Latest News

Perrier & Lacoste Hires Victoria R. Bradshaw

September 2022 • Source: Perrier & Lacoste

Victoria R. Bradshaw was born and raised in Monroe, Louisiana. She is Special Counsel in Perrier & Lacoste’s Jackson, Mississippi office. Victoria concentrates her practice in the fields of trucking and transportation casualty litigation, premises liability, medical malpractice, products liability, railroad law, and commercial general liability claims and coverage issues.

Victoria graduated from Louisiana State University in 2011 with a Bachelor of Science in Biological Sciences. Thereafter, she attended and graduated from Mississippi College School of Law in 2014 and was an Executive Editor of the Law Review.

Victoria has been practicing law since 2014 and is licensed to practice before all state courts in Louisiana and Mississippi, the United States District Courts for the Northern and Southern Districts of Mississippi, the United States District Courts for the Eastern, Middle and Western Districts of Louisiana, and the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. She is also admitted to practice before The United States Bankruptcy Courts for the Eastern, Middle and Western Districts of Louisiana and The United States Bankruptcy Courts for the Southern and Northern Districts of Mississippi.

Prior to joining Perrier and Lacoste, Victoria represented railroads, nursing homes, hospitals, and banks in litigation throughout Louisiana and Mississippi.

Victoria was nominated for Best Lawyers in America, Ones to Watch in 2021 and 2022 for Commercial Litigation.


Perrier & Lacoste Hires Ney J. Gehman

October 2022  Source: Perrier & Lacoste

Perrier & Lacoste is thrilled to announce their newest firm member, Ney J. Gehman. Ney is a native New Orleanian who attended Loyola University New Orleans and received a Bachelor of Arts in Communication in 1995 and was a member of Loyola’s Baseball team. He earned his Juris Doctorate from New England School of Law Boston in 1999.

Prior to joining Perrier & Lacoste, Ney worked in the Trial Division of a major insurance carrier and provided legal representation to insured entities throughout Louisiana for approximately nine years. In the early 2000’s, he was an assistant district attorney in New Orleans and was subsequently employed in private practice for approximately ten years.

Ney lives in New Orleans with his wife, Lauren, and their two children.


Perrier & Lacoste Hires Sean P. Rabalais

September 2022  Source: Perrier & Lacoste

Perrier & Lacoste is pleased to announce that Sean p. Rabalais will be joining their firm as P&L's newest attorney in Lafayette.

Sean has a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Vermont and Juris Doctor from Loyola University. Sean has experience with handling a large volume caseload from inception to negotiations, mediations, and trials. He is enthusiastic about his practice and prides himself in a just result.

They are thrilled to have Sean as part of the P&L team, and I ask you to please join them in welcoming him to the firm.


Fitness Wearables as Digital Evidence: Transforming More Than Waistlines

February 2023 • Source: Lars Daniel, EnCE, CCO CCPA, CTNS, CTA, CWA, CIPTS, Practice Leader of Digital Forensics, Envista Forensics

In today's modern world, fitness wearables are a valuable tool for anyone wanting to improve their performance and well-being and monitor their physical activity by offering a range of benefits.  The technology behind these devices is rapidly advancing, with sophisticated sensors that can track various biometrics, such as heart rate, sleep cycles, body temperature, respiration, and more.  All this information can be used to reveal actionable insights into our health and well-being, helping us better understand how we're performing when exercising and over time. 

The increased popularity and sophistication of fitness trackers increase their value as a potential source of digital evidence in many types of investigations, as these devices can provide forensic artifacts of when and wear something happened with surprising detail.  For example, in a personal injury case, data from a wearable might show whether a person was engaged in an activity that contributed to their injury, or it could be used to refute an alibi based on recorded and recovered location data.

In some cases, fitness wearables might even be able to detect when an accident is about to happen and send an alert to the user or emergency contacts.  Many of these devices already record medical events.  This type of data could inform investigators of a motor carrier accident in that the driver was not distracted by their phone but suffered a medical event, like a stroke. 

