Defense Verdict in Premises Liability Mesothelioma Jury Trial
Recently, a trial team led by David Bienvenu was successful in obtaining a defense verdict following a four week jury trial in Seattle, Washington. Our firm represented the owner of a pulp and paper mill located in southern Washington that was sued by the surviving spouse of a retired union insulator who died of malignant mesothelioma. The suit alleged premises liability against our client based on the allegation that the insulator worked at our client’s mill for insulation contractors in the 1960’s and was occupationally exposed to asbestos caused by the alleged fault of the pulp and paper mill owner. The two issues submitted to the jury were “retained control” and “business invitee” liability under Washington law. The jury issued a verdict in favor our client on both theories. For more information about this trial and the issues litigated in the lawsuit, please contact David Bienvenu.
Summary Judgment Entered For BBFVH Client In Environmental Class Action
The BBFVH team of David Bienvenu and Lexi Holinga successfully represented a paper manufacturing client in an environmental class action filed and litigated in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia. In this class action, the plaintiff class sought millions of dollars in individual and class-wide damages alleging that wood dust that escaped from our client’s paper mill and another defendant’s wood chip mill in West Point, Virginia, created an alleged nuisance and trespass of the plaintiffs' land, homes, and cars. The litigation entailed numerous fact and expert depositions and extensive document discovery. Summary judgment was entered by the federal court dismissing the damages claims. See, Ashton Bell, et al. v. West Rock CP, LLC, 2019 WL 448414 (E.D. Va. 9/18/19).
Lexi T. Holinga named one of America’s Top 100 High Stakes Litigators® for 2018
Bienvenu Bonnecaze is proud to announce the selection of Lexi T. Holinga among America’s Top 100 High Stakes Litigators® for 2018. Selection to America’s Top 100 High Stakes Litigators® is by invitation only and is reserved to identify the nation’s most exceptional trial attorneys in high value, high stakes legal matters.
To be considered for selection, an attorney must have litigated (for either plaintiff or defendant) a matter (1) with at least $2,000,000 in alleged damages at stake or (2) with the fate of a business worth at least $2,000,000 at stake. These minimum qualifications are required for initial consideration. Thereafter, candidates are carefully screened through comprehensive Qualitative Comparative Analysis based on a broad array of criteria, including the candidate’s professional experience, litigation experience, significant case results, representative high stakes matters, peer reputation, and community impact in order to rank the candidates throughout the state.
Only the top 100 qualifying attorneys in each state will receive this honor and be selected for membership among America’s Top 100 High Stakes Litigators®. With these extremely high standards for selection to America’s Top 100 High Stakes Litigators®, less than one-half percent (0.5%) of active attorneys in the United States will receive this honor — truly the most exclusive and elite level of attorneys in the community.
Anthony Lascaro and Erin Tadie elected as Partners
We are pleased to announce, that effective January 1, 2018, Anthony Lascaro and Erin Tadie have been elected as partners in Bienvenu, Bonnecaze, Foco, Viator & Holinga, APLLC.
Anthony joined our Firm in September 2012 and practices in the areas of general litigation, products liability, premises liability, property damage, general casualty, workers’ compensation and subrogation, property litigation, right of way disputes, asbestos and occupational disease litigation, and oilfield legacy litigation. Erin joined in February 2015 and practices in the areas of general litigation, environmental and oilfield legacy litigation, property litigation and asbestos and occupational disease litigation.
Congratulations to Anthony and Erin!
Dawn Bonnecaze - The Business Report Leadership Academy
Founding Member, Dawn D. Bonnecaze, recently completed the 2017 Fall Session of The Business Report Leadership Academy. The Business Report, in partnership with SSA Consultants, offers the exclusive program for advancing professionals and entrepreneurs to elevate their leadership skills through personal development, professional growth, civic outreach, networking with like-minded peers and insight from top guest CEO speakers.
Congratulations to Dawn!
David Bienvenu - The Best Lawyers in America©
David Bienvenu will be recognized in the 24th Edition of the Best Lawyers in America for 2018 for his exceptional legal work in the area of Mass Tort Litigation/Class Action – Defendants. Inclusion in Best Lawyers is based on peer-review surveys of top attorneys in the United States. David has been recognized by his peers in Best Lawyers since 2007.
Congratulations to David!
Bienvenu, Bonnecaze, Foco, Viator & Holinga awarded 1st Place among the Best Places to Work in Baton Rouge for 2017
Bienvenu, Bonnecaze, Foco, Viator & Holinga, APLLC was recently awarded 1st Place among the 2017 Best Places to Work in Baton Rouge. The awards program is a project of the Greater Baton Rouge Business Report, the Greater Baton Rouge SHRM, an affiliate of the Society for Human Resource Management and Best Companies Group.
