Louisiana Record

Thursday, November 21, 2019

Wrongful death judgment for children of painter killed in wall collapse upheld

By Sam Knef | Apr 12, 2017

General court 10

NEW ORLEANS — The state's Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals recently affirmed an Orleans Parish court decision to award nearly $1 million in damages to the children of a painter who died when part of a segmented concrete wall collapsed on him.

In a 2-1 decision issued on March 8, the Fourth Circuit rejected the appeal brought by defendants BAC #2 Investments, Gene Langkop of Langkop Construction and Seneca Insurance Co., who had sought to overturn the trial court’s judgment that found them jointly liable for the wrongful death of Dan Gordon.

Judges Madeline Landrieu and Dennis Bagneris Sr. upheld the judgment, while Judge Joy Cossich Lobrano dissented.

The incident took place April 21, 2012 during the renovation of a warehouse that had recently been purchased by BAC#2, the order said. 

Gordon and Langkop were in an alley behind the warehouse. The concrete wall, which was located on the other side of the alley on property owned by Baker Ready Mix, partially collapsed into the alley. Baker had constructed the wall approximately five years earlier.

After a bench trial in April 2015, a trial court found BAC #2, Langkop and Seneca to be jointly 75 percent at fault for Gordon's death in July 2015. The remaining 25 percent was assigned to Baker, a settling defendant.

The trial court awarded one child $350,000 for pain and suffering and $32,819.69 for loss of financial support. The other child was awarded $500,000 for pain and suffering, and $58,135.80 for loss of financial support. Each amount will be reduced by 25 percent to account for the percentage of fault attributed to Baker.

BAC #2, Langkop and Seneca appealed, claiming the trial court erred by granting the plaintiffs' motion to strike the jury, misapplied duty/risk analysis, allocated the majority of fault to BAC #2 and Langkop rather than Baker and awarded excessive damage to the plaintiffs.

"Considering the evidence, we cannot say the amounts of general damages awarded to the plaintiffs are so unreasonable as to constitute an abuse of discretion," the ruling said.

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Louisiana Fourth Circuit Court of Appeal