Grosse Tete attorney wins largest civil verdict in Avoyelles Parish history

Staff Report

A Grosse Tete attorney represented two Avoyelles Parish residents in the largest civil verdict in an injury case in Avoyelles Parish history. 

Two Avoyelles Parish residents were seriously injured when they “jump-started” a John Deere tractor (4640) and the tractor lurched forward, running over both of them, stopping only when it hit the brick home.

Robert Marionneaux

The jury held John Deere 100 percent accountable with its unanimous verdict. Clark Rachal, represented by Robert Marionneaux and Cade Melancon of The Marionneaux Law Firm, Baton Rouge, was awarded $13.32 million, and Ronnie Durand, represented by Cory Roy and Brandon Scott of Roy, Scott & James, was awarded $1.53 million.

“A special thanks to the jurors and the court for taking the time from their daily lives to hear such a heart wrenching case – their verdict sends a message to John Deere of the need to put people above profit,” said Marionneaux, the lead trial lawyer. “They had known about hundreds of similar incidents involving, catastrophic injuries and fatalities, but continued to produce the same defective product and selling it to unsuspecting farmers.”

Evidence presented proved that John Deere knew of the defective product for years before this tragedy. The subject tractor was produced in 1981, more than eight years after John Deere had known about the first-reported similar incident.

Judge Billy Bennett presided over the trial.