This survey and awards program was created in 2014 to identify, recognize and honor the best places of employment in Baton Rouge, benefitting its economy, its workforce and businesses.
To be considered for participation, companies had to fulfill the following eligibility requirements:
Companies from across the region entered the two-part process to determine the Best Places to Work in Baton Rouge. The first part consisted of evaluating each company’s workplace policies, practices, and demographics. This part of the process was worth approximately 25% of the total evaluation. The second part consisted of an employee survey to measure the employee experience. This part of the process was worth approximately 75% of the total evaluation. The combined scores determined the top companies and the final rankings. Best Companies Group managed the overall registration and survey process in Baton Rouge and also analyzed the data and used their expertise to determine the final rankings.
Our firm is very proud of this recognition that will serve as the standard we will endeavor to achieve for our employees in the years to come. We thank our employees for entrusting us to develop opportunities for our business as a whole and our employees individually. View full article in the October 2017 issue of the Baton Rouge Business Report here.
BBFVH attended the 2017 Best Places to Work in Baton Rouge Awards Breakfast on October 11, 2017.
L-R: Chip Marionneaux (Partner), David Bienvenu (Founding Member), Lexi Holinga (Founding Member), Colin O'Rourke (Associate), Lexi Gibbs (Paralegal), Jennifer LeGlue (Paralegal), Patrick Hunt (Associate), Katrina Gwin (Paralegal), Shauna Walley (Paralegal) and Anthony Gambino (Associate)
Jade Shaffer Joins BBFVH
BBFVH is pleased to announce that Jade Shaffer has successfully passed the Louisiana State Bar Examination and will be sworn in as an attorney on Thursday, October 19, 2017.
Jade graduated Order of the Coif from LSU Law School this past May and commenced full-time employment with our firm in August. She joins BBFVH as an associate.
Congrats to Jade!
Dismissal obtained in premises liability litigation
BBFVH attorney Patrick Hunt successfully defended our client in a premises liability matter pending in the United States District Court for the Western District of Louisiana. The plaintiff alleged he hit a pothole while driving a logging truck through the wood yard at our client’s paper mill in north Louisiana. The plaintiff alleged neck and back injuries that he claimed have caused total disability and significant medical expenses.
The District Court granted summary judgment based on our arguments that the plaintiff could not satisfy his burden of proof under Louisiana Civil Code article 2317.1. Namely, that the pothole did not present an unreasonable risk of harm and that there was no evidence proving our client had knowledge of any allegedly defective conditions in the roadway. Accordingly, the Court ruled that our client was not liable for the plaintiff’s injuries. Joseph Lawrence v. RockTenn CP, LLC et al, No. 16-0821 (W.D. La.).
Trial and Appellate Victory
Following a trial in November of 2015, the trial team of David Bienvenu and Lexi Holinga obtained a defense verdict representing our client in a living mesothelioma case tried in Civil District Court, Orleans Parish. The plaintiff in the case was diagnosed was malignant pleural mesothelioma and sued our client for premises liability alleging occupational exposure to asbestos while he was employed as a tool room attendant working for a contractor at our client’s Baton Rouge refinery. The major trial issues were specific medical causation, whether our client breached any standard of care and the application of worker’s compensation tort immunity to the claims asserted against our client. The District Judge pretermitted deciding the first two issues and ruled that our client was the “statutory employer” of the plaintiff within the meaning of Louisiana’s Worker’s Compensation Act. Accordingly, our client was found to be not liable for the claims asserted based the exclusive remedy afforded by worker’s compensation.
The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeal affirmed the decision of the District Court and the Supreme Court recently denied plaintiff’s application for supervisory writs. The Court of Appeal decision can be found at http://la4th.org/opinion/2016/415843.pdf.
Dismissal obtained in tortious interference lawsuit
Recently, John Viator and Patrick Hunt successfully defended a lawsuit filed by a contractor against an employee of our client, alleging the employee intentionally interfered with a contract between plaintiff and the corporate client. Our attorneys obtained a judgment dismissing the action with prejudice on an exception of no cause of action based on their argument that the narrow cause of action recognized in 9 to 5 Fashions, Inc. v. Spurney, 538 So. 2d 228 (La. 1989) did not sanction a cause of action against a lower-level employee of a corporation. The plaintiff appealed, arguing that the corporate employee was a “de facto” corporate officer and therefore could be liable under Spurney. Affirming the trial court, the Louisiana Fifth Circuit Court of Appeal specifically “decline[d] to extend the cause of action set forth in Spurney to employees, even those in a supervisory capacity, who intentionally interfere with contracts between their employer and a third party.” Gulf Engineering Company, LLC v. Kuhn, No. 16-CA-425 (La. App. 5 Cir. 12/21/16). The Louisiana Supreme Court declined to review the case.
