Judge orders plaintiffs to produce written experts reports

Alejandro de los Rios Jun. 28, 2010, 11:00am



Judge Piper Griffin ruled that the plaintiffs in a slip and fall suit against city of New Orleans and SMG Crystal LLC must produce written expert reports in Orleans Parish Civil District Court within 90 days.

Citing Louisiana Code for Civil Procedure Article 1425, SMG filed the motion for written reports from three plaintiff experts -- John Slackal, Anne Teachworth and Michael Sperry - whose depositions were taken June 7, 8 and 9, respectively. Judge Griffin agreed that SMG was entitled to reports in advance of the depositions.

New Orleans attorneys Loretta Mince and Lance McCardle are representing SMG Crystal.

SMG also owns and operates the Louisiana Superdome and New Orleans Arena.

Seven civil suits have been filed against SMG dating back to May 2009, four of which are premises liability claims.

New Orleans residents Frank and Lavinzale Batiste are suing the city, the Orleans Parish School Board (OPSB) and SMG Crystal on behalf of Maggie Batiste, who broke her ankle after slipping on uneven steps at a graduation ceremony put on by OPSB and SMG at the Mahalia Jackson Theater for the Performing Arts.

New Orleans attorney Gregory Merritt filed the original petition for damages in June 2003, which claims Maggie Batiste lost her footing and fell "due to the defective lighting, combined with an unusual step configuration."

Assistant City Attorney Detrich Hebert is representing the city in this suit.

His motion for summary judgment was continued without date. Detrich filed the motion on June 4 on the grounds "that as a matter of fact, SMG/Crystal LLC had a contractual obligation to obtain from the Orleans Parish School Board evidence of a comprehensive general liability insurance policy naming SMG and the City of New Orleans as additionally insured."

The motion claims that SMG's failure to obtain the policy and failure to obtain proof of the OPSB's insurance constitute a "material breach in their contract."

SMG filed an opposition to the city's motion for summary judgment on June 18, claiming that "the city did not properly trigger its right to sue SMG" by adhering to the "Dispute Resolution" provision or the "Remedies: Termination" provision of the lease agreement between SMG and the city.

SMG claims that the city did not establish a "natural breach" of contract because the city failed to inform SMG about the apparent defects and then allow 60 days for the defect to be corrected.

New Orleans attorney Philip Costa is representing the OPSB.

Orleans Parish Case 2003-08461

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