The data that is collected by fitness wearables can be divided into two main categories.  The first is biometric data, data derived from the physical characteristics and behavioral traits of an individual.  Second is location data, as fitness wearables utilize built-in location tracking technology, like GPS, and often compile that data with location data from the mobile phone associated with the fitness wearable. 

Biometric Data

Biometric data, such as heart rate, calorie burn, and sleep patterns, recorded by fitness wearables can provide insight into a person's health over time and during acute events.  This data can be used in legal proceedings as evidence to support claims of health changes or inconsistencies. When supported by other evidence, such as medical reports or expert testimony, biometric data can create a more accurate depiction of what occurred.  Utilizing digital forensic experts to collect the data in a way that protects it from spoliation and providing that data to the appropriate subject matter expert in a usable format is becoming more common.  For example, an expert in digital forensics could collect the data from a fitness wearable device and then provide the heart rate data to a cardiologist who can give an expert opinion. 

Biometric data from fitness wearables can be used in fraud investigations in several ways.  For example, comparing the data collected from activity trackers of a claimant's declared daily activity with their actual activity as recorded by their wearable device.  This helps insurers to detect fraudulent claims that involve physical activities which contradict declared levels of activity.  Furthermore, biometrics, such as heart rate and galvanic skin response (GSR, a measuring technique for the electrical conductance of the skin used to measure stress and anxiety levels), can be compared against declared levels of stress or anxiety, allowing for the detection of false claims for physical and psychological injuries.

Location Data

Location data, such as timestamps, speed, and movement patterns, can all be used in conjunction with other evidence to establish a stronger case narrative.  Location data recorded by fitness wearables can provide forensically reliable evidence useful for litigation.  This data can be used to corroborate alibis, prove the presence or absence of a person at a scene, or refute the veracity of an individual's testimony.

If a claimant has stated that they are not physically active but then their fitness wearable shows regular running activity, this could indicate fraud.  As an example, an insurance company's Special Investigation Unit (SIU) reached out to Envista’s digital forensics experts with suspicions that the claimant was being dishonest about a specific incident, and what we uncovered proved their doubts correct.  Despite the claimant insisting they had stayed in one place all night, data from their fitness wearable revealed them having traveled nearly six miles over the period in question.

Data Repositories

This talk of location and biometric data is important to note, but it begs the questions, “how do I get my hands on this data?” and “what about deleted data?” 

Fitness wearables collect data from their users regarding their activity levels, location, and other metrics.  This data is stored on the device's internal memory and then transmitted to data repositories, such as online accounts and mobile phone applications.  This means that even if the device is damaged, deleted data can still be recovered from the cloud, the mobile phone associated with the device, or the fitness wearable itself by utilizing digital forensic techniques, such as chip-off forensics and forensic extractions. 

Even if the device is operational and without damage, there can be deleted data residing in storage areas on the wearable or mobile device associated with it.  In other words, a digital forensic expert can utilize specialized forensic hardware and software to recover data that has been "lost" in the normal operation of the device or deleted intentionally or unintentionally by the claimant.

The Future of Lifestyle Analysis

As we have seen, location and biometric data collected from fitness wearables are not limited to physical activity alone.  They provide vital insight into many other aspects of health, such as sleep quality and duration, heart rate variability (HRV), caloric intake/burn rate, and more.  It is common for a user to have months’ or years’ worth of data recorded by fitness wearables existing in their online accounts and mobile applications. 

The extensive data recorded about a user over long periods make this data of special interest when performing a lifestyle analysis.  A lifestyle analysis investigation is a type of investigation which looks at a person's daily activities and habits as evidence. Call detail records (CDRs), a kind of super phone bill, from mobile phones are often used to aid in these investigations, as they can provide useful insights into a person's whereabouts and activities over time.  These records are used to link together pieces of evidence and better understand the custodian's behavior and relevant patterns of activity.

