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Cay v. State of Louisiana, Dep’t of Transportation and Development

    Brief Fact Summary.

    The parents of Keith Cay filed a wrongful death suit against the State of Louisiana’s Department of Transportation and Development after Cay fell over a bridge traversing a waterway.

    Synopsis of Rule of Law.

    In order to succeed on a negligence action, a plaintiff is required to show by preponderance of the evidence that the defendant’s actions were the cause in fact of the plaintiff’s injury.

    Facts.

    Cay fell over a bridge traversing a waterway after leaving a bar intoxicated. Cay’s parents filed a wrongful death suit against the State of Louisiana’s Department of Transportation and Development (DOTD) although investigating officials did not ultimately determine what caused Keith to fall. The trial court held for the Cays after they alleged that the guardrails were four inches lower than required by the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO). The court of appeals affirmed.

    Issue.

    Whether a plaintiff is required to show by preponderance of the evidence that the defendant’s actions were the cause in fact of the plaintiff’s injury in order to succeed on a negligence action?

    Held.

    Yes. The judgment of the trial court is affirmed with adjustments allocating fault. Although the State of Louisiana failed to have guardrails with sufficient height, Keith’s fault in the fall was greater than the State’s.

    Discussion.

    In order to succeed on a negligence action, a plaintiff is required to show by preponderance of the evidence that the defendant’s actions were the cause in fact of the plaintiff’s injury.


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