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Suit claims failure to prepare for flood
In its ruling that LaCoste did not fall under Louisiana's medical malpractice law requiring a panel review and imposing a $500,000 cap on jury awards, the Louisiana Supreme Court summarized the case against Pendleton Memorial Methodist Hospital:
"In the petition for damages, the plaintiffs alleged that Althea LaCoste was admitted to defendant's hospital on or about Aug. 28, 2005, at which time she was recovering from pneumonia and required the use of a ventilator. The plaintiffs alleged that, during Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath, the hospital lost electrical power and emergency power, resulting in the failure of life support systems used to sustain the lives of individuals like Mrs. LaCoste, who were dependent on such systems. The plaintiffs alleged the loss of use of the emergency power and the defendant's failure to implement an adequate evacuation plan were a direct and proximate cause of Mrs. LaCoste's death. Specifically, the plaintiffs alleged negligent and intentional conduct of the defendant in: a) designing, constructing, and/or maintaining a facility in such a manner that the hospital did not have sufficient emergency power to sustain life support systems; b) designing, constructing, and/or maintaining a facility in such a manner that allowed flood waters to enter the structure, thus endangering the safety of patients; and c) failing to implement an adequate evacuation plan."