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Litton v. White

Court of Appeal of Louisiana, Second Circuit

July 1, 2015

DANNY LITTON, Plaintiff
v.
KENNETH WHITE AND STATE FARM MUTUAL AUTOMOBILE INSURANCE COMPANY AND SAFEWAY INSURANCE COMPANY OF LOUISIANA AND STATE FARM MUTUAL AUTOMOBILE INSURANCE COMPANY, Defendant-Appellant-Appellee

Page 820

Appealed from the Twenty-Sixth Judicial District Court for the Parish of Bossier, Louisiana. Trial Court No. 140614. Honorable Jeffrey S. Cox, Judge.

REVERSED AND REMANDED.

GRAYDON K. KITCHENS, III, Counsel for Appellant, State Farm Mutual, Automobile Insurance Company.

JESSICA P. JOHNSTON, TRACY L. OAKLEY, Counsel for Appellee, Safeway Insurance, Company of Louisiana.

Before BROWN, WILLIAMS and CARAWAY, JJ.

OPINION

Page 821

[49,958 La.App. 2 Cir. 1] WILLIAMS, J.

State Farm Automobile Insurance Company (" State Farm" ) appeals a trial court's judgment denying its subrogation claim against Safeway Insurance Company (" Safeway" ). For the following reasons, we reverse the judgment of the trial court and remand this matter for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.

DISCUSSION

The facts of this case are not in dispute. On August 24, 2012, defendant, Kenneth White, borrowed a 2002 Yukon XL sports utility vehicle from his mother, Loret Howard, to drive from Monroe to Shreveport. White's own vehicle was disabled because it was not running properly. While en route to Shreveport, White rear-ended a vehicle driven by plaintiff, Danny Litton. Plaintiff sustained bodily injuries from this accident.

White and his wife, Chiquita White, owned a 1999 Pontiac Grand AM, which was insured by Safeway. The vehicles owned by Litton and Howard were insured by State Farm. White did not live with Howard and was not listed as an insured under her automobile policy.

On December 14, 2012, plaintiff filed a lawsuit alleging injuries and property damage. He named White, State Farm and Safeway as defendants. State Farm filed a cross claim against Safeway, seeking reimbursement for monies paid pursuant to its policy. State Farm alleged that White borrowed the vehicle from his mother because his vehicle " had mechanical problems which caused it to not run properly." It argued that the vehicle White borrowed was a " temporary substitute vehicle" pursuant to LSA-R.S. 22:1296, and Safeway, as White's insurer, was the primary insurer for the [49,958 La.App. 2 Cir. 2] damages sustained by plaintiff.[1] Conversely, Safeway argued that, under the terms of its policy, coverage for the vehicle White borrowed from his mother was secondary to the State Farm policy. Subsequently, both insurers moved for summary judgment; both motions were denied.

Following a trial on the merits, the trial court denied State Farm's claim and dismissed the matter. In its oral reasons for judgment, the court stated:

The only vehicle that was listed on the policy issued by Safeway was the 1999 Pontiac Grand Am which was owned by a Chiquita White. And they are -- and Safeway has argued that this does not qualify as a ...

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