JOHN THIBODEAUX AND AMY THIBODEAUX, INDIVIDUALLY AND ON BEHALF OF EMILY THIBODEAUX AND GABRIELLE THIBODEAUX
GULFGATE CONSTRUCTION, LLC, ET AL.
FROM THE FIFTEENTH JUDICIAL DISTRICT COURT PARISH OF
LAFAYETTE, NO. 2015-4167 HONORABLE JULES D. EDWARDS, III,
A. Eiden Rabalais & Hebert Counsel for
Defendant/Appellant: J. M. Drilling LLC.
Cohen Melanie Lockett Lowe, Stein, Hoffman, Allweiss &
Hauver, L.L.P. Counsel for Defendant/Appellee: Water &
Wastewater Utilities, Inc.
M. Reeves Maricle & Associates Counsel for
Defendant/Appellee: Gulfgate Construction, LLC.
Michael Menard Attorney at Law Counsel for
Plaintiffs/Appellees: John Thibodeaux Amy Thibodeaux
Gabrielle Thibodeaux Emily Thibodeaux.
Taulbee Attorney at Law Counsel for Plaintiffs/Appellees:
John Thibodeaux Amy Thibodeaux Gabrielle Thibodeaux Emily
M. Legrand Marshall G. Weaver Legrand Law Firm Counsel for
Intervenor/Appellee: Bellsouth Telecommunications, LLC.
composed of Ulysses Gene Thibodeaux, Chief Judge, Phyllis M.
Keaty, and Candyce G. Perret, Judges.
PHYLLIS M. KEATY JUDGE.
J. M. Drilling LLC (J. M. Drilling), appeals the trial
court's granting of a motion for summary judgment in
favor of Defendant/Appellee, Gulfgate Construction, LLC
(Gulfgate Construction). For the following reasons, the trial
court's judgment is affirmed.
AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
negligence matter arose on June 9, 2015, when Plaintiff, John
Thibodeaux, injured his right leg while splicing fiber optic
cable on behalf of his employer, American Telephone &
Telegraph (AT&T), at 114 Meadow Gate Drive in the
Sawgrass subdivision in Lafayette, Louisiana. Thibodeaux had
to access hand holes, which are rectangular, underground
vaults where fiber optic cables come together and are
spliced. The two hand holes at issue were equipped with
covers, i.e., lids, which rested on top of the ground. They
were located near a rectangular, pre-cast slab which held an
AT&T cabinet. On the day of his accident, Thibodeaux
lifted a hand hole cover and placed it by the AT&T
cabinet when the ground beneath him gave way, causing his
right leg to fall into a hole, sustaining injury.
to Thibodeaux's accident, Gulfgate Construction and J. M.
Drilling performed work on the property pursuant to separate
contracts with AT&T. Gulfgate Construction's job,
which was the F1 part of the project, consisted of preparing
a pre-cast slab, installing a cabinet on top of the pre-cast
slab, digging two hand holes, and feeding fiber optic cable
into hand hole number two. After Gulfgate Construction
finished its job, J. M. Drilling performed the F2 part of the
project, which consisted of installing fiber optic lines by
accessing the hand holes and feeding the cable out to the
rest of the subdivision.
alleged that during operations on the property, Gulfgate
Construction and/or J. M. Drilling struck and damaged an
underground sewer force main line. The main line purportedly
began leaking and caused a washout under the pre-cast slab
upon which the AT&T cabinet was situated, ultimately
forming the hole into which Thibodeaux fell. The main line,
which ran from a sewer lift station on the property to the
street, belonged to Water & Wastewater Utilities, Inc.
(Wastewater), the owner and operator of the lift station.
Gulfgate Construction repaired Wastewater's broken main
line after Thibodeaux's accident. Wastewater had not
marked its main line prior to the commencement of work
performed by Gulfgate Construction and J. M. Drilling. The
hand holes had to be repositioned as a result of the
existence of the underground main line.
August 24, 2015, Thibodeaux and his wife, Amy, individually
and on behalf of their minor daughters, Gabrielle and Emily,
filed suit against Gulfgate Construction, Milton Water
System, Inc., and Wastewater. Wastewater is the subject of a
separate appeal in this court in Docket Number 17-494. Milton
Water System, which has been dismissed, is not the subject of