JFA and City of Gonzales sued for Wrongful Death at 2021 Christmas Parade

Quincy Davis (a/k/a DJ Thriller) succumbed to injuries sustained after falling from a float in the 2021 Christmas Parade sponsored by Jambalaya Festival Association (JFA). On December 12 Davis was contracted (by JFA) to “provide professional music…and assigned to the top tier of a two-tier parade float” when struck from behind by a low-hanging tree branch.  The quoted language comes from the Wrongful Death petition filed by Davis’ mother and ex-wife (on behalf of his minor child).

The petition names three Party-Defendants; JFA, the City of Gonzales and the driver of the vehicle pulling the float upon which Quincy Davis was sat.  It asserts:

“That (Davis) was an independent contractor participating in…the parade; retained by JFA to provide professional music broadcast services to (JFA) parade ceremonies.  Davis was assigned to the top tier of a two-tier parade float consisting of a fixed=axle trailer that had been designed and decorate to carry parade participants.  The float was being towed…along route northbound from Irma Boulevard, before its intersection with Cornerview Road.

Davis’ position on the float required his facing rearward on its top tier which prevented him from observing the float’s path of travel.  As the float approached the north end of Irma Boulevard, Davis was struck in the back of his head by a large low-hanging tree branch, knocking him from the float to the street, and causing a severe head injury that led to his death ten days later.”

The suit assigns five separate instances of negligence to JFA that proximately caused Davis’ injuries and “wrongful death.”

  • Inadequate inspection of the parade route “to assure float-riders’ safe passage under trees, power lines, and other obstructions” to avoid “unreasonably dangerous conditions;”
  • Hiring a truck operator to tow the float “without training or instruction regarding risks that Davis and other float-riding participants would face while on board;”
  • Failure to ward Davis and others participants of “the presence of the low-hanging tree limb that would be encountered in the parade path;”
  • “Failure to inspect the positioning of float-riders to ensure that they were safe;” and
  • “Failure to have floats with handrails, guardrails, and safety harnesses for float-riders.”

As to the City of Gonzales, the suit alleges negligence in:

  • Failure to implement “a permitting procedure that incorporated inspection of the parade floats for safety equipment, the vehicles towing them, and the drivers operating the towing vehicles;
  • Failure to ensure that the parade route was safe for the passage of two-tiered floats;
  • Failure to require safety equipment and other measures before issuance of the parade permit;
  • Failure to issue safety standards for floats, including but not limited to handrails and harnesses;
  • Permitting for the co-defendant truck operator “to tow (JFA’s) float on City streets without ascertaining” Davis and other float-riders “would be safely transported on board thee floats

The suit was filed with Ascension’s Clerk of Court on October 20, ten days after JFA declared that no music would be permitted from participating floats (save the one sponsored by Coca-Cola) nor vehicles along the parade route  this year.  The annual parade is scheduled to roll down Cornerview Road onto Burnside Ave on December 11, with JFA having declared that music like that provided by DJ Thriller is banned this time around.

On October 10 JFA posted the following on its social media page:

In the coming days in preparation JFA will be sharing information about our 2022 Christmas parade. The Executive Committee is in charge of setting the rules and regulations about our parade.

One of the changes to the 2022 parade will be in regards to music on floats. THERE WILL BE NO MUSIC ALLOWED ON ANY FLOATS OR VEHICLES! The parade is family-oriented and the JFA reserves the right to expel anyone not abiding by these rules.

Ascension parish school marching bands and the Coca Cola truck carrying Santa Claus will be playing Christmas music.

Updates will be forthcoming as other questions arise in regards to the parade rules & regulations.

Not that the current city administration would deliver the message to JFA, but the City of Gonzales “reserves the right to expel” its Christmas Parade from city streets.