In 1997, Syvella Totson was seriously injured when a drunk driver pulled into her path on Louisiana Highway 2. James Pardon, the driver of the other vehicle, was drunk at the time of the crash. However, Mr. Pardon turned onto Louisiana 2 from Lane’s Ferry Road. At that intersection, a defective railing on the Bayou Macon Bridge created a blind spot for drivers turning onto Louisiana 2 from Lane’s Ferry Rd.
At trial, the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development (DOTD) argued that Mr. Pardon’s intoxication was the sole cause of the accident. However, the plaintiff countered with evidence that East Carroll Parish officials had contacted the state about fixing the bridge railing for decades.
Following trial, the jury found DOTD to be 100 percent responsible for the accident. However, the Court of Appeals reversed the trial court ruling that Mr. Pardon was 100 percent responsible. The Louisiana Supreme Court granted certiorari and found DOTD to be 80 percent responsible and ordered the Department to pay the Ms. Totson and her family $7.5 million.