Appeal from the Twenty-First Judicial District Court In and
for the Parish of Livingston State of Louisiana Trial Court
No. 146, 878, Div. F The Honorable Elizabeth Wolfe, Judge
M. Dill Lafayette, Louisiana Attorney for Appellants
Defendants -Justin Wascom, Jr. and Hallmark Specialty
D. Plaisance Thibodaux, Louisiana Attorney for Appellee
Plaintiff -Evette Neal
BEFORE: PETTIGREW, McDONALD, AND CALLOWAY,  JJ.
personal injury case, the defendants challenge the general
damages awarded by the trial court to the plaintiff following
a bench trial.
AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
case involves a traffic accident that occurred on December 9,
2013, when the Ford F-250, operated by the defendant, Justin
Wascom, Jr., owned by his employer, Clean Water
Opportunities, Inc. ("Clean Water"),  and insured by
Hallmark Specialty Insurance Company ("Hallmark
Insurance"), rear-ended the Jeep Liberty owned and
operated by the plaintiff, Evette Neal. Mr. Wascom was
driving the Ford F-250 eastbound on Interstate 12 in
Livingston Parish when he rear-ended Ms. Neal's Jeep,
causing her vehicle to hit the side concrete wall, leave the
roadway, flip over, hit a tree, and come to rest in a canal.
Neal filed the instant suit against Mr. Wascom, Clean Water,
and Hallmark Insurance, seeking damages for injuries to her
neck, back, head, shoulders, legs, chest, sternoclavicular
("SC") joint, collarbone, hands, and fingers
allegedly sustained as a result of the automobile accident. A
bench trial was conducted on March 15, 2016, on the issue of
damages. At trial, the parties stipulated to
liability and insurance coverage, that Ms. Neal's medical
expenses totaled $27, 834.00, and that her lost wages totaled
$4, 576.00. Following trial, the trial court signed a final
judgment on April 1, 2016, in favor of Ms. Neal and against
Mr. Wascom and Hallmark Insurance in solido,
awarding Ms. Neal: $700, 000.00 in general damages; $27,
800.34 in past medical expenses; $21, 000.00 in future
medicals for S.C. injections; $5, 600.00 in future medicals
for acromioclavicular ("AC") injections;
$426.79 for certified medical records and bills; $4, 576.00
in lost wages; legal interest from the date of judicial
demand until paid; all costs of the proceedings; a $5, 000.00
expert witness fee; and dismissed all of Ms. Neal's
claims against Clean Water, with prejudice.
Wascom and Hallmark Insurance now appeal, assigning error to
the amount of general damages awarded to the plaintiff.
defendants argue the trial court abused its discretion in
awarding Ms. Neal $700, 000.00 for a partially dislocated
S.C. joint, a strained shoulder, a strained neck, and a
strained back. The defendants assert the accident merely
aggravated Ms. Neal's preexisting neck and shoulder
injuries, that she only missed one month of work, and that
she now has full range of motion in her shoulder and arm.
damages" involve mental or physical pain or suffering,
inconvenience, loss of gratification or intellectual or
physical enjoyment, or other losses of lifestyle that cannot
be measured definitively in terms of money. Boudreaux v.
Farmer, 604 So.2d 641, 654 (La.App. 1 Cir.), writs
denied, 605 So.2d 1373, 1374 (La. 1992). The primary
objective of general damages is to restore the party in as
near a fashion as possible to the state he was in at the time
immediately preceding injury. Daigle v. U.S. Fidelity and
Guar. Ins. Co., 94-0304 (La.App. 1 Cir. 5/5/95), 655
So.2d 431, 437.
discretion is accorded the trier of fact in fixing general
damage awards. La. C.C. art. 2324.1; Hollenbeck v.
Oceaneering Int., Inc., 96-0377 (La.App. 1 Cir.
11/8/96), 685 So.2d 163, 172, writ denied, 97-0493
(La. 4/4/97), 692 So.2d 421. The discretion vested in the
trier of fact is "great, " even vast, so that an
appellate court should rarely disturb an award of general
damages. Youn v. Maritime Overseas Corp., 623 So.2d
1257, 1261 (La. 1993), cert, denied,510 U.S. 1114,
114 S.Ct. 1059, 127 L.Ed.2d 379 (1994). The role of an
appellate court in reviewing general damages is not to decide
what it considers to be an appropriate award but, rather, to
review the exercise of discretion by the trier of fact.
Wainwright v. Fontenot, 2000-0492 (La. 10/17/00),
774 So.2d 70, 74. Before an appellate court can disturb the
quantum of an award, the record must clearly reveal that the
trier of fact abused its discretion. In order to make this
determination, the reviewing court looks first to the
individual circumstances of the injured plaintiff.
Theriot v. Allstate Ins. Co.,625 So.2d 1337, 1340
(La. 1993). Reasonable persons frequently disagree about the
measure of general damages in a particular case.
Youn, 623 So.2d ...