F. Charles Marionneaux Joins Bienvenu, Bonnecaze, Foco, Viator and Holinga, APLLC
Effective March 2, 2017, we are excited to announce that F. Charles “Chip” Marionneaux is joining our firm as a partner. Chip’s practice will focus in the areas of toxic tort and mass tort litigation, general litigation and criminal defense representation.
Chip is a 1987 graduate of the LSU Law School and practiced law in Plaquemine, Louisiana, for over twenty five years as a partner in the law firm of Marionneaux and Marionneaux. Chip’s private practice in Plaquemine was dynamic and involved a multitude of specialty areas including mass tort and class action litigation, commercial and business litigation, expropriation and property disputes, personal injury litigation, worker’s compensation defense and criminal defense litigation (white collar and heavy felony including trial, appellate and grand jury matters).
Since 2014, Chip served as Senior Litigation Counsel in house for Axiall Corporation and Westlake Chemical Company where Chip managed a wide variety of complex litigation matters and internal corporate investigations throughout the United States and Canada. Chip also managed contract and dispute negotiations. Chip’s responsibilities also included training management, supervisory, and EH&S personnel on subjects such as handling warrant-based searches, incident investigation, legal privileges, and OSHA inspections.
Chip’s experience provides our clients with the experience and skill of a dynamic trial practice combined with the perspective and intuition of active litigation management that focuses on identifying and implementing value driven litigation strategies.
We welcome Chip to our firm and the expertise he brings for our continued delivery of effective and commitment to valuable legal services to all clients.
Anthony Gambino, Jr. and Colin O'Rourke Join BBFVH
BBFVH is pleased to announce that Anthony Gambino, Jr. and Colin O'Rourke have successfully passed the Louisiana Bar Examination and will be joining BBFVH as Associate Attorneys.
Anthony and Colin commenced full time employment with our firm in September and will be sworn in as attorneys on Thursday, October 20, 2016.
Congrats to Anthony and Colin!
Bienvenu, Bonnecaze, Foco, Viator & Holinga named one of the Best Places to Work in Baton Rouge for 2016
Congratulations to BBFVH for being named one of the Greater Baton Rouge Business Report’s 2016 Best Places to Work in Baton Rouge! Companies are divided into two categories, one for small/medium-sized companies with between 15 and 249 employees, and another for large companies with 250 or more employees. BBFVH was named the 5th highest small/medium-sized company and is also the top-rated law firm in this category. BBFVH strives to create an encouraging and engaging place to work and is honored to have been one of the select few chosen for this distinction. View the article here.
One of BBFVH's paralegals, Katrina Gwin, is featured in this month's issue of the Greater Baton Rouge Business Report regarding the Best Places to Work in Baton Rouge and BBFVH's distinction of being ranked 5th in the small/medium-sized companies category.
David Bienvenu - The Best Lawyers in America©
David Bienvenu has not only been selected by his peers for inclusion in the 23rd Edition of The Best Lawyers in America© in the practice area of Mass Tort Litigation / Class Actions - Defendants, but was also recognized by Best Lawyers® as the 2017 Mass Tort Litigation / Class Actions - Defendants "Lawyer of the Year" in Baton Rouge.
Phillip Foco and Scott Ledet Win Appeal of Scarring/Disfigurement Workers’ Compensation Claim
Phillip Foco and Scott Ledet, representing the defendant in a workers’ compensation case, obtained a victory on appeal significantly reducing the amount of a judgment against our client on a scarring and disfigurement claim. On appeal, the First Circuit agreed with the defendant’s interpretation of La. R.S. 23:1221(4) and found that an award of twenty-five weeks of compensation benefits was an abuse of the trial court’s discretion. The appellate decision in this case represents an important precedent regarding the proper application of Louisiana’s workers’ compensation statute on scarring and disfigurement. Specifically, it limits the trial court’s discretion in making a scarring and disfigurement award by requiring the trial court to consider scheduled Permanent Partial Disability benefits as a benchmark. A copy of the decision can be found here.
Favorable Legal Ruling on Strict Liability Issue
The team of David Bienvenu, Tam Bourgeois and Patrick Hunt recently obtained a very successful ruling for our clients in an asbestos premises liability case pending in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana. Our attorneys obtained a partial summary judgment ruling that Louisiana’s doctrine of strict liability is not applicable to premises liability involving the installation or repair of asbestos containing products on our client’s premises back in the 1960’s. Judge Carl Barbier adopted our argument that tear out work is a “temporary condition” that “is not a defect under Louisiana Civil Code Article 2317. Judge Barbier then dismissed the strict liability claims. The decision is entitled Smith v. Union Carbide Corp., No. 13-6323 (E.D. La.).
