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Lee v. Louisiana Board of Trustees For State Colleges

Court of Appeals of Louisiana, First Circuit

March 13, 2019

JACOBEE LEE
v.
LOUISIANA BOARD OF TRUSTEES FOR STATE COLLEGES, AND GRAMBLING STATE UNIVERSITY

          On Appeal from the Nineteenth Judicial District Court In and for the Parish of East Baton Rouge State of Louisiana Docket No. C593312, Section 27 Honorable Todd Hernandez, Judge Presiding

          Jeffrey Mitchell Monica C. Sanchez Hugo L. Chanez Metairie, Louisiana Counsel for Third -Party Plaintiff/Appellant Jacobee Lee

          Brandon J. Decuir Linda L. Clark Baton Rouge, LA Counsel for Defendants/ Appellees The Board of Supervisors for the University of Louisiana System and Grambling State University

          BEFORE: McCLENDON, WELCH, AND THE RIOT, JJ.

          McCLENDON, J.

         In this personal injury case, the plaintiff appeals a trial court judgment that denied his request for judgment on an offer of judgment. For the following reasons, we affirm.

         RELEVANT FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         The plaintiff, Jacobee Lee, graduated from high school in Shreveport in 2009 and accepted a full basketball scholarship to Grambling State University (GSU) beginning in the fall semester of 2009. On August 14, 2009, Jacobee suffered a heatstroke following a mandatory four-mile outdoor disciplinary run called the Tiger Mix around the campus at GSU.[1] The Tiger Mix was part of an unauthorized basketball team practice at the university. After completing the run, Jacobee made it back to the gym, but shortly thereafter lost consciousness. He was hospitalized for two days, after which he was discharged with diagnoses of heat exhaustion and mild rhabdomyolysis, which is the breaking down of skeletal muscle that can be caused by extreme physical activity.[2]Since the Tiger Mix, Jacobee has suffered elevated creatine phosphokinase (CPK) levels and has been diagnosed with depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).[3]

         On August 6, 2010, Jacobee filed a Petition for Damages against the Board of Supervisors for the University of Louisiana System and GSU (collectively Grambling) for the personal injuries he suffered as a result of the run.[4] Prior to trial, on June 17, 2015, Jacobee served on Grambling an offer of judgment pursuant to Louisiana Code of Civil Procedure Article 970, wherein he offered to settle the matter for a lump sum payment of $2, 000, 000.00, exclusive of interest, costs, and attorney fees. Grambling did not accept the offer of judgment.

         On March 23, 2016, following a seven-day trial, the jury held in favor of Jacobee, finding Grambling at fault for his injuries. The jury also awarded Jacobee $2, 529, 229.00 in damages, as follows:

Past and Future Physical Pain and Suffering $ 200, 000.00
Past and Future Mental Pain and Suffering $1, 000, 000.00
Past Medical Expenses $ 15, 229.00
Future Medical Expenses $ 24, ...

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