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Carpenter v. State Farm Mutual Automobile Ins. Co.

Court of Appeals of Louisiana, Third Circuit

December 28, 2017

KAYLA CARPENTER, ON BEHALF OF ALEXIS WALTERS
v.
STATE FARM MUTUAL AUTOMOBILE INS. CO., ET AL.

         APPEAL FROM THE FIFTEENTH JUDICIAL DISTRICT COURT PARISH OF ACADIA, NO. 2009-10517 HONORABLE JULES D. EDWARDS, DISTRICT JUDGE

          Jeffery F. Speer George A. Wright Doucet - Speer, APLC COUNSEL FOR PLAINTIFF/APPELLANT: Kayla Carpenter Alexis Walters

          Jackson B. Bolinger Leah B. Guilbeau & Associates COUNSEL FOR DEFENDANT/APPELLEE: State Farm Mutual Auto. Ins. Co.

          Court composed of Sylvia R. Cooks, John D. Saunders, and Candyce G. Perret, Judges.

          CANDYCE G. PERRET, JUDGE.

         This is an appeal from a summary judgment dismissing the suit of plaintiff-appellant, Kayla Carpenter, on behalf of her daughter, Alexis Walters, against the sole remaining defendant-appellee, State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company ("State Farm"). For the following reasons, we affirm the judgment.

         FACTS:

         This litigation involves a claim for the alleged wrongful death of Sanchez J. Walters ("Mr. Walters") brought by Kayla Carpenter on behalf of her minor daughter, Alexis Walters (hereinafter, "Ms. Carpenter"). Ms. Carpenter alleged in her petition that on June 29, 2008, Mr. Walters was a passenger in a 2006 Toyota Scion when he was involved in a one-car accident and suffered fatal injuries. The other occupants in the vehicle at the time of the accident were Kylor Broussard and Nicholas Ledet. Although the driver of the vehicle has yet to be determined, the petition alleged that the 2006 Toyota Scion was owned by Randall Leger ("Mr. Leger") and that the accident was caused solely through the fault or negligent entrustment of Mr. Leger, Kylor Broussard, and/or Jon and Jane Ledet on behalf of their minor son, Nicholas Ledet (collectively, "the Ledets").

         On June 8, 2016, Ms. Carpenter dismissed defendants Kylor Broussard and the Ledets, but reserved her right to proceed against State Farm for insurance coverage. Thereafter, on November 7, 2016, the trial court granted a summary judgment in favor of defendant Mr. Leger, dismissing all of Ms. Carpenter's claims against him with prejudice. Ms. Carpenter did not appeal this partial final judgment.

         On December 2, 2016, State Farm filed a Motion for Summary Judgment, arguing that there is no liability coverage under its policy because Ms. Carpenter is unable to prove which occupant of the car was driving and that, regardless of who was driving, neither Mr. or Mrs. Leger, nor their son, Nicholas Leger, gave permission, express or implied, to anyone to use the 2006 Toyota Scion on the night of the accident. In support of its Motion for Summary Judgment, State Farm attached: (1) the affidavit of Mr. Leger; (2) the affidavit of Shelley Leger; (3) the affidavit of Nicholas Leger; and (4) a copy of the State Farm policy at issue.

         Although Ms. Carpenter did not offer or file any exhibits into the record in opposition to the Motion for Summary Judgment, she filed a memorandum arguing that the deposition of Kylor Broussard and the police statement of Regina Bell suggest that there are genuine issues of material fact regarding who was driving the vehicle and whether the driver had the implied permission to do so.

         Following a hearing, the trial court rendered the February 21, 2017 judgment in favor of State Farm. Ms. Carpenter now appeals this final judgment.

         STANDARD OF REVIEW:

         An appellate court reviews a trial court's granting of a motion for summary judgment de novo. Duncan v. U.S.A.A. Ins. Co., 06-363 (La. 11/29/06), 950 So.2d 544. Under this standard of review, the appellate court uses the same criteria as the trial court in determining if summary judgment is appropriate: whether there is a genuine ...


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