Wrongful Death Suit Settlement
Our firm recently represented a client who received a significant settlement resulting from the wrongful death of her sixteen year old son. Our client's son was on his way to swim practice and was killed as a result of head injuries sustained after being rear ended in a motor vehicle accident. The driver was under-insured for the accident, but our intensive investigation of the accident revealed that the driver was in the course and scope of his employment by a construction contractor while driving to and from a construction site. The accident occurred while the driver was commuting home from the job site.
Bienvenu, Bonnecaze, Foco, Viator & Holinga Celebrates 4th Anniversary
Four years ago, on September 1, 2011, BBFVH opened its door with a service model based on the highest standards of effective, efficient and personal representation of our clients.
Our mission then was to "make your business our business". Our mission remains the same, but our capabilities as a full service law firm have only increased. We continue to implement accountability, creativity, urgency and tenacity as the guiding principles in everything we do as attorneys and employees.
Practicing law on September 1, 2011, started meagerly with legal pads, two employees, I phones and a few laptops. We moved furniture and filing cabinets all night and took depositions all day. The infrastructure took off from there. Clients who started with us are still with us today. Other new clients have embraced our philosophy since we were formed. But our clients, whether new or old, are our partners and our friends.
We have grown and continue to grow with clients, lawyers, legal assistants, staff and ... babies. A judge once asked us whether our office housed a fertility temple.
While we celebrate this milestone, we are humbled and thankful for the confidence that our clients bestow on us by turning to us for solutions to their problems. We are thankful for the team of employees who make our job easier and fun. We try to balance hard work with humor and hard play. Our employees are second to none. They are energetic, highly skilled and exercise a tireless work ethic.
On this day, we say "thank you" and look forward to many more anniversaries and the opportunities that the future holds for our firm. We take none of this for granted.
David Bienvenu - The Best Lawyers in America
David Bienvenu has been selected by his peers for inclusion in the 22nd Edition of The Best Lawyers in America in the practice area of Mass Tort Litigation / Class Actions - Defendants.
Erin Percy Tadie joins Bienvenu Bonnecaze
We are pleased to announce that Erin Tadie recently joined our firm as an attorney practicing in the areas of general litigation, environmental and oilfield legacy litigation, property litigation and asbestos and occupational disease litigation in federal and state court. Erin, a lifelong resident of Baton Rouge, graduated magna cum laude in 2007 from LSU’s Manship School of Mass Communication, as a National Merit and Manship Scholar. In 2010, Erin graduated cum laude from LSU’s Paul M. Hebert Law Center, where she served as an associate on the Louisiana Law Review. While in law school, Erin published an article analyzing the Pregnancy Discrimination Act: Hallâ€© v.â€© Nalco â€©Co.: â€©Redefining â€©Female â€©Infertility, Vol. 70, Issue I of the Louisiana Law Reviewâ€© (See â€©70 â€©LA. â€©L. â€©REV. â€©353). Following her graduation from law school, Erin practiced environmental and property litigation law at Kean Miller LLP in Baton Rouge. We are excited about Erin joining our team at Bienvenu Bonnecaze and the ability she brings to our firm.
Bienvenu Bonnecaze - U.S. News - Best Lawyers® - 2015 "Best Law Firms"
Bienvenu, Bonnecaze, Foco, Viator & Holinga, APLLC, has been listed as one of U.S. News and World Report and Best Lawyers® "Best Law Firms". Firms included in the 2015 “Best Law Firms” list are recognized for professional excellence with persistently impressive ratings from clients and peers. Achieving a tiered ranking signals a unique combination of quality law practice and breadth of legal expertise. The 2015 rankings are based on the highest number of participating firms and highest number of client ballots on record. To be eligible for a ranking, a firm must have a lawyer listed in The Best Lawyers in America, which recognizes the top 4 percent of practicing attorneys in the US. Over 17,000 attorneys provided almost 600,000 law firm assessments, and almost 7,500 clients provided more than 40,000 evaluations. Ranked firms, presented in tiers, are listed on a national and/or metropolitan scale. Receiving a tier designation reflects the high level of respect a firm has earned among other leading lawyers and clients in the same communities and the same practice areas for their abilities, their professionalism and their integrity.
The 2015 “Best Law Firms” rankings can be seen in their entirety by visiting bestlawfirms.usnews.com.
Phillip Foco and Scott Ledet Obtain Victory in Longshore Asbestos Case
The trial team of Phillip Foco and Scott Ledet recently obtained a decision and order following trial dismissing all claims against its client under the Longshore and Harbor Workers' Compensation Act involving alleged exposure to asbestos. The Claimant alleged that his diagnosis of asbestosis and related pulmonary issues were caused by exposure to hazardous levels of asbestos while working as a tankerman at the defendant's facility in the 1970s and 80s. The case was tried before an administrative law judge with the U.S. Department of Labor, who found that the defendant successfully rebutted Claimant’s allegations of exposure through expert and fact testimony offered at trial. A copy of the decision can be found here.
