23rd JDC awards Geismar family millions after fatal accident

23rd JDC awards Geismar family millions after fatal accident

GEISMAR, LA (WAFB) - The ink is barely dry on jury verdicts in two lawsuits, but the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development has been asked to pay about $6 million to the Geismar family in a case that claimed the lives of two children and injured their father and two family friends.

Judge Jason Verdigets of the 23rd Judicial District Court oversaw last week's long days of testimony, in which the stretch of Ascension Parish State Highway 928, known to locals as "Bluff Road," was attacked and defended.

The two children, Sarai Lanus, 9, and Daylon, 6, were fishing with a family friend, Mitchell Johnson Jr., on a Tuesday in late June. An SUV struck a truck and went flying off the roadway, plowing into the group as they fished. Later at home, their mother, Shayla Lanus, tearfully showed 9News photos of the children fishing: smiling faces of the two youngsters in happier days. They loved to fish so much, those pictures were held by magnets on the family's refrigerator.

Records at the Ascension Parish Clerk of Court's Office show on Friday night, the jury awarded Shayla and David Lanus $4,233,324. Mitchell Johnson Jr., a family friend, received $1,042,193.

The family alleged that LA 928 was defective because the road design was a primary cause of the accident and ensuing deaths. The drivers of the vehicles were not seriously injured in the accident.

"Despite the fact that Department of Transportation and Development pointed fingers everywhere else, including at the Lanus family, the jury found that the department's actions were the primary cause of this tragedy. Mr. and Mrs. Lanus find comfort and can start the process of healing and closure, knowing that the department has been told that it needs to correct this problem and hopefully avoid another tragedy in the future," said the plaintiffs' lawyer, Eulis Simien, of Simien & Simien Law Firm/Baton Rouge.

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