Port Allen, La. – A West Baton Rouge Parish jury awarded damages of $5.3 million to a man who was severely injured nine years ago in a car accident on U.S. 190, the man’s attorneys said Wednesday.
On January 12, 1995, a West Baton Rouge Parish reserve sheriff’s deputy stopped Thomas Denton for attempting to make a left turn. The deputy made the stop in the narrow median along U.S. 190. At the time, Pamela Vidrine was also traveling on 190. She saw the police stop in the median, but could not change lanes and struck Mr. Denton’s vehicle. As a result of the accident Mr. Denton suffered broken ribs and a punctured lung. However, these injuries later resulted in a paralysis-causing stroke.
At trial, Mr. Denton’s attorneys argued that the State of Louisiana bore responsibility for the accident. When the state widened Highway 190 in 1952, state highway standards called for a minimum 16 foot median, but recommended a 40 foot median. The state left only a 4 foot median.
The jury awarded Mr. Denton $5.3 million for his injuries. As a result of the state’s failure to comply with its own highway standards, the jury allocated 52% of fault for the accident to the State of Louisiana. The jury also found Ms. Vidrine was 44% at fault while Mr. Denton was only 4% at fault. The First Circuit Court of Appeals entirely affirmed the trial court’s decision.