Thistlethwaite v. Gonzalez
Mr. Ryan enrolled as appellate counsel in a matter involving an accident that occurred in the early morning on the Bonnet Carre Spillway, West of New Orleans. Rodney Gonzalez had been drinking at a lounge in Metairie, Louisiana, and he was returning to his hotel room in Laplace prior to going to work. Gonzalez’ vehicle became disabled partially in the left lane of Interstate 10, where it was struck by a tractor-trailer driven by Jonathan Mouton. The tractor-trailer caught fire, and although Jonathan Mouton was able to escape without physical injuries, his guest passenger, James Thisthlethwaite, suffered severe burns. Mr. Thistlethwaite died eight days later due to injuries sustained in the accident. Rodney Gonzalez was released prior to trial, and the case proceeded against Gonzalez’ insurers. After a jury in St. James Parish Louisiana returned a verdict for $4.1 million in compensatory damages and $25 million in punitive damages, Mr. Ryan enrolled as appellate counsel. Mr. Ryan successfully argued for a reduction in the amount of punitive damages under the Due Process Clause of the United States Constitution. Punitive damages were reduced on appeal to $5.1 million.
Thistlethwaite v. Gonzalez, 13-CA-130 (La.App. 5th Cir. 12/18/12).