City's motions satisfied in Mardi Gras float suit

By Alejandro de los Rios | Jul 28, 2010


The city of New Orleans' motions for preemptory exception in a suit involving a Mardi Gras float crash were satisfied in Orleans Parish Civil District Court.

Michael and Kim Duplantier are suing the Krewe of Pygmalion, Paidia Club Inc. (doing business as the Bards of Bohemia), and the New Orleans Police Department (NOPD), after a Mardi Gras float the couple was riding on crashed into a tree and allegedly caused debilitating injuries to Michael Duplantier.

Gretna attorney James Shields Sr. filed the original petition for damages in June 2005. It claims that the Duplantiers were riding on a Mardi Gras float in January 2005 owned by the Krewe of Pygmalion and contracted to the Bards of Bohemia when the tractor which was pulling the float experienced a flat tire.

After several delays in repairing the tractor, the float tried to catch up to the parade, which had already left, and, in the process of passing a cleaning crew, struck a tree's overhanging limbs causing the top section of the float to break and fall on top of Michael Duplantier, causing "crippling" injuries to his spine.

Assistant City Attorney Detrich Hebert is representing New Orleans and the NOPD.

Metairie attorneys Michael Futrell and Cy Lowe are representing Pygmalion and their insurer, Scottsdale Insurance Co.

New Orleans attorney Thomas Schwab is representing the Bards.

The suit claims that, "a series of negligent, reckless decisions was made" by the NOPD and Pygmalion officials by trying to get the float to catch up to the rest of the parade. The suit claims that the NOPD and Pygmalion were negligent in allowing the float to travel at excess speeds to try and catch up to the parade and that the accident is a direct cause of that decision-making.

Orleans Parish Judge Robin Giarusso is overseeing this case.

In June 2007, Giarusso ruled on a summary judgment in favor of Pygamalion, stating that the liability lay with the NOPD for making the final decision to allow the float to proceed. The defense cited La. R.S.-9:2796, also known as the Mardi Gras Immunity Statute, which states that Mardi Gras krewes cannot be sued for negligence for accidents during Mardi Gras parades. The plaintiffs appealed that ruling where Louisiana's Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals overturned Giarusso's decision and sent the case back to Orleans.

Hebert filed his motion for exception in June 2010, stating that the plaintiffs have failed to serve an allegedly negligent city employee. The motion states that it is "clear that the city employee should be named and is an indispensable party."

A July 16 motion hearing was scheduled and was continued because the motion was satisfied.

Entergy Corp. was originally named as a defendant in the suit – the New Orleans electricity provider was accused of clearing overhanging limbs on Mardi Gras parade routes – but the plaintiffs filed motion to dismiss Entergy without prejudice in July 2006.

Certain Underwriters at Lloyds of London was also originally named as a defendant, but a January 2007 motion for dismissal filed by the plaintiffs stated that they had "resolve the dispute between them."

A bench trial has been set in this case for Jan. 11, 2011.

Orleans Parish Case 2005-07739

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