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Mouton v. AAA Cooper Transportation

Court of Appeals of Louisiana, Third Circuit

January 10, 2018

LINDA MOUTON
v.
AAA COOPER TRANSPORTATION, ETAL. CORY MOUTON
v.
AAA COOPER TRANSPORTATION, ETAL.

         APPEAL FROM THE FIFTEENTH JUDICIAL DISTRICT COURT PARISH OF LAFAYETTE, NO. 2015-0463 C/W 2015-0466, DIV. F HONORABLE DAVID M. SMITH, DISTRICT JUDGE

          David C. Laborde Jeff D. Easley Laborde Earles Law Firm, LLC Counsel for Plaintiffs/Appellees:

          Linda Mouton and Corey Mouton S. Daniel Meeks Nicholas J. Lorusso Phyllis E. Glazer Kristen E. Meeks Meeks & Associates, LLC Counsel for Defendants/Appellants: AAA Cooper Transportation, Inc.; Arthur Huguley; and Ace American Insurance Company

          Michael J. Remondet, Jr. Michael R. Guidry Scott F. Higgins Jeansonne and Remondet Counsel for Intervenor/Appellee: T.K. Stanley, Inc.

          Court composed of John E. Conery, Van H. Kyzar, and Candyce G. Perret, Judges.

          VAN H. KYZAR, JUDGE

         This court issued a rule ordering Defendants-Appellants (hereinafter collectively referred to as Defendants), AAA Cooper Transportation, Inc. (ACT); Arthur Huguley (Huguley); and Ace American Insurance Company (Ace), to show cause, by brief only, why their appeal should not be dismissed as having been taken from the February 8, 2017 judgment which lacks proper decretal language, or, in the alternative, why the appeal (which has already been briefed) should not be suspended pending the receipt of a judgment containing proper decretal language. See Input/Output Marine Systems, Inc. v. Wilson Greatbatch, Technologies, Inc., 10-477 (La.App. 5 Cir. 10/29/10), 52 So.3d 909. For the reasons that follow, we suspend the appeal and remand the matter to the trial court with instructions to issue a judgment containing proper decretal language.

         FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         On April 24, 2014, Curley Mouton (Mouton) was fatally injured in an automobile accident that occurred when the tire of the tractor-trailer rig driven by Huguley and owned by Huguley's employer, ACT, failed, which allegedly resulted in debris from the tire flying into the roadway. After Huguley's tire failed, the Mack truck being driven by Mouton left its lane of travel, struck and traveled through a guardrail on Interstate I-10, flipped over, hit a tree, and landed upside down in a drainage ditch. Plaintiffs-Appellees (hereinafter collectively referred to as Plaintiffs), Linda Mouton (the surviving spouse of the decedent) and Corey Mouton (the major son of the decedent), filed separate suits against Defendants. The suits were consolidated in the trial court.

         Following a trial by jury, a verdict in favor of Plaintiffs was rendered. The jury apportioned ten percent (10%) of the fault to Huguley and ninety percent (90%) of the fault to ACT. Mouton was found to be free from fault. The jury awarded $67, 702.22 (with $50, 000.00 of that being damages for conscious mental and physical pain and suffering) in damages for the survival action; $410, 000.00 in wrongful death damages to the surviving spouse; and $160, 000.00 in wrongful death damages to the major son.

         Plaintiffs filed a motion for judgment notwithstanding the verdict (JNOV), seeking an increase in the survival action general damage award. The trial court granted the motion and increased the amount for general damages in the survival action from $50, 000.00 to $150, 000.00. Costs were also taxed. Thereafter, the total judgment was $737, 702.52 plus court costs.

         On February 8, 2017, the trial court signed a judgment which taxed costs for expert fees and increased the survival action general damage award to $150, 000.00. On March 1, 2017, Defendants filed a motion for suspensive appeal, obtained a signed order of appeal, and posted an appeal bond. In due course, the record was lodged in this court and briefs by the Defendants and Plaintiffs were filed. Then, this court issued a rule ordering Defendants to show cause, by brief only, why their appeal should not be dismissed as having been taken from the February 8, 2017 judgment which lacks proper decretal language, or, in the alternative, why the appeal (which has already been briefed) should not be suspended pending the receipt of a judgment containing proper decretal language. See Input/Output Marine Sys., 52 So.3d 909.

         DISCUSSION

         In Input/Output Marine, 52 So.3d at 916 (citation omitted), the court stated that "the failure to name any defendant against whom the judgment was rendered in a case with multiple defendants makes the judgment fatally defective, because one cannot ...


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