Wrongful-death suit says Carnival float tractor driver was killed by drunk motorist being chased by a deputy in Harvey _lowres

Photo of Don Dauzat

The family of a man who was killed after towing a float for last year’s Krewe of Excalibur Carnival parade in Metairie has filed a wrongful-death lawsuit.

Don J. Dauzat, 52, was struck and killed by an allegedly drunk motorist who the plaintiffs claim was being chased by a Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office deputy.

Dauzat’s widow and two children are asking for damages from the Sheriff’s Office, Excalibur and a number of other defendants, according to the suit filed in 24th Judicial District Court in Gretna on Tuesday.

According to the lawsuit, Dauzat had dropped off the float he was pulling for Excalibur and was driving a tractor to a staging area for another parade, the Knights of King Arthur, when he was hit by a 2002 Ford Explorer driven by Michael Burrle. The collision happened about 2:50 a.m. near Lapalco Boulevard and Paxton Street in Harvey, the lawsuit says.

The tractor rolled about 70 feet, and Dauzat was ejected, suffering injuries to his skull and brain. He was taken to a New Orleans hospital but died less than a day later, the lawsuit says.

Burrle was jailed on suspicion of driving while intoxicated and eventually charged with vehicular homicide. He has pleaded not guilty.

The lawsuit claims that an unnamed sheriff’s deputy violated Louisiana’s “due care” standard by chasing Burrle in excess of Lapalco’s 40 mph speed limit without his emergency flashers or siren on.

The suit also blames Excalibur, King Arthur, PFJ Float Co. and others for failing to provide tractor drivers with a police escort for the latter part of the night.

Neither the Sheriff’s Office nor Philip Fricano Jr. — identified as the owner of PFJ Float Co. and the registered agent for Excalibur and King Arthur — would comment on the case.

Dauzat worked as a safety coordinator at the Monsanto plant in Luling, his obituary in The New Orleans Advocate said. He is survived by his wife, Jody; a daughter, Courtney; and a son, Craig.