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Berthiaume v. Gros

Court of Appeals of Louisiana, Third Circuit

June 3, 2015

LACY BERTHIAUME, ET AL.
v.
KEITH GROS, ET AL

APPEAL FROM THE TWELFTH JUDICIAL DISTRICT COURT, PARISH OF AVOYELLES, NO. 2014-0679-A. HONORABLE MARK A. JEANSONNE, DISTRICT JUDGE.

Peter F. Caviness, Falgoust, Caviness & Bienvenu, L.L.P., Opelousas, LA, COUNSEL FOR DEFENDANTS/APPELLANTS: Keith Gros, Bitco General Insurance Company.

Brian M. Caubarreaux, Brian Caubarreaux & Associates, Marksville, LA, COUNSEL FOR PLAINTIFFS/APPELLEES: Lacy Berthiaume, Gaynell Coco.

Court composed of Sylvia R. Cooks, Marc T. Amy, and James T. Genovese, Judges.

OPINION

Page 1276

[15-116 La.App. 3 Cir. 1] AMY, Judge.

The parties were involved in an automobile accident in which the defendant's vehicle rear-ended the plaintiffs' automobile. The plaintiffs filed suit alleging that they were injured as a result of the accident. The plaintiffs subsequently filed a motion for summary judgment on the issue of liability. The defendant conceded that he was at fault, but contested whether he was solely liable for the accident. The trial court granted the motion for summary judgment and entered judgment finding that the defendant was solely liable for the accident. The defendant appeals. For the following reasons, we reverse and remand.

Factual and Procedural Background

The genesis of this lawsuit is an automobile accident which allegedly caused injuries to the plaintiffs, Lacey Berthiaume[1] and Gaynelle Coco. According to the record, Ms. Berthiaume was driving along a busy highway with her mother, Ms. Coco, as a passenger. An unknown vehicle (" Vehicle 1" ) pulled out on to the highway in front of the vehicle ahead of Ms. Berthiaume (" Vehicle 2" ). Both Vehicle 2 and Ms. Berthiaume were forced to stop short. Ms. Berthiaume testified in her deposition that she was able to stop with approximately one foot between her vehicle and Vehicle 2. However, Ms. Berthiaume's car was rear-ended by a truck driven by the defendant, Keith Gros. Mr. Gros' truck

Page 1277

was owned by his employer, M.D. Descant, Inc., and insured by Bitco General Insurance Corporation. The record indicates that the identities of Vehicle 1 and Vehicle 2's owners or occupants are unknown.

Ms. Berthiaume and Ms. Coco filed suit against Mr. Gros and Bitco, seeking damages for injuries they allegedly incurred as a result of the accident. The [15-116 La.App. 3 Cir. 2] plaintiffs thereafter filed a motion for summary judgment on the issues of insurance coverage and liability. After a hearing, the trial court granted the motion as to both issues, finding that Mr. Gros was solely liable for the accident and that there was coverage under the insurance policy. Mr. Gros and his insurer have appealed, asserting error only as to the trial court's determination that Mr. Gros was solely liable for the accident.

Discussion

Summary Judgment


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