David Bienvenu - The Best Lawyers in America
David Bienvenu has been selected by his peers for inclusion in the 21st Edition of The Best Lawyers in America in the practice area of Mass Tort Litigation / Class Actions - Defendants.
Business Report's 2014 Annual Report: Profiles of Success
Bienvenu, Bonnecaze, Foco, Viator & Holinga, APLLC is featured in the Business Report's 2014 Annual Report: Profiles of Success.
"In these special advertising sections, we celebrate the innovation and leadership in the south Louisiana community. These profiles of success provide an inside look at dozens of important area businesses and organizations and, collectively, an overview of our region's economy. We hope you will enjoy learning from lessons provided by each one of them."
You may view the feature at BBFVH Business Report.
2014 Louisiana Legislative Update
We are monitoring several items of proposed legislation that could significantly affect the litigation landscape in Louisiana courtrooms.
House Bill 482 is a bill that seeks to change the venue applicable to latent occupational disease cases. The proposed law provides that actions involving latent diseases, including asbestos and silica, shall be brought in the parish in which the plaintiff alleges exposure, except direct actions against a foreign or alien insurer may also be brought in East Baton Rouge Parish. The Proposed law provides that if exposure is alleged in more than one parish, the court shall determine which parish has the most significant contacts based on the convenience of the parties and witnesses, the amount and length of exposure, and the interest of justice, and may transfer the action to that parish. The proposed law further provides that when two or more venue articles conflict, the proposed law governs the venue exclusively.
House Bill 618 is a bill that seeks to create peremptive period or absolute time bar to claims for punitive damages brought pursuant to La. Civ. Code art. 2315.3 (repealed in 1996). The legislation seeks to time bar any claim for punitive damages based on the repealed statute unless the action is filed prior to February 1, 2015.
House Bill 613 changes the method in which an amount in controversy is determined in order to trigger the minimum dollar threshold for a right to trial by jury. Current law looks at the amount of the individual claims that are asserted in a multi-plaintiff lawsuit. HB 613 changes the law by aggregating all claims asserted in a single or consolidated suit to determine the amount in controversy for determining whether the action is triable by a jury.
House Bill 624 changes the current version of La. Code Evid. art. 702, relative to the standards used to determine the admissibility of expert testimony, to mirror the standards and language contained in Fed. R. Evid. 702.
House Bill 917 removes the requirement of a $50,000 amount in controversy necessary to support a trial by jury. The bill eliminates any requirement of an amount in controversy for a right to trial by jury to be secured.
The bills can be found at http://www.legis.la.gov/legis/home.aspx.
John Viator, Lexi Holinga, David Bienvenu - Successful litigation settlement for landowner client following blowout of natural gas well
Our firm recently finalized negotiations of a highly successful resolution for our landowner client whose property was damaged by a blowout of a natural gas well on their property. The blowout caused significant salt and hydrocarbon contamination of highly productive agricultural property. The suit involved claims of remediation and sugar cane damage and resulting losses for both the property owner and the farmers who cultivated the property. We obtained a summary judgment for our client that adjudicated liability under a mineral lease and a surface lease and the case was settled prior to trial. The settlement fully compensated our clients for all losses and their litigation costs.
Bienvenu Bonnecaze - "Go-To Law Firm for Fortune 500® Companies"
Bienvenu, Bonnecaze, Foco, Viator & Holinga, APLLC, has been listed as a "Go-To Firm for Fortune 500® Companies". Firms were recognized for providing exceptional work to Fortune 500® clients. Firms were chosen based on data obtained through surveys sent to general counsel at the Fortune 500® and public record research in various key databases to determine which law firms they rely upon for outside counsel in a number of key practice areas. The 2014 Go-To Law Firms will be listed in the 2014 edition of Corporate Counsel’s “In-House Law Department at the Top 500 Companies” guide to be published in April 2014.
Louisiana State Bar Association Statement of Diversity Principles
Bienvenu, Bonnecaze, Foco, Viator & Holinga, APLLC is a proud signatory of the Louisiana State Bar Association Statement of Diversity Principles. http://files.lsba.org/documents/Diversity/signatories2014.pdf
U.S. Fifth Circuit Affirms Dismissal of Legacy Suit
The team of Phillip Foco, John Viator and Katie Chabert successfully represented one of our clients before the U.S. Fifth Circuit in Broussard v. The Dow Chemical Company. In a unanimous decision, the U.S. Fifth Circuit affirmed the trial court’s judgment dismissing the plaintiff’s claims by applying the “Subsequent Purchaser Rule.” The Court found that a subsequent purchaser of immovable property has no right of action to sue a former lessee for damages allegedly sustained prior to the date that the property was purchased absent an express, written assignment of those rights. Although plaintiffs’ submitted affidavits from the vendor of the property asserting that they intended to assign the rights in question at the time title to the immovable property was transferred, the Court found that the affidavits were inadmissible parole evidence.
