body itself. Therefore, the defendants’ answer designed to limit the plaintiff’s maximum recovery incorrectly applied the limitation to SMG.

The plaintiffs contended this application of the liability limitations citing SMG’s for-profit status. In June 2012, an Orleans Parish judge ruled that SMG, a for-profit corporation, does not operate as an extension of the state and therefore is not protected by the liability limitation meant for public agencies. Simply because a for-profit company is contracted for the benefit of the public or by a government agency, does not extend the liability limitation.

A Louisiana plaintiff may have a claim that involves a private person or organization and a municipal entity. Incidents like this case can fool even your most careful plaintiff into accepting less than fair awards. In these cases, the Cardone Law Firm can ensure all responsible parties are brought to justice and that no private party can ride the coattails of a co-defendant to benefit from a liability limitation.

Accordingly, if you or a loved one suffered as a result of an organization’s negligence, contact an experienced Louisiana personal injury attorney at the Cardone Law Firm Our skillful attorneys will help you determine the nature and extent of compensation to which you are entitled by law. Contact us today to schedule your free initial consultation.

Injured? Phone Cardone. 504-522-3333

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