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Tugwell v. Plaquemines Parish Gov't

Court of Appeal of Louisiana, Fourth Circuit

November 19, 2014

ARLINGTON C. TUGWELL
v.
PLAQUEMINES PARISH GOVERNMENT

Page 696

APPEAL FROM PLAQUEMINES PARISH CIVIL SERVICE COMMISSION. NO. 2014-00001.

AFFIRMED.

Arlington C. Tugwell, Port Sulphur, LA, PLAINTIFF/APPELLANT/ IN PROPER PERSON.

Rachel E. Linzy, THE KULLMAN FIRM, APLC, New Orleans, LA, COUNSEL FOR DEFENDANT/APPELLEE.

(Court composed of Judge Roland L. Belsome, Judge Paul A. Bonin, Judge Madeleine M. Landrieu).

OPINION

PAUL A. BONIN, J.

Page 697

[2014-0657 La.App. 4 Cir. 1] Arlington C. Tugwell seeks review of a decision rendered by the Plaquemines Parish Civil Service Commission affirming the disciplinary action -- a five-day suspension - imposed upon him by the Plaquemines Parish Government for causing a preventable accident that resulted in damage to a Parish owned dump truck. We note at the outset, however, that Mr. Tugwell does not deny the occurrence of the underlying accident, or that it was preventable. Rather, Mr. Tugwell argues that his punishment was excessive and merits modification. For the reasons that follow, we affirm.

I

In this part we discuss the facts underlying the Parish's disciplinary action. The accident at issue occurred on the morning of Friday, February 14, 2014. At this time, Mr. Tugwell was employed by the Plaquemines Parish Government as a Truck Driver II. Mr. Tugwell's supervisor, Robert Jackson, instructed Mr. Tugwell to have his dump truck serviced in preparation for a job that was set to begin on the following Monday. Mr. Tugwell's dump truck was parked tightly [2014-0657 La.App. 4 Cir. 2] between two other trucks in the Parish's vehicle yard. Mr. Jackson suggested to Mr. Tugwell that he first move one of the other trucks in order to make space for him to then move his own dump truck to where it could be serviced. Mr. Tugwell disregarded Mr. Jackson's advice, ignored the other two trucks, and instead slowly maneuvered his dump truck out from between the trucks and into the service area. After his dump truck was serviced, Mr. Tugwell attempted to return it to its prior position by backing it into place between the two other trucks. On returning, however, Mr. Tugwell backed his dump truck into one of the adjacent trucks and damaged one of his vehicle's side-view mirrors. It cost the Parish $263.00 to repair the broken mirror and resulted in the dump truck being out of service for several days.

Having found the accident to be preventable, the Parish issued Mr. Tugwell a written notice and suspended him for five days without pay in accordance with its Preventable Accidents/Incidents Policy. Specifically, the Parish enacted the policy on August 6, 2012, in response to an increasing number of backing-up accidents and rear-end collisions. The Parish's written Policy statement explains its purpose accordingly:

The number of preventable accidents/incidents occurring each week is steadily increasing costing PPG [Plaquemines Parish Government] thousands of dollars. The money spent on these accidents has a negative impact on PPG's annual budget. Each dollar spent repairing a third party's vehicle, a PPG unit that has been damaged by another PPG unit or on a third party bodily injury claim is one less dollar available to spend to provide services to Plaquemines Parish citizens. While it is understood that ...

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