Bill would protect Mardi Gras float-builders

By MELINDA DESLATTE – Associated Press Writer

BATON ROUGE, La.

Jonathan Compretta knows how the flashy fun of Mardi Gras can turn tragic, and he thinks Louisiana lawmakers want to make it too easy for companies who build the elaborate floats that carry bead-throwing riders to escape responsibility when things go wrong.

Compretta’s brother Jody was crushed two years ago, when a Krewe of Endymion float lurched forward, throwing him under just as he was trying to disembark and attend the end-of-parade party. Compretta’s family blamed the company that built the float and hired the driver. Jody’s wife filed a wrongful death lawsuit.

Now, Compretta says, a bill passed by the Louisiana House to limit the liability of float-builders would damage future attempts for float riders or watchers to sue when parade festivities hurt or kill someone.

“You’re making a higher standard than other people have to live by when you’re driving a car,” Compretta said.

The bill by Rep. Jeff Arnold, D-New Orleans, would require proof of gross negligence or a deliberate act before the companies that build Mardi Gras floats could be held liable for damage, injuries or death during parades.

Arnold said the proposal is designed to stop frivolous lawsuits by people who get “hit with a pair of beads or something.”

“If a float falls apart, and the pieces of the float fall on somebody, obviously they’re still liable for that,” he said. “I’m trying to protect the float builders from just being sued because of something that happened that had nothing to do with what they do as a profession.”

Read more: http://www.sunherald.com/2010/04/18/2107706/bill-would-protect-mardi-gras.html#ixzz0lXsKmjp0

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