THIBODAUX — A judge has dismissed a 2015 lawsuit over a car
accident that killed a young girl in a shopping center parking lot in
According to a report
by Houma Today, the accident occurred on Jan. 30, 2015, when Jessica
Walker’s 2-year-old daughter, Amyri Windham, ran away from her
mother in front of Ryan Lirette, who was driving a Chevrolet
Silverado in the parking lot. Lirette, who told police he had been
looking for a parking spot and did not see the child in front of him,
Walker initially told police that Lirette had not been speeding
and that it was an accident, but filed a lawsuit on Dec. 14, 2015.
Walker’s lawsuit accused
Lirette of such “acts of negligence” as failing to properly
operate his truck, driving carelessly, failing to stop, and
excessively speeding considering the circumstances.
District Judge Buddy Larose dismissed the suit on Dec. 27, 2016,
upon request of the plaintiffs, with extreme prejudice, Houma Today
Walker’s lawyer, Tommy Richardson of Usry,
Weeks, and Matthews, told the
Louisiana Record in an email interview that “this matter was
dismissed after mutual resolution between my client, Ms. Walker, and
Mr. Lirette’s insurance carrier.”
According to Blaine LeCesne, a law professor at the Loyola University College of Law in New Orleans,
such an about-face is not uncommon in these types of cases.
“She was speaking from a layman’s perspective immediately
after the accident from what she perceived,” LeCesne told the
Louisiana Record in a phone
interview. “But after consulting an attorney, she was
probably made aware that there were considerations that may not have
been evaluated from a liability standpoint and realized that there
actually could be a potential legal claim here, notwithstanding her
statements immediately after the accident.”
LaCesne said that if the case had a resolution, a financial
settlement probably was involved.
“… Even though it may have been defensible, from an insurance
company’s standpoint, it comes down to a cost-benefit analysis and
whether they’re willing to take that risk of a potential
seven-figure reward versus settling for something substantially
less,” he said.
But how the trial may have gone is difficult to predict.
“It’s a very, very difficult case from a liability standpoint,
because notwithstanding the mother’s initial statements which
definitely hurt her case, you’re dealing with the loss of a very
young child which is likely to generate great empathy with the jury,”
LeCesne said. “The bottom line is you should not run into a
pedestrian, even a child that’s dodged in front of the car, if
you’re going at the appropriate speed and watching what you should
have been watching.”
LeCesne offered further insight to how the case may have looked.
“One [defense] in particular would have been the mother’s own
negligence in failing to keep her child from running into the car and
keeping a closer watch on the child’s movements. So the mother
could have borne some responsibility for that,” he said. “But at
the end of the day, you have a very sympathetic plaintiff, who’s
grieving the loss of a young child, and that could potentially
resonate very strongly with a jury and manifest in a very high
reward… [The insurance company] simply wasn’t willing to take the
litigation risk associated with that, even though it may have had