Compared to the data collected by fitness wearables, current lifestyle analysis investigations using CDRs alone is rather rudimentary.  Fitness wearable data can provide a more detailed picture of an individual’s lifestyle and behavior, and when used in combination with other evidence, provides investigators with even greater insight into the custodian's activities, intentions, and state of mind. 

The Widespread of Fitness Wearables

Attorneys and claims professionals should be aware of the potential implications that fitness wearable data can have if used correctly.  This type of evidence provides valuable insight into an individual's actions surrounding the event in question.  It also has the potential to provide relevant data concerning their state of mind leading up to it.  

Digital forensic experts can help ensure that the data collected from fitness trackers and wearable technology devices are collected in a way that protects them from spoliation and can assist in making sense of the data by providing it to an appropriate subject matter expert in a usable format. 

As technology advances, fitness wearables will continue to become a larger part of our lives and provide increasingly useful evidence for investigations.  The widespread use of these devices means that more individuals are wearing them regularly than ever before, potentially turning small moments into tangible pieces of evidence that could prove crucial to resolving a case.


Clarifying TBI Claims with Social Media & Video Deposition

February 2023 • Source: Marci DeVries-Todtz, Fraudsniffr

TBI is a costly, frequently reported injury that is difficult to quantify for compensability. In the last five years, new methods have emerged that modernize quantification, saving time and money in the process. We will explore these new as well as other proven defense tactics.

The newest and most time-efficient TBI "truth-teller" is a thorough review of the plaintiff's social media profile(s). Consider this: TBI symptoms include insomnia, confusion, irritation by light/sound, mood changes, irritation with changes in routine, and inability to perform routine tasks in a consistent manner. An active social media profile will provide deep insight into the plaintiff's ability to organize thoughts, participate in online "challenges" (TikTok dance challenges, for example), issues with insomnia, details about weekend trips or elaborate vacations, family get-togethers, parties, and other social events. Additionally, the content is provided alongside labeled photographic evidence.

TBI plaintiffs are also frequently found online starting a recreational
sports league, participating in a PTA/School board role or even starting a business - all of which are advertised in social media to drum up
participation, drive traffic to an e-commerce site, or provide directions to
a pop-up store location.

Once these activities are discovered in social media, formal discovery can be pursued. Additionally, given the near 100% admissibility of social media in court, this is a logical and inexpensive place to start.

The use of video depositions is also important as a next step. Asking multiple, specific questions about treatment, drugs, and dosage is strategic; Often the deponent is so concerned about how they present on video that they forget a TBI is supposed to interfere with their memory.

Once current activity level is determined in social media or through
deposition, it's time to look back at the original TBI diagnosis.

Develop a strong argument based on Differential Diagnosis.

Differential Diagnosis proposes that, for every symptom claimed, one should look for other causes of the symptom and let common sense dictate which cause is most likely.

Proven methods for accomplishing Differential Diagnosis in today's "I think it therefore I have it" legal environment, include examining plaintiff's records in two key areas:

  • Employment records/performance - Has discipline been part of the employee's employment folder before and after the DOI?
  • Military records - If available, they give a detailed history of performance and injuries while in the service.

Next, consider the culture the initial testing/treatment was developed in. Often, when testing for TBI, the forgone conclusion is that there is one. Testing using a checklist is invalid as it does not test for presence of an injury - it only measures for severity, which may lead to a false positive. Studies at the VA showed how, even in an environment where no secondary gain agenda is present, 50-70% of the evaluations performed failed the validity test.

Finally, once you have contrasting explanations for the claimed symptoms, meet with the entire team: the neuropsychologist, radiologist, medical doctor, and vocational counselor to discuss develop key factors related to the cost drivers in the claim:

  • Was the minor brain bleed significant enough to cause lasting impairment?
  • Is the claimant cognitive function decreased as compared to baseline studies based on pre-DOI baseline?
  • What are the jobs available in the market and is the plaintiff able to do any of them?

Once the information is available, defense counsel will have a clear road map; who should ongoing discovery focus on, which line of questioning to take, and what are the appropriate next steps for the case.

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