Jury finds YMBL of Beaumont and plaintiff equally at fault for gate-climbing injury, $778K in damages awarded

By David Yates | Oct 1, 2018

BEAUMONT – Both the Young Men’s Business League of Beaumont and the man who sued the organization are equally at fault for the injuries the plaintiff suffered while climbing a metal gate, according to a Jefferson County jury.

Seeking more than $1 million in damages, James Thibodeaux filed suit against YMBL on Nov. 15, 2016, in Jefferson County District Court.

Court records show Thibodeaux was injured at Ford Park Arena on March 28, 2016.

He had climbed onto one of the metal gates constructed by YMBL and, while descending, the gate fell to the ground, landing on top of him.

In his suit, he accused YMBL of breaching its duty to him by failing to properly secure the fence panel and warn of the dangerous condition.

However, YMBL filed a motion for summary judgment on June 1, arguing Thibodeaux had presented no evidence to support his claim it owed him a duty.

According to the motion, an YMBL volunteer had told Thibodeaux that the fence was not complete and that they were not ready for him to run electrical wiring. Regardless, Thibodeaux, without permission, decided to run the wire on his own initiative.

“Plaintiff has presented no evidence showing that YMBL knew or should have known that Plaintiff was going to climb on top of the fence panels to run wiring,” the motion states.

YMBL further asserted a general denial in an amended answer and argued Thibodeaux’s injuries were caused by his own negligence.

The case was called up for trial on Sept. 24 and lasted for four days.

Jurors split the blame down the middle, assigning YMBL and Thibodeaux 50 percent of the responsibility each in contributing to the injury, according to the charge of the court.

The jury awarded Thibodeaux $12,800 in lost earnings, $150,000 for past mental suffering and physical pain, $428,651 for past medical expenses, $25,000 for past impairment.

Jurors also awarded him $75,000 for his future mental suffering and physical pain, $27,000 for future medical expenses and $60,000 for future physical impairment.

No damages were awarded for Thibodeaux’s disfigurement, past or future.

Thibodeaux is represented by Glen Morgan, a partner at the Reaud, Morgan & Quinn law firm in Beaumont.

YMBL is represented by Katie Williamson, attorney for the Houston law firm Daw & Ray.

Judge Donald Floyd, 172nd District Court, is presiding over the case.

Case No. E-199263

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Jefferson County District Court Reaud, Morgan & Quinn LLP

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