RTA Slip and fall suit settles

Alejandro de los Rios Jul. 14, 2010, 1:41pm

A seven-year-old slip and fall suit involving a woman who fell on a bus operated by Transit Management of Southeast Louisiana Inc. has settled in Orleans Parish Civil District Court.

Mary Zanders sued Transit Management, which does business in New Orleans at the Regional Transit Authority (RTA), after she fell on a bus after the driver allegedly "made a fast start from a stopped position."

New Orleans attorney Birch McDonough filed the original petition for damages in February 2003. New Orleans attorney Gerald Webre took over as plaintiff counsel after McDonough passed away in 2008.

The original petition for damages claims that Zanders suffered "lumbar and cervical strain, injury to her shoulder and a sprained neck" and that "the sole cause of the accident was the negligence of the RTA operator."

The case had been set for a one-day bench trial on July 14. A call to Webre's office confirmed that a settlement had been reached between the parties, but that no papers have been signed or money transferred.

New Orleans attorney Robert Peyton has represented RTA. He replaced the original counsel of record, Ranord Darensburg, in June 2007.

New Orleans attorneys Craig and Kiana Mitchell were added to the defense counsel in July 2007.

Orleans Parish Judge Robin Giarusso is overseeing the case. In November 2009, Giarrusso granted a plaintiff's motion for a settlement conference, but no settlement was reached.

The defense claimed that "the sole cause of the accident sued upon was caused by the fault of a third party for which the defendants are not responsible," though RTA has never identified a third party.

RTA's defense cited Act 1995 No 75 of the Louisiana Legislature, amended R.S. 48:1656(23), which reads in part: "the authority shall not be deemed to a common carrier, or interpreted to be such by any court of this state in a suit for personal injury or property damage."

On May 3, 2010, the defense filed a motion for summary judgment, stating that the "plaintiff has failed to meet her burden of proving that there was a defect or condition on the bus at issue for which RTA can be held responsible."

Plaintiff attorneys filed an opposition for the motion on May 25.

Orleans Parish Case 2003-02847

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