David Bienvenu and Lexi Holinga – Louisiana Super Lawyers
David Bienvenu has been recognized for 2014 as a Louisiana Super Lawyer in the field of Class Action/Mass Torts. Lexi Holinga has also been recognized as a Rising Star by Super Lawyers in the field of Class Action/Mass Torts.
Happy Holidays from Bienvenu, Bonnecaze, Foco, Viator & Holinga, APLLC
Patrick Hunt joins Bienvenu Bonnecaze
We are pleased to announce that Patrick Hunt recently joined our firm as an attorney practicing in the areas of general litigation, worker’s compensation and subrogation, oilfield legacy litigation, product liability, toxic tort and environmental litigation and commercial litigation in federal and state court. Patrick grew up in Greensboro, North Carolina and obtained undergraduate degrees in Psychology and Spanish from North Carolina State University in 2009. Patrick graduated magna cum laude from LSU Law School in 2012, where he served as an associate on the Louisiana Law Review. While in law school, Patrick published a paper analyzing the legal consequences of social media entitled: Comment, “Tortious Tweets: A Practical Guide to Applying Traditional Defamation Law to Twibel Claims”, 73 La. L. Rev. 559 (2013). Following his graduation from law school, Patrick served as a law clerk to the Honorable Donald E. Walter, United States District Judge for the Western District of Louisiana, in Shreveport, Louisiana. Patrick is fluent in Spanish. We are excited about Patrick joining our team at Bienvenu Bonnecaze and the ability he brings to our firm.
David Bienvenu - 2014 Best Lawyers in America Selection
David Bienvenu has been selected for 2014 inclusion in the Best Lawyers in America, 20th edition, in the practice area of Mass Tort Litigation/Class Action Defense. This is the seventh straight year that David has received this recognition.
Congratulations to Magistrate Rich Bourgeois
Congratulations to Richard L. Bourgeois on his recent investiture as United States Magistrate Judge for the Middle District of Louisiana. Magistrate Judge Bourgeois is the husband of BBVFH partner, Tam Bourgeois, and formerly worked as an Assistant United States Attorney in Baton Rouge. Magistrate Judge Bourgeois was formally robed on April 16, 2013 at an investiture ceremony held at the Russell B. Long Federal Courthouse. BBFVH sponsored a reception that followed the investiture ceremony.
BBFVH Attorneys attend Fifth Circuit Judicial Conference
Recently, three of our attorneys – Tam Bourgeois, Lexi Holinga and David Bienvenu – attended the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals Judicial Conference held in Fort Worth, Texas. The conference gathered federal circuit court judges, district judges, magistrate judges, bankruptcy judges and invited attorneys from Louisiana, Texas and Mississippi. Justice Antonin Scalia of the United States Supreme Court attended the conference as the circuit justice. Numerous educational programs were presented by national legal experts on topics such as management of MDL proceedings, federal court pleading standards and effective appellate practice. The conference also provided a unique opportunity for attorneys and judges from the Fifth Circuit to interact socially and professionally.
Phillip Foco obtains dismissal with prejudice
Phillip Foco recently obtained another dismissal with prejudice for one of our clients in the Office of Workers’ Compensation. The Judge found that the claimant violated the fraud provisions contained in LSA 23:1208 and LSA 23:1208.1, thereby forfeiting all claims for benefits. The trial presented a unique degree of difficulty as the entire cross-examination of the claimant was conducted through a Spanish interpreter. The only thing lost in the translation was their case.
Louisiana Supreme Court Affirms Trial Verdict in Favor of BBFVH Client
On April 10, 2013, the Louisiana Supreme Court and the First Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the 23rd JDC's dismissal in our client's favor. The principal issue in the suit was whether our client’s title and purchase of 60 acres of property that was developed for a multi-million dollar industrial construction project was defeated by claims of adverse possession asserted by neighboring landowners. The suit was filed with a claim attempting to evict our client from the disputed tract of property. The trial and appeal issues were handled by the team of Lexi Holinga, John Viator and David Bienvenu. You may view both documents here: First Circuit Court of Appeals. Louisiana Supreme Court.
