Court awards nearly $470,000 to woman in suit against Entergy New Orleans

A judge has ordered Entergy New Orleans to pay nearly $470,000 to a woman who tripped over a piece of plywood that utility crews left in place over a section of sidewalk in the French Quarter, covering work to repair a gas line.

Laura Garner injured her shoulder and arm in the accident, which occurred as she left Frank’s Restaurant in the 900 block of Decatur Street in December 2003, requiring four surgeries that led to permanent scarring and years of physical therapy, according to Orleans Parish Civil Court records.

David W. Oestreicher II, a New Orleans lawyer who represented Garner in lawsuit, said  Garner caught her foot in a gap between the sidewalk and the plywood. The subsequent medical procedures required a rod to be surgically implanted in her arm, and bone graft work to be done; medical expenses totaled more than $136,000, and she was eventually required to move out-of-state to live with her daughter.

Entergy New Orleans was found liable for the fall because Entergy crews went to the site three days in a row, and Entergy “gave no reason why” the excavation could not have been fully restored and completed the next day, according to the ruling.

The work was completed the day after Garner fell, when it was reported to the utility, Oestreicher said.

The court awarded $450,000 in damages for pain and suffering, as well as the medical expenses, and found Entergy New Orleans liable for 80 percent of the award, plus interest.

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