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Guidry v. Market Basket Stores, Inc.

Court of Appeals of Louisiana, Third Circuit

May 6, 2015

DESTINY GUIDRY
v.
MARKET BASKET STORES, INC., ET AL

APPEAL FROM THE FOURTEENTH JUDICIAL DISTRICT COURT, PARISH OF CALCASIEU, DOCKET NO. 2012-2407. HONORABLE G. MICHAEL CANADAY, DISTRICT JUDGE.

Mark A. Delphin, Delphin Law Offices, A Professional Law Corporation, Lake Charles, Louisiana, COUNSEL FOR PLAINTIFF/APPELLANT: Destiny Guidry.

Arthur J. O'Keefe, Lake Charles, Louisiana, COUNSEL FOR PLAINTIFF/APPELLANT: Destiny Guidry.

Michael J. Williamson, Plauché , Smith & Nieset, L.L.C., Lake Charles, Louisiana, COUNSEL FOR DEFENDANTS/APPELLEES: Market Basket Stores, Inc. and Kenneth Wyant.

Court composed of John D. Saunders, James T. Genovese, and Phyllis M. Keaty, Judges.

OPINION

Page 403

[14-1283 La.App. 3 Cir. 1] GENOVESE, Judge.

In this personal injury action, Plaintiff, Destiny Guidry, appeals a judgment entered pursuant to jury verdict dismissing her lawsuit with prejudice. The jury found no fault on the part of Defendant, Kenneth Wyant, an employee of Defendant, Market Basket Stores, Inc. (Market Basket). For the following reasons, we reverse the jury's finding as to fault, but affirm the judgment in favor of Defendants on the basis that Plaintiff failed to prove

Page 404

that her alleged injury was legally caused by Mr. Wyant's fault.

FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

On June 14, 2011, Ms. Guidry was a patron at the Market Basket grocery store on Third Avenue in Lake Charles, Louisiana. Ms. Guidry alleges that while shopping in the meat department with her cousins, Contrina Cahee and Khadisha Cahee, she suffered injury to her right ankle as a result of being struck by a stock cart recklessly operated by Mr. Wyant.[1] Ms. Guidry describes the incident as a violent collision which left her right leg pinned under Mr. Wyant's stock cart and which caused her to be struck by several loose cans that were originally on the stock cart. Ms. Guidry went to the emergency room at W.O. Moss Regional Hospital for pain and swelling in her right ankle on June 18, 2011. She again sought treatment for her right ankle on June 28, 2011, at the emergency room of Lake Charles Memorial Hospital. Ultimately, but not until March 10, 2013, Ms. Guidry underwent surgery for repair of the peroneal tendon of her right ankle, an injury she claims resulted from the June 2011 Market Basket incident.

[14-1283 La.App. 3 Cir. 2] Ms. Guidry filed this personal injury action on June 1, 2012, against Mr. Wyant and Market Basket. A jury trial was held on March 12-14, 2014, during which time Ms. Guidry moved for a directed verdict on the issues of liability and causation.[2] The trial court denied the motion, stating in part: " In the matter before the [c]ourt[,] it does appear that [Ms. Guidry has] established that there has been an incident. However, the allegations with regard to fault are at issue, specifically as to the actual mechanics of what occurred on June 14th of 2011." Subsequently, the jury returned a verdict finding no fault on the part of Mr. Wyant. On the Jury Verdict Form, the first question was whether Mr. Wyant was " at fault in causing an accident on June 14, 2011?" The jury answered in the negative, which terminated their deliberation. Accordingly, the jury did not proceed to the next question relative to causation which asked, " Was defendant Kenneth Wyant's fault a cause of injury to Destiny Guidry?"

A judgment was signed in accordance with the jury's verdict. Ms. Guidry filed a Motion for Judgment Notwithstanding the Verdict, which the trial court denied. Ms. Guidry appeals.

ASSIGNMENT OF ERROR

In her sole assignment of error, Ms. Guidry asserts: " The jury committed manifest error and made a decision which was clearly wrong when it concluded that[] Defendant, Kenneth Wyant, was not at fault ...


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