Louisiana DOTD Loses Appeal Because of Employee Failure to Warn of Temporary ObstructionAbstract:
A Louisiana Court of Appeal recently ruled that Department of Transportation and Development (DOTD) employees failed to erect appropriate warning signs and properly direct traffic, which were the proximate causes of a woman’s death and the severe injuries her two sons suffered. Although the court found that the deceased was contributorily negligent, the DOTD was assessed 85 percent of the negligence and the court awarded $1,022,523.00 to the dead woman’s estate. Evidence at trial demonstrated that, at the time of the accident, no warning signs were in place. In addition, the DOTD employees who performed the repair work testified that they did not even carry the required signs in their truck. Neither of the two employees had ever received any training in directing or controlling traffic, in flagging traffic, nor in safely blocking lanes of traffic. Moreover, their supervisor, who was responsible for training them, admitted that he had never received any training himself, nor had he even seen a copy of the traffic control handbook. In light of this evidence, the Court of Appeal affirmed the lower court and found that the DOTD had failed to uphold its “high duty to warn motorists” of risks that it had itself created.