FEMA sued after employee allegedly causes rear-end collision

Michelle Massey Aug. 31, 2010, 3:51am


A St. Bernard Parish resident has filed a personal injury lawsuit against the Federal Emergency Management Agency after sustaining injuries in a rear-end collision.

Lucille K. Lailhengue filed suit against Rachel Cox Rodi, U.S. Dept. of Homeland Security doing business as FEMA, State Farm Mutual Insurance Co. and ABC Insurance Co. on July 22 in St. Bernard Parish District Court. The defendants removed the case to federal court in New Orleans on Aug. 23.

The crash allegedly occurred on July 29, 2009 as Lailhengue was driving her 2007 Towncar on LaSalle Street in New Orleans.

Lailhengue states she was suddenly struck from the rear by a 2007 Chevrolet Impala operated by defendant Rodi and owned by FEMA. At the time of the crash, defendant Rodi was an employee of the FEMA External Affairs Dept.

Lailhengue states the collision caused severe and painful injuries, including lumbar spine disc injuries, that require ongoing medical care.

Defendant Rodi is accused of not having her vehicle under proper control and failing to maintain a proper lookout, driving in a careless and reckless manner, failing to slow for traffic, failing to yield and following too closely.

The defendants are accused of fault and negligence for allowing their vehicle to be operated by an untrained, unskilled, careless driver, for failing to instruct the driver in the proper operation of a motor vehicle and for generally failing to exercise care under the circumstances.

Lailhengue is seeking damages for medical expenses, physical pain and suffering, loss of function, mental anguish, emotional distress, diminished earning capacity, lost wages, diminished earning capacity, special care and services, loss of enjoyment of life, permanent partial disability, interest and court costs.

Lailhengue is represented by James A. Hatch and Jeffrey S. Berkowitz of Hatch & Berkowitz in Metairie.

U.S. District Judge Jay C. Zainey is assigned to the case.

Case No. 2:10cv028807

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