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Raymond v. Depositors Insurance Co.

Court of Appeals of Louisiana, Fifth Circuit

September 8, 2017

JASMINE RAYMOND
v.
DEPOSITORS INSURANCE COMPANY, RUBBER & SPECIALTIES, INC., AND LANCE M. COOK

         ON APPEAL FROM THE TWENTY-FOURTH JUDICIAL DISTRICT COURT PARISH OF JEFFERSON, STATE OF LOUISIANA NO. 745-747, DIVISION "A" HONORABLE RAYMOND S. STEIB, JR., JUDGE PRESIDING

          COUNSEL FOR PLAINTIFF/APPELLEE, JASMINE RAYMOND, Stephen M. Huber, Brian P. Marcelle, Gina M. Palermo, Thomas M. Flanagan, Andy Dupre, Anders F. Holmgren, Edward J. Womac, Jr, Douglas J. Womac, Jr.

          COUNSEL FOR DEFENDANT/APPELLANT, DEPOSITORS INSURANCE COMPANY, RUBBER & SPECIALTIES, INC., AND LANCE M. COOK Charles L. Chassaignac, IV, Emily S. Morrison, Nahum D. Laventhal

          Panel composed of Judges Fredericka Homberg Wicker, Robert M. Murphy, and Hans J. Liljeberg

          FREDERICKA HOMBERG WICKER JUDGE

         In this appeal, defendants, Depositors Insurance Company, Rubber & Specialties, Inc., and Lance M. Cook, sought review of the district court's October 11, 2016 judgment, reflecting a twelve-person jury's awards of general and special damages to plaintiff, Jasmine Raymond, for injuries she sustained as a result of a three-car motor vehicle collision on Interstate 10. Prior to submission of the case to the jury, the district court granted plaintiff's motion for directed verdict on the issue of liability for the motor vehicle collision. Thus, the only issues before the jury were medical causation for plaintiff's injuries and damages. As discussed below, appellants, Depositors Insurance Company, Rubber & Specialties, Inc., and Lance M. Cook, have filed a motion to dismiss this appeal. Upon consideration, we grant appellants' motion and dismiss the appeal.

         FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

         The Accident

         On June 27, 2014, defendant, Lance Cook, was in heavy morning traffic on Interstate 10, heading eastbound, immediately before the Interstate 10/Interstate 610 split in Jefferson Parish. At the time, Mr. Cook was returning from a business trip for his employer, Rubber & Specialties, Inc., and he was driving a truck insured by Depositors Insurance Company. Mr. Cook admitted to the responding officer at the scene and to the jury at trial that he looked down at his phone to check his GPS and made impact with the rear-end of plaintiff's vehicle at the same time as he looked up. The impact sent plaintiff's vehicle into the car in front of her vehicle, such that plaintiff's vehicle sandwiched between the two cars. Mr. Cook testified at trial that plaintiff was "visibly shaking" when he walked around to the side of her vehicle to check on her. Following this accident, as the record reflects, plaintiff-who was twenty-four-years-old at the time of the accident and who had no prior history of back or neck problems-underwent numerous procedures and surgeries over the next two years in an effort to alleviate severe pain she experienced after the accident.

         The Petition and Pre-Trial Order

         On January 13, 2015, plaintiff filed a petition seeking damages for, among other things, past and future physical pain and suffering, past and future mental pain and suffering, past and future medical expenses, loss of past and future earnings and earning capacity, permanent disability, and loss of past and future enjoyment of life, arising out of "severe and disabling injuries" she sustained in the June 27, 2014 accident. Plaintiff's petition named three defendants: the driver, Mr. Cook; the driver's employer, Rubber & Specialties, Inc.; and the insurer of the driver's truck, Depositors Insurance Company.[1] On February 20, 2015, defendants filed an answer in which defendants denied liability and alleged as an affirmative defense that plaintiff failed to mitigate her damages.

         On January 26, 2016, the district court issued its pre-trial order, directing the parties, among other things, to prepare a consolidated pre-trial memorandum- including "[a] concise summary of the facts or contentions made by all parties" and "[a] list of contested issues of fact and law, specified with particularity"-no later than seven days (excluding weekends and holidays) prior to the August 25, 2016 pre-trial conference. The pre-trial order also required that "[f]inal expert or contradictory/rebuttal expert reports shall be exchanged no later than ninety (90) days before Trial."

          Pre-Trial Litigation and Jury Trial

         On August 16, 2016, plaintiff and defendants filed their joint pre-trial memorandum in which defendants for the first time raised as a contested issue the "[a]pplicability of 'no pay, no play' [La. R.S. 32:866], as plaintiff was an unlicensed driver in her vehicle at the time of the incident." Likewise, in providing a brief summary of plaintiff's "medical reports, including extent of injury, length of treatment, disability factor and medical expenses, " plaintiff cataloged the numerous surgeries and procedures she had undergone thus far and included the then-recent August 5, 2016 diagnosis from her treating physician, Dr. Rodriguez, of a recurrent disc ...


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