Bienvenu, Bonnecaze, Foco, Viator & Holinga Recognized By American Lawyer Media
Bienvenu, Bonnecaze, Foco, Viator and Holinga, APLLC, has been recognized by American Lawyer Media as one of the 2013 Go-To Law Firms for the Top 500 Companies. We have been acknowledged for our work and value to Fortune 500 clients as their Go-To Firm for Tort Litigation.
David Bienvenu, Lexi Holinga, and Anthony Lascaro obtain Involuntary Dismissal
The trial team of David Bienvenu, Lexi Holinga and Anthony Lascaro recently represented a client and obtained an involuntary dismissal following a trial in St. Charles Parish, Louisiana. The case involved a chemical emission back in 2009 that created an odor due to the low odor threshold of the chemical involved. The dismissal followed a “bellweather” trial of 20 plaintiffs who alleged various physical symptoms and “fear and fright” claims that they related to the incident. The judge found that insufficient evidence was presented to support a finding of causation and the plaintiffs’ claims were dismissed.
Phillip Foco, John Viator, Katie Chabert - Dismissal via Summary Judgement in Legacy Suit
The team of Phillip Foco, John Viator and Katie Chabert recently obtained a dismissal via summary judgment of all claims filed against one of our clients in an oil and gas “legacy” suit alleging environmental contamination. Our attorneys persuaded the Court to apply the “Subsequent Purchaser Rule” to the claim, resulting in a dismissal, with prejudice.
David Bienvenu, Lexi Holinga, Katie Chabert – Louisiana Supreme Court Victory
The appellate team of David Bienvenu, Lexi Holinga and Katie Chabert successfully represented our clients before the Louisiana Supreme Court in Sims v. American Insurance Company (La. 10/16/12). Our attorneys persuaded the Supreme Court in a 6-1 opinion to reinstate a dismissal of the suit brought against our clients by the District Court that was reversed by a sharply divided panel of the First Circuit Court of Appeal. The District Court dismissed the suit on the basis of prescription following multiple suit filings and dismissals. The Supreme Court adopted our arguments of statutory construction that we maintained were applicable to La. Civ. Code art. 3463. A copy of the decision can be downloaded here.
David Bienvenu, John Viator and Lexi Holinga – Louisiana Super Lawyers
David Bienvenu has been recognized for 2012/2013 as a Louisiana Super Lawyer in the field of Class Action/Mass Torts. John Viator and Lexi Holinga have also been recognized as Rising Stars by Super Lawyers in the field of Class Action/Mass Torts.
Anthony Lascaro joins Bienvenu Bonnecaze
Anthony Lascaro joins our firm as an attorney who will practice in the areas of general litigation, products liability, premises liability, property damage, general casualty, workers’ compensation and subrogation, property litigation, right of way disputes, asbestos and occupational disease litigation, and oilfield legacy litigation. Anthony is a 2009 graduate from the LSU Law School and has returned to Baton Rouge after three years of working with the firm of Preis & Roy in Lafayette. We are excited to have Anthony join our team.
David Bienvenu - 2013 Best Lawyers in America Selection
David Bienvenu has been selected for 2013 inclusion in The Best Lawyers in America, 19th edition in the practice area of Mass Tort Litigation / Class Actions - Defendants. This year is the 6th straight year that David has received this recognition.
Phillip Foco - Judgment Obtained in Office of Worker's Compensation
Phillip Foco recently obtained a judgment in the Office of Workers’ Compensation on behalf of one of our clients dismissing plaintiff’s claims based on fraud pursuant to LSA-R.S. 23:1208. The Judge also ordered the plaintiff to reimburse the litigation expenses that were incurred by our client in defending the lawsuit.
Louisiana Class Action Legislation Update
By David Bienvenu
Governor Bobby Jindal recently signed Act No. 713, which is legislation enacted during the 2012 Regular Session of the Louisiana Legislature designed to regulate and define venue in multi-district class action litigation filed in Louisiana state courts. The legislation amends Code of Civ. Proc. art. 123(A) and enacts Code of Civil Proc. arts. 593.1 and 593.2.
The impetus for the legislation arose from situations where a single “tortious” incident resulted in the filing of multiple class action lawsuits in different judicial districts where venue was technically proper. Multiple class action venues create opportunities for forum shopping and a “race to certification” between competing class actions pending in multiple districts. Defendants were finding that judicial application of Louisiana’s lis pendens doctrine met difficult acceptance by judges who were motivated to keep a class action pending in a plaintiff’s home parish courtroom. And Louisiana law provided no vehicle to consolidate multi-district litigation prior to this legislation.
Act 591 changes the law. Now, if two or more class actions are filed in two or more different Louisiana courts arising out of a single incident (ie., the same transaction or occurrence), the defendant may urge that all of the actions be transferred to the district court in the parish where the incident occurred. Thus, if an Orleans Parish resident sustains damage from an incident that occurs in St. Tammany Parish, an Orleans Parish class action must be transferred to St. Tammany Parish, even if the Orleans Parish class action is the first filed class action.
