Lafayette settles case with accident victim

Lafayette has paid $500,000 to settle a lawsuit filed by a man who was paralyzed after being struck in a traffic accident blamed on restaurant grease that flowed out of a city manhole, according to documents released this week by city-parish government.

Louis Robinson Jr. was riding his bicycle along Evangeline Thruway in August 2006 when a pickup truck turning from Pinhook Road lost control, flipped several times and struck Robinson, who is now a quadriplegic.

A key factor in the accident was believed to be greasy sludge that flowed onto the road from a sewer manhole.

Robinson’s attorneys argued that city-parish government was negligent for not maintaining a functioning sewer system and that city-parish workers were aware of grease clogs in the sewer line allegedly linked to a defective grease trap at a nearby restaurant, Lil D’s Bar-B-Que.

City-parish attorneys fought the lawsuit for six years before negotiating a $500,000 settlement in an agreement that stipulates that Robinson and his attorneys will not discuss it.

City-Parish Chief Financial Officer Lorrie Toups said the $500,000 payout will come from the budget of Lafayette Utilities System, which oversees the city’s sewer system.

There were several other defendants in the lawsuit, including insurance companies and Lil D’s Bar-B-Que.

An attorney for the restaurant said he was not at liberty to discuss the status of the case.

The existence and amounts of any confidential settlements reached with the restaurant or other private defendants would not be open for public disclosure.

The restaurant had argued in prior court filings that the owners had no knowledge of any problems with the business’ grease trap before the accident.

The $500,000 payment to resolve the case is one of two big-dollar settlements made by city-parish government this year.

The City-Parish Council earlier this year agreed to a $3.4 million settlement in a lawsuit over the council’s decision in 2011 to block a planned garbage transfer station on Sunbeam Lane in north Lafayette.

Residents in the area had raised concerns about noise, odors and trash.

Developer Waste Facilities of Lafayette had already purchased the property, obtained permits and started construction at the site when the council shut down the project.

Waste Facilities responded with a federal lawsuit against city-parish government for money tied up in the project and for future losses.

The garbage company that planned to lease the transfer station, Progressive Waste Solutions of LA, filed a separate lawsuit against city-parish government.

That case is pending.