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Emerging as criteria for determining an employee's contributory negligence in executive officer suits under La. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 23:1032 are: (1) relative knowledge of the danger by the supervising employee and the injured employee; (2) relative control over the employee's situation; (3) the degree to which the employee's conduct is voluntary on his part; (4) alternatives available to the employee; (5) obviousness of the danger; and (6) relative ability to eliminate the danger.
Plaintiff employee, who was injured in the course of her employment and suffered a serious mental and physical breakdown, sued the executive officer of her employer and his insurer for medical expenses incurred and expected to be incurred, and for lost past and future wages. After trial, a jury awarded plaintiff $485,000. The defendants argued that the court of appeal erred in not finding plaintiff negligent or contributorily negligent, and in not reducing the award for general damages.
The court first affirmed the judgment as to the executive officer’s liability, holding that a finding that the employee was not guilty of contributory negligence was not manifestly erroneous. Defendants were properly held liable for the employee's mental and emotional disorders because the evidence showed that all of the employee's ailments were related to the head injury she sustained in the initial fall. The court also affirmed the jury award of general damages, and past and anticipated future medical expenses, but had reduced the award for lost past and future wages.