Mardi Gras Mayhem!
NEW ORLEANS, LA — Carnival season is in full swing, and the good times will be rolling all the way through Mardi Gras Day, which is March 5 this year. For the most part, locals and visitors alike will experience one of the best celebrations the nation has to offer, but with thick crowds, throws of all shapes and sizes tossed from moving floats, and an abundance of festive beverages flowing, there is a great potential for accidental injury. Yet even if you are injured by another person during Mardi Gras, you may not be able to recover any damages, depending on the circumstances of your injury. This is because of Louisiana Revised Statute 9:2796 , a uniquely Louisiana law which states in part that “no person shall have a cause of action against any krewe or organization, any group traditionally referred to as Courir de Mardi Gras, or any member thereof, which presents Mardi Gras parades” and advises that anyone attending Mardi Gras parades “assumes the risk of being struck by any missile whatsoever which has been traditionally thrown, tossed, or hurled by members of the krewe or organization in such parades.” Colorfully, these items include but are not limited to beads, cups, coconuts, and doubloons. Yet this law hasn’t gone without challenge.
One challenge to this law was brought by Mrs. Daisy Palmer and her husband against New Orleans’ century old Zulu Social Aid and Pleasure Club, which traditionally parades on Mardi Gras Day. Mrs. Palmer represented that while attending the parade, she had been struck in the head by one of Zulu’s signature coconut throws. The only exception the law has provided to the immunity coverage extended to krewes is if there is gross negligence involved. In this case, the Civil District Court for the Parish of Orleans did not feel that Palmer’s case was likely to prove an exception to the immunity law, and therefore ruled in favor of the Zulu Club. The Palmers appealed, and the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the lower court’s ruling.
In Duplantier v. Krewe of Pygmalion, et al, the court found that the immunity statute didn’t apply to all of the defendants, highlighting another important characteristic of the Mardi Gras Immunity Statute. Mr. and Mrs. Duplantier were injured when the float they were riding on collided with a tree limb. This was determined to possibly be due in part to the actions of the driver of the tractor towing the float. The court found that contracted employees of a krewe, who are compensated to provide services such as towing floats to the parading krewe, are not covered by the Mardi Gras Immunity Statute, and can therefore be found liable if their actions cause injuries to others.
Not only are Mardi Gras krewes extended special immunity in Louisiana, the state also provides that Mardi Gras Day can be considered a legal holiday. Louisiana Revised Statute 1:55 provides that “In the parishes of Orleans, St. Bernard, Jefferson, Plaquemines, St. Charles, St. James, St. John the Baptist, East Baton Rouge, Lafayette, St. Tammany, Iberia, St. Martin, Ascension, Washington, Calcasieu, Jefferson Davis, St. Landry, Evangeline, Cameron, Assumption, St. Mary, Acadia, Vermilion, Iberville, Pointe Coupee, West Baton Rouge, Lafourche, East Feliciana, and West Feliciana, and in all municipalities, Mardi Gras shall be a holiday when the governing authorities so declare by ordinance.”
So whether you’re planning to watch the parades from a friend’s balcony, in the grandstands, or on the street in your favorite spot, or if you’re visiting us from places where the day before Ash Wednesday is “just another day,” we hope you lassaiz le bon temps rouler and above all, stay aware and celebrate safely! Wishing you a fun-filled Mardi Gras from The de Boisblanc Law Firm!
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