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Edmond v. Cherokee Insurance Co.

Court of Appeals of Louisiana, First Circuit

April 24, 2015

LEROY M. EDMOND
v.
CHEROKEE INSURANCE COMPANY, JOWIN EXPRESS, INC., SHERBASTON T. WILSON AND STATE FARM MUTUAL INSURANCE COMPANY

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On Appeal from the Eighteenth Judicial District Court In and for the Parish of West Baton Rouge State of Louisiana. No. 39,184. Honorable William C. Dupont, Judge Presiding.

Lori D. Brown, Robert M. Marionneaux, Jr., Natasha Carter Benoit, Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Counsel for Plaintiff /Cross-Appellant Leroy M. Edmond.

Michael J. Remondet, Jr., Juliette B. Wade, Lafayette, Louisiana, Counsel for Defendants/ Appellants Sherbaston T. Wilson, Jowin Express, Inc., and Cherokee Insurance Company.

BEFORE: WHIPPLE, C.J., McCLENDON, AND HIGGINBOTHAM, JJ.

OPINION

[2014 1509 La.App. 1 Cir. 2] McCLENDON, J.

The defendants appeal a judgment, which was rendered in accordance with a jury verdict, to challenge the percentage of fault allocated to a plaintiff involved in motor vehicle accident. Plaintiff also appeals, challenging the trial court's denial of his motion for judgment notwithstanding the verdict and/or additur on the issue of damages. For the following reasons, we affirm.

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FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

This case involves a motor vehicle accident that occurred on March 10, 2010 at approximately 5:30 a.m., while still dark, on Lobdell Highway. Lobdell Highway is a four-lane divided highway, in Port Allen, Louisiana. The portion of Lobdell at issue is straight and level, without any hills or curves. Leroy Edmond, who was driving a GMC Sierra pickup truck, was traveling in a northerly direction on Lobdell Highway when he struck a flat bed trailer that was being pulled by an eighteen wheeler driven by Sherbaston Wilson. The cargo on the flatbed trailer was completely covered by a black tarp. Mr. Wilson was leaving a truck stop and attempting to make a left hand turn across the two northbound lanes of Lobdell. At the time of the impact, Mr. Wilson's trailer had not cleared the inner northbound lane of travel.

Subsequently, Mr. Edmond filed suit against Mr. Wilson, his employer, Jowin Express, Inc., and their insurer, Cherokee Insurance Company, (collectively " defendants" )[1] Mr. Edmond alleged that Mr. Wilson was negligent in, among other things, " fail[ing] to yield to oncoming traffic while exiting from a private driveway." Mr. Edmond also alleged that he sustained permanent injuries in the accident.

The matter proceeded to a jury trial. Following trial, the jury returned a verdict, assessing 95% fault for the accident to the defendants and the remaining 5% fault to Mr. Edmond. The jury also rendered the following damage award in favor of Mr. Edmond:

[2014 1509 La.App. 1 Cir. 3]

A. Past Medical Expenses

$35,000

B. Future Medical Expenses

$150,000

C. Past lost Wages

$450,000

D. Future lost Wages

$400,000

E. Past pain, suffering, mental anguish,

disability, scarring and disfigurement

$75,000

F. Future pain, suffering, mental anguish,

disability, scarring and disfigurement

$110,000

G. Loss of Enjoyment of Life

$15.000

H. Property Damage

$20,000

The trial court signed a judgment in accordance with the jury verdict on October 18, 2013.

Mr. Edmond then filed a motion for judgment notwithstanding the verdict (JNOV) and/or additur, which was subsequently denied by the trial court on January 7, 2014. Following the denial of the JNOV and/or additur, the defendants filed a petition for suspensive appeal on January 31, 2014. In their appeal, defendants assign the following as error:

1. The finding that Sherbaston Wilson was 95% at fault was manifestly erroneous, because the evidence showed that Plaintiff-Appellee, Leroy " Mike" Edmond had the last clear chance to avoid the accident.

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2. It was manifest error for the jury to consider Plaintiff-Appellee's economist's range for future lost wages because that expert admitted on the stand that the bases for his calculations were incorrect. As a result, the range offered to the jury by Plaintiff-Appellee for this element of damages created inaccurate parameters that the jury should not have considered.

Mr. Edmond also filed an appeal on March 10, 2014. In his appeal, he assigns the following as error:[2]

The trial court erred in failing to appropriately apply La. C.C.P. Art[.] 1811 and/or La. C.C.P. 1814, in denying plaintiff-appellant's Motion for JNOV and/or Additur for the awards for: future los[t] wages; past pain, suffering, mental anguish, disability, scarring and disfigurement; and, future pain, suffering, mental anguish, disability, scarring and disfigurement.

Defendants answered Mr. Edmond's appeal, seeking review of a judgment rendered by the trial court on April 14, ...


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