Jury awards $1 million in death from power cut

Joey Caillouet misses those standing lunch dates that he, and even some of his co-workers, would enjoy every Tuesday with his mother, Elsie, at her Old Hammond Highway condominium.

“Not just a ham sandwich. She’d cook a meal. She wouldn’t take no money. She loved doing it,” Caillouet, 63, of Central, reminisced at the Miley Law Firm on Tuesday — a day after a jury awarded her family more than $1 million.

“She was great. I wish everybody in the world could have a mama like her,” said Caillouet, a recently retired East Baton Rouge Parish sheriff’s deputy.

Elsie Burleigh Caillouet, an 87-year-old mother, grandmother and great-grandmother who served with honor in the U.S. Army during World War II, died Oct. 6, 2010.

Joey Caillouet found his mother near death on the floor of her condo, where she lived alone, the morning of July 23, 2010 — two days after a worker contracted by Entergy Gulf States Louisiana disconnected the power to the wrong condo on a scorching hot summer afternoon.

Elsie Caillouet’s five children sued Entergy and Accu-Read Services in 2011. An East Baton Rouge Parish jury late Monday found that Entergy and an Accu-Read employee were not only at fault, but also contributed to her death.

“After years of fighting this case, we’re glad to have a jury come in and decide this matter in our clients’ favor,” Mark Miley, who represented the family along with his father, Phil Miley, said in his office.

“Hopefully, it will help bring closure to the Caillouet family.”

Elsie Caillouet’s treating Baton Rouge cardiologist and a New Orleans forensic pathologist both testified at the three-day trial that the heat she had to endure, superimposed on her pre-existing heart problems, led to her death, he said.

“We understand and sympathize with the difficulty of this extremely unfortunate situation on the Caillouet family,” Entergy spokesman Chanel Lagarde said in a written statement. “We are referring all inquiries on this incident to Accu-Read.”

Accu-Read officials could not be reached for comment.

One listed telephone number for the company on Beechwood Drive in Baton Rouge is not in service, and no one answered at another local number for the firm.

The Caillouet family’s lawsuit alleged Elsie Caillouet fell after she was overcome by the extreme buildup of heat in her condo, and was unable to seek help because the disconnecting of her electricity rendered her telephone useless.

Mark Miley said the Accu-Read employee was sent to the condo complex to disconnect power to one particular unit but instead cut off Elsie Caillouet’s electricity.

He said her power also was erroneously disconnected in March 2010.

“This was the second time it happened,” he said, noting that the two meters were nearby and had similar numbers on them.

Joey Caillouet said his mother, valedictorian of her Sunset High School class outside of Opelousas and a graduate of what was then the University of Southwestern Louisiana in Lafayette, loved ceramics. She operated a ceramics shop in the city for years and later sold artist brushes. Her husband, Clifford Joseph Caillouet Sr., died in 1973.

In her final days, Caillouet said his mother was worried most about the family she would be leaving behind.

“ ‘Are y’all going to be OK?’ ” he remembered her asking in the hospital.

“Even at the end, she was worried more about us. I miss her a lot. A whole lot.”