FROM St. Bernard Parish, 34th Judicial District Court NO.
15-0048, Division "C" Honorable Kim C. Jones, Judge
Garside WALTZER WIYGUL & GARSIDE, LLC COUNSEL FOR
APPELLANT, SOMVANG CHANTHASALO
G. Pappas Sarah C. Douglas FREDERICK A. MILLER &
ASSOCIATES COUNSEL FOR DEFENDANTS/APPELLEES, MELISSA DESHOTEL
AND STATE FARM MUTUAL AUTOMOBILE INSURANCE COMPANY
K. Bell CASLER, BORDELON, LAWLER COUNSEL FOR
DEFENDANT/APPELLEE, PROGRESSIVE SECURITY INSURANCE COMPANY
composed of Judge Paula A. Brown, Judge Tiffany G. Chase,
Judge Marion F. Edwards, Pro Tempore,
A. Brown, Judge
a civil appeal, which arises out of two automobile accidents
sustained by the Plaintiff/Appellant, Somvang Chanthasalo
("Mr. Chanthasalo"). Mr. Chanthasalo, appeals the
district court's judgment that granted motions for
summary judgment filed on behalf of Defendants/Appellees,
Melissa Deshotel ("Ms. Deshotel") and her insurer,
State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company (collectively,
"State Farm"); and Progressive Security Insurance
Company ("Progressive"), Mr. Chanthasalo's
uninsured/underinsured motorist carrier. For the reasons that
follow, we affirm.
AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
January 17, 2014, while traveling on Interstate-10, near the
Williams Boulevard and Loyola Street exits in Kenner,
Louisiana, Ms. Deshotel's vehicle rear-ended Mr.
Chanthasalo's truck ("Accident No. 1"). After
the collision, Mr. Chanthasalo and Ms. Deshotel pulled their
respective vehicles onto the shoulder of the road to assess
property damages and report the accident to the police.
Approximately five to fifteen minutes later, Ronald Mitchell
("Mr. Mitchell") drove his vehicle into the rear of
Debra Schum's ("Ms. Schum") vehicle
("Accident No. 2"). The impact of Accident No. 2
pushed Ms. Schum's vehicle onto the shoulder of the road,
causing it to strike both Ms. Deshotel and Mr. Chanthasalo.
Mr. Chanthasalo incurred significant injuries as a result of
Accident No. 2.
January 16, 2015, Mr. Chanthasalo filed a Petition for
Damages ("the Petition') against Ms. Deshotel, Ms.
Schum, and their insurer, State Farm; Mr. Mitchell and his
insurer, USAA Casualty Insurance Company
(USAA); and Progressive. The Petition alleged that
the accident was caused by the negligence of Ms. Deshotel,
Ms. Schum, and Mr. Mitchell and the defendants were jointly,
solidarily, and severally liable unto him for his personal
January 6, 2017, State Farm, as the liability insurer of Ms.
Deshotel, filed a motion for summary judgment. State Farm
contended that Mr. Chanthasalo's lawsuit arose from two
accidents, not one. State Farm argued that by Mr.
Chanthasalo's own admission, Accident No. 1 was minor and
he attributed his injuries exclusively to Accident No. 2.
State Farm asserted Ms. Deshotel owed no continuing duty to
Mr. Chanthasalo beyond Accident No. 1, arguing that Mr.
Chanthasalo offered no facts to prove that Ms. Deshotel's
alleged negligence from Accident No. 1 was the legal cause of
the injuries he sustained from Accident No. 2. State Farm
prayed for dismissal of Mr. Chanthasalo's suit against
filed its motion for summary judgment on January 10, 2017. In
its motion, Progressive acknowledged that it issued a policy
of insurance to Mr. Chanthasalo with uninsured/underinsured
("UM") bodily liability limits of $15, 000.00 per
person and $30, 000.00 per accident. However, Progressive
argued that Mr. Chanthasalo was not entitled to UM benefits
for Accident No. 1 because as he admitted, he was not injured
in that accident. Progressive also noted that it had already
tendered the $15, 000.00 UM policy limits for the damages
incurred as a result of Accident No. 2.
opposition to State Farm's summary judgment motion, Mr.
Chanthasalo argued that pursuant to La. C.C. art. 2315,
Deshotel was responsible for the damages he sustained from
Accident No. 2. He averred that the duty owed from Accident
No. 1 extended to Accident No. 2 because it was entirely
foreseeable that a second collision might occur after the
parties-as required by law-had pulled onto the shoulder of a
dangerous, busy interstate highway to call the police and
Chanthasalo's opposition to Progressive's summary
judgment motion asserted that its UM exposure for Accident
No. 1 depended on whether Ms. Deshotel was liable for the
injuries he sustained in Accident No. 2. Accordingly, Mr.
Chanthasalo claimed to the extent that any liability assessed
against Ms. Deshotel for Accident No. 2 exceeded her
insurance policy limits, Progressive had potential UM
exposure for Accident No. 1.
district court heard argument on the summary judgment motions
on February 17, 2017. After taking the matter under
advisement, the district court granted both summary judgment
motions. Pursuant to a consent motion to include decretal
language in the judgment,  the district court rendered an amended
judgment on March 2, 2017. The amended judgment re-affirmed
the grant of the respective summary judgment motions.
amended judgment, the district court found no genuine issues
of material fact to preclude State Farm's request for
summary judgment, and specifically dismissed all claims
asserted by Mr. Chanthasalo against Ms. Deshotel and State
Farm, with prejudice. The amended judgment also granted State
Farm's motion to designate the judgment as a final
incorporated reasons for judgment, the district court found
two separate and distinct accidents occurred on January 17,
2014. It reasoned that "the duty owed by Defendant
Melissa Deshotel and the scope of protection afforded at law
to the Plaintiff, Somvang Chanthasalo, did not extend from
the first accident to the second accident involving different
actors." The district court further reasoned:
[T]he actions of Defendant Melissa Deshotel were not
substantial in character relative to the cause of the second
accident. There is no "ease of association" in
which the original accident at issue (the first accident)
became the legal and/and or proximate cause of the second
accident. Thus, the Plaintiff having raised no genuine issues
of material fact which would preclude this Court's
finding, summary judgment is appropriate.
district court specifically found the judgment on State
Farm's summary judgment motion pertained only to Accident
Progressive, the amended judgment granted its motion for
summary judgment on Accident No. 1 and dismissed any UM
claims Mr. Chanthasalo raised against Progressive with
prejudice; however, it reserved Mr. Chanthasalo's right
to proceed against Progressive for UM benefits that arose out
of Accident No. 2. The district court found Ms. Deshotel was
free of fault regarding ...