Louisiana Agency Dismissed From Crash Suit

November 25, 2013

The state Department of Transportation and Development has been dismissed from a lawsuit that claims cable median barriers would have prevented a March 2011 crossover crash that killed five Ascension Parish residents on Interstate 10 near Highland Road.

The Advocated reports that barriers were erected on I-10 from Highland Road to the Ascension line in 2012, and more are planned along interstates across Louisiana.highway with cable median barriers

Five months before the 2011, crash, a study recommended installation of barriers in that area, transportation officials said in documents that asked state District Judge William Morvant to dismiss the agency from the suit filed by relatives of the victims.

“The project to install these barriers was let in June of 2011, three months after the … accident,” Andrew Blanchfield, a special assistant state attorney general, wrote in the Oct. 14 filing. “As such, at the time of the accident, the DOTD was actively performing its duty to maintain the highway in a reasonably safe condition.”

Russell Beall, lawyer for relatives of four of the victims, said it would have been futile to oppose dismissal of the agency because federal regulation limits his ability to present evidence of past crossover accidents.

“I would not be able to show the state was negligent in their timing of erecting the cable barriers,” Beall said.

Kelsye Hall, 24, of Baton Rouge, and David Leger, 31, of Palmetto remain defendants in the suit.

It was Leger’s westbound pickup that crossed the grassy I-10 median and collided with an eastbound car driven by Effie Fontenot, 29, of Prairieville.

Fontenot and her sons – Austin Fontenot, 3; Hunter Johnson, 7; and Keagan Fontenot, 11 – were killed, as was another passenger, Kimberly Stagg, 19, of Prairieville.

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