If the class action arises from multiple incidents, (ie. a product liability case impacting consumers in multiple parishes), the defendant may have all such actions transferred to the district where the first suit was brought.
In either instance, this legislation does represent a significant regulation against piecemeal class action litigation filed and pursued in multiple judicial districts in Louisiana.
John Allain Viator Testifies in Opposition to HB862
John Allain Viator testified before the Louisiana House of Representatives Civil Law and Procedure Committee on April 24, 2012 on behalf of the oil and gas industry in opposition to HB862, which sought to legislatively overrule the cases of Eagle Pipe and Supply, Inc. v. Amerada Hess Corp., 2011 WL 5865523, 2010-2267 (La. 2011), and Prados v. South Central Bell Tel. Co., 329 So.2d 744 (La. 1975). In Eagle Pipe, the Louisiana Supreme Court definitively affirmed the “Subsequent Purchaser Rule” in holding that, absent a specific assignment of the personal right to recover for property damage that preceded the sale, a subsequent purchaser does not have a right of action in tort for property damages. For more information, read the story on LMOGA's site here: http://campaigns.rockitscienceagency.com/t/r-5DE84433E6EC1282
Tam Bourgeois - Summary Judgement
Tam Bourgeois recently defended a client and obtained a summary judgment in a case involving the claim of our client’s former employee who had allegedly died of asbestos related mesothelioma. The case involved alleged exposures in different states and presented choice of law issues and the application of worker’s compensation tort immunity.
Lexi Holinga, David Bienvenu Obtain Dismissal
The trial team of Lexi Holinga and David Bienvenu recently obtained a dismissal following a trial in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana. The plaintiff had claimed exposure and respiratory injuries from a chemical release in July of 2010. In defending our client, we presented a compelling case that the plaintiff was not at a location where she could have been plausibly exposed and that her injuries were the result of pre-existing medical conditions.
Lexi Holinga Co-Chair for 26th Annual Fellows Gala
Lexi T. Holinga is serving as this year’s Co-Chair for the Louisiana Bar Foundation’s 26th Annual Fellows Gala. The gala will be held on April 20, 2012, at the Ritz Carlton in New Orleans and will recognize the 2011 Distinguished Jurist, Attorney and Professor. Gala proceeds will help strengthen programs supported and provided by the Louisiana Bar Foundation.
David Bienvenu To Speak At Program Conducted By Harvard Medical School
David Bienvenu recently presented the topic of “Low Dose Exposure – How Low Can You Go?” at a program conducted by the Harvard Medical School. The program took place at Massachusetts General Hospital on May 5-6, 2012 and was entitled “Current Concepts in Asbestos Related Pulmonary Disease.” The program brought together medical, scientific and legal experts from around the country to discuss current trends in asbestos medicine and the medico-legal consequences of those trends.
Katie Chabert joins Bienvenu Bonnecaze
Katie Chabert joins our firm as an attorney who will practice in the areas of general and commercial litigation, gaming law and video poker regulatory law. Katie is a 2006 graduate of the LSU Law School and has practiced as an attorney for the past five years in the Gaming Division of the Louisiana Attorney General’s Office. Katie brings unique experience to Bienvenu Bonnecaze in the fields of gaming law and general administrative law. We are excited to have Katie as part of our team.
Successful Verdict In Real Estate Suit
The trial team of David Bienvenu, John Viator and Lexi Holinga recently obtained a defense verdict for a client in the 23rd Judicial District Court in a vigorously contested multi-million dollar real estate suit. The principal issue in the suit was whether our client’s title and purchase of 60 acres of property that was developed for industrial use was defeated by claims of adverse possession asserted by neighboring landowners. The suit raised novel issues of Louisiana property law and demonstrates the ability of our clients to leverage the trial skills and experiences of BBFVH attorneys on a wide range of complex and unique issues.
John Viator - Recognized As Rising Star by Super Lawyers
John A. Viator of Bienvenu, Bonnecaze, Foco, Viator & Holinga, APLLC has been recognized as one of Louisiana’s Rising Stars by Super Lawyers (Mass Tort and Environmental Litigation) for 2012.
David Bienvenu Seminar Presentation
On September 23, 2011, David Bienvenu presented the topic “Representing the Intervenor” at a seminar entitled “Litigation and Liability in the Workplace” sponsored by the LSU Law Center. David’s presentation focused on the legal requirements for proper interventions, statutory penalties and risks for not recognizing and managing lien rights associated with interventions, the jurisdictional effects of interventions and the tactical considerations unique to representing intervenors.